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pubudeux

First attempt at service of a movement - looking for a critique

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Hey all!

So I've attempted a service of a Seiko 6309A movement and recorded the journey in 50+ photos. The reason I am not posting this in service walkthroughs is because I am a beginner and learning, and would like to get some constructive criticism from the community here before re-attempting this. When it is good enough, I'm looking forward to posting a nice walkthrough :) This might be a long while as I'm at the beginning of my journey now.

To attempt this, I got a working vintage Seiko 5 off eBay for ~$25. I was thinking of beginning with attempting this on a pocket-watch, which are also pretty cheap on eBay, but found that there seemed to be a greater supply of 6309A watches coming out of India between $20-$40, especially ones that are in working condition.

Here is a photo album on Imgur of my disassembly, cleaning, and attempt at re-assembly:

https://imgur.com/a/dIO4RnZ

Note that I did not attempt to remove, clean, or lubricate the diashock settings this time, but certainly will next time.

To my surprise and delight, the movement ticked along after re-assembly. I even had the oscillating weight attached and working. It kept running overnight. The next morning, by the time I got to the minute-wheel bridge, I realized that I'd lost the screw that goes there (looks to be a longer, thinner screw in the diagrams) and called it there (I will re-attempt when I get a donor movement in the mail).

I will list the issues I faced/problematic things I noticed and see what feedback you might have, also if you notice something off in the photos please let me know. I tried to follow the technical guide from Seiko:

24. 6309A.pdf

Things I DEFINITELY did wrong - disclaimer: I am aware that some of these are big no-no's and was just improvising to get a learning experience out of it. I am still waiting for some equipment on order that should help me improve next time!

  • Cleaning - I read here some people use Isopropyl Alcohol in their ultrasonic cleaner. I have 99% IPA and plenty of it, but I am afraid to do it. My fears were confirmed when I looked into it online, reading that a cheap ultrasonic cleaner like I have is pretty far from safe to use with flammable vapors around. Due to this I decided to just use water and some dish-soap (I hope this doesn't get me banned from here!) and then dip all the parts in IPA to displace the water. I then set the parts to dry for a bit on a paper towel (small parts still in baskets).
  • After cleaning, I just left all the screws in a pile and somehow my brain forgot to differentiate and account for all the different screw sizes - I also ended up losing a screw during the assembly because I was fiddling with it trying to put it where it wasn't supposed to go
  • Lubrication - I only have Moebius 8000 "general purpose" oil, and used that as a stand-in for the 4 oils listed in the manual. I know this is definitely definitely not the way to do it, but wanted to see if someone had insight on how to determine if there is such a thing as "general-purpose" oils, if there is a good set of 3-4 I should definitely have that would cover me in 90% of cases, etc. I have on order Moebius 8301, 9102, 9104

Things I'm a little unsure about

  • Rodico on a toothpick - during both disassembly and assembly (I changed the Rodico in between) I found it immensely helpful to have a little bit of Rodico on a toothpick to help me grab screws and tiny little parts, as well as place screws into place for screwing. Is this advisable? Only issue I could see here is the Rodico picking up dust and spreading it around.
  • One-size-tweezer-fits-all - I felt a bit weird about using my metal tweezers to pick up and place all the parts, worried I would scratch, bend, or damage some. I ordered carbon-fiber tipped tweezers, is that a good idea?
  • Lubrication - for some reason I ended up ordering a pack of syringes for oiling. 90% of the syringes aren't applicable for watchmaking it turns out, as only the 10 1ml syringes the pack came with are appropriately sized for the small quantities of oil. Here's a photo of the syringe I used: https://imgur.com/Sx77DNz What I would do is, press very gently and let out a little bubble onto the needle, then I'd touch the bubble to a paper towel to get it down to the amount I actually want to apply. I found this to be pretty wasteful, as most of the oil ended up on the paper towel. Does anyone have a recommended type of oiler? Also, should I invest in a set of oil cups?
  • Cleaning - since I did not disassemble the barrel, I didn't put it through cleaning machine. Should that even be a concern? I have heard that barrel does not need to be disassembled if there don't appear to be any problems visually. I also did not put the plastic parts through the cleaning process.

