The Steampunk Forum at Brass Goggles
October 22, 2017, 09:32:46 am *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length
News: Support BrassGoggles! Donate once or $3/mo.
 See details here.
 
   Home   Blog Help Rules Login Register  
Pages: [1]   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Traditional watch and clock making methods?  (Read 5982 times)
Alptraum
Guest
« on: June 04, 2010, 07:26:48 pm »

Hi guys,
I was wondering if any of you had any info on more traditional methods of watch and clock manufacture - i.e. with absolutely no power tools whatsoever. Since I myself could never afford a nice sexy watchmakers lathe (nor, I think, make myself a gingery lathe with enough precision to be usable), yet find the entire process fascinating, I need these methods to do what I want to do. The internet, however, disagrees. So I'm giving up and asking some real people.
Any help you can give me is much appreciated!
Logged
oldskoolpunk
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United States United States


WWW
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2010, 07:43:51 pm »

The Musée International d'Horlogerie in Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, is the place to go for that information.  (It's a fun train ride up from Geneva.)

Here's a useful web site on watchmaking techniques.

Making a clock out of hardwood, gears and all, is a reasonable starter project. Here are some kits and plans. Those require a scroll saw.

Here's how to make your own pedal-powered scroll saw. Part 1 Part 2

Logged
Abslomrob
Deck Hand
*
Canada Canada



WWW
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2010, 04:13:57 am »

For watches, you really need a set of turns.  That's basically a hand-powered lathe.  The scale of watches really precludes bodging up something.  As you get bigger (clocks) it gets easier to set up stuff with vices and drills and stuff, but you still need to watch the precision.  A lopsided gear isn't going to work well, regardless of the scale.
Logged

All my vintages are at http://www.abslomrob.com
watch_guy
Deck Hand
*
United States United States


« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2010, 06:07:54 am »

The standard WW pattern watchmaker's lathe was actually developed by Charles Mosley in the Boston Watch Company factory in the 1850s. The Boston Watch Company was the predecessor to both Howard and Waltham.

In any case, you can in good conscience use a WW lathe, which is much faster and easier to use than a turns. If you want dispense with electricity, you can easily power it with a foot treadle. At least here in the United States, there are enough old Singer sewing machine stands without the sewing machine around cheap that would be perfect for this with a little bit of rigging.

I'd agree that you need a turns, though. For parts where trueness is critical, it's superior to the WW lathe. On a turns, you're turning between centers, so the work essentially remains true at all times(WW lathes can have some "slack" in the collets). A turns is typically powered by a bow, although some use a crank.

A jacot lathe is a smaller version of the turns used to polish pivots. You need one of these, too.
Logged
Alptraum
Guest
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2010, 12:07:15 pm »

Hrrmmmmm... it's irritating that i'd have to shell out several grand for a lathe/decent turn. Still, thanks for your help.
Logged
watch_guy
Deck Hand
*
United States United States


« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2010, 06:59:02 pm »

There are plenty of nice used WW lathes out there for under $1000. I've run across plenty of nice "starter" type set-ups with 5-10 collets and a few gravers included in the $300-400 range.

All said and done, you'll need a bunch of collets and some other bits and pieces(like gravers and other special chucks). This can add up over time, but fortunately it's one of those things that you can buy as you need. Used collets can generally be had for about $10 each individually, and less than that if bought in a lot.

If you haven't already, join the NAWCC. Then, attend one of their regionals. This is the single best way to get good, used tools at reasonable prices. Unless you're doing a high volume of work or have money to burn, don't buy new tools. Screwdrivers and tweezers are high wear items and relatively inexpensive new(although all of mine are used and work great), but anything fancier is used infrequently enough that you don't need new. Old tools are often better than new ones, too-my $100 K&D staking set is 75 years old, and is great. I know people who have bought the $800 Bergeon equivalent, and after a year of use half the stakes had either split or dulled from use.

