What tool might this be?

John T.

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Aug 21, 2020
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Howdy,
I got six of these in a box lot. (See pic) Figured sooner or later I would see one identified somewhere somehow. Other folks selling them don’t seem to know either. I figure it has something to do with clock repair though. I am sure the mystery can be solved here. Thanks!

John T. D774B42C-2E8C-44F6-8F7A-25774744AD07.jpeg
 

Dick C

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Oct 14, 2009
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John T.

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Aug 21, 2020
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Never considered that angle. Not completely sure what that process entails though honestly.

The business end has a copper or brass type look to it. Non magnetic. Very light weight. I wonder why someone needed six of these? Seemed to be from a clock oriented person’s setup from what I could tell.

I use one as a dropper to transfer watch lubes from bottle to oiler station. Works great for that!

Thanks for the link.

John T.
 

John T.

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Aug 21, 2020
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Only a guess....are they all the same size?
Identical. Once saw 4 in a lot for sale on EBay but the seller did not know what they were for either. Have seen another one in a sale but did not inquire. I thought they were some sort of temporary clock frame pin maybe. Business end has a smooth finish.
 

John T.

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Aug 21, 2020
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Is there a tiny hole in the end? If so, they are watch pivot straighteners.

View attachment 665727
Dave,
Do believe you nailed it. The ends were blocked with debris and the holes could not readily be seen. Poked at them with a needle a viola there was a hole in all but one. Some look to be off center. Difficult to envision how they would be used and be an accurate fix especially compared to what is available today.

Many thanks on this. Never would have come even close to figuring it out. Threw a couple of pics in.

John T.
D2685924-8C65-4341-909A-72ACCFC45C52.jpeg DC356C1E-7EE2-415B-AA9D-E8482615BD25.jpeg
 

Betzel

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Dec 1, 2010
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Difficult to envision how they would be used
Well, I would imagine the user would follow the same general process as outlined for the round jeweled Seitz pivot straightener: go slow and reduce the hole size and bend angle as you get straighter? It's personal preference (or wisdom) when to skip it completely and just repivot, or when to apply just enough (but not too much) heat and give it a try, as most of us know what happens when you go too far, too fast on cold, hard, bent steel? :)

Begin with the part turning true and running slow in a chuck. Maybe even turn it by hand. For the first run, I would clean the hole on the largest one and use some fresh oil carefully holding (resting) it level against something like the graver rest. Then after a few correcting turns look through the loupe to see if any or more heat is needed for the next round. If yes or no, I would then select the next size smaller hole and apply it, cleaned and oiled, reducing the angle of the bent pivot a little bit more each time. Eventually you arrive at a final hole size where the slightest mistake will crack it off for sure. That's probably the final run. Some folks use those thick tweezers, warmed up to finish the job at a higher speed, as it is less risky than using these older tools for the last part.

The point of having so many would be to use the right sizes and go slow to control the straightening process very carefully, just as the Seitz tool does with so many jewel holes, which I think was envisioned mainly for balance pivots after a hard knock that's not more than a few degrees off. The first few times, you find out what going too far or too fast is all about and crack it off anyway, so it's an experience/learning curve. Worth a shot for the old timers before all the work of repivoting. Other than the balance staff pivots, almost all of my experiences with others were self-inflicted during hasty disassembly, or steamrolling something with a chair wheel while rolling back to look for it on the floor. Ouch!

That's my $.02. If you have a better idea how they may have used these, please share?
 

karlmansson

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Apr 20, 2013
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I've always been a little confused with these pivot straightening tools. Most of us have a very accurate way to both hold cylindrical pieces and check for runout: the lathe. For clock parts, depending on the size, I either chuck the pivot in a collet in my Lorch 6mm or in my 102 W20 bench lathe (collets go down to 1mm). Then it's just a matter of seeing how far in the pivot will go into a well sized collet, clamp it where it won't go in further and then rotate the spindle by hand and see where the highest point is in relation to a tailstock center. Then you just keep going, heating if necessary in the middle of the process. I don't think I've snapped a pivot in this way, but then again I've only attempted pivots that have been less than 15 degrees off or so.

My 6mm collets go down to 0,4mm so they are still too large for watch work. I've heard about using a jacot to straighten but here I have more or less ONLY managed to snap pivots off. My experience so far is that any attempt to straighten by rotating is bound to be a disaster. I need to find a way to push the pivot true in a jacot. Maybe rest with the highest point of the pivot down and press down on the arbor? But then the elasticity of the steel will make the pivot spring back when I release as it will only hit the bed as the furthest point.

Any suggestions? I realize I've gone off topic here but still topic adjacent? :)

Regards
 
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John T.

