Something the Howard Co. factory mechanics could not do!

Discussion in 'Member News and Views' started by dweiss17, Aug 15, 2012.

  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  1. dweiss17

    dweiss17 Registered User
    Old Timer NAWCC Member

    Aug 1, 2006
    2,461
    40
    48
    Retired from Graphic Arts
    Philadelphia, PA
    Country Flag:
    Even the experts at the Howard Watch Co. factory could not solve the banking problem with the Coles Escapement borrowed from the English more than a century ago when Howard was in business. Probably, most were returned to the factory for added banking pins; even that did not solve the problem. Many were refitted with non-Coles Escapements. I am not a pocket watch expert, however, I played with my Howard Coles for some years...it would run and hang up. Any slight jar in your pocket or hand and it would not function as a running watch. In those day men still traveled by horse and by stage coach. The motion of horse and coach involved jarred the watch and it could not perform. The Coles Escapment used a system where the pallets banked on the specially shaped escape wheel that was different from the usual escape wheels with the footed club feet. Howard tried many styles of plates and escapements for his watches, the Coles was a profound failure. He also made a few Coles Escapements in a smaller size watch that could have been near 16 size.

    According to Clint Geller, Howard writer and expert on Howard pocket watches, about 535 of these Howard Coles Escapement pocket watches were made by the Howard Co. A little over 40 may be extant. No one knows for sure how many are running Coles Escapements. I do not speak for Mr. Geller here, these are my thoughts and those of Bruce Aldo of Sun City, AZ. I sent my Howard Coles Escapement to Bruce for a possible cure to the problem without changing any of the parts of the watch as I bought it many years ago. Today, I opened my computer mail and received the below message from Bruce.

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: Bruce Aldo
    To: Daniel M Weiss
    Sent: Wednesday, August 15, 2012 4:07 AM
    Subject: Coles Howard

    Hello Dan,

    Your Howard is done and has been running well for the past couple of days. It took some doing but once I learned how the escapement needed to be set up I was able modify and shorten a couple of pallet stones to have them interact properly with the escape wheel. I am convinced the reason the design was not successful was primarily because of a lack of knowledge. It is not obvious how it should work and I believe that is the biggest failing on the part of Howard for not getting the information out there. Secondarily, the only adjustment you have is moving the pallet stones. Banking pins are of no value and are therefore unnecessary. The leg of the escape tooth is the banking surface. The drop is on the flat surface of the hook and the stone slides to bank on the tooth leg.

    I will try to get it in the mail tomorrow.

    Best regards,

    Bruce

    Bruce Aldo is a watchmakers' watchmaker and inventor of photographic equipment. Bruce is also the craftsman that saved my Adams & Perry #1448...from the scrap heap by creating some functioning parts that were not available at any price. The story about the A&P may be found on a few former Chapters no longer connected to the NAWCC. The story is entitled...The Watch from Hell. Bruce also helped restore my Adams & Perry #1585 posted here on the NAWCC Message Board under "Our Voices."
     
  2. dweiss17

    dweiss17 Registered User
    Old Timer NAWCC Member

    Aug 1, 2006
    2,461
    40
    48
    Retired from Graphic Arts
    Philadelphia, PA
    Country Flag:
    Sometimes we compose thoughts that may beg deciphering in different ways by the readers. The above subject about Howard Coles Escapements is one of those writings that seems taken to task. In all innocence, I was happy to write about the success in bringing a Howard Coles Escapement back to life and in fine running condition keeping it original…and just changing the pallet stones. In the piece, I wrote about the book put out by Clint Geller. Mr. Geller, in a rightful manner took me to task for my supposedly misstating facts in his fine book on Howard Watch Co. products. That was his rightful privilege, in my responding to his thoughts and his to mine, it seems we laid things pro and con to rest. I hope so.

    However, in my personal thoughts I still think as great as the Howard products are and sought after, the Howard Coles Escapements at least in the "N" designation were not well-received by the public and the artisans who tried to put them in running order. Of the 535 Coles estimated to have been made by Howard, it seems a little over 40 are known to exist. How many are in good running condition is the mystery.

    In total, I seem to remember reading Howard produced around 120,000 pocket watches (?) during the Howard reign as one of the most expensive American pocket watch movements. Yet, in total less than 1000, Coles Escapements seem to have been made in two sizes, if I read the written passages correctly.

    Such a small amount of Coles Escapements help reinforce my thought…problems did abound in keeping them running. It is also stated many were converted to other escapements. Still others had banking pins added by the company after they were returned for repair that altered the Coles escapement set up.

    So that I choose to project that the Howard Co. abandoned the Coles Escapement because of its running problems, I may be correct in my thinking.
     

Share This Page