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Pallet fork pivots

J. Graham

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Mar 25, 2018
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Does one lubricate the pivots on a pallet fork? It’s been so long I can’t remember …thanks

Michelle
 

J. Graham

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Mar 25, 2018
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Ok so I read the other threads, the reason I asked was I got an Elgin movement for parts and the lower pallet pivot was rusted in place, not jeweled, and it was the only rust on this particular movement. I thought it was odd …it’s all good though cuz I got the part in needed :)
 

J. Graham

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Oh, I forgot: for unjeweled holes I'd always use a tiny bit of oil. But I don't think you'll ever see wear there if you don't.
THank you :). It’d been a long time I just couldn’t remember but my addled brain told me no ;)
 

Dave Haynes

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The Wyler Co used mostly ETA ebauche and they recommend no oil on the pallet pivots. I'm dumb but not having any lubrication on a hard working part like the pallet fork just seems crazy to me. I always put a fairly good amount of 9415 on the pallet stones to let it move onto the escape wheel and as I'm passing by, I lightly touch the pivots with the oiler tip. Not a lot but some. I take advice from a watch company with a grain of salt. They sell parts and they believe that your watch should be regularly serviced like your family car. They also ran their little scam of putting the same part into a different envelope to keep part sales where they should be. The whole ebauche deal is something people should consider when working on these beautiful little machines. Many/most companies bought unfinished movements from about 19 companies making ebauche: AS,ETA, Pesaux, Font, etc. The company then made some changes they wanted or none at all and put their name and caliber on the watch and it became a Wyler or Heuer, or Baum Mercier, Cal. xxxx. The Swiss never bothered to tell watchmakers this story and so a watchmaker would order a new set bridge for a Cal. blah, blah when he may have had the exact same part sitting in another drawer or movement in the bench. Not every part was the same, but many were. Watchmakers fell for this hook, line and sinker.
 

Al J

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Most of the time the pivots aren't moving, and when checking these for wear, they rarely are ever worn so that tells me that oiling them isn't really needed. Personally I want the pallet fork to move as freely as possible, so adding oil doesn't make a lot of sense.

Cheers, Al
 

Dave Haynes

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"Most of the time the pivots aren't moving," I must be misunderstanding something. The pallet fork moves back and forth with each impulse of the balance. It gives the balance the power to move. The pallet pivots are attached to the pallet fork which moves a certain amount to do its job. How can the watch run if the pallet pinion doesn't move. I'll say they don't move much but it seems to me that they must move a bit. And I put the tiniest touch of oil on the pivot.
 

gmorse

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Hi Dave,

Yes, of course the lever pivots move, but only a few degrees in each direction, never a complete revolution. If you do oil them at all in a larger watch, (and advice seems to vary as to how large a movement warrants this), then I think the oil needs to be as thin as possible. Clean pivots in good condition running in jewel holes are subject to very little friction and really must move freely, so I'm not sure how 9415 would behave in this application, since it's a synthetic grease of a thixotropic type.

I suppose it would be an interesting experiment to compare the performance over time of two similar watches, one with lever pivots lubricated and one not.

Regards,

Graham
 

Al J

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"Most of the time the pivots aren't moving," I must be misunderstanding something.

...snip...

I'll say they don't move much but it seems to me that they must move a bit.
You seem to understand it fine. If we have a balance amplitude of say 300 degrees, and the lift angle is say 50 degrees, then if you do the math it's pretty clear that most of the time the pallet fork pivots are not moving.

If you want to oil the pivots, by all means do so. I'll continue to leave them dry, because based on the evidence at hand, there's simply no need to oil them.

Cheers, Al
 

Al J

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Hi Dave,

Yes, of course the lever pivots move, but only a few degrees in each direction, never a complete revolution. If you do oil them at all in a larger watch, (and advice seems to vary as to how large a movement warrants this), then I think the oil needs to be as thin as possible. Clean pivots in good condition running in jewel holes are subject to very little friction and really must move freely, so I'm not sure how 9415 would behave in this application, since it's a synthetic grease of a thixotropic type.

I suppose it would be an interesting experiment to compare the performance over time of two similar watches, one with lever pivots lubricated and one not.

