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Hello to the group.  My name is Jim and I've just recently taken up watch repair.  Or I should say attempting watch repair.  I've been acquiring a lot of those "expensive" specialized tools that everyone just has to have.  My current endeavor is kicking my butt though.  It's a Bulova pocket watch that belonged to my wife's grandfather.  So it's somewhat special to her.  It's a 17AE movement.  When I first took it apart, I immediately noticed that the balance was skewed and the hairspring twisted severely.  I attempted to repair the hairspring but wasn't satisfied with the result so I bought a replacement balance assembly with hairspring. After a full teardown and cleaning, I reassembled the watch and installed the new balance.  No joy.  Would not run.  First thought was that maybe the new staff was too long.  I removed the hairspring and pallet fork and installed just the balance.  End shake appeared to be OK.  It spins freely when hit with an air puffer.  I then tried it again with hairspring and still no go.  I then slightly raised the balance cock with the screw removed and and it would run, but badly.  Seemed sluggish and stopped after a bit.  I then tried swapping the new hairspring onto the old balance but it would not fit.  Collet hole was too small for old staff. I just said the hell with it and put the old balance with old hairspring back in.  Still won't run.  So, being curious, I started poking around on the wheels to see if anything was binding.  I noticed that if I applied any amount of pressure to any wheel all the way up to the mainspring barrel, the watch would tick. So, does the mainspring not have enough power?  Is the balance binding on something?  Should I break it down and clean and oil again?  I'm grasping at straws at this point.  It was not running when I took it apart so I don't know if I should be looking at some other parts.  Any one have any suggestions or wisdom they would be willing to share?

 

Jim

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I don't quite understand.  You said the hairspring was severely twisted.  Did you straighten it before putting the old balance back in?  If not, how does it run at all even when you apply pressure to the wheels?  What do you mean when you say the balance is skewed?  Are the pivots bent?

Edited by DouglasSkinner
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All good questions.  Like I said before, it wasn't running when I opened it up. The balance appeared to be out of the jewel holes and the hairspring was bent 90 degrees at the stud.  I didn't see any damage to the pivots so my thinking is that someone may have remove the balance cock and the balance fell and bent the hairspring. Instead of fixing it, they just positioned it back in place and closed up the case.  All speculation on my part there.  I straightened the old hairspring except I couldn't get the final arc that goes through the adjustment forks on the cock to line up so I bought a new balance assembly. Didn't work for me.... yet.  When I put the old balance back in, it was with the old hairspring but not quite perfect.

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Welcome to WRT forum.

Have you checked pivot jewels?  

 Yes if it starts to run with little pressure as you say " Any power" you might need a new mainspring.

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many things

my oppinion 

wind the movement without balance and pallet fork

if run slowly maybe is the center wheel holes 

if its ok see the pallet fork and the balance 

can we have a picture ?

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All good questions.  Like I said before, it wasn't running when I opened it up. The balance appeared to be out of the jewel holes and the hairspring was bent 90 degrees at the stud.  I didn't see any damage to the pivots so my thinking is that someone may have remove the balance cock and the balance fell and bent the hairspring. Instead of fixing it, they just positioned it back in place and closed up the case.  All speculation on my part there.  I straightened the old hairspring except I couldn't get the final arc that goes through the adjustment forks on the cock to line up so I bought a new balance assembly. Didn't work for me.... yet.  When I put the old balance back in, it was with the old hairspring but not quite perfect.

210326145552417.jpg

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Well, I've done as suggested.  Can't find anything wrong with jewels, everything runs pretty smoothly with pallet fork removed.  Still won't run on it's own.  Just the slightest bit of pressure and the watch will tick.  I'm getting ready to order a new mainspring and see if maybe that is the problem.  Will let the group know the outcome.  Thanks for all the help.

210329140110481.jpg

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You can't loose buying a new mainspring if you intend a full service, just to get the thing running though, I would have taken the barrel out, remove its lid and inspect the innards.  

 

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Prior to this watch what was your experience with watch repair? In other words is this your first watch your taking apart?

With new bees and problems like this you need to slow down and do the basics.

When you disassemble and clean the watch did you take the mainspring out?

Usually when people are reassembling the watch things become obvious before you reach the stage or in them but not always.

Like for instance when you've assembled the gear train without the pallet fork in the wind the crown does the gear train spin effortlessly? When you put the pallet fork in your lubricating the escapement did the pallet fork snap nicely with energy?

Oh and trying to swap the hairspring bad idea each hairspring is matched to the balance wheel That it is on.

