Plated Ratchet Wheel /Upper Crown Wheel Corrosion. How to improve?

svenedin

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Jan 28, 2010
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Pocket watch movements I work on (usually 1900-1930 ish) often have plated and mirror polished ratchet wheels and upper crown wheels. These seem very prone to corrosion and it is rare for me to see a movement that has not got some corrosion there. Sometimes it's a small patch and sometimes a spidery pattern of corrosion of the underlying steel. I am a bit puzzled as to why these parts are so prone to this. Anyway, I don't know what the plating is exactly. Perhaps it's nickel or chrome. Sometimes they are just polished steel or with some other pattern (sunray, swirl etc).

Visually, the cosmetic appearance of the movement is spoiled by this because these wheels are a large part of what is seen. Function is not affected.

Have others had any success in reducing the appearance of the corrosion and what did they do? Metal polish?
 

Skutt50

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Mar 14, 2008
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I have seen this on several movements as well. What I do depends of the state of the rest of the movement an case as well as on how much corrosion there is.
(I happen to have "a few" donor movements as well as a number of old ratchet ratchet wheels so sometimes I can just swap.)
When there is no replacement at hand I remove the rust by some rust dissolver. If the damaged is minor or if the movement is otherwise showing a lot of wear I leave it as is. It is part of the movements history so to say.

I don't have the skill/patience to create the fancy pattern found on some of these wheels. Polished wheels can be ground down and repolished. I use a diamond plate and then emery papers. To get the full shine I use a wheel and some polishing compound. Usually turns out well but not always like new.........
 

svenedin

NAWCC Member
Jan 28, 2010
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478
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Surrey
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I have seen this on several movements as well. What I do depends of the state of the rest of the movement an case as well as on how much corrosion there is.
(I happen to have "a few" donor movements as well as a number of old ratchet ratchet wheels so sometimes I can just swap.)
When there is no replacement at hand I remove the rust by some rust dissolver. If the damaged is minor or if the movement is otherwise showing a lot of wear I leave it as is. It is part of the movements history so to say.

I don't have the skill/patience to create the fancy pattern found on some of these wheels. Polished wheels can be ground down and repolished. I use a diamond plate and then emery papers. To get the full shine I use a wheel and some polishing compound. Usually turns out well but not always like new.........
Thank you Skutt. Yes I would swap if it was very bad and I had a suitable donor. Perhaps what I think is plated is just mirror polished. If I am wrong, trying to refinish will remove plating. The British climate is very damp so maybe I see this more than those in a drier climate. If it is a gilded movement that is otherwise pretty I think it is worth trying to get the wheels looking good. I will experiment on a scrap wheel......

Edit: Although I have some decent donor wheels they are not the same design. The mirror polished ones are concave whereas my donors are flat and with a brushed type finish.
 
Last edited:

Skutt50

Registered User
Mar 14, 2008
4,193
397
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Gothenburg
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Most of the wheels I have come across are just polished steel.

The mirror polished ones are concave whereas my donors are flat and with a brushed type finish.
Concave can be dealt with using emery paper and polishing wheel. The brushed I don't even try any more unless it happens to be straight lines. I have seen some YouTube videos of watch restorers that use a lathe and rotating brush type wheels that could create all kinds of fancy patterns but I have no desire to go down that route.........
 

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