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  1. JimInOz Melbourne Australia Jul 28, 2021

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    ............. can be a real PITA!

    But let me begin at the beginning. My SIL visited a while ago and as he knew of my interest in watches and the fact that my hobby is servicing them, he bought a couple with him.

    "Would you like to have a look at them?" he asked after we'd had a beer. Sure I thought, just a look, how can that hurt.

    Out came to two watches, both pocket watches. One an Australian cased Swiss movement (Helvetia 33L caliber) and the other was a silver cased tragedy from England.

    It was in very sad condition, the glass was missing, as were all the hands and there were no winding / setting keys and it looked like it had been thrown in mud, dust and a bucket of barber shop sweepings.

    "Do you reckon you could do anything with them?" he said.

    I pretended I hadn't heard him, and then thought I could feign a heart attack, but after a moment, and because he's "fambly", I relented and said yes.

    The English watch meant a lot to him as it was owned by his GGGF who served in the Coldstream Guards and saw action in the Boer War at the turn of the last century.

    So some time later, I got to work on it.

    Being a pocket watch it wasn't too hard to disassemble and I quickly had the movement out.
    And that's when I went "Ahhhhh!"

    The movement was a 173 year old English Lever Fusee and while everything appeared to be there, it was seized solid, so lots of stripping and cleaning and noting which parts went where.

    I've never worked on a fusee movement so there was some trepidation as I went forward. Even before I got into the guts, the condition of the seconds hand post made me wince.

    SubSecPost.jpg

    The next thing that was a bit more pleasant and I hadn't seen before are the balance jewels. They are actually diamonds!

    Here's the Upper Jewel setting.

    TopBalJewel.jpg

    Getting all of the parts separated and cleaned was the easy bit!

    PartsLayout.JPG

    So all was going swimmingly, until I got to the PITA BIT!

    Starting the assembly went smoothly thanks to some help from David Boettcher and a pic from his website.

    EnglishLeverAnno.jpg

    That looks nice doesn't it, but the PITA bit isn't obvious there.

    The top plate can not be put on because it houses the lower balance setting on a cock under the plate, and the cock is blocked by the lever if you lower the plate.

    I figured out that the only way I could do it was to put the lever into the top plate with the horn of the lever sitting above the balance cock, and to hold it in place as I turned the plate over I used a couple of little balls of Rodico.

    With that very very carefully lowered, all that remained was to make sure all pivots were correctly seated before the plate was pushed down. What A PITA! As you can see below there are four top pivots and four lower pivots, each about the diameter of a human hair, that must be tweaked into position so that they don't snap as the plate is set home.

    Anyway, after much "slow breathing" and thinking "why do I do these things?" it all just fell into place.

    MovementCloseUp.JPG

    So there we are, time to take a break and have a coldie to settle my nerves.

    IMG_0264.JPG
     
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  2. JimInOz Melbourne Australia Jul 29, 2021

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    We're at a standstill ATM as I'm waiting for pocket watch keys to arrive.

    In the meantime I made some pins to replace the originals which were due for the bin.

    WIN_20210728_15_15_47_Pro.jpg

    And then trimmed to length.

    WIN_20210728_15_17_13_Pro.jpg

    Much better than the old one don't you think?

    WIN_20210728_15_18_38_Pro.jpg
     
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  3. JimInOz Melbourne Australia Jul 29, 2021

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    Almost forgot.

    While the top balance jewels were OK and cleaned up nicely, the lower balance setting was more of a problem.
    The bearing and cap jewels are held in a brass wedge driven into the lower balance cock.

    This is the view from below, you can see how it's been set into the cock (or bridge).

    WIN_20210726_17_31_35_Pro.jpg

    When we look down into it from the top, we can see the bearing jewel.

    Can you spot the problem yet?

    WIN_20210726_17_33_31_Pro.jpg

    Unfortunately, the bearing jewel has been cracked at some stage, whether by a careless watchmaker or the result of a drop we will never know.

