Runaway waltham

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  • #48050
    ozanam53
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 4
    • Total Posts: 7

    Hi bob , the courses are great. I recently worked on a Waltham 16 s which was stopping, disassembled, cleaned, replaced main spring with alloy type, also had to replace hair spring. It is running very strong but is running too fast no matter how I adjust it through the regulator. The slowest I can get it is about 1 hour fast. The hair spring was brand new maybe I should have cleaned it first. What do you think? Doesn’t seem to be magnetized. I also had to adjust the sleeve the hands would move in winding set but works fine now. The watch is stem set and stem wind.

    #50623
    Bob Tascione
    Moderator
    • Topics Started: 38
    • Total Posts: 1553

    Good to see you up here Ozanam!
    Very happy to hear that the course is working out for you.

    I wanted to ask you if you’re running fast in different positions ie; dial up, dial down and pendant up. Also does the motion drop off much when changing positions? Knowing this may help diagnose the problem. Checking for magnetism first was a good call. Yes a dirty or sticky hairspring can cause a watch to run that fast. Also if the new hairspring is out of flat the coils may be touching something like the balance arm or out of round (having to stretch to pass between the index pins) then they may be touching each other during balance occilation. The hairspring should fall between the index pins naturally. That is you shouldn’t have to pull the hairspring over for it to fit between the pins.
    Those are a few the things you may want to check first. I’ve added more below to give you an idea of what else may be occuring. We can go deeper into this if need be but please try checking the stuff above first.
    …………………………………
    Although you can sometimes get lucky after putting a new old stock hairspring on a balance that was made for a Waltham movement often times you’ll find that it can’t be brought into time with the regulator alone. The reason for this is that the mass of one balance rarely equals exactly the mass of another. Even at the factory. For this reason the hairspring is matched to the balance at the factory by “vibrating” the balance with hairspring attached. The hairspring is held in different places until its rate matches the vibrations of a master balance which beats the exactly the desired number of vibrations . This will insure that the hairspring is cut to the correct length while allowing a little extra for pinning to the collet and stud. This may sound difficult because it really is. In fact most watch repairers these days don’t know the process or may understand the process and theory but have had little or no practice vibrating hairsprings. It takes a great deal of practice to become proficient at it.. Ok so now what? Well with newer watches most watch repairers will buy a “balance complete”. This is a nicely packaged balance assembly with roller table, roller, and vibrated hairspring ready to be dropped into a movement. Nice and quick. Finding a balance complete for older watches can be much more difficult. Often times people have old spare “parts” movements to salvage parts and balance assemblies from. Also there’s ongoing debate that changing out the balance from a watch like your Waltham takes away from its original condition, devaluing the timepiece. You may notice some engraving on your balance arm. This is how you can tell if it’s original to the movement. Fortunately many of these NOS hairsprings can get you close enough to adjust your way to acceptable timing by adjusting regulator screws on the balance rim at the ends of the arms or by adding or subtracting weight to the balance. Ideally the regulator should fall halfway between its fast and slow limit. This can usually be accomplished if the rate isn’t too far off. One hour a day is quite a bit though.
    Hope this helps Ozanam, ENJOY
    Bob

    #50624
    stevefitzwater
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 48
    • Total Posts: 385

    Here is an excerpt from a Waltham published manual covering adjustment of balance screws that Bob referred to and their effect, the entire document can be found here – http://www.walthamwatchinfo.com/Information/Waltham%20Watch%20Info.pdf

    #50625
    ozanam53
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 4
    • Total Posts: 7

    Hello everyone, thank you very much Bob and Steve for the help. I will try these adjustments and get back to you soon. Fred

    #50626
    Bob Tascione
    Moderator
    • Topics Started: 38
    • Total Posts: 1553

    Hi Fred,
    I don’t want you to think that I was suggesting making those adjustments. I just wanted to post other things that might be happening and what people often do to tackle the problem. If the stuff that I mentioned in my earlier post checks out ok then we could go from there. One thing that I don’t recommend is to add or subtract weight to the balance unless its mass has been altered by someone in the past. This even applies to poising if possible. Except for fine adjustments of the rating screws the balance should never be altered to match the hairspring. The hairspring should be made to match the balance. Looking at the chart that Steve posted (Thanks Steve…nice file!) you can see that adjusting the rating screws for a “one hour fast in 24 hours” rate is pushing it. If you figure that one full turn either in or out will give you a rate change of 2 minutes a day you can see that you’ll need about 25 turns or so to correct that hour a day issue. I’m not sure what the threads per inch would be on a Waltham rating screw but if we guess somewhere around 110 to 120 tpi then you’re looking at having to move the screws out something like .187 to .250 (3/16 to 1/4 inch). That’s a bunch!
    I often got lucky swapping NOS hairsprings for American watches when needed. If they were too far off I would usually grab another one and try it until I got within an acceptable range. But I was fortunate to have an abundant selection of hairsprings on hand that I had accumulated over the years. If I didn’t have what I needed I had other watchmaking friends who probably did!

