Pantographs in watchmaking

Discussion in 'Horological Tools' started by karlmansson, Dec 11, 2019.

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  1. karlmansson

    karlmansson Registered User

    Apr 20, 2013
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    Hello!

    Just recently I’ve come across several independent watchmakers who use a pantograph for concept work and parts replacement for different calibers.

    I’m starting to think this might not be such a bad idea. Should be simple enough to rough out parts for proof of concept from a sketch, or a CAD drawing. Without having to go full CNC.

    I’m thinking applications along the lines of crossing out wheels from less than 1mm brass plat or so, and making levers and flat parts out of .5mm steel.

    The guys I’ve seen using this are Vianney Halter, Henrik (and presumably Kaj) Korpela and George Daniels. They all have rather large equipment, Deckel machines with a footprint of a square meter or so. Daniels I think had a smaller machine for crossing out wheels in a documentary about him that I saw.

    What size a build would be a lower limit for what would be useful in watchmaking? I’m looking a the smaller Gravograph machines that are for desktop use at the moment. I realize that as the name implies they are first and foremost engraving machines. However, cutting at 1mm or .5mm DOC with a 1mm endmill could possibly be equated to engraving? A table top Deckel would of course be ideal for me. The everlasting space constraint of working out of you home with this stuff... Then again, those small Deckels seem to be unicorns.

    Any thoughts? Any experience with these machines? All help appreciated!

    Regards
    Karl
     
  2. praezis

    praezis Registered User

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    Hi Karl,

    for me, using an engraving machine for making parts is outdated.
    I draw my watch parts with CorelDRAW, send the file to a fine laser company and get the parts ready for plug and play. The parts are cheap, but a fixed fee for setup applies. Sample attached.

    Frank

    WHF_laser.jpg
     
    karlmansson likes this.
  3. karlmansson

    karlmansson Registered User

    Apr 20, 2013
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    Thank you Frank!

    It’s in my interest to keep things in house as much as possible. I’m doing this out of interest for the art and craft and to be able to be creative and invent solutions. I like the idea of being able to adjust or remake a part on the fly if it turns out I made a mistake or thought error the first time around.

    I appreciate your solution though! I doubt I have the same options around here in Sweden though.

    Regards
    Karl
     
  4. wefalck

    wefalck Registered User

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    I am also a junkie for those old 'mechanical' machines, but given the fact that desk-top pantograph engravers are indeed unicorns, it might be more practical to look into a small desk-top CNC router (not as sexy, I admit). The point about a pantograph-guided system is that you can use a (massively) enlarged template. So you need to do a scale-drawing anyway.
     
  5. Jerry Kieffer

    Jerry Kieffer Registered User
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    Being bull headed, it took some time for the bulb to turn on. Luckily it did turn on eventually, but I regret the time wasted.

    In the beginning as with many people, I purchased inexpensive random pieces of vintage equipment not realizing many items were designed for specific purposes. In addition, one rarely realizes that the operators of this equipment often spent careers mastering individual pieces of equipment to perform as intended. Much time was spent repairing and manipulating such equipment only to end up producing something of no practical value.

    To make a long story short, if your a busy repair person, I would strongly suggest considering Franks solution in post #2 or a similar solution. While these solutions are generally readily available, you need to explore outside of the Horological repair community to find them in many cases.

    Personally, I am mainly interested in constructing Micro mechanical devises from bar stock generally containing mostly one off parts. Horological examples have been bar stock watch movements. When supporting this habit, I make one off parts and or repair micro mechanical devices requiring parts to be made both Horological and non Horological.

    My Shop is limited to two Lathes and two Mills, one large and small of each. These machines were selected for friendly use, Capabilities, efficiency, compatibility and above all versatility. Because of one off work, they are manual machines with a small mix of CNC and other technologies. Mainly the two smaller machines are used on a daily basis allowing a high degree of efficiency and capability in a timely fashion since time is only divided between two machines. An example of this is a timed demonstration in the NAWCC workshop WS-120 where a watch size pallet shape is machined manually generally in less than five minutes. The Mill adapts immediately and the only accessories required are a Mill vise, Endmill and slitting saw.

    Again personally, all tools and equipment are purchased to work on projects, not be projects. As such, I cannot change myself, but I can change my tools if they do not work out and have done so many times in the past.

    Again however, there is nothing wrong with tools being projects, if that is your goal as it is with some.

    Jerry Kieffer
     
  6. karlmansson

    karlmansson Registered User

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    Thank you for your reply Jerry! I don’t see any reference to pantographs in it though.

    Many of these machines were made for precisely the type of work you describe. I’m pretty certain that our workshop space also doesn’t match, and so our capabilities for housing machines differ quite a lot. The reason for considering a pantograph it the capability to make irregularly shaped parts and be able to make adjustments on the fly. It is a way to work on projects, not on machines. Henrik Korpela has the same argument that you do Jerry, that he can spit out a flat watch part with a complex profile in a matter of minutes on his pantograph.

    Judging from the replies I’ve gotten so far, I take it no one to reply has had any hands on experience with smaller (or larger for that matter) pantographs?

    Regards
    Karl
     
  7. Jerry Kieffer

    Jerry Kieffer Registered User
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    Karl
    Since I consider Pantographs vintage tools, I did actually cover them but should have made it clear. Sorry about that.

    I do not know Henrik Korpela nor have I ever examined any of his work or procedures, so it would not be fair of me to comment.

