Waltham 1857 cleaning and repair - question

cspinner

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May 9, 2022
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Hello,

I acquired a Waltham 1857, grade A.T. & Co. (stem wind and set) that was in a non-running and grimy condition. After a thorough cleaning with #111 and rinsing, I reassembled the movement and oiled the pivots. As a last step, I gave it a couple winds and installed the balance and was pleased to see it begin ticking away. However, when I flipped the watch over to DU it completely stopped. The balance wheel was slightly touching the balance cock in the DU position.

Here is what I have tried so far - with pictures and videos attached:
  • Inspected the balance staff - pivots don't appear to be broken. In some pictures it looks to me like the roller end is crooked? Not sure though. I took 4 pictures at 90 deg angles of each other.
  • Inspected the top and bottom jewels, and they look fine (best I have is a 10x loupe)
  • Removed the hairspring and reinstalled the balance cock with wheel. DD, the wheel spun freely and smoothly back and forth, gaining slight momentum each time it met the pallet fork. Flipped the watch DU, saw the wheel stop again with ever slight friction against the balance cock
  • Inspected end shake, seemed normal (but you tell me) . No noticeable tilting at the pivots in the jewels.
  • Observed that the balance cock itself was bent slightly downward towards the staff. I would presume trying to "correct" this by bending it back up would only increase end shake and make matters worse. There are also 3 small divots under where the balance cock sits on the plate, perhaps to compensate for this? I'm not sure if these were put there by the factory or a past servicer. Either way, my taking apart and reassembling a few times may have flattened them.
What do you think?

Thanks!

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Chris Radek

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Apr 13, 2014
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First, welcome to the forum!

These can be really hard to fix after someone has screwed them up like this. Even though the movement is large, the clearances between balance arms, top plate, hairspring, cock, etc., are all really small and everything has to be just right. The balance has to be perfectly flat and it has to be at the right height. The hairspring also has to breathe perfectly flat. End shake has to be very close to zero.

First, put the balance in a truing caliper and make sure the balance rim is perfectly true. If it is, the heights are simply wrong, probably because the staff or jewel settings or both are wrong. The huge glob of shellac on the roller jewel makes me suspect the staff is wrong, and one symptom is the roller was glued on with the shellac. This of course won't be remotely in poise, and won't run to time with that extra weight - let's hope the same person didn't attack all the screws with a file because of that. If you're lucky, they couldn't get it to run at all and gave up before doing any more damage.

Your observation that the cock appears bent and is sitting at an angle because of divots is another sign that the staff is wrong - maybe it's just too short, and someone broke the cardinal rule (make the new part fit the watch, don't make the watch fit the new part). The divots aren't factory, they're botch work to adjust end shake. After you fix the problems correctly, you may be able to flatten them somewhat back into their holes by pressing with the back end of a brass tweezers. Then the cock, which you can hopefully bend back into shape, will sit flat. As it is, the end shake looks quite a bit too loose to me.

Good luck. This is a difficult repair job.
 

MrRoundel

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Let me add my "welcome to the forum". I've worked on maybe five '57 models over the years and don't remember the staff being so short at the top section. It just looks wrong to me. FWIW, I don't recall seeing, and have never worked on, a stem-wind '57 model. But Appleton Tracy's of any model is a good one to have. Enjoy.
 

Skutt50

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Mar 14, 2008
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Welcome to the forum.

Have you had the balance jewels removed? In one picture it almost looks like a piece of tin foil is stuck under the jewel.

Make sure the jewels are well seated. If not the end shake will be too big.

To check on the balance, you could measure the overall length and compare with the length of an original staff. (Sorry I don't have the measurements at hand.)
 

cspinner

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May 9, 2022
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Thank you for your responses so far. The theory about the balance staff being incorrect/short makes sense. I was able to true the balance cock and reverse the divots and, as expected, not only did the end shake increase, I began to observe significant tilting of the balance. I guess it’s time to redo the balance. So fun! You never know what you’re going to find in these old watches— I just wish one day I can find a completely original non-running watch that someone hasn’t ham fisted!

The 1857 has serial number 42330. It did seem strange that it is pendant considering the database has these listed as key wound.

I’m still relatively new to the repair hobby so I don’t yet have a staking set or other tools to correctly replace a balance staff. So for now I will need to source a new one from a donor. Did Waltham use the same staff and balance on a variety of models and grades?

Thanks
 

MrRoundel

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Can you, OP, provide an image that shows the whole movement? I'm having a hard time reconciling things about this movement with a '57 model. Now I'm seeing a type of regulator (Church) that I don't believe was ever used on a '57. Heck, the balance-cock on '57 models spans much further across the plates than your appears to. I need to see an image to be convinced it's a '57. Something seems amiss to me.

I checked the research work done by Ron Price and it seems to show that the Appleton-Tracy grade didn't see a stem-wind used until a serial number in the 700,000's. And to top it off, it appears that '57 models always have the balance cock on the other side of the movement. Looking along the plates, balance side, the balance cocks is on the right of the barrel bridge. Yours is to the left of the barrel bridge. Please provide an image of the back of the watch. Thanks.

Edit: I see that Dave beat me to it while I was writing and researching.
 

cspinner

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May 9, 2022
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You’re absolutely right. As Dave stated it’s a US Watch Co. movement. Completely got mixed up there. Sorry for the confusion. That certainly explains the inconsistencies I’ve seen when looking at the database.
 
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MrRoundel

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It being a U.S. Watch Co. at Waltham may explain why the staff may be the wrong one. I'm certain that parts for U.S. Watch Co. are much harder to find, as their number were far less. I suspect that a staff of the proper dimensions would have to be found, as my friend neighmond always told me, dangling on the end of a piece of wire. Best of luck. Cheers.
 

penjunky

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Jul 25, 2019
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Hi cspinner.

I had a 16s waltham doing about the same thing as your balance. About half of the pivot was broken off, and after a new staff it was wobble city, too much end shake, I thought I had broken the new staff.

Checking more I found the cock, jewel end, had been pried up .6 mm higher than where it fastens to the plate. So I pried the cock back down to the same measurement as the other end and when I put the balance in it wouldn't even move, too tight-, scratching my head.

So I took the cock jewels out and noticed they were a lot thicker than the jewels in a few more walthams I had, so I did a little measuring, replaced the cock jewels with thinner ones and that fixed the balance issue. Lucky for me the other watches were the same mdl # so the jewels fit the cock and the balance pivot.

Yours might be the opposite, maybe some one pried the cock down to accommodate a partially broken staff, or put a wrong size staff, or maybe even changed a jewel.

I hope this didn't happen to you but I think in my case I got hold of a non working frankenwatch and made a working frakenwatch.

Good luck
 
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penjunky

Donor
Jul 25, 2019
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Hey Graham, good to see you again.

My measurement could have someone on the other end of town. l0l

.6 mm or there abouts the best I recall

Take care...Roger
 

cspinner

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May 9, 2022
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Thanks for the feedback so far. I managed to true the balance cock and flatten the divots. The balance staff is way too short. I don’t have reason to believe the jewels are to blame. Given this isn’t a Waltham, but a U.S. Watch Co. it will be a challenge to find a donor so I will attempt to search for a new staff to replace. The movement is in otherwise great condition. Until then, I’m moving on to other projects.

thanks!
 
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