GR8900 - Internals and Modding
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Thread: GR8900 - Internals and Modding

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  1. #1
    Member kmbijit's Avatar
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    GR8900 - Internals and Modding

    So there guys, sorry for starting a new thread instead of sticking to the few existing threads, but I have some very specific queries. The prospects of a crisper, clearer negative display has been too tempting for me and I am planning to get my GR8900A hydro modded and have ordered a 350cst silicone oil (thinnest grade I could get) for the job. Before I dive in, here are few questions that still bother me:


    • I have never opened up a 8900 before. Are there any unusual "surprises" inside? I tried to see if there have been any "teardown" thread but couldn't find any.
    • How does the solar panel connect to the module? Are there any contact springs which can be lost while removing the module?
    • I am particularly bothered with the information on this thread: Beware !!! For all hydro mod watch if... - can something be done to prevent the expansion of the spacer?
    • Is the "bubble" really necessary? I did come across a lot of debate on this topic, but a certain post by sjors does unnerve me quite a bit. (The post states that that the expansion of the oil under rising temperatures may cause the seals to rupture and leak oil) At the same time, I want a clean look without any bubbles.
    • Which is the best method fill the oil inside the case? I have come across several methods which vary from from dunking the case in a bowl of oil, to injecting the oil with a syringe or pouring it in gently with a fine tip. I can't make up for sure which method would be the least messy and would be easiest to reassemble once the case is filled with oil.
    • Lastly, if the mission fails - will my 8900 end up as a total wreck? Is there any way to clear the traces of oil from within the module internals?


    Thank you for your valuable inputs.

  2. #2
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    Re: GR8900 - Internals and Modding

    1/ nope
    2/2 springs in front of the module touching the glass. Most of the time, they are quite tight, unless you pull them out, so no, most of the time
    3/ most of us don't experience expansion, so if you are worried then, don't mod
    4/ it's a hit or miss thingy, my way is dipping it into a bow, wait, and then, put everything back under the oil
    5/ see above. Hydro mod is always messy, once again
    6/ base on my failures, there won't be any total wreck, I just retry it again and again, and there is no way of cleaning the oil off, you can drain them all out and wear it, and live with it - again, if you are too worried, then, don't do the hydromod
    GaryK30 likes this.
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  3. #3
    Member Mike K's Avatar
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    Re: GR8900 - Internals and Modding

    Quote Originally Posted by kmbijit View Post
    So there guys, sorry for starting a new thread instead of sticking to the few existing threads, but I have some very specific queries. The prospects of a crisper, clearer negative display has been too tempting for me and I am planning to get my GR8900A hydro modded and have ordered a 350cst silicone oil (thinnest grade I could get) for the job. Before I dive in, here are few questions that still bother me:


    • I have never opened up a 8900 before. Are there any unusual "surprises" inside? I tried to see if there have been any "teardown" thread but couldn't find any.
    • How does the solar panel connect to the module? Are there any contact springs which can be lost while removing the module?
    This is as close to a "teardown" thread as I could find, but it doesn't go much past "taking the back off." https://forums.watchuseek.com/f17/gr-...y-2575154.html

    Apparently the solar panel is connected to the module by two springs, which could be lost. Knowing that the springs are there should at least help.

    Quote Originally Posted by kmbijit View Post
    I am particularly bothered with the information on this thread: Beware !!! For all hydro mod watch if... - can something be done to prevent the expansion of the spacer?
    Have a white or black spacer in there, not a gray one. Without opening your watch, we don't know which of the three you have.

    Apparently only the gray spacers react to silicone oil, so it might not expand if you used another type of oil (NOT really recommended, since other types of oil are likely to react with and deteriorate the button seals and rear O-ring) or you might want to try using the ridiculously expensive and hard-to-source perfluorocarbons mentioned in one of the hydromod threads (also not really recommended since you could probably buy a Frogman or two instead for the same price.)

    The best option is probably to just cross your fingers and hope for a white or black spacer when you take the back of the watch off.

    Quote Originally Posted by kmbijit View Post
    Is the "bubble" really necessary? I did come across a lot of debate on this topic, but a certain post by sjors does unnerve me quite a bit. (The post states that that the expansion of the oil under rising temperatures may cause the seals to rupture and leak oil) At the same time, I want a clean look without any bubbles.
    Sjor's post may say that, but many people have hydromodded their watches, not left a bubble, and NOT had problems from temperature expansion.

    This thread sums it up best: WUS member gaijin hydromodded a (black) MTG-920 and left it out in the hot sun until the display turned black (which is definitely a sign that the watch got too warm!) and it didn't leak: https://forums.watchuseek.com/f17/hyd...ng-998148.html

    Quote Originally Posted by kmbijit View Post
    Which is the best method fill the oil inside the case? I have come across several methods which vary from from dunking the case in a bowl of oil, to injecting the oil with a syringe or pouring it in gently with a fine tip. I can't make up for sure which method would be the least messy and would be easiest to reassemble once the case is filled with oil.
    Obviously, dunking the entire thing in a bowl of oil is going to lead to the most work cleaning it up, and the outside of the case and/or bezel is going to be slippery when you try to reassemble the watch. If you haven't opened a bottle of silicone oil yet and gotten some on your fingers, you probably won't believe just HOW slippery this stuff actually is, or just HOW much of a pain it can be to clean up. For years here, the running joke was that you would probably use most of a large roll of paper towels just cleaning it off the watch case, your hands, the outside of the bottle and anything else you accidentally touched.

