Problem with putting the balance cock back

Discussion in 'Watch Repair' started by blackarrow, Sep 5, 2017.

  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  1. blackarrow

    blackarrow Registered User

    Sep 4, 2017
    5
    0
    0
    Country Flag:
    Hello,

    since few weeks, I began disassembling and reassembling old mechanical watches, as a hobby. Reading books on watches, their construction and watched Youtube videos where other people explain it helps me a lot. So far, I managed to understand most of the parts, study them, put them back, but the hairspring is killing me.

    I feel that I mess up the hairspring as soon as I take it out, although I try to be very careful. At one moment, the circles of the spring become not so concentric, usually at one side I have really dense spring, on the other side just normal. If I grab the balance wheel with tweezers and try to take the whole thing out, the balance cock falls down. I generally want to avoid grabbing it by balance cock, since the balance wheel hangs on the spring then, which could lead to deformations as well.

    I looked at the parts here http://people.timezone.com/mdisher/WatchSchool/pdfs/TZIllustratedGlossary.pdf and watched the video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvMCNyrDZQo but I still can not understand how to take off and install back the balance wheel, balance cock and spring. If I try method with rotating the balance cock for 90 degrees, then the bottom pivot flips out the jewel hole easily. Otherwise, the impulse jewel is probably not put right, so the hairspring does not swing at all.

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks.
     
  2. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

    Dec 2, 2016
    1,869
    2
    38
    watchmaker
    Western NSW, Australia
    Country Flag:
    Practice helps.
    When I first started, I was always tangling hairsprings. After learning how to untangle them, one starts to get a sense of how they tangled in the first place.
     
  3. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Jan 7, 2011
    7,210
    22
    38
    Male
    Retired from Xerox
    Breamore, Hampshire, UK
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    Hi blackarrow, and welcome,

    This looks scary the first time you do it, but it's standard practice. The hairspring should be able to take the weight of the balance without permanent distortion, but you must be careful that it doesn't snag on anything as you lift it out. Bear in mind that in many watches the balance is running underneath a train wheel, so it has to be coaxed out from under there before you lift it away. Once it's clear of the movement you can put it down carefully and then just flip it over so that you can release the hairspring from the regulator and remove the stud from the cock so that the balance is free of the cock.

    Putting it back is the reverse procedure.

    I have to say that moving the balance, (or any other component), round with a finger, as shown in the Youtube video, is very poor practice and not something you should emulate.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  4. glenhead

    glenhead Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Nov 15, 2009
    803
    10
    18
    Telecom Engineer
    Williamson County, Texas
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    My procedure is one I learned from one of my mentors. Break the cock loose and swing it a bit to the side so it doesn't try to reseat its pins, leaving it set on the plate. Then take your tweezers and scoop one jaw underneath the balance wheel and the other jaw over the cock. You want to go under both sides of the wheel and cover as much of the cock as possible. Grip the whole assembly with an absolute-minimum amount of force, just barely enough to keep things from shifting. Lift straight up so the lower pivot clears the hole, and keep everything horizontal as you move it all over to the benchtop and set it down. That's pretty well guaranteed to be a safe method until you've gained the experience and confidence to know when you can just coax everything using the spring without resulting in a bird's nest. I still use the whole-assembly process with inexpensive 18kbph watches, the ones with absurdly fine hairsprings.

    If you've made bird's nests out of learning watches, don't throw them out! Set them aside and use them to learn hairspring (gads I hate typing that word!) manipulation. I "destroyed" the hairsprings on five Bulova 5AD movements when I first started learning. (They were my movement of choice for learning - high quality and tiny.) I set them aside, and about three years later went back to them and fixed the hairsprings. My daughter now wears each of them in her rotation of daily watches.

    Glen
     
  5. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Jan 7, 2011
    7,210
    22
    38
    Male
    Retired from Xerox
    Breamore, Hampshire, UK
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    Hi blackarrow,

    Just to illustrate what I was mentioning earlier about letting the balance hang from the cock without distorting the hairspring, here's a picture. When it was taken off the balance tack again, the spring was still flat. (No hairsprings were harmed in the making of this image).

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  6. glenhead

    glenhead Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Nov 15, 2009
    803
    10
    18
    Telecom Engineer
    Williamson County, Texas
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    I just saw you were talking about putting the assembly *back* as well. Sigh. It helps to pay attention.

    Putting it back is akin to patting your head and rubbing your tummy. (Or is is rubbing your head and patting your tummy?) It just takes a bit of planning and coordination.

    Give the watch a wind or two, enough to give the pallet fork a good lock. You'll want to start with the balance wheel dangling from the cock, and with the cock held flat and pivoted horizontally about 90 degrees either clockwise or counter-clockwise, as you've seen. I usually try to hold the cock with the tweezers on top and bottom near the screw hole, as that gives a bit better control. When you pivot the cock, notice that the impulse pin swings wide of the fork. Flip the fork to the side where the impulse pin goes. Carefully maneuver the wheel until its bottom pivot into its hole, being sure to clear all the bleep that's in your way. The impulse pin should be in a position to catch the fork when you swing the cock into place. Rotate the cock into place, being sure to keep it steady above the wheel. Set it down on the plate, let it go, sit back, and take a deep breath or two to release some tension. The hard part is done! Set the cock's alignment pins in their holes, but don't secure anything yet. Take a good close look at the working end of all this stuff. Is the lower pivot in place? Is the impulse pin in the fork? Sometimes the hairspring will get snagged on a nearby wheel. Is it clear of all obstructions? Once you've verified there are no oopsies, squiggle the cock into place and *gently* make sure the upper pivot goes straight into the pivot hole. Don't put any pressure on the jewel end of the cock until you're double-danged sure the pivot is in its hole. It's appallingly easy to miss the hole and tighten things down, only to hear that lovely "crack" that lets you know you broke either the pivot or the jewel.

