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MrRoundel

Hamilton Model 21 chronometer. Cleaning Solution?

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Greetings folks. I've been working on watches as a hobby for about 20 years now.  I started out on pocket watches and have never cleaned a clock. In fact, I had a great cleaning machine, with the big jars, and a few other clock tools, that I gave away to an aspiring clock guy over at the Tascione site. But I digress...

Nearly 20 years ago I bought a Hamilton model 21 ship's chronometer. It's an early one, pre 400 serial number, and is a thing of beauty, as these generally are. Back when I got it, I had a professional service it for me. It was done well, but wasn't cheap. $400-500, IIRC. I used to display it in my living room and run it occasionally just to hear the escapement and marvel it its accuracy. From about 2009 to 2014 it sat in my storage unit, waiting for new digs. In 2014 I wound it up and it took off running. I let it run down and then put it away for a couple of years. When I pulled it out, I discovered that it had a broken balance pivot. While originally I thought someone had knocked it over and wasn't copping to it, but now, after inspecting the upper pivot's wear, I don't think that's the case.

After botching the first staff I got trying to replace the hub, I set it aside again for the past couple of years. The way I broke the staff was I overestimated how deep the hollowness went in my hollow punch that I was using to tap it on. It bottomed out in the punch and destroyed the pivot. :growl:

Now that I'm finally over that disappointment, I decided to give it another go. I bought a staff that already had the hub installed. I may have to polish the lower pivot, as it doesn't seem to want to set in the hole jewel properly. I'm in the process of verifying all of this. I had to tear down the chronometer at least to the point where I could check to see if the broken part of the pivot was impeding the staff from setting properly. The hole jewel is clear.

I'm doing the best I can to do it right, and get it running again. I won't be running it, but want it running just in case I should decide to sell it. Otherwise the value drops quite a bit. Since I have it completely torn down now, I might as well clean and oil it. Does anyone have a hot tip on the best cleaning solutions for cleaning these chronometers? I'd like to use something that will cross over and work for my cleaning of watches as well. I have both an ultrasonic and the small L&R mechanical. I have one more fresh batch of cleaner and rinse, petroleum, no-water, formula. Should I use that, or make, or get, something new? Any tips for oil and grease types to get me by? Any suggestions are appreciated.

I do have the Manual for the movement.

I know that this is risky business, my working on this chrono, but I just can't afford to spend another $500 to get it running. Plus, I heard that if you're going to run these, you've got to spend this $500 or so to service them every few years. That is not going to happen. Feedback, suggestions, warnings, tips, etc., are all welcome. Many thanks. Cheers.

 

Edited by MrRoundel
Grammar/Spelling

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I would like to see some phots first of the movement including the balance before I comment further. There is a screw called a “stop-up” screw, which was built into the model 21 chronometer by Hamilton. This screw was used to block the train wheels for transport. This screw was often removed during service. Does yours still have it?

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You can use normal watch cleaning solutions. But you can also wash things wild dish soap and hot water and a soft brush, rinsing in hot water and then two alcohol baths (so soak off the water), drying with warm air or old school sawdust.

You'll want to grease the mainspring with 8300, use that for the barrel and fusee pivots too. Clock oil for the center and 3rd wheel, then 9020 for the rest is fine. Don't oil the escape teeth of course. It's good to oil the chain a bit too, pull it through watchpaper repeatedly after until it leaves no residue.

Try to observe how much prearming is on the barrel when you let it down so you can set it up the same.

I'm sure you already know to never remove the balance with power on the train, and there's maintaining power in the fusee. I've made a number of escape wheels and detents from even experienced watchmakers pulling the balance with power in the train.

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Thanks, oldhippy. No, mine does not have the screw. The manual says that they didn't start that until serial number 3500, and they weren't standard on all  until serial 4003. Mine has a serial in the high 300's.

I have made the preliminary decision to reassemble the movement w/o a thorough cleaning. I'm just not set up for cleaning such large parts. As I mentioned, I gifted my big cleaner. The movement still has signs of liquid oil from its service from year ago, except at the balance jewels. If I decide to go ahead with the incomplete job, I will clean and oil the balance endstones and hole jewels before reassembly. I may also oil other pivots with a dab or two. Heck, since the stuff's just going to dry out in 5 years anyway, and I'm not going to run it, what's the point?

I will clean the the escapement parts, as they do show signs of dried oil, etc., on them.

I can be talked out of this if it sounds completely insane, as I am just now working to replace the upper train-bridge, which isn't going easily onto the pillars. I hate that. It's a reason I don't like Hampden full-plate pocket watches. I've had to replace the plates by slowly tightening the plate screws, and watching to make sure the pivots are lined up well. Otherwise, well, you know what would happen. Nerve-wracking.

