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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.

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Elgin Grade 97

These images show the typical situation with a really old mainspring. We find very old organic oil that has turned almost to a putty, mixed in with dirt and other grim. It has a rather foil metallic smell to it.

Here is the tired old, worn out mainspring with a new replacement.
This movement has the older tangential pallet modeled after English watches of the time.
The watch needs a new staff. This is the replacement part.
I bought this container of mixed jewels many years ago. There are a lot of Elgin jewels in there, just because Elgins were the most common watches.

I can usually find what I need in here, although sometimes a jewel bevel needs to be altered a little to fit the application.

On this day, I am finally taking the opportunity to sort out the cap jewels from the hole jewels.
This is the old balance jewel. It has a hole that is all broken out and uneven. The jagged edges of the bad jewel ruined the balance staff.

These are the two caps and two hole jewels I'm using.

The replacement hole jewel is red, not white. The color of the jewel doesn't matter. It's just a slight variation in the synthetic material.

It's a quick job to reduce and burnish one pivot on the replacement staff for a better fit to the jewel.
This is the old staff and balance wheel in the lathe. The old staff is removed by first cutting away the lower hub.
Here, the job is done. The hub is very nearly gone. We leave just a bit, then break away that remaining ring in the staking set.
After breaking loose the old staff, we have a free tiny washer. These are worth saving.
After riveting the new staff on, and adding the roller table, I find the roller jewel is loose and needs to be reset. The assemble is put in this tool which allows the roller table to be slowly heated by holding the back of the tool (not the part itself) in an open flame.

I never get to take photos of this because it takes two hands.
This is the roller jewel. It get held in place on the roller table with melted shellac
Job done... This is the roller jewel in it's place on the underside of the balance assembly.

The jewel must be perfectly straight, secure and at the right height. It usually takes a few times to get it just right.
These older key-wind Elgins have blued parts for the click.
The click is covered by a round clamp.


The watch is an Elgin grade 97, 18 size, 7 jewels, made about 1891.

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