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    chris mabbott

      What can go wrong will go wrong… Sounds a bit pessimistic but, it seems to be true, to a certain extent at least..

      Here’s a perfect example…
      I have a bunn special that has a broken hairspring collet, not completely, the collect is cracked, but enough to allow the spring to revolve on the staff.
      I don’t have to mess with collets so much, I think this is the first one out of 200+ watches, so a couple of years represented in time..

      Anyway, prior to beginning the removal, I figured, like any athlete knows, that I should warm up first before diving in..
      I have a gazillion fractured, bent and mangled hairsprings complete with collets that I received in a bunch of “stuff” years ago. So I selected 4 and began my eyelash sized pin removal procedure..
      The first one was a little tricky as I had to find my groove. # 2 was nothing to brag about, # 3 better… By 4 I had it.
      So just to prove that it wasn’t a fluke, I tried #5-6. LO & BEHOLD, BY GEORGE, I THINK I’VE GOT IT :D

      So filled with confidence and flushed with my previous successes, I began on the important one…..

      The first thing that got me was that this one, the bunn collet, had been installed in the opposite direction of my practice pieces,, HUH
      So that was the beginning..
      Then when I placed the collet in the clamp, it wouldn’t hold, because the split would not allow it to remain firmly clamped! The second problem..

      I had no choice but to keep applying slight tension to the clamp in order to prevent it turning while I tried to push out the pin.. When suddenly…. It split in half!!

      Ok, no damage to the spring, but now I am faced with how to hold half a collet firmly while pushing out this extremely tight pin.

      So I select my heftiest, fine pointed tweezers, with the idea of trying to hold it, while I push.. And push, and push… That bloody pin will NOT move… 👿

      By this time I feel that little angry light bulb pop on inside my head, ya know the one, it has a simple solution…. DESTROY THIS #%^*+£¥ THING and tear it apart, that will show it 😳
      I’m also noticing that I’m feeling a bit sweaty on the hands, and that my loupe is constantly fogging up because of my increased temp..

      Ok, time to chill, I have a cig and watch a few videos, while all the time plotting my strategy, this is not going to get the better of me..

      I take my 20 loupe and study the problem closely, really closely.. And I see that the pin, when it was cut, was not clean, it is slightly bent around the collet.. Oh boy, I have less than 0.5 mm between it and the fragile inner coil of the spring???

      I might add that I need to save this spring, I cannot find another of the same strength, it’s an Illinois breguet overcoil type that is original to this watch, so I have, at present, no alternative..

      So I decide to cut the half a collet in half, hoping that I can get a clean cut with a fresh pin end to push through..

      So I go to the lathe and make a punch for my staking set that I knife sharpen at one end..
      I place the HS on the stake and carefully align the work. A few gentle taps and my new chisel cleanly cuts the brass collet.

      So here I go again… This time I have less material to hold, and as I try to punch out the taper pin… Nothing, I think I might have missed the tip of the pin and caused a burr….
      CLICK there goes that light bulb again 👿

      Anyway, by this time it was almost 4 am, I’d been messing around with this for 5 hours… That was it, thoughts of gleeful destructive satisfaction liberally and uncontestedly careened through my mind… Fortunately, common sense that only comes with age (HA) kicked in and convinced me to put it away until another day…

      I couldn’t help feeling somewhat cheated though, after all, I’d taken the time to prepare, to warm up etc.. I’d studied for my exam, but circumstances caused failure of what should have been a fairly, just above easy, job.

      Which made me think of… What can go wrong, will go wrong, or Sod’s law, which is the British version of Murphy’s law. Which I think got changed due to IRA stuff back in the day? 😆


        Congratulations on your success, my friend.
        At one time, you’d have tried putting it through the wall…


          Hey Chris, I completely understand. Book knowledge is one thing….actually doing the job, another…Dont feel alone, its the process we all go thru ;) …..What type of collet holding devise do you have or are using? William


            I feel your pain, feel pleased that you managed to put it away for another day! I destroyed a few things through frustration before I slowly managed to get a grip and walk away when things went wrong.

            david pierce

              WHAT!, the British taking credit for something thought up by the Irish; unthinkable.

              A good procedure to have is to take careful measurements and make a sketch of a part before cutting it apart. A new collar can be made with basic shop tools but the job can be easier with a drawing of the old one. You can fixture the old collar by carefully soldering it to a piece of scrap brass. The brass extension can then be locked in a vice and the collar can be carefully filed to a point where the suborn pin can be removed.

              chris mabbott

                😆 Thanks for your supportive comments gents… Yes, I was reminded of the opening of 2001 A Space Oddity where the neaderthal tries to smash the obelisk with a leg bone 😆

                @willofiam wrote:

                What type of collet holding devise do you have or are using? William

                William I’m using the (ahem 😳 ) Bergeon collet holder which works great for crimping or reaming, holds a “good” unbroken collet perfectly.. It was my own misuse that caused it to break, combined with the crack already present..

                David – That is simply a wonderful idea :D Simple because now I’m thinking…. WTF didn’t I think of it 🙄
                As I sometimes/often tend to do, I over complicate things. I think I’ll try your method but maybe with a touch of crazy glue :?:

                Thanks my brothers…


                  Hairsprings do seem to be a very hard part to find. I have learned to treat them with extreme care after I destroyed a couple trying to just get them off the dang staff! After you destroy a part that takes 2 weeks to find and $45 to replace you file that in the old memory bank. LOL


                    One for the coffee can, Chris. I’m dealing with a loose collet myself…probably just need to swap staffs.


                    bernie weishapl

                      I hear ya Chris. I have learned over the years when I get frustrated just walk away or something was going to get broke. 😆 Sometimes pride gets in the way anyway.


                        OK Bernie, you forced me to tell my story about “walking away.”

                        Was working on my car – on four jackstands, and needed to release a bolt from the rear suspension. As anyone would know who has worked on cars, suspension work can be a bitch.

                        I put my Metrinch (best tools I’ve ever used) on the nut and it wouldn’t budge. Then, I used two hands. Then, a cheater pipe. I was literally moving the car, and bending my large wrench. Bad news all around.

                        I was wiped. It just so happened that I spoke with my brother-in-law, Pete, who gave me the advice to “get away from it.”

                        I said, what do you mean, “get away?”

                        “Right,” he said, “just that. get away.” I took his advice, got some lunch, took a break, and went back an hour later to utter astonishment.

                        Ready for this?

                        The nut I had been torqueing on WAS WELDED TO THE FRAME OF THE CAR. I put my wrench on the other side of the cross member, and eased the bolt out from the opposite side.

                        And THAT, I’d say, is story enough for ANYONE to see the value in just “getting away from it.”


                        Tim :)

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