Repairing, Renovating and Restoring Hamiltons [Archive] - WATCH TALK FORUMS

: Repairing, Renovating and Restoring Hamiltons



HamiltonElectric
11-03-2010, 10:26 PM
Actually, if you have the steady hands and the mechanical ability to troubleshoot, it's a great hobby to pursue. I didn't start out as a full-time professional watchmaker, I only got into it because I couldn't find anyone to repair my watches. I won't say it's easy, but it isn't magic and anyone with the basic skills can learn. Get a few junkers and give it a try.

I do remember, however, that when I took watchmaking classes the first step was simply to take apart a junk pocket watch movement (i.e., huge, relatively speaking, with delicate parts like the hairspring not even involved) and put it together again. Over and over. It was boring as hell. Or at least that's what I felt. The guy at the next bench was utterly flummoxed and simply couldn't do it. He was gone the next day. Out of 25 people who started the class, less than 6 finished. I wonder how many of us are still doing it full time? I'm only aware of one.

HandyDan
11-04-2010, 04:27 PM
Hey guys, I've seen discussion about being a little intimidated by changing a watch crystal. I'm no pro but I recently purchased a Perry and needed to change the crystal so I thought I'd show you step by step how it's done. Or - at least how I do it, assuming I don't do it wrong.:001_smile:

So to start with, here's my work area - it's a little crowded but I clear it off when I disassemble really small things. It's a pretty large drafting table and I have it elevated so I don't have to stoop over it while working.
http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y359/Fun2goFish/Crystal003.jpg

The 1930's Perry I recently purchased for a really good deal - at least until one of you jokers sniped it at the last second but I beat you this time!:001_tt2:

As you can see - it's in need of a new crystal as the current one was very scratched and darkened with age.
http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y359/Fun2goFish/Crystal001.jpg
http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y359/Fun2goFish/Crystal002.jpg
http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y359/Fun2goFish/Crystal005.jpg

The first thing you need to do is to remove the movement from the case. The Perry is a three-piece case so removing the bezel is all that's needed. Here you see it with the new glass crystal.
http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y359/Fun2goFish/Crystal004.jpg

Getting the crystal out of the bezel is usually easy. You can typically just push it out. However, I always put my case parts in an ultrasonic cleaner with hot water. After a couple minutes the crystal just falls right out.
http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y359/Fun2goFish/Crystal006.jpg

If you don't have an ultrasonic cleaner you can just boil it in water for a few minutes. That will loosen up the glue.

With the crystal out you can compare the old and new.
http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y359/Fun2goFish/Crystal007.jpg

To prepare for the new crystal you should take a small screwdriver or toothpick and clear out any old glue from the inside of the bezel. Get it as clean as possible.

At this point you may get lucky and just be able to slide the new crystal right into place. I usually buy glass crystals. They will usually fit well and they're a little more durable than plastic. Plastic is easier to work with though. However, with patience both are do-it-yourself worthy.

Here you can see I wasn't so lucky and the glass crystal didn't quite fit.
http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y359/Fun2goFish/Crystal008.jpg

The crystal should be snug but not tight. A little loose is better than too tight. If the crystal is too large I usually trim it by wet sanding it with 600 grit sandpaper. Patience and elbow grease is all you need. This is where plastic is easier than glass.
http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y359/Fun2goFish/Crystal009.jpg

Eventually the crystal takes the right shape and fits properly. When I have a plastic crystal I buff the edges on my bench grinder (with a buffing pad). 600 grit sandpaper does a nice job on glass edges. Here you see it's a perfect fit.
http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y359/Fun2goFish/Crystal010.jpg

Some crystals press-fit into the case. CLD watches and the later round watches of the 50's and 60's especially. But for cases like this the crystal is glued in place with with either UV glue or cement. I've used both but prefer cement. UV glue need's a UV lamp or sunlight to cure so it gives you a lot of time to work with. Cement has less working time but you don't need special lighting. There may be a rule of thumb like cement for plastic and UV for glass - but I use cement for everything.

I use GS Cement and it comes with it's own little applicator tip. The UV glue comes in a syringe and mine broke - wasting a lot of glue.
http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y359/Fun2goFish/Crystal011.jpg

Using the fine tip all you need to do is run a tiny bead all the way around the perimeter of the bezel. Don't worry about making a little mess - it cleans up easily with a little alcohol.

http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y359/Fun2goFish/Crystal012.jpg

Once the crystal is glued in, put a little rubbing alcohol on a cloth and wipe any excess off the outside. You can probably do the inside too or just scrape (gently) any excess off with a screwdriver. If you use a plastic crystal be careful with the alcohol as it can cloud some plastics. Best to wash it with soapy water and then buff instead.

Once it's dried, remount the bezel and you're all finished. Not too hard at all, wouldn't you say? A new crystal goes a long way toward making an old watch look young.

Here's the before and after shot. Now I need to find a no 1 for it!

http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y359/Fun2goFish/Crystal001.jpg
http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y359/Fun2goFish/Crystal013.jpg

HamiltonIllinois
11-04-2010, 04:37 PM
I follow pretty much the same process, except I skip the iltrasonic cleaning/boiling. I go right to the wooden toothpick. At that point, I also normally polish the crystal with simichrome polish before glueing it in.

