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Making Fitting of Balance Staffs Pay

From The American Horologist and Jeweler magazine, October, 1946

Letters to the Editor
Making Fitting of Balance Staffs Pay

Up until a couple of months ago it had always been my contention that if the fitting l,f a balance staff was done correctly and in proper time, the amount of money received for the operation was never really enough to cover the expense involved as compared with the cleaning of a watch or the fitting of other parts or repair.

The proper fitting of a staff is a long and tedious job if done properly and requires a good many tools which in turn requires an equal amount of handling. It was because of this handling of tools that I was always on the alert for a more efficient method of replacing staffs in watches.

It came to me one day as my backlog of repairs was overflowing my drawer. I knew it was about time to face the inevitable job of staffing. Up until this time I figure my average in the replacing of staffs must have been maybe four or five a day and realizing this I decided to put that many on my bench, combine all operations and do the entire five at once. This is how I proceeded:

Removing the movement from the case I arrange the five (eight now) watches in a row in front of me, and just behind these I place five material trays. Taking my hand removers I strip off all the hands and place them in the material trays. Next comes off all the dials and hour wheels placing them in the corresponding trays.

I'd like to state here that it is a good idea to keep the size of the watches more or less the same for this makes the job still easier i.e., either all pocket watches, all 10 1/2 ligne, all 6 3/4 Iigne, etc., if possible. 

The next operation is to clear the balance wheel ready for the removal of the broken staff but keeping in mind that every time you pick up a different tool, use it on all five of the watches instead of one, or however many you decide to repair.

Now you're ready to cut out the broken staff. Select the proper chuck for the lathe and cut out all five of the old staffs. Just think how many operations we have already saved. We have placed just one chuck in the lathe and did five operations without a change. Wonderful isn't it?

It is then time to select the proper staff for each watch and in doing so we again save the untold number of operations of going through our material systems and books that five separate watches would require. It's a lot easier to pick out five staffs all at once rather than one at a time.

But to get on - we all know that it's very seldom that a replacement staff for a watch will fit perfect:y without some small or large alteration. or so it seems to me for it always seems that I'm feeding chucks into the lathe for various turning jobs.

But anyway, each staff is tried for fit in each one of the five different dimensions i.e., the top pivot in the balance cock, the lower in the plate, the roller table on the taper, the balance wheel on the balance seat and last the collet.

Now, should any of these measurements be off and have to be altered to fit, the staff along with the corresponding part to fit are set apart from the rest of the movement so they stand out and can be easily distinguished from the rest of the properly fitting parts. We can now see just how much lathe work we have to do.

Suppose we have one large pivot, two large roller table seats, another large pivot and large balance seat. We select the proper chuck and proceed to turn down.

After turning them down (without changing chucks) we find we are also able to turn down one of the large pivots and make it .fit in its corresponding part. We change chucks, turn down the balance seat and the other pivot and we now have five staffs for five watches that fit perfect in every respect except for end shake.

After going this far, it can easily be seen how to proceed from here. Stake in one staff, try for end shake and if it needs truing, set it out front for the truing operations. If the end-shake needs to be adjusted, do it now and the on to the next staking job, until all five have been staked and tested. Truing next and then on with the roller tables and we're ready for poising.

In the poising we find much more time is saved by the ability to do five at once instead of one at a time. From here on I guess it might be said that you're on your own but remember I'm passing this idea on to all that might be interested in using it and I am not writing this for criticism for I know there are a great many who would question my methods such as maybe staffing a watch without cleaning it first, but let's just suppose that all operations leading up to the staffing have been done your way and go on from there. I hope this idea will be beneficial to all those who try it, and profitable too, for I find that whereas it took a full working day to accomplish these staffs before, I can now do all five of them in approximately two hours which means an extra six hours in my working day.

There are a good many ideas and suggestions on time saving tools but if anyone can show me where they can save more time in an easier way and do the job properly, I will bow my head in undying gratitude.

]. E. Bruegger, 
635 Maple, 
Bellflower, California. 

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