That's it for now. If you read through this and see an example of something I can fix or equipment I can order to make next time better, please let me know. I'd also appreciate any suggestions for reading material. Waiting for a copy of The Watch Repairer's Manual: Second Edition, and have some great PDFs shared with me by folks on this forum.

Thanks!

Edited by pubudeux

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Hello, well done in getting this far.

Firstly, for Seiko there are more knowledgeable people than me.

Regarding oil, there is a sticky in one of the forums here - I think it's the watch tool area.. Basically you'll probably want (or equivalents of) 9010, 9415, HP-1300.. there are also a couple of different slipping greases for automatic watch mainspring barrels which you can choose from but budget will probably be the biggest factor with those. I'm aware that Seiko has it's own specifications which include Moebius 9010.

In terms of cleaning, I use little single serving jam jars in an ultrasonic machine - that allows me to use a volatile cleaner and clean parts by groups of mating parts or by muckiness.

Rodico.. I use it all the time for holding things more than actual cleaning - it's really useful for holding things while inspecting.. that being said, it's good to practice picking up and moving things with tweezers. It's really important that tweezers are correctly dressed at the tips as it makes the difference between huge amounts of frustration or being able to pick up really small stuff without problem (with a bit of practice). I switch between the outside and inside of the tips to bring both surfaces to where they need to be in shape and position. I've found a hand-held diamond hone is about the right thickness (6-8mm thick suits me) to do the inside in a way which will allow both tips to meet nicely - switching between them so one tip is on the abrasive, and the other underneath on the smooth plastic.. as well as making sure the tip is relatively flat to the middle of the inside.

Tweezers.. partly covered above.. there are a few types which are handy. I mostly like to use brass tweezers for most stuff, switching between a wide 2mm tip and some really fine tipped - suitable size for hairsprings, can't remember the number/ 5?. The brass tweezers rarely leave scratches but need to be touched up a bit from time to time - the finest brass tips can also bend easily.. I've got nice quality tweezers and some cheap brass ones shaped by myself.. for steel the anti-magnetic tweezers are usually worth considering over plain steel (which seem to be stronger but need to be demagnetized periodically). I don't have experience with the carbon fibre tweezers but realise they will have some uses.. I really like to aim for greater precision and have gradually gone smaller with my usual tweezers.

Oilers.. the smallest basic Black or sometimes Red oiler is generally a safe "if only one" choice but a set aren't overly expensive and will allow you to get a feel for what you prefer. I keep meaning to get a nice basic set but the cheap ones are good enough.

Oil Cups.. There are some really cheap and good options on places like ebay or the Cousins website. Oil cups are used at the bench so that oil bottles are not contaminated and so that they can be stored somewhere less likely to get knocked over etc. You don't really need anything fancy but in use they should be cleaned, partially filled with a little bit of oil in the bottom of each, and the top replaced when not in use so that dirt and dust is less likely to get mixed in. Oil should be replaced at reasonably regular intervals to reduce dirt building up in it.

 

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Kudos on getting a working movement after your first rebuild. I had to chuckle at the mixing of the screws and losing one. We've ALL done that. I tend to keep the screws for each area together with the bridge or gear they are securing and clean them in small parts baskets so I don't mix them up. I suppose after I've put together my 1,000th movement, I'll be able to simply look as a screw and know where it goes, but for now I have to rely on my organizational skills to keep them straight.

Remember not to clean the pallet or balance with alcohol as that will soften or dissolve the shellac that holds the stones in place. Unless they are particularly dirty, a short bath in some naphtha (lighter fluid) will be enough to get the old lubricants off them.

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37 minutes ago, JGrainger said:

In terms of cleaning, I use little single serving jam jars in an ultrasonic machine - that allows me to use a volatile cleaner and clean parts by groups of mating parts or by muckiness.

Thanks so much - your entire answer was awesome, this really stuck out to me as an aha moment. I'm going to grab a few of these. The ultrasonic cleaner can do its thing through a sealed glass container then?

I really appreciate your thought out answer. I know I'm getting a lot out of this, but hopefully this will serve as great content for others looking to get started.

