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Revisiting an old hobby


AndyHull

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This Metamec design does look like something from the 1930s in the sense that it does not self start. I have heard that Metamec used designs and mechanisms from Smiths, so this may be based on one of their designs, and therefore may not have been cutting edge technology for the time.

Most later designs use shaded pole synchronous motors, and typically only run in one direction, these older designs can be spun backwards which obviously leads to the hands tuning the wrong way (travelling backwards in time is always hazardous ?).

The modern designs also typically don't operate the motor coil on the full line voltage. For example the cheap mechanical timer plugs you get in DIY shops and the like run on a lower voltage with the difference dropped with a resistor. This means the coils do not need to be quite so robust nor do they get as warm (but a lot of power is lost in the resistor). 

These timers are generally just as accurate as the Metamec, as they typically operate on the same principal with a synchronous AC motor running on the line frequency. 

There is a breakdown of one of those here.

 

 

Edited by AndyHull
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39 minutes ago, AndyHull said:

The earliest mine could be is around 1947, since that was when Metamec was founded, but it is more likely that it is from the early 1950s.

I'd love to see a few pictures of the 1930s models. Who made them and do they work?

Electric clocks have been around a lot longer even than the 1930s, but the first synchronous mains clocks date from around then.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_clock

Many years ago (back in the early eighties) an Engineering firm customer of ours in Glasgow was closing down, and moving out of an old Victorian building. Bolted to the wall in their hallway was a rather ancient but quite attractive electro-mechanical long case clock. It was way too big for me to carry, and I had no way of removing it from the wall. Nobody else seemed interested in it.

I often wondered what became of it. It didn't work, and given that the building was scheduled to be demolished, I have a horrible feeling it ended up in a skip.

Well Andy, all of my early ones are made by 'Ferranti'.

This is their 'Model No2', and was made between 1932 and 1936, (shown prior to restoration)

1986654041_FerrantiNo2clock.thumb.jpg.6038a317fd12d3cf66f4527760ac4114.jpg

This is the 'Model No4', again 1932 to 1936,

610807775_Bakelitemantelclockafter.thumb.jpg.a881078eec123c1b26072f89d7581a69.jpg

Both of the above have the 'broad spade' hands so date to 1932/33..

This is the 'Model No8' alarm, which dates from 19361667157069_FerrantiNo8restored.thumb.jpg.f178868ba2eb2ca0cbb01eac1f5682a0.jpg....

This 'was' originally a 'Model No6' 'Floodlit' alarm, made between 1936 & 1938, but about 60? years ago someone broke the Bakelite case and then rehoused the works in a home-made wooden case (which I have attempted to 'sympathetically restore')

452515677_HomemadecaseFerrantialarmwithlight8.thumb.jpg.235704e3d38a13aad2496e46577bb9bd.jpg

Would have originally looked like this.......

617366899_Floodlitalarmadvert.thumb.jpg.8823fe93635b1ee6a89fe259dfced208.jpg

And the pièce de résistance, this 'Model No12' with a solid pewter case, only made between 1934 and 1936........

826568154_FerrantiNo12restored.thumb.jpg.6f1cdc6eca2c98cff1d6800820b67f11.jpg

All the above clocks do, and are currently running..?

Typical movement for the non alarm varieties (in the No4 Model)......

416339334_Bakelitemantelclockmovement.thumb.jpg.4d9d34dafaef30acb38d6b6514d4f626.jpg

Edited by JohnD
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Very nice. Notice that the mechanism looks very similar to the design of the Metamec, including an almost identical low friction bushing on the rotor. 

The coil is even larger, presumably using slightly coarser gauge wire, and is therefore probably even less efficient. The motor in these probably consumes something of the order of 2 to 10 watts, most of which is lost as heat. While this is not a hug amount in the grand scheme of things, it is many orders of magnitude greater than a quartz mechanism or even a transistorised coil oscillator one.

Because the coils run warm, and because the coils consist of many turns of fine wire effectively strapped directly across the mains, the coil is by far and away the most stressed component, and presumably the one most likely to fail. Failure to keep the mechanism clean and lubricated, or leaving the motor in a stalled condition will also lead to stress on the coil.