Okay as I'm reading through things again I see your order a new mainspring what does the old mainspring look like? Then even with a set mainspring the watch will run it won't run overnight if super set but the watch will run fully wound up.

How easy was it to get into the watch? In other words they hairspring and didn't just bend up itself somebody did that. If they bent that what else did they do while they were playing with the watch? This is where conceivably you may have other issues issues that you normally don't have because somebody has played with it with zero idea of what they were trying to do.

I'm with a repeat some things from above. Mainspring barrel out pallet fork out just the gear train. If you give the center wheel a gentle push does the trains spin effortlessly? It should require very little force on the center wheel to have the entire trains spin. This is where when you were assembling it you should check the end shake of each of the wheels to make sure there was a little bit and shake and you should verify that the train would spin effortlessly.

But the mainspring barrel back in a wind on the crown the gear train should spin. There is a test for gear train freedom called back spin. his is where when your winding the watch the gear train is spinning you stop winding and the momentum of the gear train will go past the end of the mainspring basically and back wind the mainspring just a little bit. So if you looking at the escape wheel and you have to look carefully for this you'll see the escape wheel spinning you probably can't see the direction Elgin stop and actually spin backwards a little bit this is usually a clear indication most the time that you train is free

then pallet fork in wind it up a little bit and I assume you lubricated the escapement? When you pushed gently on the pallet fork doesn't snap if it doesn't snap your watches and going to run.

Once you verify that the pallet fork has energy going to it and everything's fine even with a set mainspring the watch should run providing the balance wheel is correct and it's exactly where it's supposed to be? Although it looks like in your first picture it may be correctly located? That is with no power the pallet fork should be between the banking pins your watch should be in beat.

Then we need sharper pictures in the absence of that you have to look carefully at your balance wheel and hairspring. Often times when people start playing with the hairspring this they fail to grasp how important it is that it be flat and not touching the balance arms. If it's touching the arms the watch isn't going to run. This is why asked what your prior experience to watch repair is because you need to have experience with knowing what the watch is supposed to look like and how things are supposed to work so as you run into problems it makes it easier to grasp where the problem may or may not be.

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2 minutes ago, Nucejoe said:

I would have taken the barrel out, remove its lid and inspect the innards.  

Yes often overlooked by newbies. If the watch has never been serviced the mainspring is probably okay or at least okay enough to get the watch to run. But on older watches where they been serviced all sorts of interesting substances end up in the barrel that at one time supposedly were a lubricant and now are not. It's amazing how much energy can be lost to sticky glue like substances.

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I want to thank the group for all the great advise.  I'll try your troubleshooting tips and see what I can find. I've put the new balance and hairspring back in the movement with the same results. I will have to admit that I don't think the new mainspring is going to fix this.  I'm certain it's in the balance assembly but for the life of me I can't find a problem.  I'll keep looking.  Thanks again.

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Welcome to the forum Jim.

I was going to throw my hat in the ring and say something, but since I have never disassembled a movement or reassembled a movement, I am gong to sit here and shut up. 🙂 

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15 hours ago, JHargrove77 said:

  I'm certain it's in the balance assembly but for the life of me I can't find a problem.  

Have you inspected the jewels to balance pivots?  All your tests indicate a cracked jewel, a common test is gently lifting one side of the balance wheel to see if the pivot jumps out of jewel hole.

Roller table rubbing on fork horn is the next suspect which happens in case the lower jewel has moved, in which case it often runs in cock down position.

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3 hours ago, Michael1962 said:

I was going to throw my hat in the ring and say something, but since I have never disassembled a movement or reassembled a movement, I am gong to sit here and shut up.

Solomon wrote: "Where there are many words, a transgression is unavoidable."

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Hi  JohnR725 has clearly explained the basic steps needed to be taken and the various checks to be made at each step and until you reach the point where the train is free and the pallet/fork snaps cleanly between the banking pins there is no point playing with the balance. Once all those points are addressed and proven then look at the balance. We need pictures of, 1. the old balance and pivots + spring.  2. the new balance , the same points . required to determine the state of the pivots and spring. Follow JohnR725's advice to the letter.

If this is your first watch repair then for you interest I have attached a couple of documents as a guide.

exploded view of a watch.jpg

TZIllustratedGlossary.pdf

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9 hours ago, LittleWatchShop said:

Solomon wrote: "Where there are many words, a transgression is unavoidable."

Exactly why I am going to remain quiet. Seek first to understand....

