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I understand this may have the potential to be a controversial topic (and one that has been touched on piecemeal here and there) but I would like to learn a little bit more about the viewpoints of using a balance tack.  I do not have one.  I debated making or getting one.  But I wanted to turn to you folks first, those who use them, those who don't, and learn the "whys and wherefores".  Primarily, I wish to know if it renders a balance easier to examine or work upon?  Easier more for some kinds of balances than for others?  Is stretching of the hairspring negligible, or more of a concern with certain hairsprings than with others?  Have some had problems with beat after using one?  If so, what kind of movement was it?  Have others never had such a problem?  If not, are there particular kinds of movements *they* work on?  Would some of the veterans here just say it's a matter of personal preference?  Is getting a balance tack not really a big deal?  I await the responses.  And many thanks to all of you. 

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We made a balance tack in school, but aside from that time I haven't really used it. A much handier tool is this one which was a standard tool made in watchmaking schools here. The "tack" is a threade

Ok I didn't make a 3D model or anything, but laid out the most important part, the plate. The back piece is 40mm x40mm, the arm can be anything hinged any way just so that it comes down over the balan

I don't know of any real name for it. Here it's "the school balance holder thing", or le truc de l'ecole pour tenir le balancier et pont  haha.   With all the options for placing the pin the

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Hi  I have one only seldom used as when the balance is removed with the cock it is laid on the bench with the cock on its back and the balance laid on top The spring is relaxed and under no pressure and coverd untill required.  There are others who swear by them so you will get some interesting points of view. All valid.        Cheers

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I use mine If I want to get a good look at the lower pivot without removing the balance. I rest the balance wheel on a piece of Rodico to stop it bouncing around and spraining the hairspring. I work on all sorts of movements. Not enough to say it never causes problems, but enough that I would be surprised If it did. The spring doesn't get stetched further than when removing the balance from the movement for example, so why should it be a problem? I never store the balance on the tack.

Edited by Klassiker
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I'm cheap, so I use an old oiler stood in a hole in a wooden oilpot stand. I've often wondered if it does the BS some harm and wondered if somebody made a balance tack with a moveable table with a hole for the balance staff. Probably no need or it would already be a thing after all these years.

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7 hours ago, KarlvonKoln said:

But I wanted to turn to you folks first, those who use them, those who don't, and learn the "whys and wherefores". 

You know that the matter "is debated", in the past you had asked already, a limited discussion is there

 

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Primarily, I wish to know if it renders a balance easier to examine or work upon? 

One can examine and work on the balance in much easier and safer way by removing the stud from the arm.
For example if I have to look at the upper pivot is better to do without anything in between, isn't? And same if you have to adjust the collect having no movable stud arm. 
Any supposed other use?
 

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Best to keep it in a stretched state for as little as possible. I don't believe in most cases that it just resting on the balance tack will cause permanent deformation, but the danger is in transporting it on and off the tack. You will see that the balance bobs up and down and if you are not absolutely steady with your hands when holding the bridge/cock it only takes one good bob to stretch the hairspring past its region of elasticity. The same procedure for observing balance pivot can be achieved by resting the balance on an anvil with roller table resting in appropriate hole and lifting up the balance bridge/cock. Allows you to achieve this procedure better too as you're not having to deal with movement of air or work bench causing the balance to dance around while hanging off a tack. All in all useful for pretty much nothing but Instagram photos.

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We made a balance tack in school, but aside from that time I haven't really used it. A much handier tool is this one which was a standard tool made in watchmaking schools here. The "tack" is a threaded pin which can be placed in one of several holes (usually 2 or 3 sizes of tapers on several pins). Choosing an appropriate pin and hole location, the balance isn't hanging as it sits on the table, so no risk to the hairspring. The overarm presses down on the rim, which is supported from the inside by the little "V"  so that work can easily be done on screws (it's a non-screw balance in the pic but you can see how it works). Access is also easy and safe for moving hairspring collets to adjust beat.

 

Bergeon made a similar tool at one time but it hasn't been available for some time. If mine ever disappeared I would stop work until I had made a new one, it's that handy.

 

 

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1 hour ago, watchweasol said:

Now thats what I call a Nifty tool wish I had had it years ago  a bit late now  in my advanced years.

It really is! The old ones were always made of German silver like this one and very nicely made. A friend of mine who did his schooling in La Chaux de Fonds made one in school but they were using brass by then (about 10 years ago) with a bit less focus on aesthetics and more on just function. Another friend who did his school in the Vallee de Joux didn't make one, and didn't even know the tool. It's funny how things can differ by region even in a tiny country like Switzerland.

