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Revisiting an old hobby

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Hello from Scotland. I recently re-awakened an interest from my youth in watches and clocks. Strangely the catalyst was searching for a replacement hand for a Starrett  dial indicator that I pick

I printed the 2nd lens tube and have started to print the first of the two bottom housings. So far so good. I may stick with the red colour of the plastic, or perhaps I should go for the di

Cheers Andy, my supposition has been proved right then. Almost certainly my brother's watch was bought there as my mother was bought up in the Caledonian Road area, just around the corner, in the

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Sapphire crystal, 100m water resistant, Swiss quartz, from a company that has been around since 1893, but is probably more famous for being the "Maker of the genuine Swiss Army Knife". 

Just a smidgen over the 404 budget, but I couldn't resist (and I have a matching Swiss Knife on my workbench).

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Cleaned and running, possibly for the first time in many years, a (French?) depose Argentan (cupronickel) cased 16"' cylinder escapement pocket watch with unknown maker (caliber is stamped H.F).


It winds and sets just fine, and runs within about +/- 30s/day.


It still needs hands and a crystal, but other than that I would say it is done.

Any tips for sorting those two bullet holes in the enamel?

I popped in a light coating of titanium white acrylic, to make them slightly less obvious, but I'll need to see if I can do something a little more artistic, and cosmetically less noticable.

Matching the white is obviously the major problem. 

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27 minutes ago, oldhippy said:

These are known as 5 bar movements and are normally made in Switzerland. 

Thanks, I suspected it might be Swiss, but the use of "depose Argantan" (and the fact that the seller was in Lyon) made me wonder if it might be French. I'm going to check to see if I have any suitable hands for it. I don't have a crystal, so far as I can tell, so I will need to order one.

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It occurs to me that I may not be the only one who tends to listen to a little music while I'm "in the zone" tinkering with some ancient time piece or other.

Today for some reason I seem to be in a slightly melancholic mood. I blame the long dark nights and cold days of the Scottish winter which is closing in fast, so this seems appropriate.


I don't speak a word of Swedish, but you don't need to.

Besides the scenery looks so close to home that it is uncanny.

The tune is now so firmly stuck in my head that I may have to  subject my long suffering wife to me trying to master it on some poor unsuspecting musical instrument or other.

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Close up of the five bar gate pocket watch, showing the HR engraved on the main plate under the balance.
It looks much nicer here, following a clean than it did when it arrived full of potatoes.

The case also got some TLC, and I have some hands on order. I'm swithering about what kind of crystal to fit. Flat or domed, or even domed acrylic.

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On 10/31/2020 at 7:55 PM, AndyHull said:


The finished results. Way too nice for me to think of ruining it with clutter, tools, 3d printers, microscopes.. nasty solvents.. abrasives, paints.. you get the picture. 😋

Smith and Rodger, for those of you unfamiliar with Glasgow, and who's wax polish, wire wool and wax wood repair touch up sticks I used.

They do a full range of French polish supplies, shellac, 0000 wire wool and so forth. 


This is one of those little businesses that has been around forever (well 1877 to be more precise).

Its not a place you would stumble upon by accident, but well worth a visit (or a web order) if you are in need of anything related to old wooden items. Wooden clock cases or traditional furniture for example.

I have no affiliation with them, other than the fact that they are friendly and very helpful and extremely knowledgable. 

More wood work restoration today.


This time a rather nice Regency style marquetry dresser wardrobe which now has pride of place in the second bedroom.


My French polishing technique is improving, and I managed to do a reasonably presentable restoration of the somewhat trashed surface under the central mirror.


I also sorted out a lot of other cosmetic damage, fixed up the wear and scratches on the  plinth and applied some boiled linseed oil to various panels that were so dried out they were starting to split and go white. 

It still has a few remaining battle scars, and a split (bottom left of this picture) that someone has ham-fistedly repaired with epoxy, which I may try to repair properly at some stage.


It also has some missing shelf pieces, so I'm going to have to be a little creative there with perhaps some cunningly stained marine ply and a little artistic license. 