One thing yours has, which the Metamec does not, is an earth, which is a very nice safety feature. If that coil ever starts to break down and allows the electricity to track to the metal work things could get very interesting with out the earth.

Hopefully the double insulation of the Metamec coil will prevent any such problem, but I am still a little wary of the potential for a nasty surprise when adjusting the hands. Hopefully too, I never get to test this theory, or if I do, the RCD in the consumer unit kicks in before my hair stands on end.

Edited by AndyHull
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3 minutes ago, AndyHull said:

Very nice. Notice that the mechanism looks very similar to the design of the Metamec, including an almost identical low friction bushing on the rotor. 

The coil is even larger, presumably using slightly coarser gauge wire, and is therefore probably even less efficient. The motor in these probably consumes something of the order of 2 to 10 watts, most of which is lost as heat. While this is not a hug amount in the grand scheme of things, it is many orders of magnitude greater than a quartz mechanism or even a transistorised coil oscillator one.

Because the coils run warm, and because the coils consist of many turns of fine wire effectively strapped directly across the mains, the coil is by far and away the most stressed component, and presumably the one most likely to fail. Failure to keep the mechanism clean and lubricated, or leaving the motor in a stalled condition will also lead to stress on the coil.

This is the mechanism in the 'Floodlight alarm' identical to the other alarm that I have other than a simple cam mech to turn the dial light on at midnight and off at 8am, which sadly doesn't work as the secondary winding in the coil that turns it into a 3volt transformer, is open circuit...☹️.

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Note the use of Meccano to hold the movement in the case ?

This is what it looked like when I got it......?

210209338_HomemadecaseFerrantialarmwithlight5.thumb.jpg.d114c58cf41340d0a79586c66239cb8a.jpg

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21 minutes ago, JohnD said:

This is the mechanism in the 'Floodlight alarm' identical to the other alarm that I have other than a simple cam mech to turn the dial light on at midnight and off at 8am, which sadly doesn't work as the secondary winding in the coil that turns it into a 3volt transformer, is open circuit..

You could easily hide a small LED driver in the case. They are tiny, and would not look out of place in this Heath Robinson contraption. You could even hide it in its own Mechano or wooden box.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2334524.m570.l1313&_nkw=led+driver&_sacat=0&LH_TitleDesc=0&_sop=15&_osacat=0&_odkw=3v+transformer

I assume the clock has some switched contacts, so you could use those to switch the low voltage output to drive a suitable  LED bulb.

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I picked up a couple of accessories for the microscopes. This was another bargain bin item from ebay. 

 

I'm pretty sure they are Russian (Lomo) and originally part of a larger set.


The x8/23 is very sharp and clear and has a built in measuring graticule.


The small plastic container has a second graticule, this one is a 15x15 square grid. This grid alone is worth twice what I paid for the whole lot, and the x8/23 goes for more than three times what I paid for everything.


Second hand optical items are always a bit of a gamble, but these were all reasonably clean and unscratched when they arrived. Once I had given them the once over with a some filtered water, detergent, a little acetone and some lint free cleaning materials,  they are now spotless, and produce very crisp and bright images.

For anyone unsure of how to tackle this task there is a good description here. -> https://microscopecentral.com/pages/how-to-clean-your-microscope

Eyepieces-l1600.jpg

Edited by AndyHull
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Hi Andy,

I received my book: METAMEC, THE CLOCKMAKER, DEREHAM and I think I found your clock in it. It seems to be the model 779. There was a version with alarm and one without it. The hands do not seem to be the same though. I did not know but the METAMEC stands for 'Metal and Mechanical Products'. The book is fantastic, at least thats what I think. The link above says you can have it for £10 + P&P I paid £15 +P&P. Sorry for the picture quality in the PDF i have not played a lot with our little scanner yet and noticed the horrible result when I finished. The book has better pics and color pics too. I scanned a 3 pages about Automatic Tea Makers. It might give you and idea when you go to eBay again. ?

