Was punching pivot holes ever considered a good practice?

woodlawndon

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I disassembled an old (1962) Hermle movement. I noticed that there were 4 pivot holes that had been punched and my initial plan was to re-bush them all. But after I cleaned everything and examined them I'm not so sure. The job was very neat and was punched on both the outside and inside of the plate, not even close to a hack job.

The holes are perfectly round and the wheels have what I think is perfect tilt. I'm not sure I could do a better job by bushing. But it got me wondering if previous repairers learned to do this really well and if done properly was considered perfectly acceptable back then.
 

tracerjack

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I would think anything done to a movement that makes future repair difficult and also creates another problem of its own would be considered an unacceptable practice. While the punching that you mentioned fixed one problem, it caused another by weakening the metal at that punched point. Once those holes do wear, bushing them is going to be more difficult. On the other hand, if I was faced with the choice between fixing a clock by whatever means at hand or tossing it, I know I would make the choice to save the clock.
 

Jay Fortner

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One theory states that punching work hardens the pivot hole thus creating a better bearing surface for the pivot to ride in. Hermle does this before they drill the hole.
Hole closing punches only close the hole at the surface of the plate. I've seen many pivots with grooves worn into them caused by using this technique. Punching both sides would produce holes that are resized at the inner and outer surfaces but still wollowed out in the middle. In one way you could say that the pocket in the middle would create a well for oil but at the risk of creating a barrel shaped pivot. A 1962 Hermle movement is WAY better quality than the modern Hermle movements and worth doing proper bushing and pivot work.
 

Willie X

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In today's world, no.

Back in the day ... who knows. The New York school system trashed 1000s of nice E. Howard wall clocks. They sold the movements for scrap and burned the cases for firewood.

If you are thinking about doing some precision (?) punching. Better think again.

Willie X
 

woodlawndon

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No no, I'm not considering punching, not when bushing is relatively easy. I just get curious when I see these things and like to have them explained, how was it done many years ago.
 

novicetimekeeper

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It's very common to see this on English longcase, I have it on 300 year old clocks but no way of knowing when it was done. there are three styles, round punches, semicircular ones, and general hammering.
 

Willie X

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I would say there were as many styles of punching as there were punchers.

Willie X
 

THTanner

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I have one here that must have happened when someone was punch drunk. It almost looks like they were trying to decorate the plate with punch marks, but they are all around pivot holes. As tracerjack said, perhaps the only way to save the clock.
 

Bruce Alexander

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I don't know if it is true or not but I've heard that punching holes was a popular technique when brass was in short supply for one reason or another.
 

kinsler33

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In 1966, at Montgomery Clocks in Cleveland Heights, that's what we used to repair worn holes. Bushings were rarely used, and you never saw them in an old clock. The hole-closing punches we used were of far better quality than those available from, say, Timesavers. Your crescent-shaped punch marks were made by a punch that was tilted so that it would nudge the hole's center back to its proper position. We never used a center punch to close holes.

We also didn't polish pivots or burnish holes. I don't know what other shops might have done at that time.

Clock repair wasn't considered a means of artistic expression then. Clocks were just something else to be repaired, and there were repair shops for vacuum cleaners and sewing machines whose social status was about the same as ours. Melvin Montgomery probably made most of his money repairing speedometers and automobile clocks for local automobile dealerships.

Did anyone else here repair clocks before, say, 1970?

M Kinsler
 

leeinv66

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This is my opinion only.

The OP asked: Was punching pivot holes EVER considered good practice?

The answer to that question is YES.

Comment on the rights or wrongs of using this practice answer different questions.

I see kinsler33 has first hand experience and that echos what I have been told by other repair men I have talked to who worked in that period. Many of the clocks we now prize now were considered old junk back then and the methods used to repair them reflected their value. So while the practice is now frowned upon, in its time, it was perfectly acceptable.
 

kinsler33

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Many of the clocks we now prize now were considered old junk back then and the methods used to repair them reflected their value. So while the practice is now frowned upon, in its time, it was perfectly acceptable.
Well, nobody thought of them as junk: if nothing else, they belonged to our customers, who typically prized them at least to some extent. One reason that we didn't use press-in bushings is that these were considered unreliable---that is, the quality of the bushings was quite variable and they tended to fall out unexpectedly. And while there were other, equally-lousy bushing systems, these seemed worse than the hole-closing punch. While I use bushings in the clocks I repair, punching can sometimes save the job especially if a hole is too close to the plate edge.

