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Balance staff remover: K&D 50


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Hi Guys   My Ha'penneth   In the vid supplied by Mikepilk the Gentleman used a Horia Jeweling tool to do the job, His statement was that it did not distort the arms as they were SUPPORTED, depending on the strength of the rivit defines the pressure required to remove it. The K&D tools support the arms and punch the rivit out all methods seem to be viable and used,  but have the potential to enlarge the hole where the staff fits. That is compensated by spreading the rivit a bit wider when re fitting, as long as the arms are flat and true all will be well. But the age old method of cutting the hub or rivit off in the lathe, if done correctly is the best bearing in mind a steady hand is required so as not to remove any metal from the balance. Discussions like this have many Pro,s and Con's  as the methods used by every one differ and have their disciples.

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2 hours ago, Neverenoughwatches said:

I dont think anyone can disagree with that theory. Punching a folded rim of a hardened steel staff through a hole of a weaker or even an equivalent strength material must leave an element of damage/change to that hole. How much damage ? Thats going to vary on the skill and technique of the repairer, the thickness of the staff rivet being punched out and the varying strength's of the two materials being impacted. That being said that practice should still  continue to the best of the ability for those of us with no other option. Not everyone has the luxury of a lathe if they did then this discussion might not be here. ( apart from those of us that just like to argue 😅 )

As noted there are various non-lathe methods. Which one have you used when replacing staffs?

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10 minutes ago, watchweasol said:

Hi Guys   My Ha'penneth   In the vid supplied by Mikepilk the Gentleman used a Horia Jeweling tool to do the job, His statement was that it did not distort the arms as they were SUPPORTED, depending on the strength of the rivit defines the pressure required to remove it. The K&D tools support the arms and punch the rivit out all methods seem to be viable and used,  but have the potential to enlarge the hole where the staff fits. That is compensated by spreading the rivit a bit wider when re fitting, as long as the arms are flat and true all will be well. But the age old method of cutting the hub or rivit off in the lathe, if done correctly is the best bearing in mind a steady hand is required so as not to remove any metal from the balance. Discussions like this have many Pro,s and Con's  as the methods used by every one differ and have their disciples.

Wise words @watchweasol

The staff at the rivet is relatively "soft", to allow it to deform. How the hardness compares to the balance hole?, I don't know. If the balance is harder, breaking the rivet should cause little damage. 

As mentioned, there is the potential to cause damage removing the staff on the lathe. Also, over enthusiastic hammering of the new rivet can cause distortion to the balance.

There are pros and cons to both methods. It depends on what tools/skills you have, and your situation - amateur at home, or pro doing it for a living. But if Rolex train people to push out the staff, it can't be that damaging. 

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4 minutes ago, mikepilk said:

As mentioned, there is the potential to cause damage removing the staff on the lathe.

Having used both methods I am gravitating toward the lathe method to amortize my $$$$$ lathe investment over as many uses as possible!! As an amateur,  doing it on the lathe can be scary thoigh.

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3 hours ago, LittleWatchShop said:

As noted there are various non-lathe methods. Which one have you used when replacing staffs?

There used to be a tool sold called a “Molfres” that used an electric grinder to grind off the hub side of a balance staff allowing the balance staff to be pushed out.

 

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3 hours ago, LittleWatchShop said:

As noted there are various non-lathe methods. Which one have you used when replacing staffs?

Only a staking set up to now and only a couple of times at that as I'm quite new to watch repair. A little nerve racking i will admit, but i felt went ok. I do have a lathe and a good collet selection and accessories but not needed to use it as yet and dont have any specfic gravers either.

1 hour ago, ifibrin said:

There used to be a tool sold called a “Molfres” that used an electric grinder to grind off the hub side of a balance staff allowing the balance staff to be pushed out.

 

I very nearly bought it ifibrin.  It wasn't expensive around 100 quid and no one else was interested in it.  But the seller couldnt or wouldn't post a detailed photo of the grinding disk location. Aquiring extra disks might not have been possible,  i was also dissuaded a little by a couple of pros so i listened ( not like me at all, but i respect the 2 involved and their knowledge. 

