This time I'm writing a post, concerning my lovely... well... once lovely Father Time grade model 8 Elgin.
I've shown the pics on this Message Board, but today we're going to take a look inside the watch that once used to be a 'proud' railroad grade chronometer...
Elgin model 8 was a large, 18 szie movement, with 'modern' 3/4 plate layout, designed at the turn of 19th and 20th Century.
It was designed to be a high grade only model, and was made in three different - but all RR - grades, the 19 jewel B.W.Raymond, the 21-23 jewel Father Time and the 23 jewel Veritas top grade. All were given lovely finish on the very attractive plate layout, gold top side jewel settings, gold balance screws, double roller, improved Elgin's regulator and steel escapements. Many featured diamond endstones on the balance cock.
The Father Time presented was made in 1911, according to the database, and it's housed in - maybe original - Philadelphia base metal watch case.
It is the best looking 'Father Time' model 8, with diamond endstones, lovely, stylish gilded lettering, superb plates' finish and a safety barrel.
Most of you will know, a safety barrel is of a -sort of - reverse design, where the whole barrel turns while the mainspring is being wound, and the inner end of the mainspring turns the 1st gear's arbor. That way, when a mainspring breaks, the winding mechanism gets slammed - a knock-out slam for the train and escapement, but feather touch for the winding gears - that's the idea :)
As you can see - the watch did not have an easy life. The crystal had once been secured by punching the bezel every 5mm (roughly), the second hand is short and looks bad, the caseback is cracked on circa 30% of it's circumference, but the worst things can be found inside...
Firstly - as you can see in the pictures above - the balance wheel is quite significantly damaged (or badly repaired, so to say), with either non original, or repaired, too short staff (and bent down balance cock (!!!) ), the top pivot is bent, the gold screws have vanished (likely stolen) and have been replaced with lousy brass ones (some drilled, some filed - whatever you want), there is some solder on the rim to make it heavier and since the balance is neither true, nor flat (and too low, due to the staff), the pallet bridge has been filed down significantly, to accomodate the woobling balance. The hairspring is bent - in the pic the last coil starts ascending way before it should and the overcoil thus was rubbing against the balance cock.
You've had enough? Well - there is a non original, soldered metal roller, crooked, btw, and further inspection revealed a damaged dial side balance bearing, with cracked hole jewel and punching marks on the cap jewel's setting. And a missing spring on the balance cock underside.
Truth be told - I did not manage to confirm the balance wheel's serial number, because it's scratched and no longer visible. Still, the digits that can be read suggest it should be the original one.
Whoever was working on this movement before should not have the right to do it. I bet it was just a broken staff, nothing else :(
Surely, I paid way too much for this wact and I should have sent it back, but I hardly ever have the nerve to argue wth sellers, so I left it be on my shelf... Until just yesterday.
What I did is corrected the hairspring best I could. As you can see - not a perfectly done job as well - the last coil now descends a bit in it's last portion, and the overcoil is not mint as well, but after over 1 hour of micrometric adjustments in multiple spots of the coil I decided it's good enough.
I've straightened the top pivot with a hot (very hot) stamp tweezer. I don't have a pic, but it's this wide and flat one stamp collectors (yes, I once collected stamps as well, but for a short time) use to grab their stamps. It's flat and soft, wide - so it does not slip off the pivot, and the pressure is gentle, even it you press a little harder.
In fact - I hardly ever break a pivot with this, usually I also manage to straighten it to satisfactory result. Repeated heating and straightening the pivot by very small steps needs patience, but very often it pays off...
Now - the pallet cock. The best way would be to obtain a new cap jewel in setting, but... the balance wheel would be hitting that again.
Since the balance actually - more or less - works, with acceptable amplitude, I did not want to touch it, as it had already had enough...
So I decided to do it the easy way - polish it in two short steps, rough processing with a polishing tip attahced wall drill (not a certified watchmaking tool, but sometimes comes in handy) and final polishing with polishing agent applied on a piece of cotton wool.
The result is very good, mostly because the setting is solid gold. It's out of shape and will never look like a new one, bu now it won't scare anyone anymore :)
Of course I had to disassemble the bearing to remove the polishing agent from between the jewels - I did not do it before polishing, firstly because I thought the (slightly cracked) cap jewel should be more secure that way, and secondly, becuase the edge of the plate was damaged as well, and I wanted to polish it all eavenly.
At first this was where I intended to stop, but having done so much, I've simply removed some other screws, and that's what I got :)
The main plate, as well as the mainspring barrel, are very nicely finished on both sides, while the other plates and train wheels - just on the top side.
The top side jewel settings are gold, the dial side - brass, all screw-down. The top side of the train gears is gold plated, with nicely bevelled edges.
The escapement is made of fine steel, the top side superbly finished as well.
The pallets are sapphire, of deep blue tone. I don't know why RR watches got sapphire pallets, theoretically sapphire should have the same parameters as ruby...
But some makers would even mention it on the plates somewhere...
The roller is double, goes without saying...
Also - the watch features a simple, lever operated setting mechanism, with the usual parts used. The steel is mirror finished, with plenty of dried out fingerprints, making me think even higher of the 'watchmaker' that worked on it, of course.
The assembling process is very typical, and no additional difficulties should be encountered. In mine piece the 4th gear/escape wheel bridge prooved extremely stubborn somehow...
I've tried it on several times without the gears and it needs plenty of pressure to jump on it's place. Just enough to break off the escape wheel's pivot...
I checked the plates and they look fine, but maybe the watch had indeed fallen and perhaps one of the plates is just a wee bit out of shape - I just don't know.
Obviously - both broaching the hole or filing the pin are bad ideas, so what happened was a over 30 minute struggle with the bloody thing, until finally, after saying more swear words than I had said in the past few months alltogether, with my hands shaking so much I could not pick up the screw to secure it, I was victorious. The bridge was back on it's place, the piviots intact.
The rest of the assembling went smoothly. I believe the exit pallet is a bit too much recessed in the fork, but I don't work on pallets - too dangerous for me!
So this issue, along with the cracked balance jewel (I don't have a relpaecment one at the moment) are left for further corrections in the future.
But all in all - I'm happy - looks and works a lot better now :) I don't mean good, but... better is the right word :)
Somehow - the dial is still near mint and so are the hands, and I also installed a better seconds hand, giving it a much better look, I think :)