Mark Kinsler
 

R&A

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Punching bearing services to close the wear was very popular during the depression, when people just didn't have the money to fix clocks. Allot of clock repairman just didn't have the machinery and tools that are available now. So less quality work was exceptionable. Even happens today, as some just don't have to tools or machinery to to quality work.
 

RJSoftware

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There is also differing degrees of wear. While some shame punching others shame bushing instead of insert blank and drill. They even object to a tapered punch being used for blank or bushing as it does not produce a cylindricalized hole. They reffer to use of a broach as shoddy workmanship.

Shame is for trolls.

Onward to progress, keeping in mind what we know that works and push the limits to improve by testing what is true. No matter whos who and however many so in so kiss the stank region. Truth from personal experience. But even trolls can speak truth


Remember they use to kill people who said the Earth was round. So it is that popular opinion is not always right.

Rj
 
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Willie X

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Good bushing work was being done long before there were any bushing machines available. I don't know any exact dates but I've seen decent bushing work that was pre 1900. Some are plugs with arc shaped scribe marks and others don't have any scribe marks. Mostly clocks from Europe. I always figured that there were many more actual clock makers around back then. And, if you can make a clock, it should be easy-peezy to plug a worn hole and relocate the pivot hole as it was ...
That's what I think. Willie X
 

RJSoftware

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Good bushing work was being done long before there were any bushing machines available. I don't know any exact dates but I've seen decent bushing work that was pre 1900. Some are plugs with arc shaped scribe marks and others don't have any scribe marks. Mostly clocks from Europe. I always figured that there were many more actual clock makers around back then. And, if you can make a clock, it should be easy-peezy to plug a worn hole and relocate the pivot hole as it was ...
That's what I think. Willie X
Was hollow bushing wire used?
 

Bruce Alexander

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I wonder if punching was done to close holes without separating the plates. I look at Rathbun (in many varieties) and Screw-Ins bushings and have to imagine that some shops probably did.
 

leeinv66

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Well, nobody thought of them as junk: if nothing else, they belonged to our customers, who typically prized them at least to some extent.
Mark Kinsler
Ok, maybe not junk but certainly they were not highly valued.
 

Willie X

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Where I live, only a few old folks had working clocks when I was growing up in the 1950s. I had a bend for machinery as a small child and many old clocks were given to me to "play with". Looking back, these old clocks were only around 30 years old at the time!

BTW? I could take a Stromberg 97 carburetor apart and put it back together when I was 4 years old. :)

Willie X
 

R. Croswell

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............. I noticed that there were 4 pivot holes that had been punched........... But it got me wondering if previous repairers learned to do this really well and if done properly was considered perfectly acceptable back then.
The practice seems to have been common place and I'm sure it was "acceptable" to many back in the day, but even then it would not have been "best method". Today I believe it is mostly done by those who either don't know any better and those looking for a faster cheaper method to move a clock out, get paid, and move on to the next victim.

RC
 

Willie X

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I would say that screw in bushings and misplaced bushings, of any other type, are a bigger problem for the repairer than punched bushing holes. At least a punched hole usually has the good side of the hole still intact. Although, I posted a photo last year of a Hermle that had punch marks on both sides of a hole. Ha
Willie X
 

R. Croswell

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I would say that screw in bushings and misplaced bushings, of any other type, are a bigger problem for the repairer than punched bushing holes. At least a punched hole usually has the good side of the hole still intact. Although, I posted a photo last year of a Hermle that had punch marks on both sides of a hole. Ha
Willie X
Very true! I think the screw-in bushings (screw up bushings may be a better name) do the most damage. I don't know why otherwise reputable suppliers still sell the things, or why anyone would want them.

RC
 

kinsler33

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That is only a sign of poor workmanship. A properly installed bushing should hold its place unless someone tries to use a punch to knock it out.
This presumes that the automatic screw machine used to manufacture the bushings has been set up properly, but many of us may recall that both European and US manufacturing in the 1950's and '60's was generally horrible. The OD's of the bushings varied far too much to depend on friction.

