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centerwheel

Automatic mainspring, to oil or not to oil?

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I've watched carefully all of Mark's videos of him servicing automatic watches. They all show how he puts breaking grease on the wall of the mainspring barrel, and that he oils the arbor in the places where it would touch the barrel top or bottom. However, it seems that the mainspring itself is mounted "dry", and no oil is applied to it prior to the closing of the barrel. Does anyone know the reason he skips oiling the mainspring? I would like to it the way he does it but I would also like to know why he chose to do it with no oiling of the spring.

In other places, such as TimeZone, they recommend oiling technique to be used just prior to closing the barrel. One must be then careful so the oil does not get on the wall and affect power reserve.

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8 minutes ago, centerwheel said:

I've watched carefully all of Mark's videos of him servicing automatic watches. They all show how he puts breaking grease on the wall of the mainspring barrel, and that he oils the arbor in the places where it would touch the barrel top or bottom. However, it seems that the mainspring itself is mounted "dry", and no oil is applied to it prior to the closing of the barrel. Does anyone know the reason he skips oiling the mainspring? I would like to it the way he does it but I would also like to know why he chose to do it with no oiling of the spring.

In other places, such as TimeZone, they recommend oiling technique to be used just prior to closing the barrel. One must be then careful so the oil does not get on the wall and affect power reserve.

This tends to be a personal preference thing.

With modern white metal UB mainsprings, theoretically they don't need lubrication. Most people however do, Mark himself does but just doesn't show it on every video. There is one or two where he demonstrates how he does it.

Personally I use a small piece of tissue paper to apply a thin smear of light grease rather than oil. Others fit the spring and apply 2 or 3 drops of oil which then spread through capillary action.

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Thanks! I've seen Mark showing how he oils a mainspring of a hand winded watch, but I have not seen any showing him doing it on an automatic. He then shows all of the oiling spots, goes through them one by one, but never shows or mentions what he does to the mainspring. If I am wrong about it then I will stand corrected.

Pre-oiling the mainspring, just like you do with the (lint-free) tissue paper, will cause, when the spring is wound with a mainspring winder, for the oil to spread up all the way to the place that should get no oil at all. There will be no way to prevent it.

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5 hours ago, centerwheel said:

However, it seems that the mainspring itself is mounted "dry", and no oil is applied to it prior to the closing of the barrel.

Correct. The mainspring has no friction and needs no oil. Apply braking grease to the barrel wall and that's it.

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7 hours ago, centerwheel said:

 

Pre-oiling the mainspring, just like you do with the (lint-free) tissue paper, will cause, when the spring is wound with a mainspring winder, for the oil to spread up all the way to the place that should get no oil at all. There will be no way to prevent it.

I'm not entirely sure what you mean by this above?

However, the purpose is not to 'oil' the mainspring but to give it a light coating to prevent corrosion.

Watchmakers have been doing this for years and many who have written numerous books also state that they too oil UB springs as well as the older blued steel ones with no evidence to the contrary that there's a negative effect.

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I’ve been doing this for some years now but like @centerwheel I’m still puzzled by how to lubricate when reusing an automatic mainspring. When I have a new spring delivered in a spacer there’s no problem. I simply lubricate the barrel wall (Moebius 8217/Kluber P125, etc.) and push the spring in as it comes pre-lubricated.

However, I don’t know the technique for reusing an automatic mainspring as lubricating the spring, say with Moebius 8200, would "contaminate" the outer coil resting against the barrel wall and likely defeat or interfere with the braking effect of the braking oil (I suppose?).

Furthermore, and in my personal experience, trying to wind a perfectly clean and dry spring into the barrel of my mainspring winder (K&D 128) without first lubricating it will make the spring break (read explode!). So, for this reason I never reuse automatic mainsprings, and it really seems like a waste.

EDIT:

Come to think of it, it could be that the "exploding" mainspring was somehow damaged, but to the best of my recollection is was not. Or, it could be that the inner wall of my particular mainspring winder barrel causes too much friction. Well, I'm still puzzled...

Edited by VWatchie
explode

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Reading the responses, I would say everyone is right in their own way. I was taught to always use breaking grease on the inside of the barrel walls, oil around the arbor and a little oil on the mainspring. Because inside the barrel the mainspring moves, so contact is made on the spring and to prevent rubbing of the spring the oil will prevent this from happening. Except with Seiko mainsprings, in my time back in the 70’s & 80’s you would replace the whole unit. That is what Seiko recommended; I think every 5 years it was recommended. Not always the case even then not all were available. For those auto springs it was suggest to use a graphite type grease, this would be put inside the barrel wall, between the arbor and spring and over the spring, so when the spring coils moved the compound would work itself between the coils  of the spring to prevent rubbing.

A dry spring can cause what is known as barrel bound. That is when the spring cannot unwind, a little lube can prevent this from happening. I’m not saying it always causes this situation, there are many others as well.    

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3 minutes ago, centerwheel said:

Oiling  the mainspring (after it was installed dry) makes sense. Still, Mark does not do it and I would like to know why.

