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Hi Dewey:... I do not know if he retained a staff for this or if (as I would have) required each approved inspector to do so many watches a year to maintain their level of proficiency. ...
I think you've expressed this concept in an earlier thread (that I'm too lazy to search for). At that time I believe that I responded with a link to a NAWCC Bulletin article showing that he had a staff in place to "finish" the watches ("The Babcocks - Mary and Harrison - and Webb C. Ball," William E. Miether, NAWCC Bulletin No. 112, October 1964, pp. 439-446. - available online to NAWCC members who are currently logged in).
Have you forgotten, or do you have a reference that states that Ball "... required each approved inspector to do so many watches a year to maintain their level of proficiency."?
You seem to have taken my post out of context. I did not state I knew how he did the finishing at all. To be clear the complete sentence was/is:
"I do not know if he retained a staff for this or if (as I would have) required each approved inspector to do so many watches a year to maintain their level of proficiency"
The controlling phrase being "I do not know". Which I do not. With all due respect to Miether; as a watchmaker I find it hard to believe one person could finish, adjust and rate 100 watches a week; day after day, year after year. Especially without instantaneous electronic timers. The 24 hour positional rate data would take considerable time just to record; let alone analyze for the next adjustment.
There is a significant difference between making an affirmative statement and wondering how such a herculean task could be accomplished day after day and year after year.
Other than Meither, do you have any data to shed light on this seeming conundrum?
Ah , but you do know that Ball had a staff in place. Or rather you would know if you read Meither's article instead of skimming it. Here are two quotes from Page 443 (with added emphasis):
"Bab was one of the hand picked staff who tore down and rebuilt each watch ..."
"When new movements arrived from the manufacturer. record cards had to be prepared for each one, then dispatched to the watchmakers to be disassembled and rebuilt."
Richard,Mary Babcock worked for Ball Watch Co. from 1901 until 1920. At some point after her initial hire in 1901 it seems clear from both the Miether (1964) and Winslow (1997) Bulletin articles that Mary Foote Babcock was given the responsibility of testing and physically touching each and every Ball Watch before it was shipped. Not sure when she was promoted to be in charge of testing of all Ball watches but it was probably 1905 give or take, so the "snapshot" in time we are discussing is from around 1905 - 1920.
Ball Watch Co. also employed watchmakers (her husband was one of them when they first met) who performed the "bench work".
Mary Babcock was the one who ran the heat, cold, and positional tests on each and every watch. If a watch failed a test, it went back to the "bench" for correction; i.e. to the Ball Co. watchmakers. The watchmakers made any necessary adjustment(s) and the watch was then sent back to Mary for testing. Early on, Mary was probably involved with "bench" work, but one would assume that tapered off as her testing responsibilities increased.
The following is excerpted from page 443 of NAWCC Bulletin from1964, "THE BABCOCKS MARY AND HARRISON AND Webb C . Ball" by William E. Miether:
"Every watch bearing the Ball name had to go through his shop, ..... where the hand picked staff tore down and rebuilt each watch. Balance wheels and hair springs were given the most minute inspection. While the men labored at the bench, Mary was busy keeping records, testing, winding, setting, and adjusting every watch. In my opinion her job was by far the most demanding. While the men were only concerned with one watch at a time, Mary had to keep track of several hundred watches, each of which remained in her custody for a week or more. It is no wonder that she was regarded as indispensable. Only the most alert mind could possibly keep this complicated routine in order."
In addition to the 1964 Bulletin article by Miether, there is the following: "WEBB C. BALL - RAILROAD WATCH INSPECTION SYSTEM", by Robert P. Winslow (OH), October 1997 NAWCC Bulletin; (NAWCC Bulletin Editor's Note: We are pleased to present this article taken from the lecture by Mr. Winslow at the 1996 NAWCC Seminar on "Railroad Timekeeping," held in Rockford, Illinois).
The following is excerpted from page 543:
"Testing of Railroad WatchesAs a part of the inspection system, all Ball railroad watches were tested and adjusted before they were released to the railroads. There is a rather interesting human interest story connected with the testing procedure. As Bill Miether of Cleveland reported in a BULLETIN article, October 1964, this testing procedure was managed by one individual, Mary Foote Babcock. The study of Mary Babcock gives us an excellent look at the functioning Webb Ball organization. She was the only female in the shop and held a very responsible position with the Ball organization, which was highly unusual at that time. When new movements arrived from the manufacturer, Mary prepared record cards for each one. Serial numbers were recorded and then the watches were passed on to the watchmakers to be disassembled and rebuilt. The reassembled watches were then returned to Mary for testing. She began by putting trays of watches into an oven, where they were held at 90 degrees for four hours and then transferred to a 40-degree ice box for an additional four hours. After the heat and cold test, each watch would spend 24 hours in each of five positions: 1. Dial up. 2. Dial down. 3. Pendant up. 4. Pendant right. 5. Pendant left. Later a sixth position, pendant down, was added. Following each step of the testing, the watch would be checked against the chronometer. If a test revealed a deviation, it would be sent back to the bench for adjustment. Also, as a part of her job, at 11 a.m. each day, Mary had to stand at the shop's master regulator to receive time signals from Washington over a direct wire from Western Union. In between these activities, Mary had to wind every watch daily. As the organization grew, this awesome task resulted in what were probably very sore fingers. Finally, before any watch was sent to an authorized time inspector, they were again returned to Mary for retesting."
Good Morning Dewey,I am skeptical. How many watches per day? How many shipped per year?
Kent alludes to a staff of watchmakers. This still leaves open the question of who those hand picked watchmakers were. Were they full time employees or were they inspectors in training/certification?
It's not your nature to accept anything at face value, but it does get frustratingit is so discrepant from my knowledge that I feel uncomfortable accepting it prima facie.
Yes, it is what made me very good at my previous career and it is also what makes me a decent mechanic. No apologies here.It's not your nature to accept anything at face value, but it does get frustrating
to some that you question someone else's research that is, and has been accepted by the majority
with Mary as a primary source. Yes, you are correct there is a lot of information about the finishing room for Ball
that is unknown.
This back and forth started when Kent asked you about your statement
" I do not know if he retained a staff for this or if (as I would have) required each approved inspector to do so many watches a year to maintain their level of proficiency. ... "
You seem to be saying that following up on an anecdotal report to test it against primary data is a waste of time. Just because you find it irksome to have to consider the data upon which a belief is founded? Interesting.You are actually the one to put a questionable idea into this discussion that has no
basis on any research that has been displayed here or documentation provided. You are questioning an interview as a source
and you make a theory about inspectors and what they may or may not have been required to do without
Unfortunately, Meither is silent on just who the other "hand picked" watchmakers were. They could well have been inspectors in training.
Actually Rob, I think this is more a philosophical discussion of the difference between "knowing" and "acceptance" when it comes to knowledge.I'm beginning to wish I hadn't started this thread. I was only looking for information not to start a schwantz measuring contest.
You guys play nice or no dessert!