I will say though, they certainly built these things to last.

Each of the mirrored doors seems to weigh about as much a small family hatchback, which makes re-hanging them without dropping them on your foot, or breaking the mirrors a slightly hazardous game.

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The Slippery Seconda is back on my wrist again today.

It is still ticking away perfectly despite its dubious diet. It was sitting around +4s/d dial up prior to winding, and around -4 to -1s/d after winding. The swing seems to pick up slightly (to slightly better than 280 degrees) after it has been worn for a few minutes, which is probably due to the fact that it currently gets pretty cold round here at night.

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2 hours ago, Tudor said:

Any plans for a visual inspection? I'm curious of the migration rate as compared to the Swiss oil extracted from the gold bars they have in their numbered account vaults...

I'll probably take a good look after maybe six months. If I were more serious about this little experiment I guess I should have done a full inspection under the microscope of the pivots etc before I oiled it.  I should then have taken pictures of my oiling efforts to give us a baseline to work from.

Anybody who wants to do a more thorough and scientific test could make up a similar witches brew for themselves.  80% supermarket own brand scent free baby oil 20% Gold Label Neatsfoot Oil, 0% extra virgin Swiss pressed gold bar extract.

Also an experiment with only one watch isn't going to give particularly useful results. If it doesn't break or catch fire then that is about all I can say at the end of the day. Its an interesting game none the less, since it seems that my snake oil does work, at least within the limited parameters of the experiment so far.  

The other thing you need to consider is that this is a USSR movement, and they are pretty robust to start with. Many of them seem to survive quite nicely on a diet of neglect and zero servicing for may years.

I suspect if they were cleaned with auntie Olga's vodka laden tears, and oiled with a mix of Novichok cooking oil and T-90 battle tank sump drainings they would still keep on going.

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One of the missing ingredients as gleaned from the various - Extra Virgin - Swiss gold bar pressings oil - hazmat data sheets found online, that might be worth investigation is barium sulphonate. This is used as a rust inhibitor. I suspect it is probably not strictly necessary, since not all of the hazmat sheets mention it.

If it can be found relatively easily, then a few drops (1% or so by volume) might provide a small measure of additional protective not so secret sauce for my "Horse Lineament" branded not so Swiss substitute.

It also seems to be a common additive in motor oils, so it should be fairly inexpensive. I'll need to do a little digging around to see how easy it is to obtain. Maybe it might be worth checking that it doesn't have some other nefarious use. After all, I don't want to end up on a "watch" list somewhere 😋. (Feel free to groan and throw soft fruit).

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A quick search online turned up a possible substitute, namely calcium sulphonate, which is used in marine greases for the same purpose as barium sulphonate. I suspect the chemical action will be almost identical.

At $15.00 or so for 400g, this stuff is cheap as chips when compared with Swiss watch oils of course. But then again, so is Chanel No. 5.

In fact named brand Swiss watch oils make named brand printer inks look like generously priced products.

The thing is.. do I feel brave/stupid enough to squirt some of this into the mix.


The interesting thing is, it doesn't seem to be available in the UK, or to ship to the UK, so perhaps it is banned in the EU. 

Maybe I'm going to end up on that "watch" list after all. 🤔

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Anyone with a boat here in the US should be able to put a dollop in a baggie, in a baggie, in a baggie, and ship it over to you.

Should be enough for 1,428 watch movements, 827 clocks and that pesky door hinge that just won't stop, with enough left over for "other" projects.

Of all the money-sucking hobbies I have, boats is not one of them...

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St. Lucia Racer oil #188 (It's the rarest snake on earth!)

Product of USA - 15ml

There are two other weights available (I have not bothered to stock them yet) #163 (light) and #220 (heavy). The #188 is "medium" weight and ideal for turntable bearings and tape deck capstain bushings etc.

I get four bucks for the oil and USPS gets eight n change for the shipping...

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Twelve-and-change is still not a bad price (compared to some others).  I may get back to you on that.  I'm thinking of getting some and experimenting with it on an old practice movement.  Given your location and mine, the shipping may not even be that bad.

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