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1 hour ago, nickelsilver said:

It really is! The old ones were always made of German silver like this one and very nicely made. A friend of mine who did his schooling in La Chaux de Fonds made one in school but they were using brass by then (about 10 years ago) with a bit less focus on aesthetics and more on just function. Another friend who did his school in the Vallee de Joux didn't make one, and didn't even know the tool. It's funny how things can differ by region even in a tiny country like Switzerland.

Now I need to make one of these tools as I do fear stretching the hairspring on the tack. Making this one, you would not need the upper arm to hold down the balance as only a shock would move it...

I think there is more chance of damaging the pivots by grabbing the balance and cock together with the tweezers, as the pivots could stay in the upper jewel and be bent by this action on removal. As well, I always fear the balance cock falling off the movement on installation and the balance staying in the movement resulting in the hairspring getting really stretched. 

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2 hours ago, jdrichard said:

Now I need to make one of these tools as I do fear stretching the hairspring on the tack. Making this one, you would not need the upper arm to hold down the balance as only a shock would move it...

I think there is more chance of damaging the pivots by grabbing the balance and cock together with the tweezers, as the pivots could stay in the upper jewel and be bent by this action on removal. As well, I always fear the balance cock falling off the movement on installation and the balance staying in the movement resulting in the hairspring getting really stretched. 

Hmm, the arm is half of the awesomeness of the tool. Definitely reduces to about 0% any risk when working on balance screws.

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1 hour ago, nickelsilver said:

Hmm, the arm is half of the awesomeness of the tool. Definitely reduces to about 0% any risk when working on balance screws.

This kind of thing is the reason I started this thread.  Sometimes different regions develop different tools to do many of the same tasks. I like the look of this tool. It doesn't look like it stretches the hairspring far or by much. And it seems to actively limit such, seemingly more secure than a regular tack.

Nickelsilver, would you know if this tool has a trade name?  Is it fairly easy to use?  Is the spring deformation as slight as it looks to be in the picture? 

I may still have enough heavy sheet brass to make one.  But I am still ascertaining its utility. 

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24 minutes ago, KarlvonKoln said:

 

Nickelsilver, would you know if this tool has a trade name?  Is it fairly easy to use?  Is the spring deformation as slight as it looks to be in the picture? 

I may still have enough heavy sheet brass to make one.  But I am still ascertaining its utility. 

I don't know of any real name for it. Here it's "the school balance holder thing", or le truc de l'ecole pour tenir le balancier et pont  haha.

 

With all the options for placing the pin there's never a risk of stressing the spring except when you get lazy and don't move it. I use it on pocket watches all the way down to Lecoultre 101- no way in a million years I'd touch a 101 balance without this tool! 

 

With all the interest I'll take some better pics and try to make a dimensioned sketch for those who want to make one.

 

Edited by nickelsilver
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6 minutes ago, nickelsilver said:

I don't know of any real name for it. Here it's "the school balance holder thing", or le truc de l'ecole pour tenir le balancier et pont  haha.

 

With all the options for placing the pin there's never a risk of stressing the spring except when you get lazy and don't move it. I use it on pocket watches all the way down to Lecoultre 101- no way in a million years I'd touch a 101 balance without this tool! 

 

With all the interest I'll take some better pics and try to make a dimensioned sketch for those who want to make one.

 

That would be appreciated 

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1 hour ago, Klassiker said:

What is the semi-circular disc which clamps the balance wheel made of?

Some are like a micarta type thing, others a rigid plastic. The first time I saw one of these was when Antoine Simonin came to give a precision timing course at my school (back in the 1900s, USA) and he had one but that piece had broken. I got to make him a new one- pretty sure I used Delrin.

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Ok I didn't make a 3D model or anything, but laid out the most important part, the plate. The back piece is 40mm x40mm, the arm can be anything hinged any way just so that it comes down over the balance rim. The support piece for the inside of the rim can also be anything, on the old tools they were V shaped and pressed into a hole, on my friends it's a simple pin that has a notch filed in it. The notch/V permits whatever bit of screw that is sticking out inside the rim to be unharmed when working on it. The threaded holes for the pins are a 2mm thread, but anything near that would be fine. 

 

You can see in the pics that there were different ways to hinge the arm, either with a hole drilled all the way through the 40mm back plate and the arm recessed in, or with pressed in hinges, both would have been a test of the student's patience, not becuase they are necessary. A simple hinge from a hobby store for dollhouse work or whatever is fine.

 

I don't know what the pin sticking out the front of the tool is for. They all have it, but?

 

 

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