Because isn't needed. I'll make no further effort to explain why, after all this is a lubrication topic, so disagreement is expected.

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33 minutes ago, centerwheel said:

Oiling  the mainspring (after it was installed dry) makes sense. Still, Mark does not do it and I would like to know why.

    if my information is true;  the only reason it is alloud to slip is "if it was anchored in the barrel "as normal" main spring"  the winder could break it.     some put a standard spring in,   some watches will wind with the rotor removed.   "to each his own".   vin

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In my limited experience, winding a dry mainspring into the barrel of a mainspring winder is not a good idea. In my case the spring broke and exploded out of the barrel (K&D 128). So, I wonder what your experience is of winding dry automatic mainsprings into the barrel of a mainspring winder? If it was(/is?) safe to do so it would really solve the problem!

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I've seen a number of suggestions that 8201 or 8301 should be used, 8301 because that person thought 8201 was too runny. It seems odd to me that synthetics are used every where else but graphite will lubricate for ever if it stays there and in a sense the "oil" breaking down under pressure doesn't matter,

Also comments that many modern springs come precoated - ptfe, teflon or something of that order.

I'm not clear what breaking grease is meant to achieve. Maybe some one can explain. Auto's and mechanical.

A few drops of oil are also mentioned after the spring has been installed. That could be lightly wiped on a excess wiped off as per when a grease is used. This could be a synthetic but which one?

A Seiko technical reference I have mentions Seiko 2 on the lid and edge of the barrel and Seiko 3 on the arbour. Nothing on the spring. This is for a 6309A. So called normal amount of oil in both cases. Seiko 2 is for things that slip. S 3 has graphite in it and is also used in the mainspring  area on some Seiko movements.

It's all very confusing to a beginner. As an engineer I'm inclined to think with graphite and light so 8201 but also as an engineer wonder why there doesn't appear to be a suitable synthetic but maybe one of the HP's is as they have additives - moly or graphite I suppose.

John

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Excuse the nitpick, it's braking grease, as in anti-sliding. Using the correct name helps understanding its function. Beside, breaking things spells a bad omen in watchmaking <_<

BTW, not all automatic barrels really need that. It depends by the shape of the bridle, materials used, and torque involved.

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I did wonder about the spelling and didn't think break sounder right and should be brake but maybe some people regularly break cars to a stop in some parts of the world. The get broke all over the world.

There is no clear answer in this thread - not unusual on this subject so maybe it has a mythical / historic aspect and people do all sorts as a result.

John

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On 12/7/2019 at 3:31 AM, VWatchie said:

I’ve been doing this for some years now but like @centerwheel I’m still puzzled by how to lubricate when reusing an automatic mainspring. When I have a new spring delivered in a spacer there’s no problem. I simply lubricate the barrel wall (Moebius 8217/Kluber P125, etc.) and push the spring in as it comes pre-lubricated.

However, I don’t know the technique for reusing an automatic mainspring as lubricating the spring, say with Moebius 8200, would "contaminate" the outer coil resting against the barrel wall and likely defeat or interfere with the braking effect of the braking oil (I suppose?).

Furthermore, and in my personal experience, trying to wind a perfectly clean and dry spring into the barrel of my mainspring winder (K&D 128) without first lubricating it will make the spring break (read explode!). So, for this reason I never reuse automatic mainsprings, and it really seems like a waste.

EDIT:

Come to think of it, it could be that the "exploding" mainspring was somehow damaged, but to the best of my recollection is was not. Or, it could be that the inner wall of my particular mainspring winder barrel causes too much friction. Well, I'm still puzzled...

a new mainspring is always needed when doing a service/overhaul. new alloy mainsprings come with a dry lube so you may think they are not lubed but they are, . if you reusing a mainspring which i do not recommend then you have to clean off the old oil first if there is any and then use a piece of watch paper coated with oil then put it between tweezers and run the spring through it. I cant recommend an oil because i have never reused a spring but i can say it wont be 8200 since it is a natural oil and can spread and contaminate your barrel and movement. there really is NO reason to oil a mainspring except for maybe rust protection when dealing with very old NOS blue steel springs, or if the manufacturer specifies. I personally never oil automatic springs since most automatics i work on are modern and use white alloy springs, which again already come pre lubed. Some springs have a teflon coating which looks blue that will have to be removed prior to install to prevent emulsion from forming. Has anyone tested the power reserve in auto with dry spring vs one that has a lubed spring? Do that then decide for yourself

Edited by saswatch88

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1 hour ago, jdm said:

Update, here Mark joined the lubing camp.

 

I have a lot of confidence in @Mark so that video section answers all my questions! Lube the automatic mainspring with Moebius 8200 and apply braking grease to the barrel wall. The 8200 will protect the spring and make it just slippery enough to help winding it into a mainspring winder without breaking. Obviously, the very thin layer of 8200 will not defeat the effect of the braking grease, or that is at least my interpretation of the video passage.