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No worries,

For the ultrasonic machine, you'll need to put some water in the machine so that the ultrasonic waves are transmitted to the parts in the jars - to about 1/2 or 3/4 the height of the little jars but not so much that they float about, I also keep the tops fastened when cleaning.

I should also mention that you shouldn't let the jars sit directly on the bottom of the tank as it can shorten the life of the piezo element on the bottom of the tank (underneath, on the other side). Most ultrasonic cleaning machines come with a plastic insert or a sort of basket which hangs from the top (like a soap and shower gel wire shelf/trap which sits on a bath, above the water).. I just use a bit of slightly wavy thin plastic in the bottom with lots of holes punched in it - some of the plastic mesh which whiskey bottles are protected with might work if cut to shape.

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1 hour ago, JGrainger said:

I should also mention that you shouldn't let the jars sit directly on the bottom of the tank as it can shorten the life of the piezo element on the bottom of the tank (underneath, on the other side). Most ultrasonic cleaning machines come with a plastic insert or a sort of basket which hangs from the top (like a soap and shower gel wire shelf/trap which sits on a bath, above the water).. I just use a bit of slightly wavy thin plastic in the bottom with lots of holes punched in it - some of the plastic mesh which whiskey bottles are protected with might work if cut to shape.

I believe my machine comes with a basket for that purpose, pictured here: https://imgur.com/7kdCVrj

Thanks

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Don't you get tiny hair on the needle as you touch it to paper towl? You can dump the excess oil if you just touch the needle to the cup.

I use contact lenz container for cup, since they got a lid to close. Bergeon and another oil cups are retired. 

Acupuncture needles make good oilers.

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noob here. don't make the same mistake I did! I started on tiny junk movements, when I should have started with pocket watches. go big stuff first, then work your way down to smaller and smaller movements. 

works well for me anyway. hey, don't forget good old dish soap and water is an excellent cleaning agent for your ultrasonic. keep that in your rotation. the other I use is naptha in little jars, then placed into ultrasonic that has distilled water in it. I think watchweasol nailed it. i use denatured for a drying agent and the missus hair dryer comes in handy too(when shes not looking). sounds like you're doing fine tho. good luck.

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I started with pocket watches also.  And with a few wristwatch exceptions here and there, I stayed with the nice, large pocket watches. They now seem to be my forté.  That, and I passed 50 a while back and my eyesight has never been great, and it's not going to get better, so there's only so small I'm willing to go. The members before me gave good advice and, being something of a novice here myself, I will let them guide you as they guide me.  You will find many enthusiastic words of encouragement in this forum. We all like our "time machines" here.

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8 hours ago, MechanicMike said:

noob here. don't make the same mistake I did! I started on tiny junk movements, when I should have started with pocket watches. go big stuff first, then work your way down to smaller and smaller movements. 

Yes. My best teacher says one has to begin from bell tower clocks, I know he's not joking since he has repaired a good few ones.

But, every other day we have absolute beginners declaring their firm intention to attack their rare, valuable, and difficult time pieces. Sometime they can be convinced to know better, sometime they are not. But rarely they are then heard again.

Edited by jdm

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How come? I'm kinda all over the board. Pocket watches, wrist watches, both large and small, non-working scrap missing and broken parts. I only own one vintage that was my grandfather's and I had that professionally serviced. I had no direction and just dove in. Figured out practicing on larger was easier to learn on. Just what worked for me. I don't see myself falling off the planet over these, though? I'm not a pro or a repairman. Just a hobbyist.

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2 hours ago, jdm said:

Yes. My best teacher says one has to begin from bell tower clocks, I know he's not joking since he has repaired a good few ones.

But, every other day we have absolute beginners declaring their firm intention to attack their rare, valuable, and difficult time pieces. Sometime they can be convinced to know better, sometime they are not. But rarely they are then heard again.

 

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4 hours ago, MechanicMike said:

Curious JDM-whats your advice and where did you begin with watches? I can use all the advice I can get that's for sure. 

Personally I began with Seiko 7S26, but four preceding weeks practicing on something bigger would have done only good.
Here you're in the best place for advice, "google site search" is your friend for multiple words searches here.