IMG_20210128_131542.thumb.jpg.077d679bcfca520f0b7cdca30880a1ac.jpg

metamec.pdf

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4 minutes ago, luiazazrambo said:

Hi Andy,

I received my book: METAMEC, THE CLOCKMAKER, DEREHAM and I think I found your clock in it. It seems to be the model 779. There was a version with alarm and one without it. The hands do not seem to be the same though. I did not know but the METAMEC stands for 'Metal and Mechanical Products'. The book is fantastic, at least thats what I think. The link above says you can have it for £10 + P&P I paid £15 +P&P. Sorry for the picture quality in the PDF i have not played a lot with our little scanner yet and noticed the horrible result when I finished. The book has better pics and color pics too. I scanned a 3 pages about Automatic Tea Makers. It might give you and idea when you go to eBay again. ?

IMG_20210128_131542.thumb.jpg.077d679bcfca520f0b7cdca30880a1ac.jpg

metamec.pdf 12.39 MB · 1 download

I have the similar book on Ferranti electric clocks...

 

Ferranti synchronous Electric clocks.jpg

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Very nice.

I missed out on a couple of Ferrantis and a very cool Smiths for the 404 collection. I'll keep trying though. I may even grab another Metamec, I'm enjoying fixing them. Just the right balance of mechanical fiddling and electrical peril to keep me amused. ?

Speaking of fixing stuff, what with the virus restrictions and a need to keep the covid pot belly at bay, I've been walking a lot locally and enjoying the views, particlarly in the recent snow, and I was struck by the idea of getting some drone shots of the area.

Now I know that any normal person would simply go out and buy a drone, since the "toy grade" ones are relatively cheap these days, but where is the fun in that? Lets see if we can save one from the landfill. So I grabbed a "fixer upper" for...

image.png.92698de4b296887969a87f631c63713f.png

... less than £4.04 (of course). I'll admit the postage is a little steeper than the cost of the copter, but this thing is huge by comparison to your average wristwatch.

The fault (as is often the case with these things) is that one of the motors is damaged. It turns, but stutters and stops. The spare motors are readily available on ebay (naturally) as are all of the other spare parts.

So I removed the failing motor, tested it to prove it was the source of the trouble. Substituted one of the others to make sure the controller board works (if not, it would most likely be a dead transistor). I then tested all of the other bits, the remote, the camera and so on. It makes a scary amount of wind and some pretty impressive noises, even with just three propellers.

So now I'm waiting for a couple of motors to arrive on the slow boat from China and I'll be able to repeatedly crash a large lump of high speed plastic and dangerously whirling propellers, as I no doubt demonstrate my complete inability to fly the thing,  and in the process, perhaps, eventually, take some interesting ariel shots.

The camera that comes with it is not anything to get excited by, but it should be able to lift a GoPro or a Canon point and shoot, so that should improve the picture taking capacity no end.

I'll post a few of the pictures here, when I get a chance.

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On 1/28/2021 at 2:06 PM, luiazazrambo said:

The hands do not seem to be the same though.

I've seen a couple of Metamecs with those Lumed hands, and a couple with the hands that mine has. None were exactly the same shape/model though. Does the book indicate what year(s) it is likely to be from?

On 1/28/2021 at 2:06 PM, luiazazrambo said:

It might give you and idea when you go to eBay again.

Don't encourage me.  I get enough frequent flyer points from ebay as it is. ?

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One more note on the METAMEC clocks, they say the first model was a 701 electric and the early models are all stamped at the bottom with a number, that number is for the batches and every batch had 50 clocks. So the Holy Grail is a 701 from batch nr 1.

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I went up to the attic today because i knew i have a metamec somewhere:

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its a manual wind up with batch nr 2:

IMG_20210129_220215.thumb.jpg.d41e3e2b9918be4a5b04e88358a7a687.jpg

 

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They started making clocks in 45 and yours was discontinued in 59, however i cannot see as when the models were introduced so we have no from date. (i have not read the whole book yet though)

IMG_20210129_222017.thumb.jpg.8ba12460f1e98880e637e71ffa417ecf.jpg

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9 hours ago, AndyHull said:

Some of you might find this amusing.