Nevertheless, I agree with many that the best path is to replace the mainspring if one is available when servicing.

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On 12/7/2019 at 5:04 AM, centerwheel said:

I've watched carefully all of Mark's videos of him servicing automatic watches. They all show how he puts breaking grease on the wall of the mainspring barrel, and that he oils the arbor in the places where it would touch the barrel top or bottom. However, it seems that the mainspring itself is mounted "dry", and no oil is applied to it prior to the closing of the barrel. Does anyone know the reason he skips oiling the mainspring? I would like to it the way he does it but I would also like to know why he chose to do it with no oiling of the spring.

In other places, such as TimeZone, they recommend oiling technique to be used just prior to closing the barrel. One must be then careful so the oil does not get on the wall and affect power reserve.

As mentioned, brand new GR mainsprings do not usually require lubrication. You have observed my videos on YT where I apply a little grease to automatic watches to the barrel wall. As has been mentioned above, this is braking grease. The mainspring also has an extremely light (and I mean extremely light) application of 8200 along it's length also. I do not film every aspect of what I do as some tasks are a royal pain in the rear to film. This is one of those tasks. Although I do cover this in the video course. The videos on YT are usually a 30 minute give or take condensing of a job that may last hours I cannot film everything. If you look hard enough you may notice many places seemingly not lubricated - this doesnt mean those friction points were not dealt with. My YT videos are there for entertainment purposes and whilst many find them extremely useful as a learning aid, they are not comprehensive breakdowns of a full service, that would make them hours long each., my course on the other hand is a full breakdown of all steps required to effectively service a watch. I hope this clears things up ;)

 

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I've never serviced a watch but want to try. The materials will cost more than the victim. This particular subject is the most confusing of the lot so have spent a lot of time searching for technical manuals on movements.

It seems a service should involve replacing the entire barrel assembly these days. Only exception and it may be old details is the 7750-7765 where they just suggest a smear of a rather expensive braking grease on the outside end of the spring. I assume that lubricates the barrel as the spring slips. 8217 is said to provide normal braking on any barrel. A lot cheaper than Kluber P125.  Interestingly they don't use many lubricants. Just 9010, 941or9415 and D5 which can be replaced by HP1300 according to some.

ETA use HP-1300, 9504, 9010, 9415. Also coloured HP-1300 on the 2824. Entire barrel replaced. It would be interesting to find much older details.

Info on older Seiko do give details. 2 oils S2 and S3. Not on the spring itself but on the roof and edge of the barrel. S3 if there is a black ring. It seems this one was a grease with an additive. Sounds like an 8200 equivalent, S3 maybe with graphite. The moly one can have problems with that settling into the bottom of it's  container so personally I would avoid it. They use S6 which is a silicone elsewhere in newer movements where details are given. Cousins stock it. I've only looked at the NH3x. Also S4 and 9010, 9010 even on the pallets and in the usual places. I can't see any use of S4 on this movement so probably used on another.

Lubricating the spring itself? Mark uses 8200. The www jungle varies a bit. Too thin, use one with an additive. Few drops of some oil on the spring. None and braking on part of the spring makes most sense to me or maybe 8200 etc on the rest as well.

While looking around I came across thisMoebiusLubes.pdf and found it useful. It mentions a number of makes. One intended for springs is based on paraffin wax. ;) Pass but it takes a long time for candles to degrade. It's pretty stable stuff.

John

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I can understand why Mark would skip lubing the mainspring. It's for the sake of making the video shorter and entertaining. Fine, he is the boss :). However, it wouldn't cost to much if for our sake he could just mention the steps he's skipped because for so many of us his videos are not just entertainment but also/primarily a reference, instruction. Knowing what's skipped is almost as valuable as seeing it.

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37 minutes ago, centerwheel said:

I can understand why Mark would skip lubing the mainspring. It's for the sake of making the video shorter and entertaining. Fine, he is the boss :). However, it wouldn't cost to much if for our sake he could just mention the steps he's skipped because for so many of us his videos are not just entertainment but also/primarily a reference, instruction. Knowing what's skipped is almost as valuable as seeing it.

I'm pretty sure he does show how to "oil"  a main spring in one of the general servicing videos. In quotes as what is used is similar in some ways to a grease.

John

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9 hours ago, centerwheel said:

However, it wouldn't cost to much if for our sake he could just mention the steps he's skipped because for so many of us his videos are not just entertainment but also/primarily a reference, instruction. Knowing what's skipped is almost as valuable as seeing it.

Consider that the full, commented videos are stored on watchrepairlessons.com for those that enroll his "formal" training.

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1 hour ago, centerwheel said:

I have enrolled in all of his courses. Still waiting for the last one (available only to patrons) to be released at some point...

So have I but I don't understand what you mean be "the last one"?

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The one he's been working on, one that deals with complications, such as automatic winding, calendar, chronograph. It's been listed as Level 4, and it remains still in development. I will sign up as soon as it's released. I hope, it will not be the last one...

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