Home Forums General Discussion Forum Lever set pocketwatches (for dummies like me)

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      The dummie part… Just re-assembled my size 18 vintage 1888 ebay movement. #3949617
      Couldn’t set the time. Case isn’t the original. Thought I’d scewed up and lost a part.
      Took the dial off again and investigated the movement again. Geeze ! THAT’S what that
      little tang is ! Gotta unscrew the bezel, pull out the tang and THEN the crown can set
      the hands ! Who wudda thought ? I’ve heard the term “lever set” but ????
      The movement needed a new mainspring. # 2203 did the trick. This movement
      is SO happy now !!! And so am I !! I wound it last night and almost 24 hours later
      it’s still running ! Was afraid to wind it fully yet.
      I’ve cleaned and oiled it thorougly. The green hairlines on the dial are hard to see now.
      Awesome watch ! 123 years old !!! THIS is why I’m into this hobby.

      Bob Tascione

        Congrats Clam71!
        I love success stories. I bet you learned a ton working on that watch.
        It doesn’t seem to matter what type of clock or watch it is…that moment when it comes back to life just does something to you…and it never stops happening, year after year watch after watch. I still can’t figure out why that is but I guess that’s not important.

        Keep being Happy Clam71 and thanks for posting!
        Got another project lined up?



          Geeze, Bob, I just snagged another 18s Waltham movement.
          You’re right, this bug has bit me big !
          I restore old wooden tube radios for kicks because I honor their historic value.
          I have an old Motorola 52T1 that I have on all day on my days off.
          Wish I took a “before” pic of it. Vintage 1939. Looks grand !
          Thanks to you I’m making old relic-watches tick again. The value to me by doing so
          is priceless ! I’ve restored a few Singer sewing machines as well for the same reasons.
          But this watch thing

          Turning on power to an old tube radio is an experience few will know.
          The smell of old dust burning off the fire-bottles , the joy of the sound coming out of it again
          after many decades , and the comfort in one’s soul—-
          Same thing with these old pocket watches. To know that your own hands have given new life
          to such OLD things pleases me to no end.
          My recent thing was the 1888 18s Waltham. 123 years old !
          My Grandfather wasn’t even born then !!!
          Life is precious and justly so but I believe that before my time is up I need to save a few things.
          To rescue a few things. So, in that regard, I’ve added a new avenue to my hobby/lexicon.
          Surely, many others here have the same feelings.
          Thanks to you for getting me started.
          You’ve touched a lot of souls out there….

          Bob Tascione

            Thanks Clam71,
            That’s really good to hear. I enjoy what I do very much. All I really do though is kind of “kick start” people and they do the rest. I just try to make it fun and interesting for the beginner and they can take it to whatever level they wish from there by practicing and studying other books and videos. Some have gone on to complete excellent training programs like WOSTEP and now make me look like a beginner! I love it!

            About radios…Interesting….many antique radio buffs and Ham radio operators have purchased the courses over the years…MANY! There seems to be some common interest (connection) between horology and radios. It would be interesting to know how many other members are also into radios or are Ham operators. The numbers may not be too great here on the forum as most course members are not registered on the forum but I’ll bet there are at least a few.
            Might make for an interesting thread?


              Hello Clam and Bob,
              Yes it is interesting. I too have been restoring old radios for many years now. As you say Clam maybe the fact that we can breathe new life into both timepieces and radios is the attraction. Never became a ham but still would like to.
              Anyone else out there??


                TickTockShoppe: I’ve never been a ham operator but was always something I aspired to do.
                Nice to know I’m not alone out here ! But, as you say, might be many more out there than we know.
                I hope so. Starting a new thread on this ? Though I’d like to, but it’s not on topic. Kinda hijacking this fine
                forum from others who don’t share our electronic antique interests..
                Anyway, Ian, maybe you could help me with a question (or can anyone else ? ).
                Just recieved an 1886 18s lever set with a broken staff. I have an 1888 of the same flavor.
                I just attempted to borrow the 1888’s balance cock assembly to try it in the 1886.
                They look identical. But it just doesn’t seat right. So… the question:
                On the back of the 1888’s cock is stamped the numbers 49 617 and the 1886’s is 70 968.
                Any idea as to what these numbers mean ? The production dates on these old things are only 2 years apart.
                Oh, and, no, the remains of the broken staff is not still in the jewel. Jewell is clean and intact.
                Also, to you, Bob and all else, feel free to call my John if you like.
                Also, to Bob: Kickstarting all of is your way to insuring the survival of these fine antiques.
                You’ve likely rescued many through our hands. Thanks !
                Those on this forum can reach me at [email protected] and use the word pocketwatches in the subject line.
                This is an exclusive forum so I’m ok with that.


                  The pic shows the difference in bottom staff taper. Right is the 1888, left is the 1886.
                  Ideas ?


                    Ahh, frig! LEFT is the 1888


                      Ahh, geeze, couldn’t resist…. A pic of my 1939 Motorola 52T1 radio.
                      Nice, eh ?

                      Bob Tascione

                        Hi John,
                        You may have noticed that I usually call people by their user name unless they sign their posts with their real name. I figure they might not want to use their actual name.
                        Those numbers stamped on the underside of the balance cock should match the last few numbers of the movements serial number. You’ll also find the serial number scratched on the balance arm. This way we can tell if the balance cock and balance is original to the movement. Swapping assemblies doesn’t always work. I’m not sure about the differences between your two watches. Usually the best bet is to replace the balance staff with the correct one.