    Anyway, thought I should clarify my earlier post as it may have been a bit confusing.
    Please let us know what you come up with Fred!
    and of course….have fun,
    Bob

    #50627
    ozanam53
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 4
    • Total Posts: 7

    Hi Bob, First I’d like to thank you for your info. Its strange because while I was making adj to the timing screws I thought doesn’t seem to be enough threads for the adj. I need and then I read your last reply. Are there 4 timing screws total, 1 by the balance arm and 1 at the 6:00 position and the same on the direct opposite. The picture showed 2 . Anyways I made a full turn on all 4 which they are very loose and ready to fall off. I didn’t time the watch more than 1 hour and it already was fast by about 2 minutes this was still with the regulator in the full slow setting, dial up. There are #’s scratched on the balance arm and match the serial # to the watch so the balance seems original. Well its like you said it could be the wrong hairspring. I’ll try to obtain some salvage watches and try some other hairsprings. this is only my fifth watch the other four all had separate problems and were solved. I consider this one solved but finished In the future. It’s a great learning experience when through process of elimination I become more and more familiar with these particular mechanisms .Thanks again Fred.

    #50628
    Bob Tascione
    Moderator
    • Topics Started: 38
    • Total Posts: 1553

    Hi Fred,
    Now that’s a very good question and I should have covered it in my last post. Yes there are usually 4 timing screws (2 sets) on higher quality watches. In the picture that Steve posted you’ll see that they are called”mean time screws” which is probably the most correct name for them. Many watchmakers call them timing screws which is also correct. I call them rating screws which is NOT correct! Sorry for that.You’ll catch me screwing up terminology like that all of the time. Whenever anyone catches me doing that please help me and others by correcting me. I can take it….snivel snivel! We’re all talking about the same thing here though. If your watch has 4 screws then yes you can safely adjust all 4 without affecting temperature compensation. You should find one set at or very near the rim as mentioned before and the other set (if the balance has one) 90 degrees from the first set. All other screws on the rim will affect temperature compensation if moved. You can tell the difference between the timing screws and all other balance screws on the rim by the length of the thread. Timing screws are longer and should have a tight, snug, smooth feeling while turning. You should be able to turn them in or out all the way to the last thread without having them loosen up. They shouldn’t fall out when the watch is running. The other balance screws will be loose and wobble around if not tightened snug up against the rim. I’m not sure if all Walthams have 2 sets of screws. Steve might know better as I believe Waltham is his speciality. If so then yes you can adjust both sets of screws. When all are turned an equal amount you can divide in half the number of threads needed to be turned and the distance they would move that I posted earlier. They should remain tight though.

    I hope this helps Fred,
    Now…timing screws, timing screws, timing screws, timing screws…I think I’ve got it now!

    Bob

    #50629
    stevefitzwater
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 48
    • Total Posts: 385

    Correct me if I am wrong here Bob, but you should always adjust them as pairs, so you would adjust only the red or blue or all four, but never one of each color?

    #50630
    Bob Tascione
    Moderator
    • Topics Started: 38
    • Total Posts: 1553

    Nice colors Steve!
    Yes I believe you’re correct. You would adjust as pairs and never just one screw from one or both pair. I’ve heard some say that you should always adjust all 4 if there are 4 but I don’t see where that’s necessary. There are some very high end modern watches with mono-metalic balances where one pair of screws (or weights) is larger for larger adjustments and the other pair smaller with finer threads for finer adjustments. If only fine adjustments were needed then the larger pair wouldn’t need to be touched at all. I don’t know if that really supports the theory but somehow it makes sense to me. On the other hand If only one screw is moved out then it will throw everything off balance. Picture a spinning top with only one small weight extending out from it. It wouldn’t spin well at all but if you put another equal weight extending the same distance at the same height on the other side 180 degrees from the first it should be well balanced and spin well.
    Bob

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ozanam53Runaway waltham