Thursday, November 29, 2012

Pin-pallet video

Here's the pocket watch movement mentioned on a previous post functioning.  The amplitude of the balance wheel is fairly low but not bad for the quality of the movement.

Screwhead Polisher

Today I finished manufacturing and assembling my screw head polisher. It is essentially a brass jig that allows you to clamp a screw in the jaws, level the head on a polishing surface and achieve a high polish in that way. It was a fun little project that took several lathe, tap/die and mill operations to complete. My clock has passed its endurance test and I can start skeletonizing and polishing plates tomorrow. Once that is done it can be shipped off somewhere to be electroplated.

 Machining the steel guide posts on the Levin lathe
 The completed product.  The adapter on the left was milled out of a solid piece of brass and is used to polish items that can't be clamped into the jaws.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Some practice on a pocket watch

My grandmother gave me two of my granddads old watches.  There is an Elgin wristwatch and a pocket watch.  They both have badly worn and corroded gold electroplate finishes which I can't recover so I will just have to service the movements and polish the cases up the best I can.

The pocket watch uses a pin lever escapement and a motor barrel.  The finishing inside is very basic but functional.  The dial is dinged up and the crystal has some scratches.  Other than cosmetic issues the movement is in good condition--just needs to be cleaned and oiled. 

So this was my first chance to get practice oiling hole and cap jewels.  These are part of the watches shock absorbing system.  The balance wheel rides on a staff that is protected at both ends from shocks and likely breakage by these jewels.  It turns out that oiling them accurately is pretty tricky but I'm getting better.  The toughest part is keeping the tiny flat jewels held securely in your tweezers.  Once I get the rest of the watch put together I will post results.

The pocket watch mostly disassembled.  The balance wheel and bridge is still attached to the plate in this picture for cleaning
An assembled cap jewel, magnified 25 times
Tiny things

Friday, November 16, 2012

Some Hands

Finished bluing the hour hand today.  I also finally have a minute hand that I am happy with.  The bluing first try on it was uneven so I'll retry on Monday.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


My life has been a blur for the last couple weeks now that work has seen fit to start scheduling me consistent hours.  This means between school from 7-4 and work from 5-12 I've got a lot to keep me busy.
I have very nearly finished the manufacturing of parts for my clock.  The only part I have yet to create is the minute-hand.  They are Breguet style hands which means there's a round bulb at the end of the hand with a hole though it.  I'm on my fourth attempt because I am having difficulty getting the holes perfectly centered.  As you can see on the hand below, the hole I drilled was imperfect due to the limitations of drilling holes of that size on a fairly crude drillpress.
I have abandoned the drill in favor of cutting the rough shape out of the hand then filing it to it's final shape.  This technique worked on the hour hand so hopefully I can get it to work as well on the minute hand.
I also fired up the mill to form the flats for the pillar nuts, which hold the whole thing together.  With any luck I will finish the minute hand tomorrow then all that remains is the tedious task of finishing all the parts to a high level of quality then assembling the final product.
There was an issue with cutting out the hands I had on Tuesday.  The blade broke during an upstroke and due the positioning of my thumb at the time my finger got impaled to a depth of around a half inch.  The blade couldn't be pulled out due the teeth of the saw so I had to visit the doctor so they could numb it up and pass the blade out the other side of the thumb.  Moral of the story here is to be very careful with that particular tool!
As bad as the wound appears, less than three days later it's almost as good as new.  Still it's a good thing to avoid, obviously.
A surprisingly small amount of pain.
The pillar nuts drying after being washed in solvent
My second attempt, you'll notice the poor quality of the lower hole

Friday, November 2, 2012

Tick Tock

I had to rebuild the anchor pivot again to center the anchor over the escape wheel and get the correct end-shake (how much the wheel moves back and forth between the plates). Hardening and bluing the pivot took a couple hours then I was able to finally assemble the clock. 

Last steps before the function test were to pressure fit the minute wheel post.  The hole I drilled was slightly too large so I was able to crimp it into the plate using the staking set which worked very nicely.

So my clock is now partially operational, but it still needs to be calibrated, hands installed, dial installed, finished, plated, polished etc. Before I accomplish any of this it must run for the estimated power reserve for seven days.  Here's to hoping it's even still running on Monday when I return to class.

 Lining up the gear-train

 Function testing
 The working clock