I remember deciding around 1970 that if a bushing was needed at all, it wasn't much extra effort to saw off a bit of bushing wire, drill out and bevel the hole, and rivet the raw bushing into the plate. 'Bushing wire' was understood to be hollow, with a sub-millimeter hole along its length. Anything without the longitudinal hole was just brass rod.

There is a vast store of literature about the history of clocks, but it seems that there's nothing much at all about the history of clock repair.

Mark Kinsler
 

RJSoftware

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Do they still sell pinion wire?
 

Bruce Alexander

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This presumes that the automatic screw machine used to manufacture the bushings has been set up properly, but many of us may recall that both European and US manufacturing in the 1950's and '60's was generally horrible. The OD's of the bushings varied far too much to depend on friction.
Tolerances may be tighter but I think that they vary and sometimes significantly so. Occasionally I still need to peen a bushing to tighten it but I certainly don't stock bushing wire. I wasn't working with clocks in the 70's as I was far more concerned with finding out what made a female tick. I kept triggering the alarms for some reason..:rolleyes:
 

novicetimekeeper

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Pinion wire is definitely still made, but possibly not in the sizes you want any more. However what I know as pinion wire may be different to what you know.
 

RJSoftware

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The pinion wire I refer to is a form of stock to be turned in lathe to become an arbor with pinion in one solid piece. The whole wire is like a long pinion gear. The teeth are normal but run the full length of the wire.

The portion not turned away becomes the pinion. The rest is turned to form arbor and pivots. This way as an arbor is made the pinion can be anywhere on the arbor.
 
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novicetimekeeper

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That's the stuff that is still made, though for smaller sizes it might not be straight enough. They make it so that you can use short lengths to form pinions rather than pinions with arbours but the stuff is still called pinion wire.just google pinion wire. As I said, may not be available as you wanted in terms of size and material but they still call it pinion wire. Made from steel, stainless, or brass.
 

gmorse

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Hi Nick,

Thanks for that, I didn't think it had been made for donkey's years! I have a short length of 10 leaf steel wire 3.5mm in diameter, and the teeth are definitely cycloidal and fully formed. I shall not be using this relic, it's just a curiosity now.

Regards,

Graham
 

lpbp

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I have worked on movements where the hole has been punched to close it causing the pivot to wear on the high point, and I had to re-pivot those wheels.
 

Bruce Alexander

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Mark, I hope you don't mind me quoting you out of context but I think that the point I want to make speaks to the thread:

Clock repair wasn't considered a means of artistic expression then.
I'm not sure that it is now. Some folks take it to an extremely high level of technical expertise and innovative problem-solving techniques, but I don't know if I would call that "artistic expression".

There is a vast store of literature about the history of clocks, but it seems that there's nothing much at all about the history of clock repair.
I think that may be because clock fabrication does involve artistic expression. Even relatively inexpensive, mass produced clocks were much more than a mechanism in a box.

Repair and maintenance doesn't lend itself to artistic expression. A bold Architect with an artistic flair may get recognition, but the custodian's name will most likely never be published on anything other than a paycheck and a retirement gift. Perhaps "Employee of the Month" if he or she is good at their job and people like them.

Restoration is a different matter and perhaps that's where art and technical expertise cross.

The history of repair and maintenance can be found in "old" shop/bench manuals, newsletters or perhaps handbooks, dictionaries and guides. Most of us probably own or have easy access to Balcomb, Conover, Penman to name a few published "How To" authors. We all have access to bangster's collection of "How to do it" articles here. Who's going to write a book titled "Short-cuts and other Dirty Little Secrets of Horology"? Who's going to use it as their shop manual?

As Willie said, a Clock Maker is not going to have any trouble bushing a worn pivot hole. He or she probably made their own bushings long before they were pre-manufactured for us lazy duffers. Perhaps they tasked their apprentice with such chores. I doubt that closing holes with tools primarily used to stake or join metals would be their first, second or third choice.

