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Spinning Wheels

by Jordan Ficklin

Ever since my very first days of watchmaking school I have given the gear train a good spin during assembly before installing the escapement. This is an opportunity to check and see that all the wheels turn true and free. It is extremely rare that I encounter a problem at this phase, since I diagnosed problems and replaced parts during disassembly.

It may seem like this exercise is futile given that I discover a problem maybe once a year this way. Today was one of those days however. The gear train was noisy and didn’t turn freely, in fact it would hardly turn at all in one direction. After considerable investigation I determined that the newly installed fourth wheel (received from the factory) was incorrect for this model. It fits well in the watch, it has the same length shaft, even the endshake was correct. Unfortunately this one has one fewer spoke, and I can only conclude that it belongs in a different watch. I did not take the time to count teeth or pinion leaves, because I will just replace it with the correct part.

Conclusion: I’ll just keep spinning my wheels as a watchmaker :)

5 Comments

  1. chris amen
    Posted July 13, 2009 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Let me guess…. Rolex 1570 vs 1560— 1560 is a 18,000 beat and 1570 is a 19,800 beat. Happened to me years ago but I have always remembered—–it just takes one time. I like your post,keep up the good work ………Chris Amen CW21

  2. J.Peter
    Posted July 13, 2009 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    That’s a good guess, Chris. I have seen that done. This watch is an ETA 2824 however and I don’t know what the other wheel could possibly be intended for, but it doesn’t work in the 2824, despite having the correct appearance and dimensions except for the wheel spoke count & probably tooth count.

  3. Posted July 14, 2009 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Hey Jp,
    Keep spinning them wheels! I’m currently facing a similar quagmire with a Vulcain 120. Leave it aside a bit, and come back to your work with a fresh mind, that way you will be able to see what was ‘unseen’ a day prior. Always works for me, cheers on that post! Warm regards from British Columbia, how is the little one getting along? Wishing you and your family a great summer!
    Prem C.

  4. Posted July 23, 2009 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    I do the same J.Peter and find it nearly always gives a good indication of what kind of amplitude I can expect from the watch. Fortunately, I have yet to run into the sort of problem you or Chris have described. The check never fails to tip me off to a bent wheel or tiny fiber that has found its way into the gear train, though.

  5. Akeni Oluwatosin
    Posted August 21, 2009 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    spinning wheels takes you to a certain comfort zone in the process of watch repairs. You are sure the problem of wheel cloging is solve and any other problem can be traced somewhere else.
    I wish anyone with useful information on watch making school admission should please help me with one as I urgently need to get admission to any of these schools. thank you.

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