Classic watches, watchmaking, antique tools, history, vintage ephemera and more!
Learn about mechanical timepieces and how they work, the history of the American watch industry and especially all about the Elgin National Watch Company! Check back for new content daily.
Although this is technically a blog, the content is not generally in a time-based sequence. You can find interesting items throughout. Down the page some is an alphabetical word cloud of keywords used here. A great way to dig in is to look through those topics and click anything you find interesting. You'll see all the relevant content.
Here are a few of my favorites!
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Grade 55 movements are found marked for Joseph T. Ryerson, Matthew (Mat) Laflin, William H. Ferry.
This example was made 1871. It is marked W. H. Ferry.
This is the original name of the company, before they added "Elgin" just a few years after the founding.
I thought I had it tuned up so it would barely work, but it didn't last. The owner sent it back with the symptom that it was always in setting mode. A watch will actually continue to run in setting mode, but the train will be working overly hard to turn all the winding/setting parts all the way out to the crown as it ticks. This causes poor time keeping and stopping.
The arbor just needs to go in further, but the crown blocks it.
I always try to keep watches "as-found", if they are able to function correctly, but this time I am going to have to replace the crown with one of the correct style, or at least a lot closer.
Looking at the photo you can see how the tapered base of the replacement crown I selected goes all the way into the neck, past the shoulders. Now the arbor can be adjusted to snap inward further.
More examples of what I'd call creative repairs here...
More about display back cases here...
The first images show the normal position, at rest. The mechanism has a spring that has pushed it into winding mode. Node that the clutch is pushed upward, engaged with the minute wheel just below the center of the movement. In this mode, turning the stem turns the minute wheel, and thus the hands. The hands slip on the center shaft when this happens.
The clutch moves in the opposite direction from that of the arbor in the case. That is, when the crown is push inward, the clutch lever presses the clutch down against the winding pinion. When it does this it is working against the spring in the watch that wants to hold the clutch against the minute wheel
Problems develop if the spring in the case neck, called a sleeve, is broken or not strong enough to hold the arbor inward against the spring in the movement, or if the arbor in the case does not go into the movement far enough, or too far, for the clutch to fully engage in both modes.
If the redoubtable Herr is still around by that time, he's cordially invited to sit in and see the show. (Our artist has given him the benefit of the doubt, and included him in the illustration.) Let's see now, Americans, how much 14 billion dollars worth of War Bonds buys in the way of pyrotechnic talent.
B-29 Superfortresses are available at $600,000 each, P-47 Thunderbolts at $50,000 each, M-4 Tank Dozers equipped with 76-mm. guns and bulldozer blade at $67,417 each. A dazzling and wondrous array of Half-Tracks, Jeeps, Trucks, Rockets, Mortars, Airborne Radar, P-SO "Shooting Stars", Jet-Propelled Combat Planes are also available at bargain prices.
These are just some of the 1001 acts towards which your dollars will go to make this "reception" one which his Imperial Highness will not soon forget.
Can you give me formulas for reliable cleaning and rinsing solutions for large clock movements?
Answer: As a rule large clock movements have lacquered plates. Sometimes even the wheels are lacquered. It is therefore essential that the cleaning fluid leave the lacquer untouched. We recommend that you use a high test gasoline or petroleum ether for cleaning and rinsing. Unlacquered parts may be cleaned with any of the regular watch cleaning machine solutions.
Question Box was a regular feature of Horology magazine. For more Question Box news, look here!
Putting A Mainspring in the Barrel
By ARTHUR DES ]ARLAIS
When all the spring is in the barrel except the brace end, by holding the end an instant, it will be drawn in of its own accord when sufficient coils are wound in towards the center to make room for it. As the spring uncoils in the barrel, it will firmly anchor itself. It would be well to practice this method several times using an old barrel and mainspring until proficiency is attained, when it will be found superior to any mainspring winder as it works equally well on all sizes, and most important of all, the arbor always fits the spring correctly. The writer has been using this method for several years with satisfactory results, and it has reduced mainspring breakage to the minimum.
There are divots raised with a graver under the balance cock to make the thing sit higher and increase the end-shake. Sometimes I see them added, filed off, and added again. After awhile it's extremely difficult to get the parts to seat correctly.
This movement is a grade 293, Elgin, 16 size, 7 jewels, made about 1920.
"Bridged" movements are popular because, for one thing, they allow better viewing of the moving parts.
Many American makes "fake" the bridges, in other words they are not actually separate parts. This 16 size Illinois is a good example.
The upper bridges are two actual pieces.
But they are designed to give the appearance of four bridges, plus the balance cock.
This is pretty common on fancier American movements. There's nothing really wrong with this, it's just a matter of style.
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- Elgin Grade 303
- Elgin Grade 307
- Elgin Grade 55
- A Ruined Mainspring
- Elgin Grade 760, Animation
- Wrong Crown
- Hamilton 975, Display Back
- Elgin Solid Balance Wheels
- Elgin Grade 303, The Winding/Setting Clutch Mechan...
- Elgin Grade 324, Animation
- Gala War Show
- Cleaning Solutions
- Putting A Mainspring in the Barrel
- Elgin Grade 44, An Unusual Watch Case
- Elgin Grade 293, Animation
- Elgin Grade 293, and End-Shake Adjustment
- Bridges, and An Animated Illinois
- Elgin Grade 221, Animated
- Elgin Grade 455, Revisited
- Elgin Grade 455, Animation
- Hamilton 975, Animated
- Hamilton 992
- Elgin Grade 309, Animated
- Elgin Fancy Dials
- Elgin Grade 70, Animated
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