Minute Wheel Post
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  • 5 Post By Joe Horner

Thread: Minute Wheel Post

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    SF Bay Area, California

    Minute Wheel Post

    I was finishing up an Elgin 571 last week. I'd cleaned and oiled it, let it run while the amplitude and rate stabilized, and done initial regulation. It was running well, so I installed the hour wheel, dial, and hands. I was running the hands around the dial in setting mode to make sure they were free all the way around. Suddenly, the hands stopped turning and the stem wouldn't turn either. I pushed in the lever to winding mode, and that worked fine, but back in setting mode the stem was fixed and wouldn't move.

    Off came the hands, off came the dial. I noticed the whole minute wheel moving - not turning, moving - and got a sick feeling. Sure enough, the minute wheel post had broken off! AAAAARRRGGGHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

    I've never seen this, and based on how few helpful things came up in a Google search, it's pretty uncommon. No idea what caused it.

    BTW, I don't have a lathe.

    So, here's my plan to replace it - tell me if I'm nuts: I bought a set of pivot drills covering the size range of the broken post (repeated measurements say 0.59mm). I'm planning to get brass rod (or wire) that's just slightly larger.

    The plan is to carefully hand-drill the pillar plate where the post was, using the nearest bit to the right size (one that fits through the minute wheel hub without binding or too much slack).

    The brass rod, I'll chuck up in a dremel, and reduce the diameter carefully on an extra-fine stone.

    Then I'll glue the rod in place - suggestions for adhesive are welcome! Superglue? Epoxy?

    Using the minute wheel as a guide, I'll cut the excess rod away, and use the dremel - CAREFULLY - to get it down to the right height and deburred.

    Does this sound good? Do you have any other suggestions?

    BTW, for those who don't know it, the Elgin 571 is a 16s, 21j BW Raymond Railroad-grade pocket watch. This particular one is from the last block of serial numbers Elgin set aside to continue making BWRs after 1955, when they stopped putting serial numbers on their movements (but railroads still required them).
    Don't take life so serious, son. It ain't nohow permanent - Pogo

    My Elgin Blog...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2010

    Re: Minute Wheel Post

    Can you post pics of the bare mainplate with close up of the broken post and the movement side as well?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Anglesey, UK

    Re: Minute Wheel Post

    The old post is almost certainly press fitted in the plate - far easier to manufacture than milling a round post directly!

    Assuming it is:

    Punch out the stub of the old one.

    Use lathe (preferably) or dremel as you suggested (if that's what's available) to reduce a piece of rod to press into the existing hole. Adding a very slight taper to the end will help to ensure a reliably tight fit.

    Alternatively, you may be able to use a brass case taper pin (the long type used for pocket watch hinges):

    Find one that fits the hole and mark the point where it just enters to. make another mark about 1/2 - 1mm further towards the thicker end. That will be where you're aiming to press it in to.

    Cut the pin off a little over the height of the minute wheel above that mark.

    Use lathe or Dremel to make the "thicker" end parallel to allow the minute wheel to sit on it.

    Press in, taper first, fit minute wheel and test.

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