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Hi All, due to covid sending me around the bend i have finally decided to try my hand at repairing pocket watches. I have always had an interest in watches/ clocks but covid has spurred me on to have a go. The main reason I'm concentration on pocket watches is i recently lost the sight in my right eye and this will make things alittle easier. My main goal is to repair my Wifes Grangfathers Elgin pocket watch as this has great sentimental value. However before tackling that i think practise is needed.  I have purchased a Ingersoll triumph, non runner to get a feel for things. My main source of learning is youtube. I have stripped and cleaned the watch but in my hast to reassemle the watch i damaged the hair spring. Could anyone please give advice as to where i can get a replacement. I would also welcome any advice regading my new found hobby. 

Kind regards

Bentos (John Watkins)

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Hi John,

Welcome to the world of pocket watches... But You must know tat tis is verry long way to go before one can say for himselve that he has learned to repair and restore old watches. Usually the parts from a really old watch doesn't fit another, even if from the same model. So the restorer must be able to make by himself all parts that are lost, broken or worn... The watchmaker in the past  is a person that really makes watches. Assembling is nothing, it is the easiest thing in this job!

Sorry, but there is no such thing like 'replacement hairspring'. The hairspring is a part of the balance. it's strenght is matched with the balance wheel moment of inertia. If You have two watches of the same model and maker that keep good time, and replace the hairsprings of their balances, then You will have two watches that work well, but no of them will keep time. Yes, the hairspring can be replaced, but usually it is done by shorteneing of one that is propper but longer, untill the correct frequency is acheaved. The process is called 'hairspring vibration' , may be video can be found...

Actually, learning from Youtube is a hazatd, as all the beginners, when they do something, usually totally wrong, they make a video and load it on Youtube...

The way to mend You Ingersoll is to buy another one for parts and take the entire balance from it. But if pivots of balance are worn, as they usually are, the watch will tick, but will not work good. This is the problem of the 'dollar' watches - they wear fot 2-3-4 years and You buy a new one, the old one is not to be repaired...

If You show the picture of the damaged hairspring, I will say if there is a point to try to repair it.

Usually in Youtube videos, the hairspring is attached to the stud and the balance is hanging on it when they dissassemble or assemble the watch.  This is how the beginner damages the hairspring.  Before dissassembling, take the pin out and turn the balance so that the hairspring goes off the stud and the regulator. Te same, after reassembling, turn the balance so the end of the hairspring will go in the regulator and the stud and place the pin...


Edited by nevenbekriev
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Thanks for the reply. I know i'm only scratching the surface and the knowledge  required to be a watchmaker is massive. From what you have explained already is eye watering. However i think i will purchase  another and this time remove the hair spring correctly. Cheers

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Hi John,

I too am quite new to this, I starting "messing" around with pocket watches about 8 months ago, spurned on by Covid lockdowns and the fact that I was getting tired of buying Auction lots with pocket watches in that weren't working and ending up paying someone to get them up and running.

I still have a long way to go, but what I have learnt so far has been extremely valuable and where I concur with what Neven has already said, I also say learn by doing it wrong.... I cant count the amount of hairsprings I've over stretch, hands and screws I've dropped in between floor boards etc over the last 8 months, but needless to say its a lot, but I expected this and so my advise to you as a starter on it would be to buy up a bunch of old pocket watch movements (ebay or house clearance auctions), pick them apart and put them back together, pick a couple that aren't working and see what you can do about getting them working from parts from the other watches, they wont be perfect and no they wont keep time, but it will boost your confidence, then you can start looking at attenuating hair springs, adjusting the balance cock from one watch to tune it to another, etc etc and from all of that you'll learn the logistics of it too, the best way to remove parts, controlled environment as to not lose bits, how to track which screws go where, you'll teach yourself that.

Above all though, have fun doing it but approach your Wife's, Grandfather's Elgin carefully...... Frying pan's around the head hurt!

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