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Achievement, failure, learning. Elgin 345 movement #2.


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I thought folks on their new journey like me might enjoy following my trials and tribulations. I just signed up for Mark's watchmaking course, but for now, it's trial and error on inexpensive eBay purchases.

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Emboldened by my first successful teardown and rebuild, I dug into the second Elgin 345 I had here. Really beautiful dial on this one. The initial timing readings were...interesting.

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About halfway through disassembly, a screw fell out of the movement. That could help explain the timegrapher reading. I also found a badly damaged 4th wheel lower jewel, and the lower balance hole jewel is cracked in half. Not having the tools or skills to replace them yet, I forged ahead.

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Having seen balance tacks being used. I thought it was weird to let the balance wheel hang from it, but I thought that's what it was made for, so it should be fine. Well, I learned that it is not fine, and after some more research here, I learned that one does not store the balance on the tack for safety.

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🤔😬

Mark has two great YouTube videos on repairing bent and twisted hairsprings, and I'm going to work on that, but in the meantime I stole the balance assembly from the other movement to see if I could get this guy running.

It looks like the mainspring was replaced with a modern one at some point, so not having a spring winder I just left it alone. After a full wind and about 15 minutes running:

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I'd call that an improvement! My cell phone timegrapher doesn't show amplitude (my next purchase) so I shot a video to check it. Looks to me about 270 clockwise and 290 counterclockwise.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SA20TURUUSA

As exciting as that is, the watch stops if I turn it dial down or crown down, so clearly we're not there yet. Could this be the cracked jewels' fault?

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9 hours ago, watchweasol said:

Got it in one, the cracked/chipped jewel is most likley the culprit. Judging by the state of the jewel the trace is not that bad under the circumstances.

Agreed. If it ran in all positions I wouldn't worry about it.

My first one had a mangled plated for the lower balance jewel setting. This one has several cracked jewels. I have one more 345 movement on its way from eBay. Hopefully I can put together one solid movement from all three. This dial face is too nice to leave in a drawer somewhere.

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10 hours ago, watchweasol said:

the cracked/chipped jewel is most likley the culprit.

I did a closer investigation, and as I rotate the running movement from dial up to pendant down, the broken jewel lets the balance wheel rotate off-axis enough to contact the balance cock.

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As Mentioned by Klassoker with damage like thst to the jewew its always wise to check the state of the pivots .  Yes some of these watches are too good to be tossed in a drawer and forgotton or stripped for the working parts but some times the economics of the situation take over.  Anything can be repaired with the investment of time and money.

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9 hours ago, Klassiker said:

Check the pivot too.

Ah, good point. I didn't think to, since this balance came out of a movement that (I think) worked in all positions, but it never hurts to check. This looks good to me, yes?

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5 hours ago, watchweasol said:

Yes some of these watches are too good to be tossed in a drawer and forgotton or stripped for the working parts but some times the economics of the situation take over.

Yeah, that's kind of where I'm at. I always hate to see something this beautiful relegated to a drawer or spare parts, but sometimes there's no reasonable choice. At this point I'm also trying to fix everything because it's good practice.

Cheers, thanks for all the input!

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The original balance doesn't look too bad either, but now I'm wondering if the balance assembly from the second watch is different enough that the pivot is just falling out of the bottom jewel.

Sorry for the blur--I'm still holding a loupe up to my cell phone and this is the best of the lot. But it definitely shows how well worn the other pivot is. This is the original one out of this movement:

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12 minutes ago, watchweasol said:

to damage the jewels like that its had some shock or hamfisted attempt at repairing ot.

The fact that I found a modern mainspring and a loose screw floating around in the movement is pointing me to the latter.

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A loose screw graunching around the movement would have repcussions if it got trapped some where, so its more like a repair gone wrong.. be careful of staff s   elgin/waltham have a variety if sizes as I found out repairing one, best heasure the staffs with a vernier for size.

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1 hour ago, ManSkirtBrew said:

Sorry for the blur--I'm still holding a loupe up to my cell phone and this is the best of the lot.

Tape loupe to phone, rest subject and phone on the bench, shim and move around until they are at minimum focal distance.

BTW I can't tell for sure but it seems to me the impulse jewel above is chipped.

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On 1/14/2022 at 12:40 PM, jdm said:

Tape loupe to phone, rest subject and phone on the bench, shim and move around until they are at minimum focal distance.

BTW I can't tell for sure but it seems to me the impulse jewel above is chipped.

Yes, you're right. The impulse jewel on the first movement I fixed is definitely chipped.

I got the third one in the mail today--all three are 345 movements. First is 1926, second 1923, and this one is 1919. It was sold as "for parts, broken balance." The hands wouldn't turn, so I set about taking it apart.

And surprisingly, it's in the best shape of all three. All of the jewels appear perfect, and to my untrained eye, I don't see anything wrong with this balance. Edit: not to mention the dial is almost perfect. I took another stab at close up photography, and I think these are a lot better.

The hands don't turn because the cannon pinion was rusted in place to the center wheel's staff.

I'm going to clean it up and see how she runs before I start scavenging for parts.

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Edited by ManSkirtBrew
Added dial image
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