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Dial looks like a Bombay special but otherwise it looks pretty decent. I've seen much worse.

One point is the washer holding the day wheel needs to have the tapered edge facing down to facilitate removal. Its even written on the day disk but maybe English is not their language! Also I dont think Ive seen Green plastic date wheels before? Probably custom printed?

Anilv

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On 7/8/2020 at 10:55 PM, MechanicMike said:

noob here. don't make the same mistake I did! I started on tiny junk movements, when I should have started with pocket watches. go big stuff first, then work your way down to smaller and smaller movements. 

This is a great point. I actually did start with an Elgin movement, but when the train wheels exploded because I didn't wind down the mainspring, I stopped for a while as I couldn't find the center wheel.

The funny thing here is when I lost the screw in the 6309 assembly, I dropped to the floor with a light to look for it, and found the center wheel from the Elgin.:D 

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10 hours ago, anilv said:

Dial looks like a Bombay special but otherwise it looks pretty decent. I've seen much worse.

One point is the washer holding the day wheel needs to have the tapered edge facing down to facilitate removal. Its even written on the day disk but maybe English is not their language! Also I dont think Ive seen Green plastic date wheels before? Probably custom printed?

Anilv

I got this one from eBay and as I can tell most of the 6309 watches up for sale there are of the "Frankenwatch" variety. The one pictured in the album above, for example, has a case with really strange uneven angles at the lugs.

I have no idea how the operation works, but maybe someone that has made a business of servicing and selling these en masse on eBay has gotten set up with a good 3D printer by now for spare plastic parts.

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11 hours ago, pubudeux said:

This is a great point. I actually did start with an Elgin movement, but when the train wheels exploded because I didn't wind down the mainspring, I stopped for a while as I couldn't find the center wheel.

The funny thing here is when I lost the screw in the 6309 assembly, I dropped to the floor with a light to look for it, and found the center wheel from the Elgin.:D 

done that all and then some! I now keep an extra bright LED full charged flashlight nearby at all times, and have fashioned two small magnets super-glued to a 1/4" wooded dowel as a handle, for when I have to drop to the floor for this very same thing! works pretty good. have you experienced  the opportunity yet to launch a part and have it hit the wall or whatever and you can hear the impact, but never find the part?:pulling-hair-out::D

my best one which I think deserves some sort of academy award or something-working on a junk pocket watch, about to let down the mainspring. it got away from me, and made this high pitched zzzip sound, made me flinch, my knee hit my  bench and I knocked all the parts off onto the floor.

I moved onto my next attempt. next.

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I recently had a mainspring violently unwind from the barrel, it made me jump so hard I stabbed myself with my tweezers.  The arbor was flung clean across the room.

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Hey all, I've since re-attempted this and have an update.

Since I lost a couple tiny screws, I ordered another "non-working" watch with a 6309 movement that was actually working, albeit with an extremely low amplitude and wonky timekeeping.

This time I have some better lubricants at my disposal. Using Moebius 9010 for the high-friction parts and 9104 for everything else. I also have 8301 grease, but did not actually clean or open the barrel this time.

Upon visually inspecting the balance I saw it was violently bouncing up and down, so I decided to swap in the balance from the original 6309 movement. I also noticed the oscillating weight on the newer movement had lots of corrosion, so I replaced that as well.

This time, I learned some lessons from the cleaning and tried to keep parts and their screws together in their own tiny baskets during cleaning.

IMG_20200717_184014.thumb.jpg.44bf001e7de004b5cfa1ebea6019cb2f.jpg

I used dish soap and filtered water for original rinse, then did a bath of filtered water to rinse, then a dip in isopropanol to displace the water. 

Then I went through the individual baskets, making sure nothing was left hanging in the mesh or something, and put them back into a cleaned parts tray as they were before. I found the brass color of the baskets made it hard to find Diafix springs when removing as they tend to get stuck to stuff - I have a couple other baskets coming we'll see if I can find a better solution there.

The day wheel had lots of gunk on it which I tried to spot clean but was unsuccessful. 

Then, I got to working on assembly. This was my first time taking apart the Diafix settings, which was really interesting.