    WIN_20210726_17_33_23_Pro.jpg

    As the watch will be a memento and not a daily wearer I won't attempt to change the jewel (that would be insanity defined!) but it has been cleaned in-situ and oiled, so it will permit the occasional run so that the descendants of the man who wore it can see it tick.
     
  4. Archer Omega Qualified Watchmaker Jul 29, 2021

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    Often the best approach with these full plate movements is to assemble them upside-down - that's what I've done in the past but not sure it would work here. Others have created little clips that they use to hold the pallet fork in place during assembly. Anyone who thinks that companies making things very difficult to service is a new thing, has clearly never serviced one of these.

    I was reading this thread, scrolling down, and just waiting for the cracked jewel picture - very common issue in older pocket watches with bezel set jewels. Replacing them can be daunting, in particular if you are going to use another bezel set jewel that is matched for colour, as many pocket watch collectors would require. This is the main reason I now longer repair any pocket watches - those jewels are increasingly hard to come by, and finding the right one can be a nightmare. There are guys out there who have huge stashes of jewels, but I don't so, I leave these to those guys to repair.
     
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  5. Canuck Jul 29, 2021

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    Genuine ruby and sapphire hole jewels, ranked in colour from red to pink, to what is euphemistically called today, pink sapphire (palest pink.) Also a sapphire hole jewel. This assortment is likely 19th century, never used. Back in an era when the making of watch jewels was highly labour intensive.

    974B6ED0-0E47-461C-AD8C-768A99FDCD87.jpeg
     
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  6. JimInOz Melbourne Australia Jul 30, 2021

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    It lives!



    Amplitude is low at the moment as the mainspring and fusee haven't been set up and I'm not game to do that without correctly sized keys, but I ordered a full set and they should be here next week.

    I don't think the original that came with it is of any use now :D.

    output_toX7gi.gif
     
    Edited Jul 30, 2021
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  7. JimInOz Melbourne Australia Aug 3, 2021

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    Finally got Mr Mainspring, Mr Barrel, Mr Chain and Miss Fusee to agree to be friends and work with each other.

    Now wound and running as well as can be with 173 years of unknown mainspring changes, unknown hairspring changed etc etc.

    In the pic below you can see the tiny chain being pulled onto the mainspring barrel by the power of the mainspring unwinding.

    The other end of the chain is pulling the fusee cone thus transmitting a turning force to the train wheels.

    FuseeFixed.JPG
     
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  8. JimInOz Melbourne Australia Aug 3, 2021

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  9. JimInOz Melbourne Australia Aug 4, 2021

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    With the movement running I turn my attention to replacing the missing hands. I managed to find a set (of odd hands, not a matching set) and proceeded to fit them. The sub seconds was just a matter of broaching the pipe to fit over the rather large post.

    Next was the hour hand. The only one I could find was much too tight, so a bit of modification was needed to open it up. Not sure that this is the correct way to do it, but it helped somewhat.

    HourHandEnlarging.JPG

    Still a bit undersized, so my next option was to reduce the hour wheel post a bit. A nice sharp graver and into the lathe for a trim.

    HourWheelSizing.JPG

    and the end result is a nice fit.

    HourHandDone.jpg

    That completes the movement service and casing the movement. Next will be fitting the dial and hands.

    DialSideCased.JPG
     
  10. Archer Omega Qualified Watchmaker Aug 4, 2021

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    Hi Jim,

    Normally you modify the non-original part to fit the watch, and not the watch to fit the non-original part. So cutting down the hour wheel is sort of a bodge in that regard.

    For the hand, I'm not clear what you were doing with the staking set there, but the normal method of opening the hand up is to broach the hole larger with a cutting broach. It's time consuming and on steel hands in particular, but that would have been my approach on this one.

    Cheers, Al
     
  11. JimInOz Melbourne Australia Aug 4, 2021

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    Understand completely Al.
    However, without any hope of finding "OEM" hands for this watch, and the fact that it will remain in this state forever I made the choice to "get it done".

