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Tighening a Key-Wind Pocketwatch Cannon Pinion

Question:
Can I adjust a key-wind cannon pinion as I would one on a pendant set watch?
 
Answer:
No.  The key-set cannon pinions (or every one I have seen), are much thicker and can't be tightened the same way as others.  You'd only end up breaking something, maybe the tool.
This is a problem with no good solution.  What you can do may depend on the circumstances.  Notching the base with a three-cornered punch is not recommended as the notches won't last if the watch is set much, and may grind the center staff.  On the other hand, for an antique watch that is just displayed and occasionally wound, this may actually be OK.  It will make the hands work.

Some folks put some sort of material inside the cannon pinion, such as a fine grit, a tiny bit of fabric or even a hair!  This seems a bad choice to me as anything like that can also grind the center staff, or get out and into the mechanism or at least the center wheel baring, which seems bad.

A few times, I have seen the side of a cannon pinion filed down so that the usual method would then work.  This seems like excessive modification to the part though, and it is is not really carefully done the part would be ruined.

When I've had this problem, I have replaced the cannon pinion or the center staff.  That's the only "correct" answer.  It's usually the center staff that's the worn part.  But these parts are getting very hard to find.  The last couple of times I had to alter a replacement part slightly to work.  This won't always be an option as parts disappear from the world.  The center staff could be made, but making a cannon pinion is quite a procedure, requiring rigs I certainly don't have.  This is one of the repairs that's likely to render some watches non-fixable in the near future, at least not easily.

Here's a few blog posts on the subject:





http://elgintime.blogspot.com/2009/10/question-box.html

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