Watch Repair guy..need a Lathe?

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  • #48444
    watchdogg
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    • Topics Started: 17
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    I have watched Bob’s ” learn to turn” videos and it got me interested,so….You guys out there that are in the business of “watch” repair let me asked you…
    I think I would like working with the machine and thinking that the ladthe would come in handy with “staff” repair.As a watch repair guy, will I get my money worth out of a lathe? I have found a “hands on” class with the NAWCC. I’ve already sent my money in based on the “learn to turn” video on Bob’s instructional watch repair video.
    I haven’t bought the machine as of yet because the 3-4 people I have asked this same question to could not tell me if a watch guy could use this machine. So I’m looking for help from you guys.
    Thank you Phil (watchdogg)

    #52540
    arutha
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    • Topics Started: 85
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    Hi Phil,
    a very sensible question but unfortunately only you can answer this one! I could not get by without mine now but everyones situation is different
    Wether you need a lathe or not depends on a few things, firstly, how deep are you wanting to go down the rabbit hole :)
    If like you say, you want to make your own balance staffs you need to have a lathe, unless you fancy learning to use a turns and a bow.
    Re-pivoting? You will need a lathe.
    Pivot polishing? Get the jacot drum with the lathe and you can do this too otherwise you could just do it with a jacot tool.
    I use my watchmakers lathe almost on a daily basis and I dont even do watches yet. I have been learning to turn balance staffs. One thing I would say is even if you did buy one, its not like you will lose any money on it as they just keep going up and up in value.
    If you do start cutting balance staffs the lathe will pay for itself very quickly, even if you dont, you will still find it useful for so many things, just recently I was restoring an old clock which had a brass knob on the door that was missing. Turned one up in about 5 mins.
    Good luck whatever you decide :)
    Paul.

    #52541
    watchdogg
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    • Topics Started: 17
    • Total Posts: 41

    Thank you Paul!!
    That did help. I’m new in the watch repair industry , but very excited about the progress I have made and the future of more to learn,
    Thank you! Phil

    #52542
    david pierce
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    • Topics Started: 90
    • Total Posts: 1360

    Watchdog,
    The good news is there is currently a glut of watch lathes coming out of Europe. This is due to several factors such as the European economy failing and old watchmakers getting out of the business. Many of these are the Geneva style which are fantastic for small watch parts but are too light for larger clock parts. If you purchase a used lathe you will almost certainly have to overhaul it. Many of these machines have been sitting around for years without being used and the oil becomes gummy and must be cleaned out. This will require the complete disassembly, cleaning and reassembly of the lathe. The cone bearings and spindle must be completely clean and oiled with hydraulic oil before reassembly. I have been collecting watch lathes since 1971 and currently have close to 50 of these machines. Many of these lathes were rusted out junk when I purchased them and I have spent thousands of hours restoring them to new working condition. One thing I have learned over the years is when these machines are properly set up, adjusted and lubricated they perform well regardless of their brand name. There are many excellent lathes out there that do not have the name Lorch or Boley stamped on them. If you do not have a machining background I would suggest looking at a new Sincere Lathe made in China. The same lathe is marketed under the name Vector. The Vector lathe is repackaged by Germans, comes with a wooden box and costs thousands of dollars, while the Sincere lathe costs hundreds of dollars, does not have a box and says Made In China. I bought one several years ago that came with a crosslide, and a WW collet holding tailstock for $450.00. The gear cutting unit cost an additional $245.00. If you also want to do clock parts you can always purchase a second lathe such as a Taig. This lathe is also reasonably priced, is powerful and can take a lot of abuse.
    david

    #52543
    watchdogg
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 17
    • Total Posts: 41

    Thank you David. I’m waitting til after my hands on class before I buy one but good info, Thank you!
    I’m hoping I’ll be able to make good use of it as a watch guy after I do buy one. In other words I hope it pays for it’s self
    Thank you David

    #52544
    david pierce
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    • Topics Started: 90
    • Total Posts: 1360

    Watchdog,
    Please tell me about the hands on class. I looked at the NAWCC page and it looked like it cost about $1000.00 for a basic lathe class. For that amount of money you can purchase the lathe and cross slide with an extended bed, a tip over T-Rest, the gear cutting device the motor, the sensative drilling attachment, some collets and the mounting board. I may have misread the price so what is the actual cost of the course? Do you have to go to their location to take the class? How many hours or days does the course last? After the completion of the course, will you know how to make staffs, pilar plates, gears, pinions, balance wheel, winding stem and screws? It sounds like a good thing so please let us know.
    david

    #52545
    watchdogg
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    • Topics Started: 17
    • Total Posts: 41