 

Amazing combination of skills used. He must have a a great workshop full of tools.

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46 minutes ago, clockboy said:

Amazing combination of skills used. He must have a a great workshop full of tools.

Fascinating video. A five year apprenticeship as a scientific instrument technician gave me the necessary skills to emulate that, but I no longer have access to suitable workshop facilities, or I hasten to add, the patience any more.....☹️

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  • 2 weeks later...

Not another Metamec, but it is a synchronous mains clock.

AsPurchased.thumb.jpg.294c5a85c488d638b89e2a905ba70435.jpg

This time a Westclox for the bargain bin price of £2.99.  From the styling I would guess perhaps the late 1950s, but I can't be certain. It doesn't have a "starter" mechanism, so it won't be earlier than late 1940s I would think. 

The woodwork needs a little TLC and someone has snipped off the mains cable, so it probably needs some internal work too. It will certainly need a service, so lets see if I can bring it back from the scrap heap without resorting to fitting a quartz mechanism. 

I did see a similar one here, most likely from 1962 -> https://lespook.wordpress.com/synchronous-clocks/westclox/ so I think my estimate of age is probably pretty close. There is also a pretty good chance that it was produced not far from here in Dumbarton near Glasgow (Scotland).

 

Edited by AndyHull
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Metamec 701 electric, the first model produced and sold by Metamec. Later they sold it with a wind up movement. It was not so cheap as yours as I paid £30, but I could not resist. Batch number 78.

 

IMG_20210213_210614.thumb.jpg.3541288de8ef50dae4accae7919c2797.jpg

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Here's one for all the electro-mechancal clock fans, and fans of Russian horology everywhere.

... and if you enjoy that, you might like to take a look at his earlier series on the electronic version here

Actually most of CuriousMarc's videos are worth a look, so you might want to spend some time browsing through some of his other stuff. There are lots of bits computer history and electromechanical calculator stuff too. 

Edited by AndyHull
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On 2/13/2021 at 10:12 PM, AndyHull said:

Not another Metamec, but it is a synchronous mains clock.

AsPurchased.thumb.jpg.294c5a85c488d638b89e2a905ba70435.jpg

This time a Westclox for the bargain bin price of £2.99.  From the styling I would guess perhaps the late 1950s, but I can't be certain. It doesn't have a "starter" mechanism, so it won't be earlier than late 1940s I would think. 

The woodwork needs a little TLC and someone has snipped off the mains cable, so it probably needs some internal work too. It will certainly need a service, so lets see if I can bring it back from the scrap heap without resorting to fitting a quartz mechanism. 

I did see a similar one here, most likely from 1962 -> https://lespook.wordpress.com/synchronous-clocks/westclox/ so I think my estimate of age is probably pretty close. There is also a pretty good chance that it was produced not far from here in Dumbarton near Glasgow (Scotland).

 

Well the Dumbarton Westclox arrived recently, and spent a couple of days in Covid quarantine, so today I had a quick crack at addressing its more obvious cosmetic issues.

The bezel, it turns out, was, at some stage in the dim and distant past, polished brass. The ebay pictures had me thinking it was probably nickel plated, but that was just the result of many many years of neglect. 

RIMG0495.thumb.JPG.4d8485b3351ee5acdc843fc772e024de.JPG

I didn't even check the coil, I'll take a look at that, and servicing the mechanism next.  The process for removing the bezel and glass in order to remove the filth on the inside, was less than obvious. It is held in by three small self tapping screws, screwed into the wood at the front. The screws are screwed down so that the lip of the bezel fits under them, and a small cut-out in that lip allows the bezel to be fitted, then rotated to secure it.

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I cleaned up and re-finished the shellac on the front and the edges. It probably could do with maybe two more coats  and cutting with 000 wire wool between coats, but it looks way better than it did when it arrived.

Lets hope I can actually get it to tick. If the coil is good, then I see no reason why not. I'll keep you all posted if I make any progress.

EDIT: The mechanism is stamped 1 62 so most likely produced in January 1962 which makes it 59 years old.

