Watchmaker die tool?

rstl99

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I picked up these two tools at a sale on the weekend. I'm a sucker for small tools.

THe first one appears to be some kind of die for threading small rods to make screws or what have you. It has four sliding blocks (numbered 2 through 5, 1 doesn't move) and an adjustment thumb screw to allow more spacing between the blocks (to work on somewhat larger diameter round stock?).

The other tool is made in very similar steel, has an identical thumb screw, but just has a triangular area to hold something in. Is this to hold the round stock, and to turn this tool while inserting the stock in the appropriate hole in the other tool, thereby threading the stock?

Just curious about how these two tools work together, if at all...
Thanks.

IMG_0751.jpg IMG_0752.jpg
 
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gmorse

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Hi Robert,

The first tool looks like a thread chaser. These differ from conventional dies in that each pair produces a given pitch, but can be set to form that thread on varying diameters. They form threads by moving the metal rather than cutting them as in a modern die. They can be invaluable in recreating or cleaning up old screws if they aren't too worn themselves. They aren't that common any more, how big is this one?

The second tool is, as roughbarked has suggested, a tap handle, probably shop made. Both tools have the same owner's mark of an 'M' or 'W'.

Regards,

Graham
 

rstl99

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thank you roughbarkerd, and Graham.
The tool is 3.5" or 9cm long
The tap handle is around the same length.

Along with the two tools in the box, came 20-30 small taps (possibly meant to go with the handle), some very very small diameter indeed. Hard to imagine how the tool makers could make taps that small, back in the day... When I'm faced with such amazing small tool machining, I'm occasionally reminded of Blake's The Tyger:
What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp.

...

Thanks Graham for suggesting the first tool may be a thread chaser, which as you indicate could be useful to me in cleaning up some of the old screws I find in my verge watches of the eighteenth.

Best regards,
Robert
 
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rstl99

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How small? This is the smallest tap. Less than 0.5 mm diameter. Has "17" marked on it, not sure what scale that refers to. A typical sewing needle beside it for scale. Not sure how old these tools are, but I still find that kind of micro-tool pretty impressive from back then.

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gmorse

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Hi Robert,

If it is a Whitworth, this standard was invented in 1841 and soon widely adopted in the UK.

Regards,

Graham
 

rstl99

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You're probably right Chris, since .017" is 0.43mm, which is just about what I eyeballed the threaded portion to be (too lazy to take out my micrometer).
Other than for watchmaking purposes, I'm wondering what English mechanical products required such small taps? I suppose there could have been small scientific instrument parts.
 
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Dr. Jon

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The other possibiliity is that it is a screw plate number. These were sold with tap sets. There are at least four standards on these.
 

rstl99

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A couple of screw plates came with "the kit" that I bought, and one is from Martin (no. 36) and has holes numbered 0 through 17. The small tap stamped 17 seems to fit the smallest hole (labeled 17) but in this case it must be a coincidence, as the Martin numbers have no relation to size.

And Martin (Swiss) would have no relation with Whitworth (England), another coincidence on the number 17...

Took out the micrometer and the "17" tap measures .016", so heck, I won't quibble for a thou, if it was supposed to be .017" ;-)

Nice conversation pieces, these old tools...

IMG_0774.jpg IMG_0775.jpg
 

gmorse

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Hi Robert,

There are two types of Martin plates that you might come across, Latard and Bourgeaux, the latter having a slightly coarser pitch, and there are also left-handed versions, although these are rarer. Other makers produced these, and you might see the name Delamure as well, but they were all made to their own standards, there wasn't any universal system of sizing. The Martin plates approximate to metric sizes, but the relationship between the sizes doesn't appear to be logical or consistent. The explanatory document I've attached was posted some time ago by NAWCC member Bill Bonta.

The one you've shown is a cutting plate, it has the holes either side of the threading part, so it will work like a modern die to remove metal cleanly. Many of these plates are forming plates, without those side holes, they work by forcing the metal into the thread shape. All of them now will be more or less worn, and if you're lucky, yours will still produce decent threads.

Regards,

Graham
 

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Dr. Jon

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Thanks form me too. Martin plates have a letter stamped on them to identify which series they are.

I get a lot of use out of mine .
 

gmorse

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Hi Jon,

Yes, L(atard), B(ourgeaux), or G(auche), left-handed.

I get a lot of use out of mine
So do I. Martin plates were used by some Prescot shops as their master threading standards; Joseph Preston springs to mind as Harry Pybus is recorded as mentioning this in answer to a customer query.

Regards,

Graham
 

Dr. Jon

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BTW there is a lot of difference between a Latard and a Borgaux, and now and ISO.

I had a watch that ran badly. I noticed it has a missing screw on its balance. I broke off two that I thought would fit. I then turned it over to a pro and told him what I had done.

He broke off another screw and finally re-drilled the hole and tapped it for a screw he had.

The letter on the plate carries a lot of meaning.
 

rstl99

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I dug out my screw plates, acquired over the last few years. (right to left)

Two Martin 60 stamped L (for Latard, as Graham informed us)

One Martin 42 stamped L

One Martin 38 stamped B (for Bourgeaux, again thanks to Graham)

One newer plate, unmarked

IMG_0778.JPG
 

gmorse

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Hi Robert,

It's worthwhile putting any plates you acquire through the ultrasonic, to remove some of the debris that they usually accumulate. They should make cleaner cuts after this! Unfortunately this won't remove the broken screw fragments that you also find occasionally, caused by users not sizing the screw blanks correctly or trying to thread steel that's too hard. Sometimes you can cut them free with careful use of a piercing saw.

Regards,

Graham
 

rstl99

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Thanks for the tip about the ultrasonic, Graham.
Robert
 

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