NAWCC Member
Aug 21, 2020
43
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Lincolnton, GA.
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Well, I would imagine the user would follow the same general process as outlined for the round jeweled Seitz pivot straightener: go slow and reduce the hole size and bend angle as you get straighter? It's personal preference (or wisdom) when to skip it completely and just repivot, or when to apply just enough (but not too much) heat and give it a try, as most of us know what happens when you go too far, too fast on cold, hard, bent steel? :)

Begin with the part turning true and running slow in a chuck. Maybe even turn it by hand. For the first run, I would clean the hole on the largest one and use some fresh oil carefully holding (resting) it level against something like the graver rest. Then after a few correcting turns look through the loupe to see if any or more heat is needed for the next round. If yes or no, I would then select the next size smaller hole and apply it, cleaned and oiled, reducing the angle of the bent pivot a little bit more each time. Eventually you arrive at a final hole size where the slightest mistake will crack it off for sure. That's probably the final run. Some folks use those thick tweezers, warmed up to finish the job at a higher speed, as it is less risky than using these older tools for the last part.

The point of having so many would be to use the right sizes and go slow to control the straightening process very carefully, just as the Seitz tool does with so many jewel holes, which I think was envisioned mainly for balance pivots after a hard knock that's not more than a few degrees off. The first few times, you find out what going too far or too fast is all about and crack it off anyway, so it's an experience/learning curve. Worth a shot for the old timers before all the work of repivoting. Other than the balance staff pivots, almost all of my experiences with others were self-inflicted during hasty disassembly, or steamrolling something with a chair wheel while rolling back to look for it on the floor. Ouch!

That's my $.02. If you have a better idea how they may have used these, please share?
 

John T.

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Aug 21, 2020
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Lincolnton, GA.
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Howdy guys,
No greater teacher than experience. It is the most interesting to hear what real pros do in action based on a career of experience.

Ya’ll are light years ahead of me. Great reading!

Doubt I’ll ever use these things on anything of value. Good to know finally what they are though. Been bugging me for some time. If I ever get past hairsprings maybe my nerves can tackle this. :)

Hope others will chime in as well.

Bumfuzzled in GA,
John T.
 

Betzel

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Dec 1, 2010
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Interesting.

Sorry for the long post, but you got me thinking. There's always a huge range of bench experience and skill running across time and on this forum.

Today, modern watchmakers have been professionally trained and certified. They have full access to watch material from the best makers, and must maximize both quality and profit by not repairing, but replacing with fedex 2-day delivery OEM parts wherever possible. It's the way of modernity: time is money, and it's not easy to make it on your own, or to make it pay. Certain old-school practices may even be prohibited if you do work under some manufacturers' official warranties. Don't know, but suspect it.

To me, this means the modern tech gets better at doing a smaller range of daily tasks, and may slowly lose the chops the old timers had from the necessity of making a hard living out in the middle of nowhere with no heat, under bad light, in a dirty corner of a room doing more with less because they freaking had to. There was no overnight delivery, material houses were in big cities far away, and watches (likely pocket watches) were everywhere, keeping the then modern world turning. You had to do what you had to do because there was no cavalry coming, the guy needs his watch back tomorrow, and the cost of a everyone's time was a lot less. So you did what you had to with tools like these to make it work.

I think we would all get good at straightening pivots if pocket watch balance wheels were bent every day, and we all had to do it many times a month, replacing only after the straightening and re-pivoting had been done, often making a new one on a lathe without a cross-slide when the parts bin was empty. Modernization changed all that, leading us to where we are today.

Many of us here are amateurs, many have no formal training, and we don't make a living out of repairs. A lot of us do this for fun. We don't have material accounts or "friends with parts" --or we work on stuff for which parts are no longer available, and the chance of finding a spare on eBay in less than a week is slim to none. In this odd way, we are more like our grandparents: up a creek without a paddle. I have (but have never used) one of those little brass repivoting lathes. Can you imagine using it several times a day? Those old guys did, and they got pretty damned good at it.

So, for me, the question is not what's the most efficient way to get it ticking again ASAP, but can I straighten it like those old timers? If it breaks (or, to Karl's point WHEN it does) can I repivot the damned thing with one of those little brass toys? No way, I put it in a wax chuck on a real lathe, because I'm a wuss! Can I cut a staff by hand? Still working on that; sometimes it works out well. That's what makes all of this fun for me, and it's what all these old tools remind me of.

Karl, do you have a Seitz/Bergeon wheel with all those jewels, and have you ever tried it? Your post made me imagine a jig for a staking tool to hold the staff steady in some cut-out (for the mounted wheel and table) v-notch support with a leather lining, with the off-center bend up at 12:00 and tapping a punch with finger force or the butt end of a pencil / small pair of tweezers. A micro hydraulic press. With some heat and light pressure would it work? I think the reason the jacot may break even unbent pivots is the small support surface --it's way too easy to put too much pressure on. Snap...But, if we were forced to use it every day, we would improve. But, we don't :)

John, if you do not yet have H.B. Fried's watch repairer's manual and a comfortable (even Chinese) stereo microscope with good soft lighting from above and below, and those little slot tools for spring work (though good tweezers in PERFECT condition work too) get those before straightening your next hairspring, and pick one that you don't care about. We all know about the nerves. It's WAY easier when you don't care what happens. You'll get the hang of it...
 

John T.

NAWCC Member
Aug 21, 2020
43
7
8
Lincolnton, GA.
Country
Region
[
Interesting.