Here's a photo from early in my clock repair experience. I didn't take a photo of the pivot, but suffice it to say that I had to send the wheel out to my lathe equipped mentor. It always reminds me of a paw print. I guess that could be considered "Art". :chuckling:

P1010302.JPG
 
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THTanner

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Here's a photo from early in my clock repair experience. I didn't take a photo of the pivot, but suffice it to say that I had to send the wheel out to my lathe equipped mentor. It always reminds me of a paw print. I guess that could be considered "Art".
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. - Scott Adams -

I think there is definitely a type of artistry in a repair that restores the proper operation of the clock and looks like it should be there. Sadly, I often don't achieve that.
 

RJSoftware

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It is a lost art...
 

leeinv66

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I think this passes as artistry. I don't think it is an example of how the repair should have been done. But, at least there is no solder all over the place. I have seen images posted here where the punching was done in the shape of a flower, but I can't find those at the moment. Might have been buried in the clockmakers hall of shame somewhere.

I borrowed this image from bangster's thread CLICK HERE

63686-4d68cc7ec2ea2d06155e6d016b893bb3.jpeg
 

Bruce Alexander

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I think there is definitely a type of artistry in a repair that restores the proper operation of the clock and looks like it should be there. Sadly, I often don't achieve that.
Agreed. Restoration vs. Repair

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I suppose the same thing can be said of Art.

Poor techniques can still be done with a high degree of "workmanship". Widely accepted, time tested techniques can be poorly done.
 
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Bruce Alexander

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I think this passes as artistry.
Perhaps but why punch 360 degrees when pivots don't wear against plates that way? This person could probably could make some very nice ornate metal engravings. :)
 

MartinM

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Possibly it was done to harden the brass.
Some manufacturers punched their oil sinks to harden the brass instead of cutting the sink.
Others, such as Seth Thomas, punched their holes with the equivalent of a fully-enclosed closing punch to accomplish the same goal
 

Bruce Alexander

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Possibly it was done to harden the brass.
Some manufacturers punched their oil sinks to harden the brass instead of cutting the sink.
Others, such as Seth Thomas, punched their holes with the equivalent of a fully-enclosed closing punch to accomplish the same goal
Perhaps but if it wasn't done so that the pivot hole remained cylindrical in shape ( and I don't see how that could have), it wasn't a good functional approach.

I've been looking at Seth Thomas movements lately and note that they often did punch one of the two plates as you've said. I thought at first that they may have done the "side" with pinions to increase wear resistance, but of course that side often alternates so it didn't consistently make sense that they only punched one plate in that manner.

I know there's been speculation on the board about why some U.S. manufacturers only punched the rear (visible) plate in this manner.
 

MARK A. BUTTERWORTH

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In 1966, at Montgomery Clocks in Cleveland Heights, that's what we used to repair worn holes. Bushings were rarely used, and you never saw them in an old clock. The hole-closing punches we used were of far better quality than those available from, say, Timesavers. Your crescent-shaped punch marks were made by a punch that was tilted so that it would nudge the hole's center back to its proper position. We never used a center punch to close holes.

We also didn't polish pivots or burnish holes. I don't know what other shops might have done at that time.

Clock repair wasn't considered a means of artistic expression then. Clocks were just something else to be repaired, and there were repair shops for vacuum cleaners and sewing machines whose social status was about the same as ours. Melvin Montgomery probably made most of his money repairing speedometers and automobile clocks for local automobile dealerships.

Did anyone else here repair clocks before, say, 1970?

M Kinsler
I agree with the above. My late father was a trained watchmaker and back in the early 1960's I was a stock boy in a jewelry repair of a friend of his picking up information from him and my father. In those days over 90% of clock repairs were done by people like my father who did not consider themselves clockmakers but did clocks only as a service for their good watch or other customers. They got paid almost nothing for the job. Also, they were so busy with watch work it was do it that way or don't do it. Unless it was a fine French clock for which they made bushings, the rest was done with a crow's foot in a vise, a set of punches and a hammer. The movement was never disassembled or pivots polished, but it did extend the service by quite a few years amazingly.

It was not good practice, but it was definitely standard practice as I remember it. In my view today, the only time it is acceptable to not use a bushing is where the pivot hole is at an edge and there are no good choices. Even then, the critical thing is to disassemble the movement and properly polish the pivots.
 

