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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My parents ran a watch repair place for 40 some odd years. I actually used to work there for a few years when I was younger as a watchmaker. They recently had to close down and retire due to health reasons, so I was able to get my old bench and tools as well as a pile of old pocket watches that have really nice movements.

Having set up my bench in my basement, I've been slowly getting back into watchmaking again as a hobby now. I've decided to concentrate on pocket watches because I appreciate their beauty and value.

So after that preamble, one of my watches is a Waltham 16s Vanguard 23j that is in beautiful condition. Like no marks or scratches on the movement whatsoever. Except somebody worked on the balance assembly and replaced the roller jewel with a metal pin. They also managed to bend the balance wheel.

In an ideal world I'd just replace the entire balance assembly and have a near perfect and mint movement. But there's no such thing as an ideal world. I've thought about trying to replace that pin in the roller with a proper jewel, but I'm not sure what size I'd need. Also my understanding is that the original jewel would have been crimped into place on the table. So that leaves me wondering where I can get a replacement double-roller for this. I'm pretty sure I can straighten the balance wheel, but I haven't disassembled it to really see what the issue is. Half the wheel seems to be true, so that leads me to believe it's just the other half. But I'd replace the whole assembly out of laziness and to avoid the risk of making it worse.

What other model 1908 16s waltham models are compatible? I guess the double-roller was only used on a few models. Anyone have any ideas as to where I could get a replacement roller?

The serial number is 18054445.

Thanks in advance.

--R
 

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I believe the jewel would have been held in with shellac, unless someone has bent the roller table this could be a relatively easy fix.

I also think you should try your hand at straightening the balance wheel, especially if it's going to be tossed in the bin anyways.

If your bench is full of tools it likely has balance truing calipers and hopefully the little straightening tool that goes with them. Remove the balance wheel from the tool before straightening. I can't find a good video of the process but there are some that show how to use the calipers.

Have fun!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I believe the jewel would have been held in with shellac, unless someone has bent the roller table this could be a relatively easy fix.

I also think you should try your hand at straightening the balance wheel, especially if it's going to be tossed in the bin anyways.

If your bench is full of tools it likely has balance truing calipers and hopefully the little straightening tool that goes with them. Remove the balance wheel from the tool before straightening. I can't find a good video of the process but there are some that show how to use the calipers.

Have fun!
I was chastised on another forum. Apparently these bronze roller tables have the jewel friction fitted. Even so, I'm kind of sure that the roller was damaged if they riveted in a steel pin. If they used shellac, that makes life a bit easier but still has me trying to figure out what size roller jewel I'd need. Also if it is supposed to be friction fit, that probably means there was some specialized tool that Waltham probably used to install it that prevented the jewel from being broken on installation. I'm certainly game to try replacing the jewel, but replacing the whole double-roller seems like a better idea.

I had a truing caliper in one of my tool boxes, but it's been a number of years since I've seen it. I'm hoping I still have it. I actually learned how to use it from Henry Fried's book years ago.
 

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I was chastised on another forum. Apparently these bronze roller tables have the jewel friction fitted. Even so, I'm kind of sure that the roller was damaged if they riveted in a steel pin. If they used shellac, that makes life a bit easier but still has me trying to figure out what size roller jewel I'd need. Also if it is supposed to be friction fit, that probably means there was some specialized tool that Waltham probably used to install it that prevented the jewel from being broken on installation. I'm certainly game to try replacing the jewel, but replacing the whole double-roller seems like a better idea.

I had a truing caliper in one of my tool boxes, but it's been a number of years since I've seen it. I'm hoping I still have it. I actually learned how to use it from Henry Fried's book years ago.
The roller jewel was originally friction-fit, and it seems that the jewel was tapered, so as to be able to be driven & properly secured....as a consequence, replacing the original jewel with a non-original will be a bit of work. Perhaps, too much. I suggest looking for an original balance assembly, complete: as you probably realize, hairsprings were matched individually to each balance, so getting a complete assembly affords you a sporting chance of getting the watch to run properly.

