Main Spring Seems to Stick or Bind

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  • #48028
    wingman
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 34
    • Total Posts: 91

    I’ve noticed with my last two clock repairs that the main spring tends to bind or stick after reassembly. One was a closed barrel 400-Day Clock the other open from a Sessions movement. I used RBG Enterprises Lube Lite that purchased from Ronell Clock Supplies. I’m wondering if this is normal with new or newly cleaned and lubricated main springs or are there better less tacky main spring lubricants? The clocks seemed to run fine after letting the movement run without the escapement.

    Wingman

    #50501
    Bob Tascione
    Moderator
    • Topics Started: 38
    • Total Posts: 1559

    Hi Wingman,
    I’m not familiar with RBG so couldn’t comment one way or the other on how it compares to other greases.
    You mentioned

    The clocks seemed to run fine after letting the movement run without the escapement

    so that makes me think that there may be dry spots as well as excessive build up in places as the grease may not have spread over the springs entire width and length. This will cause sticking and slipping of the spring. If you haven’t already you might want to try winding and letting the mainspring down a few times before running the clock. This will spread the grease uniformly over the springs entire length and width. My guess is that this will take care of the problem. It’s also a necessary step when lubricating mainsprings in watches.

    Hope this helps Wingman,
    Bob

    #50502
    wingman
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 34
    • Total Posts: 91

    I was wondering if too much grease/oil could also cause the binding? I did run the springs up and down several times on the spring winder before assembling. However one nagging concern is there may be too much lubricant. I checked with the supplier and they told me the new springs were pre-lubricated. I wonder if they really were or if it was packing grease to prevent corrosion? The movement will only run one or two days on the 8 day movement. I also suspect that I have one set of tight bushings. This same pivot seems to have too little end shake as well. Another dis-assembly. The old clock has probably been apart more in the last two weeks than in the last 110 years.

    #50503
    pkamargo
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 14
    • Total Posts: 62

    I also have questions about mainspring lubrication.
    -Sometimes after cleaning and lubricating the mainspring winds and unwinds smoothly as it should do. But sometimes both winding and unwinding will run in jumps, the spring sticks a while and then suddenly release. I can’t get a reason for this.

    -Oil or grease? When looking at suppliers catalogues there are so many options and so few information that I feel too hard to choose what to order.
    Personally I don’t like using grease, I feel like it lets appearence of something still dirty….
    Sometime ago I purchased Keystone mainspring lubricant, it is a thick oil sold in ‘medium’ and ‘light’ versions. I ordered ‘medium’. It is a good lubricant but I still didn’t come to a conclusion on how much is the ideal amount to apply. So I put a lot of oil, wind and unwind some times and then wipe out what semms to be the excess. Not sure this is a good way.

    #50504
    clam71
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 8
    • Total Posts: 83

    Post may not fit this topic exactly but… Just dis-assembled a size 18 movement #3949617 vintage 1888.
    Was described (ebay) as possible broken staff. Well, all was dirty but good….except it wouldn’t wind.
    Pic attached . How does this happen ? Some rube in the family years ago ?

    #50505
    clam71
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 8
    • Total Posts: 83

    Just a novice here but grease , to my way of thinking, is the only appropriate lube for mainsprings.
    Ain’t gonna leak into the rest of the stuff where watches are concerned. It’s kinda sealed in the
    spring barrel. And that spring’s windings, coil upon coil, need to slip effortlessly.
    If they stick or bind, the powertrain to the rest of the movement will suffer.
    I’m waiting for my order of watch oil to arrive. Used in the most delicate parts, Balance pivots, etc.
    Starting to realize that over-the-counter oils don’t fill the need. School of hard knocks…
    Can’t wait to get this 1888 vintage movement ticking again !

    Duh! Broken mainsprings assume strange positions.
    Still learning… #2203 replacement workes fine.

    #50506
    Bob Tascione
    Moderator
    • Topics Started: 38
    • Total Posts: 1559

    Hi all,
    Wingman, I believe you’re correct. They do put an anti-corrosion compound on mainsprings. My feeling is that this should be removed. I remove it by wiping the entire length of the spring with kerosene on a rag. Then use a clean rag to remove the kerosene. Just takes a few seconds. Also, I’m not sure if too much grease on the spring will cause catching but it is important Not to over grease the spring. This grease can work it’s way into places it doesn’t belong. A thin coat is all that’s needed. As pkamargo mentions, it’s a good idea to wipe off excess grease. Pkamarge…I also like keystone greases. The occasional catching could be caused by one or several reasons. Too thick a grease can cause this. Also temperature change can affect the grease. A spring may slide perfectly on warmer days and catch on cold ones. Going with a slightly thinner grease will usually solve the problem. As for greases to use…I usually just use a synthetic motor oil with tefllon like Duo-Lube or Slick50. They can be purchased from any auto parts store. I don’t really know if it’s the best thing out there but many clockmakers do use the same thing.
    Another thing to check for are burrs or scratches on the mainspring. New mainsprings DO occasionally have burrs on them which should be removed. These burrs will reveal themselves by snagging the kerosene soaked rag when cleaning the spring. Fine steel wool will usually take care of them.

    Hope this helps!
    Bob

    #50507
    wingman
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 34
    • Total Posts: 91

    Hello Bob

    i will try the teflon type oils. It makes sense to use a more modern slippery lubricant. The mainspring lube I purchased and had been using looks like 80 wt. “dino” gear oil.

    Wingman

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wingmanMain Spring Seems to Stick or Bind