    David…. Oh no way could I pay $1000. Now I have found that
    ” AWCI” does charge $1000 for all their classes , but NAWCC have what they call ” suit case classes” in other words different locations . I guess each chapter will sponsor their own class . And that’s what I’m doing. In Tallahassee Jan -17-20 they are doing like a beginner course for $300. And there will be 2 other classes more advance for the same amount but in other locations . For exsample I plan to go to Oak Ridge, Tenn for the 2nd class .
    Thanks David

    #52546
    arutha
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 85
    • Total Posts: 1536

    I paid £250 for my 6mm Wolf Jahn lathe. The main attachments to look out for are of course collets and if possible the jacot drum and pivoting attachment. Obviously make sure it has a tailstock and graver rests. A cross slide is a luxury and I have not yet needed one, those things sell on their own for around £300 so unless you needed one for a specific job then dont worry too much. The same goes for a 3 jaw chuck although I think this would be more usefull than a cross slide. Just get the basic lathe and collets to start with and that will be a good start. You can always add bits later on as and when you need them. Fortunately the smaller collet sizes are easier to come by and these are the ones you will be using the most when repairing watch parts. Have a look on e-bay and see whats available and if you do see something then post the item number up and we can give you advice.
    Good luck with the course and let us know how it goes.
    Paul.

    #52547
    watchdogg
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 17
    • Total Posts: 41

    Thank you Paul.. I’m a late starter (54) but I’m having a great time with watch repair and have managed to find a part time job doing repairs. Clocks don’t interest me too much but I’m hoping that this will come in handy as a watch repair guy??
    Thanks again, my hands on course starts the 17th
    HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!
    Phil aka watchdogg

    #52548
    arutha
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 85
    • Total Posts: 1536

    Phil, you are never too old! I am 44 this year and I have only been at it for the past couple of years seriously.
    I want to be in the position of not having to send anything out for repair, I have made a lot of my own tools as I am not in a position to spend fortunes and if this is what you want then you will need a lathe.
    If you are patient you can find tools at the NAWCC meets and on e-bay, dont just dismiss things if they look a bit tatty, certain tools can be cleaned up well enough to become serviceable again. I just sat at a table with a pen and paper and watched bobs videos for clock servicing (you would obviously watch the watch servicing videos) and made notes of all the tools he used. I then did my reasearch, if a certain tool was expensive I would either look for an alternative or try and find something cheap on e-bay.
    Watchmakers screwdrivers are a classic example, you can spend a fortune on a quality set, I bought a cheap set on e-bay with the different coloured heads and they were rubbish, then ends almost felt as though they had been made from silver painted chocolate. I then bought a set of those cheap ones you see in discount stores, all silver bodies and they come in the blue and clear plastic cases for around £1/$1. I bought one of those sharpening guides, the barrell with the hole and a ball bearing at each end, and re-shaped the ends of the whole set to useable sizes (including the phillips/posi-drive ones, ground the ends off and then sharpened to a flat). I have done this to 3 sets of them now so with a little time and £3 I have a perfectly useable set of watchmakers screwdrivers. They are hard enough for watch screws, that is for sure, and if I have to keep re-grinding them to fit different size screws, so what! they only cost £1 per box. I got given a nice block of pine so I drilled a load of holes in it and I now have a nice stand to put all my screwdrivers in :)
    Sure its nice to have all the Bergeon stuff but I think in a lot of cases you are paying for the name.
    I dont have as many tools as Bob Tascione (I dont think anyone does ;) ) but I do have a lot, I have bought them at boot sales, charity shops, e-bay, clock auctions, discount stores and other Horologists. The single most expensive thing was a Vario-lux lathe with a milling attachment (which you wont need for watches) £350, because I want to cut my own clock wheels.
    It can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be. Get a quote for having a balance staff cut and work out how many it would take to pay for the lathe, I think you will be suprised.
    One last thing, it is quite dangerous and snares a lot of Horologists – Tool lust, it creeps up on you from nowhere, think I am joking? ask some of the other board members ;)
    Paul

    #52549
    watchdogg
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 17
    • Total Posts: 41

    Paul you been a great help!!
    Thank you so very much!
    Phil

    #52550
    david pierce
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 90
    • Total Posts: 1360

    Bergeon screwdriver tips can be purchased separately and inserted into less expensive holders. I bought an inexpensive set from Finding King a few years ago and had a problem with the screws not holding the tips in place. I solved the problem by retapping the holes and replacing the screws with quality set screws. Since then I have had no problems with them. I have also purchased tweezers from an Ebay store operating out of England and they were excellant. Another set I purchased from Finding King a few yerar ago were not suitable initially and I had to regrind the tips with a sharpening stone. After reworking the tips they worked fine.
    david

    #52551
    watchdogg
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 17
    • Total Posts: 41

    Thanks David, some good ideals that I know I can use.
    Thank you, Phil

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watchdoggWatch Repair guy..need a Lathe?