Much being said, though, this does sound like a job best sent to a Watchmaker. Assuming that the balance can be saved, fitting a roller jewel should be something an experienced person can accomplish. Most folks probably have a good assortment of jewels, and broaching the table to accept one is an operation that should present no real problem. You'll end-up with a traditional, shellac-held jewel, but the watch should understand.

And: take a look over at Dave's Watch Parts. He's in California / always has lots of neat stuff / is Honest / sells at very fair prices.

Finally: I'm pretty sure that another, complete balance can be used here. As long as critical dimensions are in-spec, a double-roller balance will 'probably' drop-in & tick...although, there's always a question of matching mainspring strength to the balance, and ensuring that roller jewel fits pallet. It's all a bit Mickey Mouse, yet, should do no damage...which will allow a return to original spec item, if / when one becomes available.

This is actually pretty easy, but requires a bit of luck & perhaps some work to get good...should be OK!

Michael.
 

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Welcome to Watchuseek! Personally, if I was forced to sacrifice 100% originality anyway, I'd try to get the metal pin out and fit a new jewel with shellac, never mind if the original one was friction fit. It sounds like the best of a bunch of medium to grotty options.

Hartmut Richter
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Ideally I'd replace the whole balance, but I'd definitely settle for replacing the roller table instead. I'd be a bit leary of trying to fit a new jewel since I'd be concerned that it might not fit the pallet fork well.

This is all kind of exciting for me since I haven't done this kind of deep work in over a decade or so. Back in the nineties I was making staffs and stems from scratch on the lathe. Then I left to go into computers. Now I'm a devops engineer looking to get back into doing this stuff on weekends.

At any rate, I did contact Dave over at Daves Watch parts and he told me he didn't have any vanguard parts specific, but that the Crescent St or the Riverside might be compatible. I hope he means that they also have bronze double rollers. I got a bid on a Riverside 1908 16s on eBay. It needs a staff, but if the whole balance is compatible it might just be worth restaffing it and using it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Here's an update with some pics:

15772988

15772995

15772996


So it seems whoever messed with this balance swapped out the original bronze roller table with a standard steel one. At least the safety roller is still there. I read somewhere in some Waltham literature that the safety was steel while the table was bronze.

The balance wheel itself looks like someone applied heat to one of the timing screws, possibly causing the bend since the wheel is slightly blued there. I don't know if this would have screwed up the temper of the wheel.

I'm starting to wonder if replacing the entire balance assembly is the way to go, assuming I can find one with the bronze roller intact.
 

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Here's an update with some pics:

View attachment 15772988
View attachment 15772995
View attachment 15772996

So it seems whoever messed with this balance swapped out the original bronze roller table with a standard steel one. At least the safety roller is still there. I read somewhere in some Waltham literature that the safety was steel while the table was bronze.

The balance wheel itself looks like someone applied heat to one of the timing screws, possibly causing the bend since the wheel is slightly blued there. I don't know if this would have screwed up the temper of the wheel.

I'm starting to wonder if replacing the entire balance assembly is the way to go, assuming I can find one with the bronze roller intact.
Decisions, decisions!

If this were mine, I'd simply 'cut to the chase' and replace the entire Balance Assembly. This one looks old & tired & beat-up. By the time you scrounge all the parts [ including matching gold balance screw( s ) ] you'll probably end-up with something that'll work, but will still be old & tired.

Waltham called your design a "Taper Shoulder Detachable Balance Staff", and it was used on the 16 size, Model of 1899, as well as the 0s, Model of 1900, and 12s, Colonial Model B. ( " Helpful Information for Watchmakers", Reprint, 1993, Arlington VA, USA ). These 16s watches are not to my mind and experience rare, and you should be able to locate a balance that will work, without too much fuss and beating of the bushes.

Try over at the NAWCC and AWI. I'll be surprised if someone does not have what you need, and will 'part' with it at a fair price.

Bit by bit...!

Michael.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Decisions, decisions!

If this were mine, I'd simply 'cut to the chase' and replace the entire Balance Assembly. This one looks old & tired & beat-up. By the time you scrounge all the parts [ including matching gold balance screw( s ) ] you'll probably end-up with something that'll work, but will still be old & tired.