    Quote Originally Posted by kmbijit View Post
    Lastly, if the mission fails - will my 8900 end up as a total wreck? Is there any way to clear the traces of oil from within the module internals?
    Yes, no, and maybe. Unless you're really patient and willing to take the watch apart even farther, it's going to be difficult or almost impossible to clean all the oil out. Here are two threads where people un-hydro'ed their watches: https://forums.watchuseek.com/f17/hyd...le-510059.html

    https://forums.watchuseek.com/f17/fai...od-933465.html

    Rubbing alcohol (aka isopropyl alcohol, aka mineral spirits in the UK) apparently cuts through and dissolves silicone oil pretty well -- I used it to clean out the inside of my PAW-1100 case after that hydro mod didn't work because of leaky button seals, but even that was sort of tedious. Squirt a tablespoon of oil into the case, swish it around, watch a few "oil spots" rise to the surface of the pool of alcohol, dump it all out, repeat multiple times until I couldn't see any more traces of oil being flushed out. I didn't trust myself to take the buttons out of the case to get the oil out from between the two layers of glass, or to take the module apart, so the oily parts just sat for many months until I found someone else with vastly superior watch-building skills, and now we're both waiting to see how it turns out. ("Come on, Pacparts, hurry up and ship the second order of parts that I didn't know we would need!" On the other hand, this project's been on hold for a year, so I REALLY can't complain about a few more weeks! )

    So the short answer: if you've only got "average" watch repair skills, it's probably better to think "if this doesn't work, I'll have to throw it in the trash and buy a new watch" (or somehow find someone with better skills)!

    I was happy with the way my first hydro mod turned out, which is why I attempted it on a second watch -- which failed [ https://forums.watchuseek.com/f17/epi...e-2070050.html ] -- and now I'm really not sure that I'm ever going to try it a third time!

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  5. #4
    Member Ash1979's Avatar
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    Re: GR8900 - Internals and Modding

    Quote Originally Posted by kmbijit View Post
    So there guys, sorry for starting a new thread instead of sticking to the few existing threads, but I have some very specific queries. The prospects of a crisper, clearer negative display has been too tempting for me and I am planning to get my GR8900A hydro modded and have ordered a 350cst silicone oil (thinnest grade I could get) for the job. Before I dive in, here are few questions that still bother me:


    • I have never opened up a 8900 before. Are there any unusual "surprises" inside? I tried to see if there have been any "teardown" thread but couldn't find any.
    • How does the solar panel connect to the module? Are there any contact springs which can be lost while removing the module?
    • I am particularly bothered with the information on this thread: Beware !!! For all hydro mod watch if... - can something be done to prevent the expansion of the spacer?
    • Is the "bubble" really necessary? I did come across a lot of debate on this topic, but a certain post by sjors does unnerve me quite a bit. (The post states that that the expansion of the oil under rising temperatures may cause the seals to rupture and leak oil) At the same time, I want a clean look without any bubbles.
    • Which is the best method fill the oil inside the case? I have come across several methods which vary from from dunking the case in a bowl of oil, to injecting the oil with a syringe or pouring it in gently with a fine tip. I can't make up for sure which method would be the least messy and would be easiest to reassemble once the case is filled with oil.
    • Lastly, if the mission fails - will my 8900 end up as a total wreck? Is there any way to clear the traces of oil from within the module internals?


    Thank you for your valuable inputs.
    My advice.... Keep it stock!!! It looks cool the way it is....
    Kev55 likes this.

  6. #5
    Member kmbijit's Avatar
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    Re: GR8900 - Internals and Modding

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike K View Post
    ...
    If you haven't opened a bottle of silicone oil yet and gotten some on your fingers, you probably won't believe just HOW slippery this stuff actually is, or just HOW much of a pain it can be to clean up.
    ...
    Yes, no, and maybe. Unless you're really patient and willing to take the watch apart even farther, it's going to be difficult or almost impossible to clean all the oil out.
    ...
    So the short answer: if you've only got "average" watch repair skills, it's probably better to think "if this doesn't work, I'll have to throw it in the trash and buy a new watch" (or somehow find someone with better skills)!
    ...
    I was happy with the way my first hydro mod turned out, which is why I attempted it on a second watch -- which failed [ https://forums.watchuseek.com/f17/epi...e-2070050.html ] -- and now I'm really not sure that I'm ever going to try it a third time!
    Thanks Mike, that's as detailed a reply as I could ever get!

    Unfortunately, I would rate myself "below average" with watch rebuilding skills - changing bands, bezels and modules is a different thing and messing with module internals is a compeltely different level. Now I am beginning to feel that a hydromod takes lots more skill and patience than just dunking the case and module in silicone oil. \

    Again, the GR8900 is quite dear to me and I wouldn't risk a failed mod on it.

  7. #6
    Member kmbijit's Avatar
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    Re: GR8900 - Internals and Modding

    Quote Originally Posted by Ash1979 View Post
    My advice.... Keep it stock!!! It looks cool the way it is....
    Yup, already replied in the post above...the GR8900 is quite dear to me and I wouldn't risk it. Maybe I'd get myself a cheap beater from ebay to try the hydro thing, since I have already ordered the silicone oil!

  8. #7
    Member Mike K's Avatar
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    Re: GR8900 - Internals and Modding

    Quote Originally Posted by kmbijit View Post
    Yup, already replied in the post above...the GR8900 is quite dear to me and I wouldn't risk it. Maybe I'd get myself a cheap beater from ebay to try the hydro thing, since I have already ordered the silicone oil!
    I think that sounds like two good plans!

    I got a used watch from eBay for my first attempt -- after several auctions I finally got a barely used GW-6900 cheap and (theoretically) won't have to change the oily battery for a while since it's solar.
    kmbijit likes this.

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