Regards,

Graham
I work on wrist watches, so the largest movements I see are 16 lignes. To me there's no reason to oil even those - I've probably serviced upwards of 500 of the 6497/6498 movements over the years, and never had worn pivots. In fact I can't recall off the top of my head ever having to replace a pallet fork for worn pivots. I have replaced them for being chipped, and some for worn jewels however...this is probably the worst example I've seen:

Worn Pallet Jewel.jpg

BTW, the pivots on this were fine. So if the brands are conspiring to make watchmakers purchase more pallet forks, it's a losing strategy in my experience. I do agree that if one were to use lubrication here, it should be something light, like 9010, rather than 9415, which would seem to be a poor choice in this location.

Cheers, Al
 

gmorse

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Hi Al,
I work on wrist watches, so the largest movements I see are 16 lignes. To me there's no reason to oil even those - I've probably serviced upwards of 500 of the 6497/6498 movements over the years, and never had worn pivots.
I suppose it would be an interesting experiment to compare the performance over time of two similar watches, one with lever pivots lubricated and one not.
I think you've covered my suggestion pretty well already!

Regards,

Graham
 
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Dave Haynes

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I'm a hobbyist and not a watchmaker. I've been doing this for 30+ years. Taught in the beginning by a guy named Dean Judy. How many watches have I fixed, wrecked, destroyed or succeeded? It has to be hundreds, a lot of hundreds. It took me decades to finally figure out that with lubricants, less is more. I've learned a great deal just reading the replies from this little thread. I've replaced many pallet forks, almost all because of bent, or broken arbor pivots or misplaced stones. I have discovered that bone dry escape wheels really affect amplitude and I've known of the no oil on the pallet pivots for 25+ years. A tiny touch of oil is just how I've been doing it. I have many, most of the tools and supplies, many are Levin and I started out that way. I started doing this when I got tired of paying watchmakers $50 or more to revive old watches and listening to their excuses about why they were taking so long. So I attended many NAWCC meets and talked to plenty of old timer watch men. I asked my questions and got their answers. I have no customers, only friends and family. I just recently bought one of those Chinese timing machines and they are amazing. I finally see what a really poor job I've been doing all of these years. But now I'm 77 years old and my eyes are not fighter pilot grade anymore, but I still really enjoy working on these miniature spring powered machines. One of my worst mistakes was not learning how to properly use my Levin Lathe, but I had a family to feed and things to be done outside watch work like Harley Davidson Sportsters and autos and engineering telephone systems. I appreciate your opinions and thanks for them.
D
 
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John Runciman

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The Wyler Co used mostly ETA ebauche and they recommend no oil on the pallet pivots. I'm dumb but not having any lubrication on a hard working part like the pallet fork just seems crazy to me.
it looks like Seiko agrees with you? I snipped out something from one of their tech sheets notice they lubricate the pivots.

Seiko pallet fork pivots oil.JPG
 

John Runciman

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What oil is called for in those spots?
the oil they are using is 9010.

Seiko is quite interesting with the pallet fork lubrication because? In the previous image they apply the same quantity of oil to both the pivots and the end of the pallet stones. But in another watch caliber 7s26 same oil but less oil on the pallet fork pivots.

then Seiko doesn't always uniformly oil the pivots. 7005 as you can see no oil on the pivots. Even more interesting is and I don't remember which caliber it is one of them that had multiple generations of documentation where sometimes they do and sometimes they do not. So simplistically Seiko does not always lubricate the pallet fork pivots but other times they do.

Seiko pallet fork oil equivalent.JPG Seiko 7S pallet fork lubrication location.JPG Seiko 7S pallet fork lubrication oil type.JPG Seiko 7005 pallet fork no oil.JPG
 

Peter John

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the oil they are using is 9010.

Seiko is quite interesting with the pallet fork lubrication because? In the previous image they apply the same quantity of oil to both the pivots and the end of the pallet stones. But in another watch caliber 7s26 same oil but less oil on the pallet fork pivots.

then Seiko doesn't always uniformly oil the pivots. 7005 as you can see no oil on the pivots. Even more interesting is and I don't remember which caliber it is one of them that had multiple generations of documentation where sometimes they do and sometimes they do not. So simplistically Seiko does not always lubricate the pallet fork pivots but other times they do.