The image I am including is the best I can do, as I had already removed the balance from the movement. If you need another view, I have a couple more, but they are really just to aid my reassembly of the train wheels, etc.

 

DSC06566.JPG

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Thanks, nicklesilver. That's very helpful. So maybe I will go the thorough route. Maybe with the denatured alcohol rinses the plates will shine, and not have any of the residue that my cleaner seems to leave behind, making me crazy.

It has been a couple of years since I removed the balance, but I did let the power down before removing the balance assembly. I'm sure I used a train-stop wire on the 4th wheel as well. I certainly don't remember any obvious bad movement by anything when I removed it. That said, there are small chips out of the unlocking roller and impulse roller. There was not jewel debris anywhere, so I'm pretty sure that it was operating with these as they are, FWIW.

I do realize that I should replace these, if I can find them. Again, if I decide to do a less incomplete job, I will do that.

To clarify, my post above left out the "s" to make year into years. It has been approximately 17 years since the clock was serviced..

Edited by MrRoundel

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Do not grease the mainspring or the oil the chain. The oil you need is Windles clock oil. After you have cleaned the chain a few drops of oil on a clean rag, run it through the rag. You can use the oil for the mainspring.  A watch oil for the balance.

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55 minutes ago, oldhippy said:

  A watch oil for the balance.

Thanks, oldhippy. Oh bloody "L". Of course, I just oiled the balance with clock oil. I figured with the weight of the balance, and the fact that it is practically always on the lower pivot, the clock oil would be better. Not a big deal to remove the cap jewels again, and I haven't hit the holes with oil yet.

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20 hours ago, MrRoundel said:

Greetings folks. I've been working on watches as a hobby for about 20 years now.  I started out on pocket watches and have never cleaned a clock. In fact, I had a great cleaning machine, with the big jars, and a few other clock tools, that I gave away to an aspiring clock guy over at the Tascione site. But I digress...

Nearly 20 years ago I bought a Hamilton model 21 ship's chronometer. It's an early one, pre 400 serial number, and is a thing of beauty, as these generally are. Back when I got it, I had a professional service it for me. It was done well, but wasn't cheap. $400-500, IIRC. I used to display it in my living room and run it occasionally just to hear the escapement and marvel it its accuracy. From about 2009 to 2014 it sat in my storage unit, waiting for new digs. In 2014 I wound it up and it took off running. I let it run down and then put it away for a couple of years. When I pulled it out, I discovered that it had a broken balance pivot. While originally I thought someone had knocked it over and wasn't copping to it, but now, after inspecting the upper pivot's wear, I don't think that's the case.

After botching the first staff I got trying to replace the hub, I set it aside again for the past couple of years. The way I broke the staff was I overestimated how deep the hollowness went in my hollow punch that I was using to tap it on. It bottomed out in the punch and destroyed the pivot. :growl:

Now that I'm finally over that disappointment, I decided to give it another go. I bought a staff that already had the hub installed. I may have to polish the lower pivot, as it doesn't seem to want to set in the hole jewel properly. I'm in the process of verifying all of this. I had to tear down the chronometer at least to the point where I could check to see if the broken part of the pivot was impeding the staff from setting properly. The hole jewel is clear.

I'm doing the best I can to do it right, and get it running again. I won't be running it, but want it running just in case I should decide to sell it. Otherwise the value drops quite a bit. Since I have it completely torn down now, I might as well clean and oil it. Does anyone have a hot tip on the best cleaning solutions for cleaning these chronometers? I'd like to use something that will cross over and work for my cleaning of watches as well. I have both an ultrasonic and the small L&R mechanical. I have one more fresh batch of cleaner and rinse, petroleum, no-water, formula. Should I use that, or make, or get, something new? Any tips for oil and grease types to get me by? Any suggestions are appreciated.

I do have the Manual for the movement.

I know that this is risky business, my working on this chrono, but I just can't afford to spend another $500 to get it running. Plus, I heard that if you're going to run these, you've got to spend this $500 or so to service them every few years. That is not going to happen. Feedback, suggestions, warnings, tips, etc., are all welcome. Many thanks. Cheers.