Edited by AndyHull
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I took a look at the mechanism today, and naturally the coil was open circuit.

This might have proved an insurmountable issue as I was unlikely to be able to source a new coil.

Since a google search of "wtl-m2-50-230-600"  produced nothing I figured it was worth stripping down the existing one and taking a look for the source of the problem.

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It turned out to be a dry solder joint, which was pretty simple to remedy.

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If you look closely you will see that the coil consists of three thin conductors (wires) rather than a single larger diameter conductor. This tends to make the coil more efficient, and is also a trick used at higher frequencies (in switch mode power supplies for example) as it counters the "skin effect", whereby current tends to be conducted mainly on the surface of the wire rather than deep in to the conductor. I would estimate this little shaded pole motor runs at around 66mA at 240V AC.

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As you can see from the pictures I didn't have the correct width of Kapton tape, so I grabbed the cutting mat, my wife's quilting ruler and her rotary cutter and made my own custom width Kapton tape.

I also preserved the original part number by sealing it under another layer of the tape. In total there are three wraps, of the same length as the original one wrap, so there should be very little chance of tracking or arcing from those contacts or any damaged enamel insulation.

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The repaired coil has a relatively sane DC resistance of around 3.6K Ohms, so I figured it was unlikely to burst in to flames.

I soldered on a suitable mains cable from the large box of assorted junk in the attic and plugged it in.

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No smoke, no flames, just a gentle purr as it came back to life.

The mechanism has been cleaned and lubricated and it is now sitting on the floor next to me so I can keep an eye on it. So far it is keeping perfect time.

I also added another coat of shellac, and it looks not bad If I do say so myself. A couple of quid well spent, and another member of the 404 club has been brought back from the scrap pile.

 

Edited by AndyHull
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".. If you are going to survive out there, you've have really got to know where your towel is.."

In one of life's more surreal moments, I got a delivery through the post of one of those nondescript Chinese polythene packages. There is nothing particularly odd about that, given my tendency to order random things from half way round the planet. 

However the label on it stated "1 x Towel".

"What? I didn't order any towel?" I thought, so assuming it was simply some way of ensuring that some bored customs officer didn't bother to check it, and that it probably actually contained some random piece of electronic circuitry, or perhaps some other thing I had ordered and forgotten about, I slit it open.

Sure enough.. it contained a towel.

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Admittedly it is made of barely enough material to cover your eyes and thus defeat the ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal, but none the less, some random stranger had sent me a towel.

I nervously checked outside to see if there were any large Vogon constructor fleet ships hovering in the sky.

Nope.

At least not so far.

 

 

ActualItem.jpg.f9f39399b5930400d6b6c12e285a506a.jpg

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The mystery deepened when I checked the unique Chine Post parcel ID (on the sticky label underneath the additional sticky label affixed to it by the Post Office in the UK). It has exactly the same "unique" delivery ID as an entirely unrelated item I had already received a little while back.

Furthermore when I check that item on the tracking site, it claims that the item has not yet been delivered.

TrackingNumber.thumb.jpg.e21cc9f0783721578c40b5635c3b6247.jpg

Very odd. I wonder what else might be in the pipeline? A fish perhaps?  Maybe every single undeliverable item from the whole of  China is going to turn up at my door in the next few weeks.

Maybe I should grab a few pints of beer and some salted peanuts and prepare for some intergalactic travel.

Edited by AndyHull
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 1/1/2021 at 11:26 AM, AndyHull said:

Let me introduce the latest 404 club microscope. ?

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This item came up when I was looking for a collimator for my telescope, and since it was described as spares or repair with no bidders I put the lowest bid on it. So for £2.99  plus p+p I now have yet another microscope.

RIMG0165.thumb.JPG.da37044778f64bb200c8892aae476f38.JPG

It is what is sometimes described as a "field" or "student" microscope (or perhaps even a toy microscope), but don't let its toy like proportions fool you. The optics may be pretty rudimentary, but the eyepiece, turret, objective lenses, stage, lamp, reflector mirror etc  do actually work and I have no reason to doubt the 150x 450x 750x magnification claims on the front.


