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English PW Repairing a link in a broken fusee chain.

Colin Drake

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Feb 9, 2015
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How difficult is it to repair a link in a fusee chain on an old pocket watch? I was at an antique mall the other day, and someone had two nice looking pocket watches, each with a broken fusee chain. They were behind glass, and I couldn't get a good look at them. Would it be as simple as removing the damaged link and linking the chain back together, or would it likely be a matter of wear throughout the chain(this one link simply being the worst)? Also, would anything else have broken with it.

I have been working as a clock maker for a year now and am looking to get into watch repair. I am looking for a project to start with. I don't like starting with simple things. I actually prefer a few weeks of hair pulling and grinding my teeth wile I sleep with the added benefit of getting as much learning out of the way at the start as I possibly can.

Does this sound like a good candidate, or should i hold out for something better?
 

Smudgy

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May 20, 2003
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A broken chain may be wear throughout, or it could be just a broken link. I think probabilities would favor the worn chain. Repairing the chain is a little more involved than simply removing a broken link and reconnecting the chain. Most of the parts of the fusee watches were hand made, so finding replacement parts is difficult at best and usually requires fabrication. This is especially true for the verge fusees. I've repaired some of these chains in the past, and can tell you that the first attempt can easily result in a few weeks of hair pulling and teeth grinding. If that is what you are looking for, then the fusees are probably a good choice. However, I would recommend something produced a little later that would allow for the possibility of finding replacement parts, even if they need to be hand fitted.
 

gmorse

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Jan 7, 2011
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Hi Colin,

I agree with Smudgy, in that fusee chains are very fiddly to repair, but they are after all just like a tiny bike chain, and very often the problem is just a split link on one side causing failure. They are susceptible to the ravages of rust. There are always a few chains on the auction sites, but they are getting expensive, and there's a wide variation in the sizes. The potential damage if a chain gives way is that the free end whips round and pivots are bent or broken, but the balance potence takes most of the force.

I should go for these watches if the price is OK, and there are a lot of movements still out there in various states; if nothing else you'll be learning a lot from them.

Some background reading is a good idea, De Carle's "Practical Watch Repairing" and Gazeley's "Clock and Watch Escapements" are both good.

Regards,

Graham
 

Skutt50

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Mar 14, 2008
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These chains can be repaired. Search on the forum for "fusee chain repair" and you will find some threads related to this.

There is however the risk that it might break again but I have been successful in my 5-6 attempts!

If you decide to replace it make sure you find a chain of about the same length and thickness. If it is too long or too short you risk damaging the chain on the first wind. If too thick it might not fit correctly on the fusee cone and if too thin you risk breakage, even if not badly worn!
 

Colin Drake

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Feb 9, 2015
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Thank you for the advice. I am most interested in learning to make my own parts, as I will no doubt need these skills in the future. I am going to enroll in the watch making school in Seattle this coming September, and intend to get set up for milling/micro machining as soon as I know what to do with it all.

A watch with a broken fusee chain probably isn't worth 100 bucks. If I can get her down to fifty I might take them. It'll at least be worth the experience. I'll get a better look next time.
 

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