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Sorry for the delay getting back to the group.  Too many other projects going on.  Calling this my first watch is somewhat accurate. It's the first one I disassembled. It however got pushed to the back when I ordered a new balance.  I then started on an Omega 13.5.  Small bracelet watch that requires everything being done under magnification. This was one the wife acquired off Ebay because it reminded her of one her mother wore.  While servicing that one, I accidently through out a click spring with some cleaning solution.  Rookie mistake.  So then had to find a parts watch. The parts movement was in excellent condition but the dial was the wrong shape for the case I had and the crown was not as nice.  So I swapped out the stem and then the dial.  However, the new movement cannon pinion did not protrude through the old dial. The new movement dial laid flat against the watch while the old dial is convex. Since I wasn't sure if I just needed to swap cannon pinions or the center wheels, I decided to just go back to using the old movement but needed to swap the stem back.  Frustration won out and I pushed the Omega to the back and pulled the Bulova back out.  This is when I ran into my current issue with the balance.  I will attempt to get some better pictures for you to look at.  

As a side note:  While all this was going on, my wife actually found her mother's old watch.  It wasn't an Omega 13.5 but a Bulova 5AC. Just as small as the Omega however.  I did successful do a full service on this watch and am just waiting on some bracelet cord before she can start wearing it.

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Update:  Pulled the pallet fork and bridge out so I could get a good side view and with a 20x loupe, I can verify that my hairspring is indeed touching the balance arm. Must have knocked it out of position while swapping it in and out so many times.  Will let you know if and when I get it remedied.

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Greetings again.  Another question for the gurus.  I removed the balance from the cock and have it laying on a staking anvil with the roller down inside a hole so the balance is level, the hairspring on top.  Should the hairspring sit proud of the balance arms or is it common for the weight of the hairspring to cause it to sag into contact with the arms?  If I turn it upside down, the hairspring will fall away from the arms loosing contact and will vibrate for a while if touched.

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I don't know about your movement specifically, but it is common for hairsprings to sag when the balance is removed. Whether it will touch the arms depends on the weight of the stud, the strength of the spring, and how the spring is colleted.

But I wouldn't worry about it. If it is level and free when installed, that's all that matters.

I find adjusting hairsprings easier to do when the balance is installed in the watch or when the hairspring is removed. In Fried's books, he suggests removing the hairspring and installing it in the balance cock. When you set the balance cock upside-down, it is easy to see if the spring is centered and level.

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It's usually best when looking for hairspring problems if they hairspring it in the balance wheel are in the watch because that's where the problem is. Taking it out means it's an artificial condition and all kinds of things occur. Either from looking absolutely perfect to looking really bad to everything in between. There are some times when you can have it out of the watch but really want to have it in the watch where the problem is to see the problem and then see what you can do about fixing it where it may be taking it out of the watches the best approach but not until you know what you're doing.

6 hours ago, WellAdjusted said:

In Fried's books, he suggests removing the hairspring and installing it in the balance cock. When you set the balance cock upside-down, it is easy to see if the spring is centered and level.

This is actually a really popular method the see if they hairspring is centered. But it really would better if you could do it in the watch. Despite what Henry said this method can lead to bad things happening. It may look absolutely centered But if they hairspring is really soft it may not actually center itself. It may not be flat is a whole bunch of things that may interfere with this and if it as an over coil things get more complicated. I once straightened out a Hamilton 992 mainspring that took several hours because somebody use this method and failed to grasp how the terminal curve works for instance which is a lot harder to see on over coil watch anyway. Much better if you can do your diagnostics with the balance wheel in the watch because that is the only place where concerned about if there's a problem or not.

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Ok, I played with the old hairspring and balance a little more and put it back in the watch.  It's actually ticking now but very slowly.  At least slower than I think it should. But that's more life than it's had in quite a few years. Also the hairspring is not quite centered so is probably some of my problem.  it will run horizontal with dial side down, and vertical.  Stops any time I turn it dial side up. Continuing to troubleshoot.....

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Hi  without a timegrapher/DIY timing device the rate can only be verified over time and the amplitude guessed. So either invest in the timegrapher or a DIY equivalent such as PCTM,  Watch-O Scope,  tg. all usefull DIY versions but require an amplifier and pick up building. Watch-o-scope site has all the details.

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It's alive!!!  Went back to basics. I know John suggested adjusting the hairspring in the watch but I went back to what I was comfortable with.  I removed the hairspring from the balance because in the watch it was too off centered. After some tedious work under magnification, I was able to get the original hairspring collet centered on the jewel hole and get the overcoil arc correct again. I then reinstalled the hairspring on the balance and placed in back in the watch without the pallet installed.  Impulse jewel needed to be adjusted slightly but after everything was lined up and reassembled, it started running as soon as the balance cock fell into the alignment holes.  You guys have been a lifesaver.  

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