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Modern high grade balances are generally a beryllium copper alloy that has been heat treated. While not as hard as hardened and tempered steel, it's far harder than many lower or common grade balance made of nickel alloy. I can imagine that Rolex designs and makes its staffs in a manner, that, after plenty of tests, they determined that pushing the staff out with a jeweling tool works well and doesn't impede an accurate replacement.

 

I wouldn't try it with anything else (or a Rolex for that matter). Even if some of the rivet is cut away the staff is still enlarged there. Pushing it through the hole in the balance can only enlarge the hole. On one hand, since I make all the staffs I put into balances, I fit them to the hole, so it's not really an issue. On the other, if down the road the staff needs to be replaced again, the next watchmaker using a bought replacement staff might be looking at a sloppy fit. I have cut out (hub side) many staffs, only to find that the hole size in the balance is several hundredths over its supposed correct size. Was a staff knocked through sometime in its past? Who knows- and it's one (of many) reasons I just make rather than buy staffs.

 

I know that many professional watchmakers have used one of the several tools for "safely" knocking out staffs for their whole career. Most watchmakers, it seems, haven't used a lathe since their school days. Doesn't mean they are wrong, but doesn't mean that it's the best way. As I recall, we were shown how to use the K&D tool in school, since we might be expected to use it later in employment; but we were told the best is to cut off the hub. When I was in school in the 90s the world of watch repair was just coming out of a dark period where speed and price reduction was the driving force. There was then and increasingly so since a push for quality, not speed. Since rarely a 24h period goes by without me using my lathe for something or other, it's a non-issue to just cut out the staff, so I do it that way.

 

For those that don't have a lathe or confidence on the lathe, you can still dissolve away a staff in a saturated alum solution if working on a non-steel balance wheel. It does work well, and there is zero risk of damaging the hole.

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On 11/10/2022 at 2:42 AM, mikepilk said:

But if Rolex train people to push out the staff, it can't be that damaging. 

 

On 11/10/2022 at 7:47 AM, nickelsilver said:

I can imagine that Rolex designs and makes its staffs in a manner, that, after plenty of tests, they determined that pushing the staff out with a jeweling tool works well and doesn't impede an accurate replacement.

one of the problems with this discussion is there are too many variables that will affect the outcome. Then we have all kinds of examples of things for instance Elgin, Hamilton and Rolex made balance staffs that are supposed to be driven out without a problem.

before I continue one of the nice things about where I live is the remnant of a AWCI chapter. We once were AWCI but we split so over the years I've had really interesting lectures and knowledge gained. including from memory three separate lectures on replacing balance staffs of interest in this particular discussion.

One of the lectures given by somebody who is Rolex trained. He brought the Rolex tools the jeweling tool and demonstrated and explained why Rolex pushes the staff out. I have some pictures down below that show this. So is explained that the roller table was removed with whatever method you like. note was extremely long time ago so I don't remember sort of how he removed the roller table. One method was to grab it with a lathe collet and just rotate the thing off but he might have used razor blades I just don't remember.

then we all gathered around for the procedure. The interesting aspect was he asked everybody be super quiet because when the river broke it made a very distinctive sound. Then he picked up the rivet and put it on his hand and brought it around and show dusters is beautiful shiny ring of the rivet. Then I'm assuming he restaffed the watch I don't remember that aspect I was just finding how to remove the staff interesting and of course you need all the special tools that come in the fancy Rolex box that none of us is ever going to have.

not a lecture given by the same person and somebody else was on modern vintage staff replacement. Both of them discussed knocking the staff out were driving it out by a minor clarification here. When you go to knock the staff out if there's any sort of resistance in other words it doesn't just instantly pop out were instantly want to come out then you will have to do some cutting. When I was in school the instructor George showed us how to use the k&d tool and his procedure was to weaken the rivet just a little bit and claim to never have a problem.