    Initial attempts at broaching the hand were difficult, even with smoothing broaches. Maybe the blueing had tempered the steel? Of course I would have preferred to follow the proper approach, but for this one-off I had to make an exception.

    Cheers
    Jim
     
  12. S.H. Aug 4, 2021

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    In my experience broaches on steel hands only works if there is very little to correct. Be prepared to quickly kill your broach anyway, blued steel is hard. So I don't like it, I usually find hands with bigger holes, then I make some brass bushings for them. That way I can then correct the holes without killing tools or modifying the watch. I've done it on pocket watches and even on wristwatches.

    Hands when missing are always a big, and overlooked problem.

    DSC_5450.jpeg
     
    Edited Aug 4, 2021
  13. Archer Omega Qualified Watchmaker Aug 4, 2021

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    Not criticizing, just informing. On the broaches, yes smoothing broaches won’t do much on steel hands, that’s why I use cutting broaches.

    Trying to open up or close holes is usually limited to hands that are already very close to fitting. No idea how much this hand was too tight, so difficult to say what should or shouldn’t be done. Typically I would be finding hands that are very close before even trying to fit them by opening or closing the holes.

    You may not have the same sort of access to hands as we do here, because there are so many pockets watches floating around.
     
  14. JimInOz Melbourne Australia Aug 5, 2021

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    Into the final straight.

    Dial and hands have been fitted and after a full wind it's running well after 24 hours and keeping time to +30spd.

    Considering the fact that this watch will not be worn as a timepiece, and that to adjust the regulator you have to open the front bezel, open the movement in the case, remove the movement cover, adjust the regulator, put it all back together..............I think it'll be OK like this.

    One problem I have is sourcing a suitable crystal, which needs to be a high dome (size 2 or 3 at least) of 20 8/16''' size. I've found lots of unicorn poop in my world wide searches, but no suitable crystal.

    In order to protect the dial and hands I used a size 462 Sternkruez Lentille crystal. However, due to the height of the centre wheel post/canon pinion the crystal would not fit. My only option (aside from heating and re-forming the crystal) was to cut a 3mm diameter hole to give the canon pinion an unobstructed clearance. It's not the best solution, but will provide protection until I can find a better replacement.

    CrystalRelief.JPG
     
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  15. JimInOz Melbourne Australia Aug 5, 2021

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    So to close off on this one, here is a shot of the finished article, I only wish I'd taken a "before" shot to compare.

    Never mind, I think this looks 100%.

    HHW_Fini.JPG

    PS: Adam, you can thank DJ for the key cord :D. DJ, can you make me a new one?
     
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  16. Archer Omega Qualified Watchmaker Aug 5, 2021

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    Looks great.

    If you have a local watch material supplier, they may offer a crystal fitting service. You send them the case, and they go through their crystals and find or make one fit. Most suppliers in North America offer this, but I have no idea about down under.

    Cheers, Al
     
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  17. Canuck Aug 5, 2021

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    There are people who produce specialized glass implements for scientific laboratory work. Probably associated with a university laboratory.

    My late father was a Depression era watchmaker, before fax machines, Internet, etc. etc. He once showed me how to fabricate a glass crystal. Round, or fancy shape.

    Use a square of zinc sheet, and cut a 20 8/16 (or a bit larger) hole in the middle. Bend the corners down so the form will stand on (for example) a block of charcoal. Place a small alarm clock glass over the hole, concave side up. Gradually and evenly use a soft acetylene (or propane) flame from a torch to heat the glass, slowly! If you can do this without breaking the glass, it should reach the FLOW point (not the MELT point), and drop through the hole in the zinc, and sag sufficiently in the process. I’ve seen it done, though have never done it.
     
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  18. Helvetia History Aug 17, 2021

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    But what about the Helvetia! (Was it marked The Fenchurch Lever, most Helvetia pocket watches from Australia seem to be branded like this?)

    Just joking, you've done a fantastic job on that pocket watch, I've started to collect a few after being wristwatch only up to now.