                        Nice Radio! I love old radios too. When you look at the cases on these old radios you can sure see similarities between them and old clocks. Beautiful works of art. I used to build my own very basic bread board type tube transmitters and receivers many years ago. They were very amateurish and crude with everything mounted on a piece of plywood….but had lots of fun. Almost killed myself when I took a high voltage hit off of a huge transformer. It knocked me out of my chair and over my bed! Might explain the brain damage. I remembered to unplug stuff after that. Got my first ham license back in the 60s (novice…was wn6dna) which expired. Finally upgraded about 30 years ago (N6HGF). We’re not alone out there. Lots of other members are hams as many use their call signs in there emails. Whenever I see one I go to QRZ.com and run their call sign in the engine.
                        Any other radio buffs out there?
                        Thanks for posting that pic John!


                          Oh, baby, do know the feel of a good jolt ! So, you’re a ham operator ? HOW COOL !
                          Working in the computer shop one day we had visitors. Bossman was across the bench talking to them, trying
                          to impress them. I was trying not to look to inquisitive but was none the less distracted.
                          I slipped my screwdriver under the anode cap of a 12 inch crt. The hint that the power is still on is not subtle !
                          I pretended it was a sneeze. Don’t think I was convincing… sneezes don’t make cracking noises…
                          Lucky I wasn’t working on a 21 inch color monitor !!!! Used to work at Transistor Devices Inc. Randolph NJ years ago.
                          They made power supplies for industrial and military applications. Was 1st testing a chassis one morning.
                          The chassis consisted of a 3 phase 220 volt ac to dc bulk supply with soft start SCR’s that kick on at 1/3rd input.
                          This reduces inrush current. The HV DC was sent to 2 gangs of 2 electrolytic caps each. 4600 MF at 250V each.
                          Connected by 1/8 inch thick aluminum buss bars. Can you feel the power here ?
                          I had my long thin DVM wires clipped acrost them and was raising the AC on the variac and the SCR turn on was perfect,
                          my O-scope said. So, I closed the clam shell case of the unit— RIGHT ON MY DAMNED DVM WIRES !!!
                          I’ve only heard one sound that loud. As a kid, I threw a black cat firecracker into a trash can. Nothing happened
                          until I stuck my head in to see if it was a dud. It wasn’t ! Couldn’t hear for ’bout 1/2 hour !!
                          It blew a 1/8 inch hole into a 1/4 inch thick aluminum chassis and when I regained my composure and all the other
                          techs left while joking and laughing, I investigated what remained of the DVM wires. The copper inside the insulation
                          of those #18 wires was gone on 4 inches both sides of impact !
                          Bob, SO many funny stories about tech blunders and engineer fubars !!!!
                          I guess my first lesson learned as a kid…. Wear shoes. Don’t work on tube radios in stocking feet in the basement
                          which has a concrete floor !! Yeah, ain’t electricity a hoot !
                          In Europe, standard house voltage is 220 !


                            Geeze, almost forgot… Thanks, Bob for clarifying my question about the balance cock numbers.
                            And I have noticed numbers scribed on the balance itself. Gotta re-visit my pics.
                            I take as many as I can on each movement I play with. Shouldda made the connection ?
                            Maybe the numbers don’t jive ? Will be interesting to see !
                            I’m SO much a novice here but have seen a few numbskull repairs to these things.

                            I couldn’t function without that $80 stereo microscope I snagged on ebay.
                            After all, these old movements aren’t rocket science but their precision is awe-inspiring !
                            Manufacturing the jewels for these things ? In the late 1800’s ? WOW !!!
                            a bi-metal balance that expands and contracts with temp ? On SUCH a small part ?
                            High precision manufacturing existed well over 100 years ago !
                            THAT’S mind boggeling !


                              Cleaning my 1888 Waltham AGAIN ! Gummy Anchor oil ! Noticed some lint got into it but nothing enough to
                              stop the movement. #3949617. Cleaning it with a fine brush, part by part, with kerosene.
                              Then dish soap and after a hot water rinse, into the US cleaner.. Took pics. post later…
                              Had to re-do the process 3 times for some parts !!!!
                              It’s just my guess, but cleaning parts with the Ultra Sonic cleaning machine with pure hot water turns
                              any residual oil into a jell. Any thoughts ?

                              Bob Tascione

                                Hi John,
                                A good watch cleaning solution in an Ultrasonic will usually do the trick. Might have to leave a really grimey movement a few minutes longer but L&R solution and rinse will rarely let you down.



                                  Gotta get some of that solution, and boxwood, and good oil, etc.
                                  I think I’m finally done working on the 18s 1888 vintage lever set #3949617.
                                  It had that old gummy crud (anchor oil) in the bottom balance jewell and the mating staff pivot.
                                  I couldn’t have done this without my stereo microscope. Best 80 bux I’ve ever spent !
                                  It’s adjusted, cleaned and lubed and the balance is swinging effortlessly now !
                                  It gained 6 seconds since last night. AND… NO more temp issues because of Anchor oil !
                                  The new mainspring’s grease has, by now, worked in, so no binding in there.
                                  Almost 24 hours on the wind-up and it’s still running. Gotta finish polishing the thick crystal.
                                  123 years old ! A tiny bump of the adjust lever and it’s keeping PERFECT time now !

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