Then the most recent lecture was based on another discussion somewhere in the universe that resembles this one the sins of driving the staff out basically. Don't remember the watch for his example was a wristwatch it to the wristwatch a whole bunch of balance staffs that he had for that particular watch and what he did for his lecture he and do it they are you get a PowerPoint buddy put the staff in the history of the staff out you put it in drove the staff out and I don't remember how many times he didfive or 10 just don't remember all the see if there was any damage at all the conclusion was there was none.

then thinking of pushing the staff out I remembered once seen the article in a magazine. the magazine is a horological times published by AWCI rather than quoting I discuss snip out a tiny section for you. Oh and on the next page he has a reference to not thinking this is a good idea for a nickel balance  wheel which I assume is the white colored metal ones. Kinda like in the video above for the person says this is what Rolex taught us except here somebody thinks nickel would be bad. In other words if you going to do this you need a hard balance wheel and is staffed it's hopefully going to break.

oh and then in the lecture of worry restaffed the watch a whole bunch of times yes there were some people unhappy with that. There is also discussed if the balance wheel is not made out of steel another method would be to just dissolve the staff out. Another was dissolve at the same way out as you would a broken screw in a plate is just use alum as that would cause no problems at all.

Then back to too many variables. All the methods are good and conceivably all the methods are bad. For any of us who been around for a while we've seen bad. people I got carried away cutting the rivet often cut the balance arms and also of course cutting the hub often cutting the balance arms. All the methods that rely on rivets breaking relies on a very hard staff what about a staff that's cut from softer metals? Or maybe things were a little bigger than they should abandon somebody really hammered down hard and mushroomed out the metal and know that is not going to drive out really nice and clean.

so I just thought I'd add to the controversy of whatever it is you're doing that's controversy of removing staffs

 

 

Rolex balance staff removal pushing.JPG

awci balance staff removal June 2014.JPG

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Having a lathe, and a small collection of broken balances (which I saved to use for practice) I do plan to learn to cut rivets.  I am always taking "baby-steps" toward improving my knowledge and experience.
But for now, when I have to re-staff, the only decent way I can do it right now is with my KD 50 and my staking set.  I remain very cautious about how distortion can be caused, and so far I have had very good luck.  I have little balance wrenches for truing and good calipers for poising, and a Jacot lathe also if any burnishing is needed.  I have vials of balance screws and washers if I need them.  I've learned over time that, once you've replaced a staff, you are by no means done working on it.  There is always the truing and poising and test fitting.  Then there is adjustment and everything that goes with that.  I haven't yet encountered a staff or replacement balance that was simply "plug and play".  That'd be a miracle.

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19 minutes ago, KarlvonKoln said:

I remain very cautious about how distortion can be caused, and so far I have had very good luck.

A bit of a non-sequitur...recently I distorted a balance wheel when removing a timing screw.  It was tight and by pressing against the wheel while turning the screw, I compressed it just a bit.  Who knew?  Well...I didn't.

21 minutes ago, KarlvonKoln said:

Having a lathe, and a small collection of broken balances (which I saved to use for practice) I do plan to learn to cut rivets.

This is a great idea.  I have done them both ways...and since I am new at this...I have not done but a few.  I am fearful when doing it on the lathe because bad things can happen...which reminds me of a famous quote by Derrell Royal, coach of the University of Texas football team.  Someone asked him why his team never used the forward pass.  He said, "With the forward pass, three things can happen and two of them are bad."

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3 hours ago, LittleWatchShop said:

A bit of a non-sequitur...recently I distorted a balance wheel when removing a timing screw.  It was tight and by pressing against the wheel while turning the screw, I compressed it just a bit.  Who knew?  Well...I didn't

was this a bimetallic balance wheel? The reason I ask is that they're not all made the same some of them are very very soft and I think they almost distort themselves if you look at it wrong and others are really really resilient to doing things.

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1 hour ago, JohnR725 said:

was this a bimetallic balance wheel? The reason I ask is that they're not all made the same some of them are very very soft and I think they almost distort themselves if you look at it wrong and others are really really resilient to doing things.

Well, I am not really sure but I do not think so.  It was a continuous circle--no split.  I thought the bimetallic ones were split in two places.  But it was softer than I expected.  I was able to get it partially fixed.  Yet another lesson for this (old) padawan learner!

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On 11/9/2022 at 12:25 PM, LittleWatchShop said:

You pressed the outer shell punch down to secure the balances arms and then you punched out the staff with the inner punch.  Not sure what that tool is called. 

When they come up for sale on ebay, they're typically referred to as an "old style balance staff remover", if that helps anybody search. (Also the Unruhmax as mentioned) I got one for about $12.

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