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Gary

Question And Admission!

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I have been busy at work as tax season approaches.

I have set aside time one night a week to tinker with the watches. However, I am curious as to the number of watches you tore down and reassembled and the watch worked properly again. I'm have a couple of issues with each one.

1-the springs and screws have wings and fly away (this one I'm learning to remedy)

2- these inexpensive watches I've worked on are vicious when it comes to getting the bridge back on all the train gears.

3- the worst problem - I have a really difficult time getting the balance cock back on. And aligned properly!

4- I have broken down four so far ( I've apologized the watchmakers of those that lay lifeless on my desk)

5- Everything seems to go fine until the balance cock. I truly thought I would have more issues remembering where everything goes. As a side note the better the watch it seemed easy to reassemble except the balance.

Any direction or advice would be welcomed!

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Hi Gary, I used to struggle a bit re-fitting the balance when I started. Once you understand exactly how it functions and practice a few times removing and fitting one you'll be OK.

I wrote this to help someone out before:-

http://www.watchrepairtalk.com/topic/575-re-install-balance-wheel-on-eta-2824-2/

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Excellent directions Geo, I didn't see that post before, thanks for the link. It complements nicely my system of doing it.

 

And Gary, one thing I do as soon as I start disassembling, is removing the rotor and the balance and then the hands and dial. The reason is two fold, the rotor is susceptible to damage when pressure is applied to it and the balance can be easily damaged if you forget to watch out for it even for a millisecond. Once all those parts are safely away I do the service. When putting everything back on the last thing I put together is the balance and the rotor (and then the dial and hands maybe).

 

Geo has excellent directions as per the balance. I usually don't look much when putting it back but I've done it many times so I developed a feel for it. Normally I keep the pallet fork to the left and turn the balance to the right and it catches but there is more to it than that and hard to explain.

 

One important thing here is -- not just the balance but even when working with bridges and wheels -- be very careful with the pivots. Special attention to the pallet fork pivots and of course, the balance wheel ones. It helps when lifting straight up for disassembly and being as precise as possible when assemblying, hopefully straight down so to speak and not "rubbing" the pivots all over the plates trying to hunt for its hole.

 

Hope it helps,

 

Bob

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I've disassembled five movements and reassembled one and two thirds. The first one I got reassembled and running, but not well, as the hairspring has problems. I had a lot of problems locating the train wheel and escape wheel pivots, but I got lucky on the balance cock. I had three movements worth of parts for that one, so even though I lost or broke a few, I had enough.

Three of the other four movements are projects in various states of limbo. The fifth is a $12.95 Chinese skeleton movement I bought to do the Level One of the TimeZone Watch School. I couldn't bring myself to pay $190 for the ETA 2801-2 the course is based on, but I wanted to start with a new, working movement. Anyway, I got this movement almost completely reassembled, but the click broke and I lost one of the shock protection springs. It only took me three tries to get the balance on. Some tips from the course that were helpful to me were:

Try starting with the pallet fork positioned left, right or in the middle.

When trying to align the impulse jewel, do not rotate the balance, but rather rotate the movement holder.

I plan on using the Chinese movement to practice installing the balance over and over until I get better at it.

I don't have a lot of free time to play with watches, so my slow progress has been frustrating. However every little failure pays off in experience. I've learned more from screwing things up than doing them right. Good luck!

Edited by Don

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As I cannot resist a bargain I also bought a Chinese skeleton watch,  mainly to use as my everyday watch.  After a little bit of adjusting it is now running very close,  how they can make it for the money is beyond me.

 

Practice,  practice and then some more practice is the only way to gain experience with watches,  using cheap Chinese movements to practice on is the way to go.  I see forum members paying silly money for rubbish Swiss watches to practice on when they could buy new Chinese watches and save themselves a lot of trouble with rusted/broken/missing screws etc. and other bits and pieces.  If you can take apart and then reassemble a Chinese movement you should not have any trouble with a Swiss one. 

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Regarding springs flying away, get a buff stick as well as some bamboo skewers. The buff stick works really well at holding down the hooked parts of springs and the bamboo skewer is usually sharp enough that you can use it to slide the free end of the spring into its place (this combo works great with the set lever spring and click spring).

 

When you are putting the gear train bridge on, you can always try to use the center wheel pivot as your landmark when you are lowering the bridge, but really, it seems like it is something that you just get better at with time.

