Balance calipers

Thread: Balance calipers

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  1. #1
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    Balance calipers

    I love vintage tools and with some hunting have purchased half a dozen or more calipers for a fair cost. I have found so little opportunity to use these so I am not knowledgeable or proficient. I have to true a balance after restaffing and don't want to **** it up. I thought the Bergeon 4000 would be the best but I have practiced on lots of junk balances and they seem to not grip the shoulder well and seem to be impossible to use without breaking pivots. I'd like to throw it in the garbage (anybody want to buy these)? I'm very disappointed in these. My favorites are the Levin lyre style, but it seems one of the two ends of the staff support doesn't seem to have a clamp to tighten. There is a strange appendage which rotates but does not seem to serve a function for tightening. What seems to work the best is the K and D 405 caliper, but there is not a lot of info on this subject available. I also have a Kampe caliper which works well without breaking things, but I have don't have the model number. This is probably something that is handed down from watchmaker to apprentice and is not readily wiki or google searchable. This a 27 or 28mm movement and I don't know the pivot size off hand, but I could probably look it up or measure it if this is helpful. I am looking for info about what may be the most versatile or the most appropriate for my application. Thank you.

    The Levin calipers clamp down the other support when the appendage is rotated to the side, in the middle it is loose and can slide freely. I understand it now, but I was curious what other's experience has been with their favorite caliper.
    Last edited by jcoffin1981; 2 Weeks Ago at 07:00.

  2. #2
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    Re: Balance calipers

    I personally use Bergeon #30548 - never an issue using this one.

    Cheers, Al

  3. #3
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    Re: Balance calipers

    Thanks Al. I'll check them out. However with the K and D calipers clamped down and adjusted properly it's nearly impossible to pop the balance out and break a pivot. Looking at these Bergeons more closely, they are clamping on the pivots themselves which is why a little pressure snaps the pivots. Seems like a silly design. There is no truing index either. They'll go on ebay maybe I can get 30 or 40 bucks for them.

    I've never formally learned these skills so I'm learning as I go.

  4. #4
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    Re: Balance calipers

    Al can you compare these to the Levin calipers in the same style? They seem to work well, but if you can recommend these as a better alternative I may go for these.

  5. #5
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    Re: Balance calipers

    Quote Originally Posted by jcoffin1981 View Post
    Al can you compare these to the Levin calipers in the same style? They seem to work well, but if you can recommend these as a better alternative I may go for these.
    The Levins are equal to the Bergeon. Levin also had a set that were for truing hairsprings on the balance, to the right in the pic. The little Bergeons you were using are for truing hairsprings, and are often used for truing train wheels as well; they have conical tips with no through hole. For truing a balance you definitely want the balance supported on the conical part of the staff just after the pivot, not the pivot itself. When truing hairsprings it's nice if the balance can spin freely, and there's next to no force involved in touching up the hairspring so no chance of killing a pivot if supported by the pivot tips. (The Levin hairspring calipers do support on the conical part, they are made to allow more visual access to the spring.)

    In the pic the calipers that are like the Bergeons you tried have a little brass plate on them; this was often a project for beginner watchmaking students and serves as a reference when truing. It's just held in place. Usually truing calipers have a reference built in but as these were primarily intended for hairspring work so they don't have it.

    Also in the pic are the ubiquitous "screw type" calipers which were made by many different companies in the U.S. and Europe. These are some little ones, there are big ones, fancy looking ones, cheapos, ones with really elaborate finishing, replaceable tips, etc. I dislike them all, much prefer the Bergeon/Levin style.

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  6. #6
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    Re: Balance calipers

    Yes I noticed this about the Bergeon 4000 that the pivot support was shallow and there was no hole on the side, that and the balance spun uninhibited. Even Bergeon's product description simply states "Light truing calipers for timing. Pivot protectors in steel." There is a separate PDF document that does show the shape of the pivot protector (which I have not read til now).

    The K and D parallel calipers are great. They are a little awkward to adjust properly, so I think these Levin's be my go-to tool. They also half the price of the Bergeons.

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