    Practice, practice, practice. Pick a watch you can screw up on, and remove and replace the balance assembly until you really feel you have the knack for it. There will still be some that come along that bite you, but with experience you'll be able to tell something has gone awry before catastrophic things happen.

    Good luck!

    Glen
     
  7. blackarrow

    blackarrow Registered User

    Sep 4, 2017
    5
    0
    0
    Country Flag:
    Hello,

    thank you for the answers. I still do not know how the subscription works here, since I have been subscribed to this thread via e-mail, but received the notification for the first reply only.

    I do completely agree, but the hairspring was from some old broken watch, just for learning purposes (he mentioned that in some other video he made as well).

    After reading all of your posts, I will follow the procedures you mentioned and give it a try.
     
  8. blackarrow

    blackarrow Registered User

    Sep 4, 2017
    5
    0
    0
    Country Flag:
    Forgot to mention that I have a problem removing the hairspring from the balance wheel. Tried to do it with the tool I use to hands, but it is just too large. Tried to use the smallest screwdrivers I have, but it does not work, since I can not get them underneath the pivot in order to remove the balance wheel. This watch is an old swiss lady watch I am working on.
     
  9. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Jan 7, 2011
    7,210
    22
    38
    Male
    Retired from Xerox
    Breamore, Hampshire, UK
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    Hi blackarrow,

    Either file a piece of flat steel, such as a section of old mainspring or an old screwdriver, so that it just fits in the gap in the collet and turn it gently whilst lifting, or use a narrow craft knife blade and very carefully insert it under the collet and lever it up, working round as you go. If you try the first method the part which goes in the gap should be parallel and not tapered. It's delicate so go carefully. Holding the balance on a piece of pithwood can help steady it, but be aware of the roller underneath.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  10. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

    Dec 2, 2016
    1,869
    2
    38
    watchmaker
    Western NSW, Australia
    Country Flag:
    Two of the fine screwdrivers, one each side and twist in opposite directions if one screwdriver won't do it. I find that using two is safer than one.
     
  11. blackarrow

    blackarrow Registered User

    Sep 4, 2017
    5
    0
    0
    Country Flag:
    Thank you for the suggestions, I managed to take it apart, clean it, oil it, and put it back together. This is just a ordinary mechanical watch with no complications, but it is a huge step for me :) During the assembling I noticed that the pallet fork was little bit bent in upper direction, which caused the balance wheel not to spin that well. After I corrected it the best I could, the watch started ticking.

    However, I suspect that watch gains huge amount of time, but it is too early to say it, I will keep it running during the day and see what happens. I tried using some amateur tools for adjusting a movement, such as WildSpectra Mobile Lite but the ticking is always too weak. Any recommendations on such applications? I am sure they do not have quality and reliability of a such standard watchmaker tool, but for a beginner like me, it could be useful.

    The other problem I think I will encounter is manipulating the hairspring, if it is deformed. The spring is connected to the stud with shellac, and there is not way I can take it off, since I do not have proper tool for it to put it back.
     
  12. blackarrow

    blackarrow Registered User

    Sep 4, 2017
    5
    0
    0
    Country Flag:
    Yep, it is gaining time, I would say 30 second per hour, probably around 10-15 a day, which is huge. I managed to slow it down a little using the regulator, but it is not enough (even though the regulator is pushed completely to the minus side). I took a photo of it, something is probably wrong with the hairspring, but as said before, impossible for me to take it off.

    View attachment 355839
     
  13. ebrauns

    ebrauns Registered User

    Jan 29, 2016
    37
    0
    6
    Chemistry professor (physical and biophysical chem
    Moscow, ID
    Country Flag:
    Blackarrow,

    This is slightly off topic, but as a fellow newbie, I wanted to add to something that Glenhead mentioned. One of the smartest things I ever did (with respect to watch repair :p) was to purchase a "lot" of pocket watch parts from Ebay. If you go there and search for "pocket watch lot" or "watch part lot", etc. you'll see what a mean. I spent about $20 and got maybe a pound or so of watch parts. For the most part it was a bunch of junk (though I did manage to build a working watch from them). However, it included a bunch of hairsprings (many of them unusable) that I could mess around with to get an idea just how much I could manipulate them without distorting them permanently. I did the same with with mainsprings (including practicing removing them from their barrel and replacing them), pallet forks, pivots, etc. Even now, if I come across a slightly bent pivot on a watch I'm working on, I'll go to my junk pile and practice bending a few before doing the same to the good part.

    Happy watch repairing!

    Eric
     
Loading...
Similar Threads - Problem putting balance Forum Date
Omega quickset problem Watch Repair Thursday at 7:37 PM
Polishing and Bracelet Assembly Problem Watch Repair Oct 8, 2017
Rolex Datejust 3035 date shifting problem. Watch Repair Jul 5, 2017
Elgin 12 size balance wheel install problem Watch Repair Jun 28, 2017
Tips on putting plates together without breaking pivots? Watch Repair Jun 8, 2017

Share This Page