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Wiseman501

Old pocket watch balance staff pivot question

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Hey guys! Long time no talk. I've got a cool little Argent Dore silver guilloche ladies' pocket watch with a broken balance staff. Now, if this was a modern one, I would just turn a new one, but I thought I would seek some guidance on this one to be safe, because I'm not experienced at cutting this style, so my question is; Should I try to turn a new one (How do I make the roller/impulse recess bit?), re-pivot this one, or is there a wonderful place to order one to specs? lol.

I am including a photo from my potato-quality microscope camera to show the type of staff it is. Measurements on request. I considered leaving it in the balance wheel and attempting a re-pivot on both ends, but I appreciate all the input you have. Antique watch restoration is fun, but quite an adventure sometimes.

Thanks for reading!

Argent Dore Balance.jpg

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This is a cylinder escapement. The part with the cutaways is the cylinder. It has the pivots pressed in as separate parts, called tampons. I know, I know, from teaching, tampons, cocks, all that.

There were special punches and stumps in old staking sets for knocking out the tampons; there were sets of new ones from material suppliers to knock back in. All were merely a guide to what was needed to actually be made to do the job.

What you have in front of you is quite an adventure for someone very competent with a lathe, and in the best case have a watch that keeps time within 10m/day.

If you really want to do it go for it!

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37 minutes ago, nickelsilver said:

This is a cylinder escapement. The part with the cutaways is the cylinder. It has the pivots pressed in as separate parts, called tampons. I know, I know, from teaching, tampons, cocks, all that.

There were special punches and stumps in old staking sets for knocking out the tampons; there were sets of new ones from material suppliers to knock back in. All were merely a guide to what was needed to actually be made to do the job.

What you have in front of you is quite an adventure for someone very competent with a lathe, and in the best case have a watch that keeps time within 10m/day.

If you really want to do it go for it!

Thanks for the reply, Nickelsilver!

After I posted, I imagined that the cylinder may have been a separate component made with a little tube-like segment... Couldn't figure out any other way. Thanks for the correct terminology for my research.

I feel confident in my lathe skills, but it sounds like this is more a labor of love thing. I work professionally, so I only love it so much. I do want to make an attempt though.

As a teacher, do you think it is too much of a hack job to catch the center and drill a new seat in the old tampon, then glue in a new steel pivot? If the end result is likely to be way off anyway...?

I will put it back under the scope and also do some reading on my own while I wait for your reply, but I don't think I have anything like what you mentioned in either of my old staking sets. Since you say the tools often need to me made anyway, I'll need to find some photos and/or diagrams if I follow that path.

Thanks again for your quick reply. Much appreciated.

 

 

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JohnR725, thank you for sharing these awesome links!

JDM, I will definitely let you know if I am unable to make one;


I told my client about the situation and he's alright to wait a little longer so I can give it a shot. I'll be in touch if it doesn't go smoothly.

I appreciate all your help, guys! Keep up the awesome community!


-Dylan

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I'm definitely not an expert on this and haven't yet got round to trying to make or repair a cylinder.. as a challenge, one of my older watch repairer friends has tried and failed to make the complete 3 parts from scratch for what I believe is quite a long time - often getting much of the way through the process..

In theory it may be possible to re-pivot the tampon but that's always an opportunity for frustration at the best of times. The cylinder may also break while it is being worked on, but there are a few NOS cylinder blanks floating about.

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On rare occasions the cylinders, the tampons, and the whole thing assembled with the brass collet have come on the market. Making the cylinder itself would be a real challenge. But if you're in the challenges why did she go for making the Ruby cylinder that's even more fun. Although I think in Daniels watchmaking book he tells how to make the Ruby cylinder.

Then look what I found on eBay?

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Watchmakers-Cylinder-Tampon-Plugs-for-Vintage-Swiss-Pocket-Watches-i19-/223986958414

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On 6/8/2020 at 12:50 AM, Wiseman501 said:



As a teacher, do you think it is too much of a hack job to catch the center and drill a new seat in the old tampon, then glue in a new steel pivot? If the end result is likely to be way off anyway...?
 

 

 

That would be anything but a hack job. No need to glue (Loctite), just a good friction fit, but doesn't hurt to add a little if you want. The whole cylinder can be pressed out of the balance, making it easy to hold in a collet, also, the lower part of the cylinder is rather flimsy to start drilling on with all the cutaway material; in a collet it's well supported. Make sure to note its position in the balance, the balance has a stop pin to prevent it from turning too far and this need to be positioned correctly in relation to the cylinder (and hairspring). You'll need to find or make an relieved punch to press the cylinder back in, as you can't press on the lower end- unless you want to make a cylinder.

 

I've made a few cylinders, and it's not really a fun job. A friend of mine is working on a Breguet with ruby cylinder at the moment, and I would hate to have to make one of those! Well, if time was of no importance it would be a lot of fun, but I imagine it would take a few weeks to get something that passes for original. Wouldn't be surprised if the original was made in just a couple of days, of course without electricity, or industrial diamond, etc. etc. It's always awe inspiring to see some of these old pieces.

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Yeah the old watchmakers would often specialize in one aspect of the total timepiece and make the same parts all day, every day, finely tuning their hands, much like stone setters, engravers and so on in jewelry production. This is still the case in some of the big name facilities.

These days the market has forced many solo watch makers and repairers to either become generalists or be dissuaded from going very deeply because of the vast rabbit holes in the trade.

As for the ruby cylinder, that sounds like a dragon to kill another day. The extent of my ability to cut anything like corundum is entirely in the realms of gem faceting.

I think my best course of action will be to attempt a re-pivot on the tampons, and if that fails I can still punch them out of the cylinder and turn some new ones. Of course, we'll see if any of that works, but I think it's a good opportunity to learn a few things while I have a patient and understanding customer. Thanks again, guys!

-Dylan

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On 6/7/2020 at 11:36 PM, nickelsilver said:

There were special punches and stumps in old staking sets for knocking out the tampons; 

These; my pic. More to come i posting in a hurry, Teacher wants me to keep practicing

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JDM, Thank you very much for being available. I will definitely look to you if I need to go that route. I didn't realize that you were (I presume) studying watchmaking? What school or mentor are you working with?

My tools and materials order just came in and I am about to make an attempt at two re-pivots, and if that fails, attempt the whole shebang, just thought I would bump the thread to let you guys know I'm getting started with it. I'll be photographing and logging everything in case of success or setback. After what I've done in the past, and with your collective input, I feel my chances are good.

I'll keep you updated.

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On 6/25/2020 at 9:32 PM, Wiseman501 said:

I didn't realize that you were (I presume) studying watchmaking? What school or mentor are you working with?

Sorry for not answering before. A generous, incredibly experienced Master clock and watchmaker is occasionally teaching me and few others. I need to drive 3.:30 hrs to get to there, so is unfortunately is not happening all the time. I know he has no problem having his name published but I will refrain from doing that until I can put together a good posting with pictures and more details.

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