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October 4, 2014 at 2:34 pm #49251
I was recently reading on one of the other forums, about someone’s attempt to repair/service an Elgin grade 50 convertible..
In his exuberance, he committed a few easily made errors, ones that can and are made in unfamiliar territory, but those errors basically resulted in this very nice and highly collectible watch, now becoming scrap.
Parts for these are practically zero as production of them was not high, so either you have to make replacements yourself, or find another one for parts.. I have a decided chill run down my spine just suggesting the latter.
So, seeing as I’m currently restoring two Elgin 16s convertibles, one a grade 50, the other a grade 86, I thought I would post how to take apart the center time set wheel and cannon pinion, which is where most of the damage occurs.
I post this because there is, again, very little info on these watches with a visual aid AND mainly, because I hope that it will prevent further damage to these great watches during unfamiliar probing sessions.
I currently have 6 convertibles in my collection and the thing that always impresses me is the quality and precision of the parts, the attention to detail, & fit, possibly this is why the convertible range survived into the RR era of frequent regulation changes so well, being that they remained 15 jeweled movements for so long, before acquiring their other 6 jewel upgrade.
For those new to the Elgin convertible, it is a movement that can be adjusted to work as either an open face, pendent set, or a hunter, in other words, it can be easily adapted to both styles of pendent at 12 or pendent at 3, more commonly referred to as a side winder.
This feature was handy because it allowed sellers of watches to stock fewer types of movements in the OF/Hunter style. It also allowed the convertible to be used as a RR watch when the rules changed to NOT include hunter models as official timekeepers.
Elgin wasn’t the first company to attempt a conversion from one orientation to the other, Rockford also tried an easier method that simply required the turn of a screw. Elgin, however, IMHO offered the most accurate change over, but it was not the easiest as one of the plates had to be removed by a jeweler or watch repairer, in order to perform the gear reorientation, so a certain degree of technical finesse was required.
I feel that with Elgins method, more accuracy was obtained as it was a direct mechanical component change over and not a series of screws, levers and springs as in the Rockford design, which was simple but the overly mechanically complicated system was a place that inaccuracy occurred..
Here’s the typical grade 50. This one looks a little… ratched, but I will care for it like a stray dog, I will love it, bathe it and put its hair in little pigtails then call it my very own..
But first we need a good repair tune.. <span style=”color: #400080″>REPAIR TUNE – I’M A LINK</span>October 4, 2014 at 2:38 pm #59678
With the lid off, you can see how the setup is designed to change from open face to hunter by first moving the winding arbor to either position.. In it’s current location, the orientation is for open face.October 4, 2014 at 2:45 pm #59679bernie weishaplParticipant
Great post Chris. That should help anyone who has one of these come thru the door. I have fixed a few of these thru the years. I have I think two of them myself. Thanks for posting.October 4, 2014 at 2:46 pm #59680
But the kewlness and sheer joy of working on these watches doesn’t end there, OH NOOO my friends, there is more fun than a bag of hammers a waitin
With the plate upside down, and this is a two piece slight compression fit of both halves, we can see there is only one mesh gear, obviously 🙄 These two plates have to be carefully separated and this gear changed to whatever orientation you will use.
Again, I cannot praise these movements enough, the joint is so well made that it’s difficult to actually see the split between the halves, and when you do find it, it is difficult to separate them, NOT because they are tight, but because they are so precisely machined that the slight press fit is perfect.. I use my wooden screw drivers to perform all movement work and plastic picks so not to mark the surfaces 😮
The mesh gear is one piece I think? If it is two pieces I cannot see a split, so either way, it’s an extremely well made little piece.
The winding gears are so clean and accurate, they’re heavy and meant to last, even the quick release spring system is well thought out and simply nice, a real pleasure to work on..October 4, 2014 at 2:53 pm #59681
I’ll add, just for those who are new to this model, that MY WAY, not the official method, is to check the train at this point. Mainly because it’s a pain to keep doing this after you’ve clean, then if you find something after, you have to FF taking it apart again, which increases the chance of damaging the gear..