 

Geo's post on putting the balance back is exactly what I was going post, so there is no need to re-write it.

 

Keep practicing! You'll get it eventually.

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As I cannot resist a bargain I also bought a Chinese skeleton watch,  mainly to use as my everyday watch.  After a little bit of adjusting it is now running very close,  how they can make it for the money is beyond me.

 

Practice,  practice and then some more practice is the only way to gain experience with watches,  using cheap Chinese movements to practice on is the way to go.  I see forum members paying silly money for rubbish Swiss watches to practice on when they could buy new Chinese watches and save themselves a lot of trouble with rusted/broken/missing screws etc. and other bits and pieces.  If you can take apart and then reassemble a Chinese movement you should not have any trouble with a Swiss one. 

 

Thank you for the response! Please share the link to the watches you are referring to if you don't mind. I would gladly take this route to learn more about the reassembling process.

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I bought mine from Esslinger here. I think it was good for learning purposes and saving some money. It lasted me almost until the end of the Level 1 course. Don't expect great quality. Mine was a stopper right out of the package. It had some white plastic pieces stuck in the train wheels. Once I removed them with a blower, it ran. Also, the click is kind of a weird design. Mine broke, either because of poor quality or some idiocy on my own part, I'm not sure.

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Hello BobM,  I have just tried that link on my PC and it has worked fine,  strange,  I am in the UK,  if that makes any difference.

 

The search I used on Ebay was "Mens skeleton mechanical watches" that should find you a few to get started.   The one I bought is still running strong after a few weeks,  they are not Rolex quality but they are not junk either.  They would seem to be a good place to start practising watch strip down and assembly,  if it does not work after the operation then there is no great financial loss.

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@autowind: Thank you Roger, I,ll check it out with those key words. I,m always looking for more, different movements to train myself!

@Don: Thank you Don, I use esslinger quite often but I,ve found that borel is cheaper. Check them out.

Cheers,

Bob

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Thanks Bob. For tools I've been bouncing between Esslinger and Ofrei, depending upon which has the better price plus shipping. They're both good companies. I'm very close to Ofrei so I can usually get next day service.

Regarding the Chinese skeleton movement, one cool thing is that even the barrel is skeletonized so you can see the mainspring during winding. I doubt this is a great idea for cleanliness, but it's interesting to see.

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cool! I got To check one out. BTW, Borel is in Kansaa while Ofrei is in California. They pretty much take care of different parts of the supply business with some overlap. Lately I,ve been using Borel the most...and easier to navigate. :)

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Replacing the balance was a thorn in my side to learn. I wish I would have had you guys for reference!

 

My biggest hangup at the time was not fully understanding the interaction between the impulse and the pallet fork - I simply had not yet learned the basic escapement function. When I was replacing the balance, I was trying to land the impulse jewel into the centre of the fork. This was an unnecessary exercise in futility and frustration (and I still have a 7S26 waiting for a replacement pallet fork because of it). The key to unlocking the mystery for me was understanding that the impulse jewel does not need to be placed into the pallet directly, but anywhere on the free side.

 

If the pallet is swung to the left

                          o/  o

the impulse        / 

jewel can

go anywhere

on this side                        

 

...and if it is to the right

 

                         o  \o

                               \      anywhere

                                      over here

                                      will work

 

I have seen a few posts where it sounds like others are doing the same thing I was. Hopefully this revelation is as helpful as it was for me.

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If the pallet is swung to the left

                          o/  o

the impulse        / 

jewel can

go anywhere

on this side                        

 

...and if it is to the right

 

                         o  \o

                               \      anywhere

                                      over here

                                      will work

 

Simplicity, I like simplicity!

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I was practicing on some Chineese Auto movements earlier this year. The whole gear train & Auto wheels were under one bridge. I think it was 7 pivots to get in their poorly machined place.

That was patience/frustration to the max!

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Thanks Bob. For tools I've been bouncing between Esslinger and Ofrei, depending upon which has the better price plus shipping. They're both good companies. I'm very close to Ofrei so I can usually get next day service.

Regarding the Chinese skeleton movement, one cool thing is that even the barrel is skeletonized so you can see the mainspring during winding. I doubt this is a great idea for cleanliness, but it's interesting to see.