Any way you cut it, watchmaking isn't cheap. If you want to be able to make a watch from scratch(i.e. a block steel and brass), you'll find that you need a lot more than just a lathe and turns to be successful. You're going to need mills for you lathe, to cut wheels and pinions. You'll need a depthing tool in order to get the spacing on the wheels and pinions right. You'll need a hairspring vibrator, and the knowledge to use it.
Logged
Alptraum
Guest
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2010, 08:03:07 pm »

Bugger.
When I said a tight budget, I meant practically nothing. I was wondering simply how the entire process, from the manufacture of tools to the use of those tools to build a clock or watch, was performed by those in the 18th century or before, when precision was not as easily obtainable using precision machined tools made using CAM or any other modern method which ensures high precision.

Instead, what was used to make tools which would be of a high enough precision to do all of this? Casting, then finishing of rough parts for a rough lathe, then milling all subsequent parts on that to produce higher precision parts for a higher precision lathe?
Logged
Abslomrob
Deck Hand
*
Canada Canada



WWW
« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2010, 01:54:55 am »

IN short, yes, that's exactly what they did.  This is partly why turns are used; it's easier to get precision if you're between centers.  The Swiss were able to dominate the industry by the 19th century largely because they invoked division of labor; effectively mass producing the basic watch movement by having workmen specialize in specific parts.  They'd custom make the specific tools required to do those parts, allowing them to make a lot of them in a (relatively) short period of time.  Then the American's nuked the industry with automated and centralized mass production.
Logged
watch_guy
Deck Hand
*
United States United States


« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2010, 02:27:32 am »

The English industry was set up in largely the same way as Swiss industry.

You'll find that, in the early years of watchmaking, it was very, very rare that a watch be made entirely under one roof. Such example tend to be fairly highly prized-such as from makes like Tompion, Breguet, or Patek Phillippe. Even then, parts like fusee chain and hairsprings were often outsourced.

Even at that, in the early years, American watches still were largely handmade. Look at a Dennison, Howard, and Davis(mid-1850s, predecessor to the Waltham model '57) and you'll see some of the same inconsistencies in size and so forth that are often characteristic of Swiss watches. Charles Mosley made some tremendous strides toward automating the process-first with Boston, then Waltham, then Elgin, followed by Illinois, and at least one or two others(Rockford?). If you're interested in this sort of thing, Michael Harrold's Technical History of American Watchmaking is a tremendous resource and contains a lot of information on the early American watch factories.
Logged
Abslomrob
Deck Hand
*
Canada Canada



WWW
« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2010, 04:35:38 pm »

I'll have to see if I can find that book somewhere.  Waltham (well, it's predecessor) started in a fairly small building in Roxbury, and they had to import many of the parts that they couldn't make from England.  They had to source from many different suppliers due to their volume and the need to allay suspicions over what they were doing.  That continued a bit after they moved to Waltham until they were able to start making their own stuff.
Logged
watch_guy
Deck Hand
*
United States United States


« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2010, 11:04:24 pm »

The Boston watch company(at Roxbury) used wheel engines that were imported from England. They also imported pinion wire, which was made in England using an extrusion process. They either imported the raw parts from England or Switzerland(for things like hairsprings), or else imported the already existing machinery.

Even so, the finishing work was originally done by hand, or at least with minimal automation. One of Moseley's chief innovations was developing automated finishing processes.
Logged
Alptraum
Guest
« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2010, 11:16:00 pm »

Thanks for the book suggestion, I'll see if I can find a copy.
When I get time, I'll have a go - as an experiment that is destined to fail, mind you - making a lathe and then turning the parts for a more accurate lathe on that. I know that that's basically suicide, but I reckon it's worth a go, just for fun if nothing else. All Hail Dave Gingery!
Logged
watch_guy
Deck Hand
*
United States United States


« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2010, 02:11:51 am »

The NAWCC library has several copies of A Technical History-if you're a member, they're free to check out(provided you pay shipping). A Technical History was actually a bulletin supplement, and will hopefully soon be available online to NAWCC members(it's #14, and 1-12 are currently available).