View attachment 677317 View attachment 677318 View attachment 677319 View attachment 677320
The little arrow indicates an extremely small amt. I do not oil. In a short while the extremely small amount of oil will dry or thicken and then the amplitude will drop. The pallet fork has to be free of anything that will impede the force it gives the roller jewel. This argument has been going on forever. Even watch companies cannot agree.(Seiko oils some and not others):???:? Peter
 

roughbarked

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Yet I've serviced countless numbers of Seiko watches and have never oiled the pallet pivots. For many years sat at a bench with another watchmaker both trained under the same master as myself but who had also worked for four years at the major Seiko Service Center. He never asked me to oil certain pallet pivots.
The only time he recommended oiling pallets pivots, was in cheap pin pallet clocks.
 

DeweyC

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The little arrow indicates an extremely small amt. I do not oil. In a short while the extremely small amount of oil will dry or thicken and then the amplitude will drop. The pallet fork has to be free of anything that will impede the force it gives the roller jewel. This argument has been going on forever. Even watch companies cannot agree.(Seiko oils some and not others):???:? Peter
Yet I've serviced countless numbers of Seiko watches and have never oiled the pallet pivots. For many years sat at a bench with another watchmaker both trained under the same master as myself but who had also worked for four years at the major Seiko Service Center. He never asked me to oil certain pallet pivots.
The only time he recommended oiling pallets pivots, was in cheap pin pallet clocks.

Ah what the heck.

Ever since reading Samelius oiled pallet arbor pivots after testing, I have followed his lead.

In school, we oiled the pallet arbor in every large watch and it was left to our discretion for things like 2892s.

I agree that lack of lube is unlikely to cause damage. Adding lube does increade amplitude (as per Samelius). But, the concerns about oil thickening are overblown. The synthetic oils today do not degrade that way and the EW and balance lube will cause aging problems anyway.

If you are buying fresh oil every Jan 1st (and handle it correctly) , then it is highly unlikely any of the lubes will degrade before 5 years.

It is like greasing teflon coated mainsprings. The springmakers say it is not needed; but that 10 to 15 dots of grease will not hurt it. So I add grease in "belts and suspenders" mode.

But other highly competent watchmakers do things otherwise.

As chided in school, when in doubt follow the tech guide for the caliber.
 
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John Runciman

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In school, we oiled the pallet arbor in every large watch and it was left to our discretion for things like 2892s.
interesting? When I was in school they claimed because the pivot does not rotate it does not need lubrication. Plus as the pivot has to move really really fast and it was suggested that the lubrication might interfere with that.

But, the concerns about oil thickening are overblown. The synthetic oils today do not degrade that way and the EW and balance lube will cause aging problems anyway.
the problem with this statement is your assuming that everybody likes synthetic lubricants. As far as I can tell all of the 8000 series of moebius have natural properties. So the very popular inexpensive 8000 oil that some people still like to use because it's cheap conceivably with their natural ingredients could thicken up. then of course there all the other mystery horological lubrication's out there that we have zero idea what is in them or even their long-term properties.
 

DeweyC

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interesting? When I was in school they claimed because the pivot does not rotate it does not need lubrication. Plus as the pivot has to move really really fast and it was suggested that the lubrication might interfere with that.


the problem with this statement is your assuming that everybody likes synthetic lubricants. As far as I can tell all of the 8000 series of moebius have natural properties. So the very popular inexpensive 8000 oil that some people still like to use because it's cheap conceivably with their natural ingredients could thicken up. then of course there all the other mystery horological lubrication's out there that we have zero idea what is in them or even their long-term properties.

John,

This is why I specified synthetic lubricants. And that even those be thrown out annually. If someone is choosing oils because they are inexpensive, then I wonder how mindful they are of the condition of the oil. Someone is buying those 30 year old bottles of oil on ebay.
 

Dave Haynes

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After reading all of this input I decided to not oil the pallet arbor and give it a try. On an ETA 1000, the pallet fork installation turned out to be much quicker with the arbors dry. Went right together instead of hunting around trying to find the jewel hole for the arbor.

Tried it again on a Wyler ETA 1190 and again it went together easily.
 

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