It was made in Japan, probably in the 1950s or 1960s with an all metal construction (die cast pot metal, steel and brass), with a similar finish to my Olympus from the same period. I have no idea who actually manufactured it, but I will say it is way more robustly put together than the plastic lensed injection moulded comparable stuff you get these days. The turret even has a ball bearing click, and there is a grub screw to align the travel of the focuser. This thing was clearly designed by someone who designed real microscopes.

Obviously since it is intended to work with light passed through the subject, it is completely unsuitable for watch work, but if you want to see the bugs in puddle water or cross sections of a prepared biological specimen, it can easily do that while still being ultra portable. 

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Just for fun I grabbed an 0603 LED (0.6 mm × 0.3 mm) and popped it on a glass slide and zoomed in on the bond wire on the device, and here it is in all its 150x glory.

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The image above is not great as it was shot with my camera pressed against the eyepiece, with an LED torch for top illumination in my other hand. Potato vision of the worst sort. In reality the field of view is actually pretty good (although there are still one or two specs of dust on the lenses that I need to attend to).

The optics could do with a little more cleaning, and since they are un-coated and there are only three optical elements in the light path, the images are not perfect, but none the less its a pretty neat "toy" for three quid and a half hour of "acetone and air" cleaning of the lenses and a clean and re-grease of the turret and focuser.

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Here it is  next to a "real" microscope for scale.

How did you clean the lens in the turret? I cannot reach it as there is a metal ring with a hole in it above it.

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1 hour ago, luiazazrambo said:

How did you clean the lens in the turret? I cannot reach it as there is a metal ring with a hole in it above it.

I'll check in the morning, but as far as I recall the tube unscrews to allow you to access the lens.
Let me take a look and confirm that.

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    • Hello to all! My name is Mircea and I am thrilled to be a member of the WRT, as I already used many of your advices in my newly discovered hobby, repairing watches! I do know what means watchmaking, but I just started a few months ago in repairing timepieces, so watchmaking is a long way to come yet... I live in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and I do make my living in a completely different field, ie health services... But I always liked to know how things work and how can they can be repaired, if needed. While a year ago I only had one watch, now I own severals, mainly vintage and of Russian origin. The first watch that I put together was a DIY watch bought from Taiwan in a mail order kit, with a NH35 movement and a very nice diver case, dial and hands. I enjoyed it that much that I started to look on the Internet about various topics on watches and watchmaking, started to seek watchmakers in my area and found one that supplied me with a few broken watches to play with. Well, that was the beginning , changing quartz movements in a few watches and finally dismantling and reassembling a few mechanical ones. With a lot of advice from the internet, and especially WRT (THANK YOU ALL FOR THAT), I succeded in repairing  with very good results two mechanical watches, a Cardinal Russian with a 2609HA movement and an Altantic Worldmaster Swiss with a UN 6300N movement. I am proud to have them working at less than +/- 2s/day precision, good amplitude and very low beat error, and they became a valued part of my watch collection for good. Much more to come... Well, time is limited so please be patient with me, as I do not know a lot yet, but I am eager to learn and as pasionate as everyone here! Thank you in advance! See you around in the forum!
    • Thank you for the link hippy.  My concern at this point is how to hold the balance in the lathe.  Chucks like on a lathe or a pin vise are good at holding simple cylindrical objects, like drill bits or a cylinder of whatever you're about to cut into. But a balance is a complex surface and I'm having trouble envisioning how exactly it would fit into the lathe chuck.
    • I am guessing this is akin to tuning a piano and is an acquired skill. One thing I saw on a 7750 I worked on was the finger was up high up on the gear. Not all of the finger face was touching the gear. I thought it was bent and I was thinking about bending it down. I decided to leave it alone as it was working. Matt
    • Bulova Seaking Automatic from 1975 I believe. Just restored and serviced this for my next door neighbour. It's 'on test' for the next day. He told me he got it for his tenth wedding anniversary and has been in a drawer for 25 years or so. Going to give it back to him tomorrow evening. I hope he will be pleased to wear it again. 
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