R. Croswell

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I agree with the above. My late father was a trained watchmaker and back in the early 1960's I was a stock boy in a jewelry repair of a friend of his picking up information from him and my father. In those days over 90% of clock repairs were done by people like my father who did not consider themselves clockmakers but did clocks only as a service for their good watch or other customers. They got paid almost nothing for the job. Also, they were so busy with watch work it was do it that way or don't do it. Unless it was a fine French clock for which they made bushings, the rest was done with a crow's foot in a vise, a set of punches and a hammer. The movement was never disassembled or pivots polished, but it did extend the service by quite a few years amazingly.

It was not good practice, but it was definitely standard practice as I remember it. In my view today, the only time it is acceptable to not use a bushing is where the pivot hole is at an edge and there are no good choices. Even then, the critical thing is to disassemble the movement and properly polish the pivots.
I suspect that "back in the early 1960's" your father was servicing a lot of clocks from the 1920s and 1930s which at that time were just old clocks of little value so almost anything goes to get a few more years before the clock was going to be discarded. The fix was quick and cheap and the customer was happy (and at many jewelry stores I suspect that condemning an "old clock" to the trash bin meant an opportunity to sell a new clock).

Not much different today is it? We see clocks from the late 20th c. with movements acknowledged to have 25 to 30 life expectances, so we don't even take time to punch anything, just trash it and replace with a new movement. Someday all those 1970s and '80s movements that no one wanted to take time to repair will become rare and valuable, and those who trashed and replaced will likely be regarded much like the old-timers that punched pivot holes.

RC
 

Bruce Alexander

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rest was done with a crow's foot in a vise, a set of punches and a hammer.
Ha! So I was correct in my speculation that this procedure was often done to an intact movement. I have seen one case in which a Crystal Regulator's movement had pivot holes punched from the inside surface of the plate. It was a neatly done job and an example of a questionable technique employed with a high degree of workmanship. Such examples lead me to believe that the procedure has been "practiced" for reasons other than expediency.

"...ever considered a 'good' practice?" That really depends upon one's definition of "good". Valuable clocks were not punched. I think that most can now agree that in the majority of cases It was a fast and cheap shortcut. At least it has been so in our lifetimes.

I have come across a number of pivot holes placed relatively close to the edge of a plate but I have yet to run across one in which a KWM wouldn't fit within the boundaries of the plate's edge so I'm not prepared to "buy into" that reasoning for modern punching. I am, admittedly, still a relative newcomer and have been taught NOT to punch pivot holes.
 

shutterbug

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Smaller bushing with a bigger center hole :)
 

kinsler33

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I don't recall doing any sort of punching on an intact movement, because the spring-loaded centering thing in the middle of the hole-closing punch's face wouldn't have worked had the hole also been occupied by a shaft. So yes, we did indeed disassemble everything, placing the parts in a basket and thence the basket into some odd-smelling green cleaning solution. Ultrasonic cleaning machines existed then (there was one at Cowell and Hubbard, a jewelry store that I also fixed clocks for) but I don't think Montgomery's had one.

I didn't work at Cowell and Hubbard for very long because a few weeks after I started a tall guy wearing a suit, a Stetson hat, and I think cowboy boots walked in. He was an emissary from Zale's, the Texas jewelry chain that had just bought out Cowell and Hubbard along with lots of other locally-owned jewelry stores all over the US. A bunch of people, including me, got fired that day.
 

Bruce Alexander

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Mark,

After a quick Google Search, I see that Zales was subsequently gobbled up by another publicly traded Pirate ("Signet" a Kay-Zales,-Jared Wall Street Sweetheart). So much for real competition, eh? Signet sounds like a "GM" of Jewelry. Seems many Mall stores were slated for closure last year. A local "Kay" store recently relocated out of an old-school enclosed Mall into a Target anchored Strip Mall last year but they didn't close.

You mentioned another clock shop earlier in the thread. If you don't mind me asking, could you briefly describe your career in clock repair? Did you leave Horology as a job for a while, and getting back on topic, in your experience were highly valued clocks also punched?

Thanks

Bruce
 

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