So with the pallet fork removed, we can give her a spin, check for the usual little baddies etc 😆
We can also see that there has been a bit of fiddling in the balance cock area that will have to be attended to, someone got a bit punch happy 🙄October 4, 2014 at 2:59 pm #59682
As we can see from the side, the cannon pinion is not like what we normally see, so a regular puller will NOT work because it has nowhere to grab, the CP is smooth and solid, or nice and beefy. It is also TIGHT as a mouses ear and this is area #1 where those unfamiliar with this design, tend to become rattled and attempt to pry or use pliers, then…..SNAP game over, you now have a parts movement 👿
The CP on these models are very snug and a very close fit to the plate, so you have no place to fit your pry bars evenly between CP and plate..October 4, 2014 at 3:13 pm #59683
As stated earlier, these are very well made and precise, there is ZERO slop in any of the train wheels, other models, Ball, Bunn, Veritas etc, they all have some play, but the center wheel on these do not, at least on the ones I’ve worked on..
So the next area of mishap is when all fails on the cannon pinion end, the next target is to pry from the top, this leads to the same thing….SNAP, game over..
The center wheel pinion on convertibles is hollow, the set gear runs on a long shaft through the center wheel which then holds the cannon pinion.
There is an Elgin bulletin regarding the process of removal but I don’t have the link any longer.
So MY PERSONAL method, still partially in line with Elgins recommendation, which I’ll explain later..
is to use a fine tip punch from your staking set, or you can make one, then lay the movement carefully, plate side down, on a block, I use a wooden block.
With the movement upside down, GENTLY tap the shaft that projects from the CP out, or towards the plate side. Making sure that there is space underneath for the wheel to move outwards..
once you clear the CP, you can sometimes gently pull it free from the plate side….October 4, 2014 at 3:18 pm #59684
Once the wheel and Cp have been successfully removed, you can now remove the final plate and view the lovely guts 😯
Here you can see the hollow center wheel arbor, isn’t it lovelyOctober 4, 2014 at 3:23 pm #59685
I believe the Elgin bulletin recommends that you remove the above components before you remove the plates..
I remove the winding arbor/gear plate because I want the space to check the train before I remove the center wheel, that’s just my way because I’m a lazy sod and knowing my luck, I would break the damn thing by removing it three times.. 😆
So again, in this shot, you can see that you have proper inspection space with the cock and one plate removed..October 4, 2014 at 3:31 pm #59686
As a side note, the convertible utilizes a unique anchor style for their mainsprings, it’s a double secure system that incorporates a D hole and a half T.. A very hard spring to find, so I usually either make my own, or I cut off the rivets from the old MS, and reuse it on a comparable spring. This keeps it somewhat original.. As my old crane operator used to say, “you got somethin there mister” 😆October 4, 2014 at 3:57 pm #59687
I’ve already spent about 25 hrs on this watch, mostly little things, but cosmetically it was very dirty and stained, I wanted it to shine like new and this requires hand cleaning, although this time, I admit, that I used my US cleaner to remove the debris trapped in the holes and to give that final bright look. Although I do not use a cleaning machine of any type, only on occasion, after I’ve hand polished every part..
Here is one of the plates that I finished, I also re-filled the engraving and although you can never capture the shine, it’s shiny
I’ve also finished the balance cock and re highlighted the engraving, unfortunately there was an aggressive attack of plate worm that left its mark above the S, the rest of the movement was more fortunate..October 4, 2014 at 4:04 pm #59688
Speaking of detail, look how nicely they have machined in a slot for the time set lever to glide smoothly in and out, it also acts as a little dust cover and there is no contact, as in most other models, with the lever and plate demaskeening..October 4, 2014 at 4:27 pm #59689
@Bernie Weishapl wrote:
Great post Chris. That should help anyone who has one of these come thru the door. I have fixed a few of these thru the years. I have I think two of them myself. Thanks for posting.
Hey Bernie, watcha doing hiding up there in the middle 😆 I just saw you.. 😯
I’ve just realized that I misspelled Convertible in the heading DUH Maybe Roberto or one of our mods can add the R for me 😆October 4, 2014 at 7:05 pm #59690bernie weishaplParticipant
Just thought I would slip in on ya. 😆 Again great post.October 4, 2014 at 9:18 pm #59691Bob TascioneModerator
I’ve just realized that I misspelled Convertible in the heading DUH Maybe Roberto or one of our mods can add the R for me 😆
I with Bernie Chris…Great and very helpful thread and I also liked the ‘Repair Tune’!
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