1480888442_ScreenShot2020-07-19at18_07_49.thumb.png.df0c8399e0e9247e51756f6a954a2173.png

It took me a lot of fumbling and stumbling, but eventually I got them oiled and re-inserted on both the main plate and balance pivot.

Question: Does the cap jewel have an orientation? From what I could tell it looks like it is flat on both sides but I wasn't sure even when looking with magnification. Does it matter as long as old oil is cleaned off both sides?

Anyway, here is me finally getting the spring in on my first attempt after ~15-20 mintues:

2120424097_ScreenShot2020-07-19at18_09_32.thumb.png.a3d8e32a9d153bfe6c2c31335a0abf3f.png

Here I am working on the setting mechanism. Two mistakes I made here:

1) I didn't make sure the setting lever spring was meshed with the setting lever

2) I thought I used the correct screw, but it turned out it was just sitting in there loose, so eventually when it all came together it fell out and I had to retrace my steps to fix the setting mechanism :)

1646422217_ScreenShot2020-07-19at18_13_20.thumb.png.cb14d6bf91ae463bd350347a854f1a21.png

Placing the bridge over the gear train and barrel:

1668162830_ScreenShot2020-07-19at18_17_10.thumb.png.39ed8d11149c3049f85d51a2ee52392a.png

Once I had the ratchet wheel, pallet, and pallet cock in, I wound the mainspring a bit and gave some puffs of air to make sure the pallet was locking and releasing properly:

74517393_ScreenShot2020-07-19at18_19_23.thumb.png.8ee468a92ba34d1d70fb194d51c4fad7.png

After this, I just placed the balance temporarily to make sure all was in order and sure enough it started ticking :)

 

For some reason the rest of the photos/videos are not synching from my phone yet, so once they do I can post the final pics, but the rest got on pretty well:

1) I installed the automatic works minus the oscillating weight (saved this for the last step so it wouldn't get in the way

2) Calendar works with a lot of trial and error realizing I mixed up a screw in the setting mechanism

3) Re-set the hands and tested out date/day quick-set and setting the time

4) Put the watch in beat - this was interesting as I was having a hard time, I think the stud carrier and adjustment lever were waayyy out of whack. At one point I just visually looked at where the pallet stone is at rest and tried to orient it to be perpendicular to where the pallet fork is. After a while (I think the lubricants needed to be "broken in") I started getting much better, consistent results - but something was wrong.

As was suggested here I took a look at the movement of the hairspring by filming the movement of the balance wheel. I noticed the "terminal curve" (I think it's called) did not look good and just tried to get it to a place where visually it looked straight by adjusting the stud carrier and adjustment lever.

This somewhat miraculously produced a good result, once it settled in and I made some micro-adjustments, I got the watch to ~205-220 amplitude, +/- 10s/day.

I think the low amplitude might be caused by the mainspring, as I left it as is and didn't even open the barrel to visually inspect. I have another 2 of these 6309 watches, so I'll try cleaning the mainspring on my scrap movement and make sure to do that in my next service.

Thanks, hope this is helpful to someone, happy to hear any feedback or questions!

Edited by pubudeux

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Ive nothing really to add given the great comments you have received. I just wanted to say well done.  The 6309 is a movement I recommend to many people starting out as its quite forgiving and plentiful if you mess up a part.  They have it all, auto and calendar so it feels very daunting but they are build to withstand a bomb and go together quite easily. 
Only use alcohol in jars with their lids on but fill the bath with water.  Last thing you want is your house burning down. 

diashocks can be fun little things to begin with but once you have learnt a method they become quite easy.  I always use two tweezers,  getting off is simple enough but putting on try to keep one pair inside the spring at all times,  should you have a moment where it wants to fly the tweezer on the inside will keep it contained.  Like a hoola hoop.  Try to put one tab in and one near the opening that way one end is secure (ish), the first tab always goes in easy, its the others that you have to push down and turn by the opening that become a bit more challenging. 
make sure you have plenty of room on your bench so if it does fly you stand a chance of finding it.  The are so light they dont travel very far and can get stuck to side surfaces, Ive lost one to then find it stuck to the inside of my tweezer... spent ages looking for it and it was infront of me all along.. 

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