    But having made many watch parts, I know of no way to make them accurately with engraving tools or tooling. They are originally made with specialized Micro machine tooling (Where Machining is used) that has proven far superior to other methods.
    Having already constructed a bar stock watch movement, I can tell you that at times, you will need to use various types of Endmills down in the .010" or .25mm range for smaller watch parts. While no issue for machines designed for the use of this type tooling, I have found no need to try their use in a Pantograph. However, I suspect that a .010" or .25mm stylus and endmill may only last about two or three seconds in a hand operated pantograph without a lifetime of developed skill.

    If you have not witnessed anyone make watch parts to your satisfaction in person on a pantograph, I would suggest doing so before parting with your money.


    Jerry Kieffer
     
  8. motormaker

    motormaker Registered User

    Apr 5, 2010
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    I have and regularly use a Gorton 3U pantograph. If I was making a "run" of the same design, I might consider using it for making parts. Each part requires a good template. For one off items, it would be a very inefficient method of working. To easily make the custom templates, I would cut them by CNC which kind of defeats the idea of using the pantograph for such work. Having said this, it could be efficient for crossing out wheels if you used the same cross out shapes on several wheels. Changing the size ratio is quick and easy. All you would need is a set of sector shape templates and rotate the wheels to cut out the sections. Varying the sizes as needed is fast, accurate, and easy with a better pantograph - not a little desktop unit. For such work you will most likely need to grind some of your own tooling too. I have made wheels with the cross out sections shaped like bats. These sections do not have to be shaped like slices of pie. The costs of a good pantograph and grinder can rapidly add up. Consider this carefully.
     
  9. Pensivedoc

    Pensivedoc Registered User
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    Jerry,

    This absolutely fascinates me:

    "Having already constructed a bar stock watch movement, I can tell you that at times, you will need to use various types of Endmills down in the .010" or .25mm range for smaller watch parts."

    Would you be willing to tell us anything (in general) about the scale and design of your movement? I'm working on a clock, currently (which, tbh, is of a larger scale than my Sherline lathe and mill are designed to tackle--though I'm having fun finding ways to work around that) and have frequently thought that moving down to something of large pocket watch scale would be nice as a next project. I've used end mills of the size you describe when creating a prototype part for a friend's project which involved small ledges to suspend a grid for electron microscopy. This convinced me that the tools were up to the task of making such a movement, but I've never heard of anyone actually having done it--until now.

    -Jason
     
  10. Jerry Kieffer

    Jerry Kieffer Registered User
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    Jason
    I have completed two movements, both 16s pocket watch. I am working on a third.

    The first one first one was completely from bar stock minus jewels. During construction, it became larger than intended, thicker than intended and just plain ugly. To top it off, time keeping was not its greatest virtue.

    However, much was learned and the second one is much more like it should be. It is a 19 jewel, uncased and mounted in a container for students to closely examine and discuss construction. However again it is also completely from barstock minus jewels and hairspring.

    Constructing a functional watch movement of any size is a monumental task requiring years unless worked on all day every day. In my case they have been something that I worked on when my tools were setup to make the next part needed. So each movement took about 10 years.

    The whole project is far to complicated to discuss on a forum like this. Over the years I have covered most of the complicated parts such as the escape wheel some time back and the compensating balance more recently. Just remember, all parts are machined in the same manner everything else is.

    If you can hold off for awhile, the story behind the movements and their construction is in the process of being covered in the online section of the Craftsmanship Museum sometime this summer. later in the year, it is possible the second movement will be on loan and on display in the museum.

    Thank you for your interest.

    jerry Kieffer
     
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  11. sharukh

    sharukh Registered User
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    Jerry,

    I couldn't find your post about the compensating balance. I searched using several different patterns but came up with zilch.

    Could you post a link ?

    Thank you,

    Sharukh
     
  12. Jerry Kieffer

    Jerry Kieffer Registered User
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    Sharukh
    The link is as follows.
    Compensated Balance Construction

    Jerry Kieffer
     
  13. Pensivedoc

    Pensivedoc Registered User
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    Thanks, Jerry!

    You've given me exactly the level of answer I was looking for. I appreciate your work, and your incredible generosity in the way you share your experience with others.

    I'll look forward to finding out more, as available, through the Craftsmanship Museum.

    -Jason
     
  14. sharukh

    sharukh Registered User
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  15. karlmansson

    karlmansson Registered User

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    Well, since this thread is above again I guess I’d be out of place not to mention that I bought a pantograph after all. It’s going to need some TLC before i can use it but I couldn’t resist the price.

    It’s a Scripta SR-3D x. The head is disassembled in the pictures. Most of the brown stuff is grease and grime but sadly not all of it.

    Regards
    Karl

    DD3C667B-53D8-4901-8B0D-D47ED6A1645B.jpeg
     
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  16. measuretwice

    measuretwice Registered User

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    congrats, that's a solid looking little unit. Now you're going to have to get yourself a single lip grinder :). I've got a couple of the engravographs, and yours is far more substantial but also nicely compact; no doubt capable of some real work.

    With how accessible 3D printers are, that might be a way to create 2d or even 3d patterns
     
  17. karlmansson

    karlmansson Registered User

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    I got a used Kirba cutter grinder quite a while before getting this one. I'm making a new spindle for that one though, with a nose taper as opposed to the original straight shank and shoulder. So it's not useable at the moment. But that's okay, because neither is the pantograph! :)

    I've been getting into 3Dprinting more and more lately, it's really pretty useful if you find the filament for the purpose and if you figure out some basics in CAD and how to slice the parts for printing. I made an indicator holder for the bed of my lathe with embedded neodynium magnets the other day. Printed just fine and I realized I needed to make some changes. Probably about two dollars in material cost to make the prototype.
    And yes, printing patterns had occured to me as well! I'm still not sure how the 3D function of this pantograph works though, the spindle doesn't move up and down but tilts.

    Regards
    Karl
     
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