 

    the U.S. navy, shop that cleans and repairs THEM,  uses isopropyl alcohol.    vin

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2 hours ago, oldhippy said:

Do not grease the mainspring or the oil the chain. The oil you need is Windles clock oil. After you have cleaned the chain a few drops of oil on a clean rag, run it through the rag. You can use the oil for the mainspring.  A watch oil for the balance.

   on a pocket watch,  if you dont put oil or grease ON THE MAIN SPRING,    it will be the target for RUST  by moisture, if it gets in thru the stem.    i put a small greased o ring on the stem - it may not stop water, but old watches [ 1900 ] don't have much of a seal on the collet.   i dont know what seals are on a modern pocket watch.  vin

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OK, so here's something I'm finding a bit mysterious. According to the manual, you're supposed to wind the mainspring fully, then let it off 1/4 turn BEFORE you install the escapement? OK, I"m baffled. Is it because I haven't locked the train yet? Is that the reason for using the wire or the later use of the train-lock screw? And, to wind the fusee chain onto the barrel, I turn the arbor clockwise in order to have the chain wrap properly around the barrel. And I remember that I wound this chronometer counter-clockwise. So, after the chain is wound entirely around the barrel,  you actually wind the clock counterclockwise at the fusee arbor? 

As I said, I'm new to clocks. And I haven't worked on a fusee watch in years, and I only worked on a couple. I just don't remember how this stuff works. Any help is appreciated.  Many thanks.

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I see that the issue is probably that the Hamilton manual only mentions lowering the train blocking screw between the arms of the 4th wheel. They left out the part that if you don't have the blocking screw, you must use wire to hold the train. Based on this, I figured I'm going to have to get a heavier wire than I used during disassembly. Otherwise, I'm not sure it will hold back the MS' power.

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Another Hamilton chronometer question:

Does anyone happen to know where this part (image) goes on my Model 21? I had it in with the balance-cock screw and HS stud screws (I usually put section parts in associated containers), but I can't for the life of me figure where it goes. It has an OD of 6.4mm, with a thickness of 2.84mm.

I have been through the Hamilton manual a few times, yet still don't see it in either the re-assembly section or parts list. It fits nicely inside the recess for the balance cock screw, and the screw threads can pass through the center, but not the non-threaded upper screw part.  Color me confused. Any help is appreciated. Many thanks.
 

DSC06570.JPG

Edited by MrRoundel

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I figured it out, thanks to the tear-down video of Bunn Spl's on youtube. It's a spacer that goes between the back of the balance-stop arm that was only used in the earlier models of the model 21. The parts list doesn't show the arm at all. Cheers.

 

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I'm happy to report that my chronometer is now running. I had to adjust the unlocking roller so that it was closer to 90 degrees from the impulse roller to get it to run. However, it is running at double-time. More of a sprint than a run.

According to Bill Morris, author of "The Mariner's Chronometer", this is generally attributable to the unlocking jewel remaining in contact with the passing spring for too long. The chronometer ends up doing what is called "tripping". I'm guessing it might mean something else to oldhippy, or other baby-boomer types, :Dbut that's what it means when in reference to chronometers.  

It would seem that the adjustment that needs to be made is at the unlocking roller, as I didn't touch the adjustment on the detent when I disassembled. I'm letting it rest in its gimbal box for now, while I decide what the next course of action is. I do consider it a victory that it is running at all after restaffing it myself. Cheers.

Edited by MrRoundel

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I should have been clear, it was Mr. Morris who referred to the detent behavior as "tripping". Not being a clock person (?) (or perhaps experienced enough watch person), I hadn't heard the term before. Thanks. Cheers.

Edited by MrRoundel
"Watch person"

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Tripping can definitely be from the passing spring being in contact too long. It can be from a few other things too. You need to slowly rotate the balance and see the action. The detent should release the escape wheel a hair before the impulse jewel is on center line, then return as quickly as possible well before the escape wheel has finished impulse. It can be a bit of a tap dance between the passing spring impulse jewel and banking.

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Thanks, nickelsilver. My next move will probably be bringing the unlocking jewel back a little closer to the plane of the impulse jewel. I probably moved the unlocking roller a touch too much to bring it closer to 90 degrees. When I watched the escapement by manipulating the balance wheel counterclockwise, and saw the detent start to release the locking jewel, it seemed a bit behind. And in the Hamilton book, it said to place the unlocking jewel near 90 degrees from the impulse jewel. Originally, it was probably off, the the late side, by 5 degrees or so. I moved it the full 5 degrees, when I probably should have moved it a bit less.

Since I did not disassemble the detent, the adjustment of it should not have moved. Therefore, I'm thinking it's probably in my not getting the unlocking jewel just right. Of course it could also be wear on the escape wheel teeth or the chips in the unlocking and impulse jewels. No matter what, due to those chips, I won't be running it for any length of time until I can find some replacement jewels. And who the heck knows when that will be? I just know I don't want to destroy the movement by doing something stupid. Thanks again. Cheers.

 

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