Waltham called your design a "Taper Shoulder Detachable Balance Staff", and it was used on the 16 size, Model of 1899, as well as the 0s, Model of 1900, and 12s, Colonial Model B. ( " Helpful Information for Watchmakers", Reprint, 1993, Arlington VA, USA ). These 16s watches are not to my mind and experience rare, and you should be able to locate a balance that will work, without too much fuss and beating of the bushes.

Try over at the NAWCC and AWI. I'll be surprised if someone does not have what you need, and will 'part' with it at a fair price.

Bit by bit...!

Michael.
I signed up for a membership over at NAWCC, but AWI is a bit more expensive and I can't find any forum for them.

Did those model Walthams have bronze rollers? I suppose it doesn't matter, but I was hoping to outfit this baby out with a balance assembly that at least looks close to original.

Had one person tell me the balance is "a serial numbered component" though there is no serial number on this balance and it's a 100 years too late to worry about violating the warranty.

I've also discovered to my chagrin that my lathe, an old marshall, had the wrong head stock on it all these years and is missing the tail stock. I also have a Boley lathe bed with zero attachments. None of the head stocks match. My grandfather was a peculiar guy. Fun all around.

Slowly getting my tools back in order.
 

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I signed up for a membership over at NAWCC, but AWI is a bit more expensive and I can't find any forum for them.

Did those model Walthams have bronze rollers? I suppose it doesn't matter, but I was hoping to outfit this baby out with a balance assembly that at least looks close to original.

Had one person tell me the balance is "a serial numbered component" though there is no serial number on this balance and it's a 100 years too late to worry about violating the warranty.

I've also discovered to my chagrin that my lathe, an old marshall, had the wrong head stock on it all these years and is missing the tail stock. I also have a Boley lathe bed with zero attachments. None of the head stocks match. My grandfather was a peculiar guy. Fun all around.

Slowly getting my tools back in order.
Many USA watches did have balances that were marked with either the entire or partial Serial Number. These were hand-scratched on the underside of the balance arms, and almost always show-up on Major Manufacturers items. It was a very nice idea, and allowed the Watchmaker to keep things where they belonged if more than one watch was in pieces on the bench, but it was also an indication that, yes, the Balance had been "matched" to the mainspring.

Take a close look on the bottom of the arms...the SN should be there if the balance is Original.

The replacement you find should look just like the Original...you'd never know it from just looking; you'd need to compare the Serial Number.

Once again--if I may--this is pretty easy stuff, and shouldn't cause a problem: these balance assemblies are not common (!), yet, they're not rare. You'll find one that works just fine / looks 100% like the original / works great in the watch...and --hopefully--lets you rest easy, and enjoy your watch.

Michael.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Got my parts Waltham riverside in today. $86 on eBay.
15784246


Well, at least I have the bronze roller table... 😭

Now I just need to find a roller jewel. I kind of want to cry.

The balance seems to be in good shape though, so I'll be ordering a new staff for it. But the stupid roller jewel... This is my fault. I should have asked the seller if the jewel was intact.

UPDATE: the hairspring collet was glued in place. May heaven have mercy on my soul.
 

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Got my parts Waltham riverside in today. $86 on eBay. View attachment 15784246

Well, at least I have the bronze roller table... 😭

Now I just need to find a roller jewel. I kind of want to cry.

The balance seems to be in good shape though, so I'll be ordering a new staff for it. But the stupid roller jewel... This is my fault. I should have asked the seller if the jewel was intact.

UPDATE: the hairspring collet was glued in place. May heaven have mercy on my soul.
I'll suggest that you are off to a 'Less-than-average' beginning to your watch restoration...alas! The collet may be able to be tightened, using a staking set: these brass collets are pretty malleable, and I have succeeded in snugging-up quite a few. Just leave the spring attached / select the proper punch / make certain all's lined-up / give a few taps, and see if the hole's smaller.

NOTE: be sure that there are no cracks in the collet before beginning: a fair number will be damaged, and that's usually cause for another collet.

Also keep in mind that a poor repair to the collet may suggest that the spring's not original. This may or may not be an issue that fouls things up in your watch...it's a question of the relationship between the mainspring and the balance, and, if the hairspring is in good shape and may be adjusted to align the roller jewel between the banking pins, you may well get out of this intact!