Sorry for the long post, but you got me thinking. There's always a huge range of bench experience and skill running across time and on this forum.

Today, modern watchmakers have been professionally trained and certified. They have full access to watch material from the best makers, and must maximize both quality and profit by not repairing, but replacing with fedex 2-day delivery OEM parts wherever possible. It's the way of modernity: time is money, and it's not easy to make it on your own, or to make it pay. Certain old-school practices may even be prohibited if you do work under some manufacturers' official warranties. Don't know, but suspect it.

To me, this means the modern tech gets better at doing a smaller range of daily tasks, and may slowly lose the chops the old timers had from the necessity of making a hard living out in the middle of nowhere with no heat, under bad light, in a dirty corner of a room doing more with less because they freaking had to. There was no overnight delivery, material houses were in big cities far away, and watches (likely pocket watches) were everywhere, keeping the then modern world turning. You had to do what you had to do because there was no cavalry coming, the guy needs his watch back tomorrow, and the cost of a everyone's time was a lot less. So you did what you had to with tools like these to make it work.

I think we would all get good at straightening pivots if pocket watch balance wheels were bent every day, and we all had to do it many times a month, replacing only after the straightening and re-pivoting had been done, often making a new one on a lathe without a cross-slide when the parts bin was empty. Modernization changed all that, leading us to where we are today.

Many of us here are amateurs, many have no formal training, and we don't make a living out of repairs. A lot of us do this for fun. We don't have material accounts or "friends with parts" --or we work on stuff for which parts are no longer available, and the chance of finding a spare on eBay in less than a week is slim to none. In this odd way, we are more like our grandparents: up a creek without a paddle. I have (but have never used) one of those little brass repivoting lathes. Can you imagine using it several times a day? Those old guys did, and they got pretty damned good at it.

So, for me, the question is not what's the most efficient way to get it ticking again ASAP, but can I straighten it like those old timers? If it breaks (or, to Karl's point WHEN it does) can I repivot the damned thing with one of those little brass toys? No way, I put it in a wax chuck on a real lathe, because I'm a wuss! Can I cut a staff by hand? Still working on that; sometimes it works out well. That's what makes all of this fun for me, and it's what all these old tools remind me of.

Karl, do you have a Seitz/Bergeon wheel with all those jewels, and have you ever tried it? Your post made me imagine a jig for a staking tool to hold the staff steady in some cut-out (for the mounted wheel and table) v-notch support with a leather lining, with the off-center bend up at 12:00 and tapping a punch with finger force or the butt end of a pencil / small pair of tweezers. A micro hydraulic press. With some heat and light pressure would it work? I think the reason the jacot may break even unbent pivots is the small support surface --it's way too easy to put too much pressure on. Snap...But, if we were forced to use it every day, we would improve. But, we don't :)

John, if you do not yet have H.B. Fried's watch repairer's manual and a comfortable (even Chinese) stereo microscope with good soft lighting from above and below, and those little slot tools for spring work (though good tweezers in PERFECT condition work too) get those before straightening your next hairspring, and pick one that you don't care about. We all know about the nerves. It's WAY easier when you don't care what happens. You'll get the hang of it...
Howdy to all,

Enjoyed reading your thoughts and comparisons on then vs. now. Got me thinking as well (often dangerous).

I ponder that I do this for enjoyment and , despite all the hair pulled from my scalp, the mechanical marvel of it all. However, having to make a living from it was likely not quite as romantic to watchmakers as it might appear to casual enthusiasts.

Today’s mounting interest in their knowledge and skill of the craft is a compliment to them. Differences of opinion abound, history continues to be made and studied, and there are interests at so many different levels for all to find their own niche. It is the foundation that keeps things interesting and relevant for us all.

Will try these tools on a junk pivot or two for giggles. Just a hobbyist fooling around.

Now hairsprings are another matter. Have the books and optics. etc. It’s the skill that needs honing. I’ve wrecked a few and salvaged a few. Dread when it is ‘for real’ …………………You know, I think I hate hairsprings. In fact I’m sure I do!!!

Hats off to everyone who contributes and keeps us wanting more…..

John T.
 
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Betzel

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Cheers.

Tradesmen only passed on their accumulated knowledge to apprentices who would end up working for them, because it was their bread and butter, and retirement plan. Not just watchmakers. So, we're lucky to have all these old books, like Saunier and Fried, etc. to share secrets that would take lifetimes to develop. But, books can't talk. This forum adds to written treasures, which is why I joined up to support it. Whatever our talents may be, having a mentor via previous posts or an interactive chat makes us all far better than we otherwise would have been.

Modern needs drive modern ways which (I think) drive hands toward precision and efficiency, yet away from developing the skills needed to use all these old tools. The combination tool (from the same era) was designed to gently heat shellac to set roller and pallet jewels, but could also be used as a heat sink to (?) warm up only the bent pivot, controlling the heat well before straightening. For more than 15 degrees, I might anneal, straighten, then stick it back in the combo tool to harden, quench and temper.

"Gilligan's Island" or a way forward for more serious bends? Dunno
 

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