 

How well did the Timezone course relate to the Chinese movement?  I've been trying to decide whether to do the TZ course with that movement or the 7s26 tutorial and buy a new Seiko for $55.

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Hi Blake,

 

I tell you, I loved working on the Seiko 7S26 as per the course. It only teach you how to disassemble it and partly assemble back.

 

The ofrei one is expensive but steers you in the right direction towards being a hobbyist watchmaker but in no way it is a complete course either. You also get an online -- and very knowledgeable -- instructor. In addition, you learn oiling techniques, cleaning and a little bit about the most important stuff.

 

All in all, I believe you would benefit from both.

 

All that said, I would also get a working $20 ebay Seiko and/or ETA movement for practicing. I personally hate to learn in a brand new movement considering the long road of mistakes...One thing I would do first is the Seiko which is inexpensive and buy along with the working movement some junk movements for parts in case I lose a screw, spring or anything else. I would definitely have at least one spare hairspring and invest in the proper tools, not the cheapo recommended in the Seiko tutorial. make sure, if you go that way, the junk movements are of the same type, i.e. 7S26 is not a 7S36 (although most parts are interchangeable, check section about them) and versions A, B and C are not quite exactly the same. Until you get well acquainted with these slight but sometimes meaningful differences I would stick to the same exact movement for replacement. It is also important to get the service data of the movement you work with and consider ordering new parts from suppliers if/when necessary.

 

We have a section on tools here you can browse and several discussions on cleaning and oiling that will benefit you in order to choose the proper stuff to buy. Ofrei usually describe and clarifies uses and particularities of many items he sells: his page makes good reading. Also, it is essential to watch Mark's videos that illustrate the proper techniques and give you the inside of how to work the movements.

 

I hope it helps,

 

Cheers,

 

Bob

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Hi Blake,

 

I tell you, I loved working on the Seiko 7S26 as per the course. It only teach you how to disassemble it and partly assemble back.

 

The ofrei one is expensive but steers you in the right direction towards being a hobbyist watchmaker but in no way it is a complete course either. You also get an online -- and very knowledgeable -- instructor. In addition, you learn oiling techniques, cleaning and a little bit about the most important stuff.

 

All in all, I believe you would benefit from both.

 

All that said, I would also get a working $20 ebay Seiko and/or ETA movement for practicing. I personally hate to learn in a brand new movement considering the long road of mistakes...One thing I would do first is the Seiko which is inexpensive and buy along with the working movement some junk movements for parts in case I lose a screw, spring or anything else. I would definitely have at least one spare hairspring and invest in the proper tools, not the cheapo recommended in the Seiko tutorial. make sure, if you go that way, the junk movements are of the same type, i.e. 7S26 is not a 7S36 (although most parts are interchangeable, check section about them) and versions A, B and C are not quite exactly the same. Until you get well acquainted with these slight but sometimes meaningful differences I would stick to the same exact movement for replacement. It is also important to get the service data of the movement you work with and consider ordering new parts from suppliers if/when necessary.

 

We have a section on tools here you can browse and several discussions on cleaning and oiling that will benefit you in order to choose the proper stuff to buy. Ofrei usually describe and clarifies uses and particularities of many items he sells: his page makes good reading. Also, it is essential to watch Mark's videos that illustrate the proper techniques and give you the inside of how to work the movements.

 

I hope it helps,

 

Cheers,

 

Bob

 

Thanks for the info!  Seems like he Seiko idea will be what I go with.  I've been looking on eBay for the past week for cheap watches with working 7s26 and lost a couple bids but hoping to get one at good price soon.  As for the tools, I was planning on getting a set of 5 AF Screwdrivers on eBay for $29.99 but i'm stumped on tweezers.  If I go with Mark's recommendation of size 2, 3, 5 and AM.BR, the only brand I'm going to be able to afford would be Stella on Esslinger's or the cheap Chinese ones on Ofrei.  What do you think?

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I've only started working on watches since last July, so he's my advice for what it's worth.

 

In all the watches I've serviced, and repaired, I've only ever lost 1 item ... an incabloc jewel, on the second watch I worked on: if my memory serves me.  I've never broken a single part, and all the watches I've serviced are running well to date, with very happy owners.