Michael Harrold has written several other related texts on the early American watch industry. I've not read them, so I can't directly comment. If they're anywhere near the quality of A Technical History, though, they're definitely worth a read.
Logged
Noxtradamus
Officer
***
Canada Canada


« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2010, 04:33:41 am »

If it can get re-printed at last, the book "Watchmaking" by George Daniels is also an invaluable resource about the actual fabrication of a watch rather than its maintenance or repair. It does not involve industrial means, as he makes all his watches in his workshop, but it still require one heck of a workshop, if you pardon me...

As for casting a rough lathe to make a new one; I saw this exact project documented on some amateur casting website a long while ago and it went pretty well. I'll post it here as soon as I can find it again.
Logged
Alptraum
Guest
« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2010, 11:11:03 am »

If it can get re-printed at last, the book "Watchmaking" by George Daniels is also an invaluable resource about the actual fabrication of a watch rather than its maintenance or repair. It does not involve industrial means, as he makes all his watches in his workshop, but it still require one heck of a workshop, if you pardon me...

As for casting a rough lathe to make a new one; I saw this exact project documented on some amateur casting website a long while ago and it went pretty well. I'll post it here as soon as I can find it again.

I WISH I could get the George Daniels book. Alas, for the cost of a copy I may as well buy myself a lathe... I can go through the whole getting membership to the British Library and then asking for the book to be ran up from somewhere on their miles of shelves. That's basically my only option. Just a bit shit, really...
Still, it'd be really helpful if you could dig that up... I haven't found much on making lathes with homemade lathes yet, but I'll keep digging.
Logged
Noxtradamus
Officer
***
Canada Canada


« Reply #15 on: June 18, 2010, 01:05:10 am »

Here are the two links about backyard metal casting: backyardmetalcasting and The lathe

Its seems though that the lathe project has not been updated since 03/24/04 ...

You can pre-order "Watchmaking" on amazon for around $70 and hopefully it will come out in December. A copy belonging to my teacher is currently being passed around in class and it’s really worth the money! Everything is addressed, from the workshop organisation to case making and new calibre design
Logged
arcwelder
Zeppelin Admiral
******
United States United States


Reverse the polarity!


« Reply #16 on: June 18, 2010, 01:07:15 am »

Here are the two links about backyard metal casting: backyardmetalcasting and The lathe


That's awesome. I wish I had a backyard...
Logged

Mad repairman for the ship of the damned.

Alptraum
Guest
« Reply #17 on: June 18, 2010, 12:09:53 pm »

Here are the two links about backyard metal casting: backyardmetalcasting and The lathe

Its seems though that the lathe project has not been updated since 03/24/04 ...

You can pre-order "Watchmaking" on amazon for around $70 and hopefully it will come out in December. A copy belonging to my teacher is currently being passed around in class and it’s really worth the money! Everything is addressed, from the workshop organisation to case making and new calibre design


Those links are brilliant... When you say it will come out in December, do you mean that it is going to be reprinted?!
Logged
Noxtradamus
Officer
***
Canada Canada


« Reply #18 on: June 18, 2010, 05:39:03 pm »

Those links are brilliant... When you say it will come out in December, do you mean that it is going to be reprinted?!

Yup. It as been delayed a few times already though, so it might get pushed back again
Logged
Alptraum
Guest
« Reply #19 on: June 20, 2010, 09:07:35 pm »

Those links are brilliant... When you say it will come out in December, do you mean that it is going to be reprinted?!

Yup. It as been delayed a few times already though, so it might get pushed back again

*squeals of delight* so the price will fall? Do you know how big the run will be? What price it will be sold at? I can't afford the $100 min that I've found it for sale at so far, but up to £50 would be ok... Is it only going on sale in the states and Canada, or will it be worldwide?
Logged
Noxtradamus
Officer
***
Canada Canada


« Reply #20 on: June 22, 2010, 02:40:13 am »

I am not sure for the run, but it should at least cover for the pre-order, that you can do Here on amazon (I don't know about shipping cost to UK though)
Logged
Pages: [1]   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.20 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
Page created in 0.22 seconds with 16 queries.