The roller jewel, itself, really is not such a big deal: these things were cemented in for centuries, and may be here, too. You ( probably ) will need to refer this to someone with a good selection of old / used jewels...the replacement needs to fit the table and the pallet, and this matching can be a little challenging.

Oh well...you are getting there, and I predict success ( and a few less $$'s in your Bank Account...! ).

Michael.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
So another update:

It seems the balance assembly in the vanguard came originally from a grade 636 16s 17 jewel model 1908. I was able to make out the serial number on the balance arms. So this balance isn't even original to the watch. The plot thickens.

Furthermore, it looks like the safety roller was driven on so hard it had a split in its sleeve. It's been proving difficult to remove.

My replacement balance from the riverside seems to be in really good condition, aside from the fact someone glued the hairspring collet in place. I think once I get a new staff for it, it will be good.

Does anyone happen to know what the right pivot size is? I reached out to Dave at Daveswatchparts and he's going to see what kind of roller jewel would fit this bronze table.

On a side note: should I polish the roller table or leave it with the patina?
 

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So another update:

It seems the balance assembly in the vanguard came originally from a grade 636 16s 17 jewel model 1908. I was able to make out the serial number on the balance arms. So this balance isn't even original to the watch. The plot thickens.

Furthermore, it looks like the safety roller was driven on so hard it had a split in its sleeve. It's been proving difficult to remove.

My replacement balance from the riverside seems to be in really good condition, aside from the fact someone glued the hairspring collet in place. I think once I get a new staff for it, it will be good.

Does anyone happen to know what the right pivot size is? I reached out to Dave at Daveswatchparts and he's going to see what kind of roller jewel would fit this bronze table.

On a side note: should I polish the roller table or leave it with the patina?
You'll need to match the balance pivot to the balance ( hole ) jewel. Watches of this Era seem to show up rather frequently with replacement staffs, as well as replacement jewels! So, you really cannot specify a pivot 'out-of-hand'; you need to either order a staff with jewels to match ( upper & lower ), or, measure the pivot, and order a jewel to fit.

Even after all this, there's a chance that getting the balance installed & happy will not be easy: you need to ensure that the hole jewel is the correct distance from the cap jewel, and this adjustment can be complicated if anything has been 'fooled with' around the settings. Folks have been known to enlarge or reduce these settings, to accommodate whatever jewel(s) they might have had, and you will need to match everything-up as it goes together.

This is really not all that tough, IF you have an assortment of jewels and tools at hand...it can be almost impossible, if you do not...( wish I had better news! ).

As for the roller, well: I'd leave it as is; I rather like the color Waltham used, and I've never seen one polished...yet!

Michael.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
So the latest update to my saga:

I got a pair of staffs and a pair of suitable roller jewels from Dave's watch parts. I bought two of each in the event that a roller jewel springs off into the great beyond or I mess up a staff. After thoroughly cleaning the hub of the new balance wheel, I broke out my staking set and carefully fitted a new staff. Success!

Feeling pleased with myself, I tried the balance in the movement with the desire to see it spin free... Yeah, the pivots are the wrong size. I ordered .11 since I managed to get the old staff into my mm micrometer and it said .11. Now I'm thinking that my micrometer-fu was either lacking or it's a filthy filthy liar. So now I'm looking at putting the staff into my lathe and giving it a polish. I'd have preferred to do that before actually installing it into the balance wheel, but it is what it is and I'd rather not risk damaging it by attempting to remove it.

I'm not averse to polishing a pivot on a staff. Just a light touch with a triangular Arkansas stone followed by a flattened piece of pith wood embedded with some oil and rosin to really make it shine. It's just that it's been like 25 years since the last time I polished a pivot like that. Well, it's also been about 25 years since I set a staff, so I guess there's that. I'm also plotting strategies for installing the roller jewel since it's been even longer since I've done that. But I do still have my little box of shellac flakes and somewhere I have the little special holder for roller tables that you'd hold over a flame to set the shellac.

I still need to get some one-dip as well as some cleaning fluid for my cleaning machine as this movement needs as good cleaning after all these operations are complete.

