What tool do you use for measuring balance staffs?

Discussion in 'Watch Repair' started by wilsonpaule, Dec 16, 2016.

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  1. wilsonpaule

    wilsonpaule Registered User

    Oct 23, 2011
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    I have a digital Vernier caliper that I use for general measuring, but it is no where near accurate enough for the measurements required for meausring staffs. What does everyone else use for measuring staffs?

    Thanks

    Paul
     
  2. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

    Dec 2, 2016
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    I still have the vernier calipers I purchased as an apprentice. They are still as accurate as the day, 45 years on. They aren't digital. I use digital verniers every day but I can average the results against background knowledge for fitting glasses etc. For precision I get out my old verniers.

    A micrometer is also a useful measuring tool.
     
  3. Skutt50

    Skutt50 Registered User

    Mar 14, 2008
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    I use a micrometer. I don't trust my caliper, specially for pivot dimensions.
     
  4. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

    Dec 2, 2016
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    Of course, I left that open.
     
  5. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Jan 7, 2011
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    Hi Paul,

    I use a 0.001 mm Mitutoyo micrometer, and also an optical micrometer for some things. You do have to be very careful measuring pivots with a micrometer though, to avoid bending or flattening them. There is a rather desirable bench dial instrument which is designed for this sort of task, the JKA Feintaster, but these aren't cheap.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  6. karlmansson

    karlmansson Registered User

    Apr 20, 2013
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    I use a Bergeon bench mic with an adjustable friction screw that I can set so that the mic screw seats properly but without damaging the staff.
     
  7. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

    Dec 2, 2016
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    Basic micrometer function.
     
  8. karlmansson

    karlmansson Registered User

    Apr 20, 2013
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    Well, yeah...? I guess. Thanks for pointing that out I suppose...?

    Damaging the staff was raised as an issue and I thought I'd share how I get around it.
     
  9. bkerr

    bkerr Registered User
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    Nov 29, 2007
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    They say a picture is worth a thousand words, here is how I do it. jka between hubs.jpg staff measurement.jpg
     
  10. masterwatchmaker

    masterwatchmaker Registered User

    Nov 30, 2016
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    i personnaly dont use any mesuring tool and i can completely redo a broken staff on my lathe

    like they teach me at school by only comparing with the eye when i am at the broken part i copy the not broken one
     
  11. bkerr

    bkerr Registered User
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    Nov 29, 2007
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    The question was "What does everyone else use for measuring staffs?"

    I needed to sort a number of American staffs some time ago and this tool was very useful measuring the hub diameters as well as overall length.

    If you can measure a staff with the blind eye you are very gifted.
     
  12. dAz57

    dAz57 Registered User

    Dec 7, 2011
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    Well I can make a staff from scratch, not that hard so long as you have the old one, turn the balance seat to fit, the the hairspring and roller next, turn the pivots until they just fit the hole jewels and finish in the jacot tool, final length is by trying the staff with balance wheel mounted in the movement and without the upper endstone fitted, all that without a caliper in sight.

    Anyway I use a Bergeon 30112 bench mic, good for lengths, shoulder heights like the balance seat to bottom pivot distance, has a work table that can be raised for measuring jewel diameters etc.

    I'd like a feintaster but only if they make a left-handed version
     
  13. Jerry Kieffer

    Jerry Kieffer Registered User
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    May 31, 2005
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    Paul

    Your requirements will be determined by how you cut the staff.

    If you are using a Graver, then your most efficient method will be to develop the skill to copy an existing staff by "eyeing" the broken one.
    While I can produce a functional staff in this manner, I was never really happy with the result.

    I now machine the staff in a small machine tool Lathe in the same manner they are manufactured. By my hand, this is much faster and far more accurate but requires accurate dimensions for hand wheel settings.

    For Diameters, I use a small .500" Starrett Micrometer shown in the first attached photo along side a common standard 1.000" micrometer. The small size greatly decreases the chance of any damage to the staff especially when mounted in a Lathe.

    Lengths can be an issue, since I have never seen or used a commercial tool designed to accurately measure the length of the various steps in a staff.
    For these measurements be it in or out of the Lathe, I use optical comparison utilizing the end of a gage pin per the second attached photo. With proper optics, this method is highly accurate no matter how small and greatly decreases any chance of staff damage.

    When machining a staff, accurate measurements are a must since diameters and lengths are controlled by hand wheel settings.

    Jerry Kieffer
     

    Attached Files:

  14. Kevin W.

    Kevin W. Registered User
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    I just have regular inch micrometers that measure in tenths of a thou, a digital micrometer would be nice for this job.
     
  15. D Magner

    D Magner Registered User
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    I acquired a Toolmakers Microscope about a year or so ago. Really makes it easy to measure the different length dimensions needed. For diameters I use a Starrett half inch micrometer. My lathe has a dial indicator for carriage travel. I printed out copies of a generic balance staff and when I need to make a staff I cut one out and fill in needed dimensions. Makes life so much easier this way.
    I was taught to use a graver in school and while that works fine, I just find my new way better and quicker for me.

    David
     

    Attached Files:

  16. wilsonpaule

    wilsonpaule Registered User

    Oct 23, 2011
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    Wow! I would love to own some of the tools that have shown up in this thread, but as this is a hobby for me, I need the basics! Micrometer it is! Thanks for all of the responses!
     
  17. WATCHBREAKER

    WATCHBREAKER Registered User

    Dec 2, 2014
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    HUH:???: swiss training baffles me. why learn to make a staff with no measurments. thats just typical swiss thinking... engineer a way to do the same thing only more complicated.
     
  18. Rob P.

    Rob P. Registered User

    Dec 19, 2011
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    I think that making a staff without measuring tools would be a useful skill. Not everything CAN be measured accurately (like a staff with both pivots broken off). In such a case, you estimate. Well, if you can estimate then, you can certainly estimate elsewhere too. And, if someone's mark II eyeball can make it accurately and it works, then more power to them.

    For myself, I use a micrometer and catalogs. I can measure with the mic and look up what I need in a catalog to find all the dimensions. From there I can try to find the part needed. I haven't made a staff, no need to yet. When I do, I'll probably follow Jerry Kieffer's machining methodology. His work is so clean it probably doesn't even have germs let alone flaws.
     
  19. Jerry Kieffer

    Jerry Kieffer Registered User
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    Rob
    Thank you for the very kind words.

    Actually a staff with two broken pivots can be quite accurately measured in many cases. I do this by installing the Balance Cock with jewels installed and then measure from the top of the upper/lower cap jewels. From that point, you can subtract the cap jewel thickness. While not perfect, it is close enough to make staff fitting much faster and more efficient.

    Jerry Kieffer
     
  20. D Magner

    D Magner Registered User
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    Dec 27, 2004
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    I meant to post this earlier, but didn't have a photo ready and then forgot.


    I also measure staffs the same way as Jerry states above, but I wanted to show the type of micrometer I use. These micrometers with the pointed tips are very handy to have. They can often be found used on ebay.
    Starrett No. 210-A

    David
     

    Attached Files:

  21. Ticktinker

    Ticktinker Registered User

    Jul 7, 2015
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    What sort of guess should one use for estimating the length of odd missing pivot ?
    Dave.
     
  22. D Magner

    D Magner Registered User
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    Typically pivots are of equal lengths. So if you are missing one pivot, the other is a good indicator of how long the pivot was.
    David
     

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