 

He's my recipe for success :)

 

1. One thing I did before I worked on ANY watches, was to view Mark's videos LOTS of times, and find a similar movement to work on.  You can see on that link that my first watch was a Rotary Watch, very similar to the one in Mark's Video on Youtube.  That way I could work along with him, as an apprentice would with his tradesman's mentor.  This helped greatly, and gave me confidence to go further on my own with the skills I'd learnt.

 

2. I purchased good quality tools.  Not a lot at first, but good quality one's none the less:

  • Horotec Screwdrivers 0.8, 1.0, 1.2, 1.4mm
  • Horotec Hand Removers
  • A*F 3.5 Loupe
  • Dumont BRASS tweezers No4 and No2 (this aren't as springy as steel ones, so parts don't ping if you loose your grip)
  • Rodico
  • Bergeon 4040 Movement Holder
  • Sticky Ball for removing Casebacks
  • Bergeon Leather Pad
  • Bergeon Green Mat

These items didn't cost me that much, and I never need to purchase them ever again ... because they are top quality professional tools that will last due to their quality.

Guys, you can't win a Formula One race in a Mini Moke ... so buy good tools that bring out your best!

 

3. I purchased a second-hand watchmakers desk off fleabay for like 80 bucks.  This means my work is at the correct height, and this is SO important to your ability to succeed.  You can't work properly on watches stooped over a movement, you have to be in a relaxed posture.

 

4. I also prayed, and continue to pray, for skill, wisdom and understanding in watchmaking ... now you can laugh all you want; but the proof is in the pudding ... and I acknowledge my Lord and Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the one who has guided me and blessed me with these skills and abilities.  I owe it all to him.

 

Hope this was of some help

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This is good advise Lawson and nicely complements what I wrote before. BTW, did you ever thought of upgrading that sticky ball when you were starting? I mean, how frustrating/successful has it been using it? I've never used one before being partial to more "solid" solutions myself but I can see the advantages of a no-matter-what-you-do, non marking tool. Safety and peace of mind when using it! 

 

@Blake: I would say, A/F is good and if you absolutely can't afford a set of good quality brand tweezers, I'd say, for the time being buy a #2 and consider next time the purchase of a #5. Eventually you will be building up your tweezers collection. Those and the screwdrivers are the most important tools you will ever own, so to speak, so don't try to save on those. If you absolutely must use the cheapo ones you must dress them before use but you need to know how or you will be very frustrated and loose all the meaningful, untraceable parts. (I would also consider the addition of a back and crystal press to the list of necessary tools).

 

Also, the 7S26 course is meaningless without a slight background on watchmaking, therefore Marks videos and ofrei courses are probably the best route (in addition to) the free 7S26 because of the many hints, tricks of the trade and general good advise and support. I took everything together in a way they were complementing one another. Then, work, study, switch movements, repeat! Just like the movie.

 

Hope it helps,

 

Cheers,

 

Bob

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How well did the Timezone course relate to the Chinese movement?  I've been trying to decide whether to do the TZ course with that movement or the 7s26 tutorial and buy a new Seiko for $55.

 

HI Blake,

 

At the point I'd started the Timezone course, I'd done a lot of reading, watching Mark's videos and I'd already disassembled/reassembled a watch so I was fairly familiar with the parts of a simple hand wind movement. So it was pretty easy to follow along. Some of the parts were different, but their function is the same.

 

Regarding tools, I impulsively and rather needlessly upgraded my screwdrivers earlier this year. So I've got a set of the "French Made" drivers from Otto Frei just sitting around making my wife wonder how much I spent for them. I'd be happy to send them to you if you want them and that would free up some money for your tweezer budget.

 

Don

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Lawson & bobm12:

Thanks for all the helpful replies.  The main reason for trying to keep the budget low was to not spend too much money until I know that I'll stick with it but I understand the need for quality tools.  I am continuing to look on eBay for a 7s26 movement but after reading Lawson's post I started watching Mark's video featuring the Rotary watch and I started watching a few of them on eBay.  I'll have to pay extra shipping from the UK since they all seem to be located there but the ability to work along with the video will be great.  As for the higher quality tweezers, If I were to start with a #2, there are quite a few on Ofrei that are around $20-26 but I'm not sure which would be best.

 

Don:

That would be GREAT! Thanks for offering! I could pay shipping since I'm on the opposite end of the country.

Edited by BlakeL

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