I'm actually really enjoying this whole process. Which brings me to another unrelated thing: I have a beautiful Swiss 16 size movement that actually has the dial, hands, etc... except the hour wheel. Somehow this was lost. No biggie. I figured that making an hour wheel would be an awesome challenge. But I need some index plates, cross slide, and milling attachment for one of my lathes. Also some cutting wheels. I actually had a set of involute tooth cutters specifically for watch gears. They were beautiful. Whole box. My father got them as part of tool acquisition back in the 90s. He told me at the time to not lose them as they were rare and expensive. I agreed since back then it was sort of a dream to maybe make my own watch. So I put them in a drawer of my bench thinking someday I might use them.

Well, at the time I shared that bench with another watchmaker. He also thought they were cool or valuable. Probably the latter since they vanished from my drawer. That was 20 years ago... I can't even find these things on eBay. Suffice to say, just getting a cross slide for my Marshall lathe is gonna be expensive, never mind trying to find one for my Boley. And index plates plus milling attachment? Ugh. I don't want to think what the cost of a set of tooth cutters would go for.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Ok, so another update. Had to order a new triangular Arkansas stone since mine vanished in the move. But I got the balance into the lathe and polished the pivot down a bit. So now it does spin freely, but there's very little in shake and I find that mildly concerning. I tested the jewels on each end of the staff and I'm happy with the fit, but it's hard to say. A puff of air will get it spinning at a nice clip, but I feel like it needs a bit more in shake. I'm wondering if maybe a pivot is slightly too long.

At any rate, I think I'm ready to move onto the roller jewel and see what I can do with it. The bronze roller looks a little beat up, but I think it's serviceable. Still having fun and I haven't broken or lost anything yet!

EDIT: I spoke too soon. No matter how much I try, I can't get the roller jewel into this table. I do have broaches that I could use to broach out the hole, but I feel so adverse to modifying the table too much from original condition. Also lining up the flat of the roller jewel once that hole is broached out round is crazy painful. I emailed Dave over at Dave's Watch Parts to get his opinion since he sold me these jewels. He had said before they were size 50, so maybe I just need a smaller size. Or maybe I have no choice but to broach this thing.
 

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Ok, so another update. Had to order a new triangular Arkansas stone since mine vanished in the move. But I got the balance into the lathe and polished the pivot down a bit. So now it does spin freely, but there's very little in shake and I find that mildly concerning. I tested the jewels on each end of the staff and I'm happy with the fit, but it's hard to say. A puff of air will get it spinning at a nice clip, but I feel like it needs a bit more in shake. I'm wondering if maybe a pivot is slightly too long.

At any rate, I think I'm ready to move onto the roller jewel and see what I can do with it. The bronze roller looks a little beat up, but I think it's serviceable. Still having fun and I haven't broken or lost anything yet!

EDIT: I spoke too soon. No matter how much I try, I can't get the roller jewel into this table. I do have broaches that I could use to broach out the hole, but I feel so adverse to modifying the table too much from original condition. Also lining up the flat of the roller jewel once that hole is broached out round is crazy painful. I emailed Dave over at Dave's Watch Parts to get his opinion since he sold me these jewels. He had said before they were size 50, so maybe I just need a smaller size. Or maybe I have no choice but to broach this thing.
You've spent a lot of time on this little roller table...I'm sure that you will be happy to finally get it squared-away. Fitting a roller jewel should be a relatively easy, fuss-free job...just always keep in mind that it needs to fit the pallet fork, too.

( pity you weren't getting paid, say, $50.00 USD / HR on this job: you'd be sending out for a Cadillac brochure right about now...! ).

Michael.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
You've spent a lot of time on this little roller table...I'm sure that you will be happy to finally get it squared-away. Fitting a roller jewel should be a relatively easy, fuss-free job...just always keep in mind that it needs to fit the pallet fork, too.

( pity you weren't getting paid, say, $50.00 USD / HR on this job: you'd be sending out for a Cadillac brochure right about now...! ).

Michael.
That's why it's a hobby. I like being able to take my time to do things right as opposed to right now. The pain with this roller table has me wondering if I should just be on the hunt for a complete roller table with jewel instead of trying to monkey the roller jewel into this pig.
 
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