Now that he crystal is done, are you going to send that dial off to be redone? The font looks wrong and also is off-center (to the left, I think). Plus, they should be able to replace the #1 for you also. The case looks very nice! CONGRATS!

Endicott
11-04-2010, 04:43 PM
Hmmm, maybe I give that a try. I found out that many of the glass crystals are slightly too big but so far I was always afraid to use sand paper on them. Since my watchmaker made it always for less than 5 euro it was not so expensive but on the other side a penny saved is a penny got. :blushing:

Besides, mentioning the polishing of a crystal, I found out that toothpaste works also wonder with the small scratches. Strange huh?

HamiltonIllinois
11-04-2010, 09:20 PM
Hmmm, maybe I give that a try. I found out that many of the glass crystals are slightly too big but so far I was always afraid to use sand paper on them. Since my watchmaker made it always for less than 5 euro it was not so expensive but on the other side a penny saved is a penny got. :blushing:

Besides, mentioning the polishing of a crystal, I found out that toothpaste works also wonder with the small scratches. Strange huh?

M,

Actually, the wet sanding part is suprisingly easy... it just takes a little time and you need to slowly work your way around the crystal so that it stays true to the shape. When I'm all done, it also is a nice sense of accomplishment. :)

R

Nookster57
11-06-2010, 08:48 AM
UV is good for glass crystals and the GS cememt is good for the plastic ones.

M

Endicott
11-08-2010, 01:35 AM
Have you ever tried to get scratches out of a crystal with sandpaper? I read in another board that some do but I wonder which grit would be the best for it. 600 is already very smooth but if it could easily shrink a glass I assume it is still too coarse. Maybe 1000 then?

For the very slight scratches I use a toothpaste (a sort for a better whitening of the teeth works fine) but deeper scratches can't be done with this.

HandyDan
11-12-2010, 10:55 AM
Have you ever tried to get scratches out of a crystal with sandpaper? I read in another board that some do but I wonder which grit would be the best for it. 600 is already very smooth but if it could easily shrink a glass I assume it is still too coarse. Maybe 1000 then?

For the very slight scratches I use a toothpaste (a sort for a better whitening of the teeth works fine) but deeper scratches can't be done with this.

That's actually how pro's remove scratches from fine furntiture - ever increasing increments of fine sand paper. Basically courser grits create scratches that the next level of fineness remove by creating finer scratches, and so on until the scratches are too fine to see. But you have to go in increments and not skip levels. You also have to go in direction of the wood grain. If I recall correctly, grit levels can go into the thousands.

When you polish a crystal you do the same thing - apply fine grit via a buffing wheel. But it's very hard to remove deep scratches because the grit is too fine to remove that much material.

Toothpaste, brasso, baking soda, etc. all have some amount of grit to them which is why they all work for removing fine defects in different situations.

Glass is so hard that I don't know if you could get sandpaper in enough hardness and grit increments to do the trick. I bet manufactures use slurries and wet abrasives to do polishing like that. I use 600 grit because (a) I happen to have it and (b) it happens to work. It's pretty fine by sandpaper standards and works well on the edges of glass but it takes some time - any coarser and I think you'd risk chipping corners, etc. Any finer and it will take that much longer.

trscott
12-26-2010, 12:41 AM
Handydan is correct about the use of successively finer grits when removing scratches. Basically you have to start with a grit size almost as coarse as the depth of the scratch you're removing, but you have to be careful to maintain the shape of the surface.

The trick here (assuming you want to restore, rather than replace, a crystal), is to treat the operation like optical lens grinding (aka mirror grinding). Amateur astronomers have ground their own mirrors for many years. There are commercial sources of grit kits that would be excellent for producing very fine watch crystal surface.

Here's a site that explains how astronomical telescope mirror grinding is done:
Mirror grinding (http://www.scopemaking.net/mirror/mirror.htm)

Here's a company that sells a complete set of glass abrasives for mirror polishing. The set for a 4.25" mirror would be nearly a lifetime supply for the average watch maker to polish scratches out of glass watch crystals, for $24.95.
Telescope Making Supplies (http://www.willbell.com/ATMSupplies/ATM_Supplies.htm)

The other thing useful would be a surface to grind against with the desired curvature, a concave lens or mirror blank would be useful for some curved watch crystals. Others could be ground against a flat glass plate with a uniform rocking motion. What you don't want to do is to create a flat spot where you had to remove a lot of material to get below a deep scratch.

As Handydan says, it is indeed just like sanding fine woodworking. The key is to begin with a coarse enough grit to easily to get the scratch out, then use a finer grit till you have removed all the scratches from the first grit, then use the next finer grit till all the scratches from the previous are removed, and so on, until you are at a grit so fine that it is polishing to an optically clear surface finish.

Cheers!

timesofplenty
01-07-2011, 05:09 PM
I have a NOS Nautilus here that is giving me a problem.
New correct battery, watch will run when battery set into place, but stops when pushed down to seat the clamp.
What's happening? :crying:

rleegabe
01-08-2011, 11:07 AM
I spoke with René Rondeau about this and he said to use scotch tape on the battery so as only the contacts were open other wise the battery will ground out and could cause damage to the watch.

timesofplenty
01-08-2011, 12:15 PM
I spoke with René Rondeau about this and he said to use scotch tape on the battery so as only the contacts were open other wise the battery will ground out and could cause damage to the watch.


AWESOME, thanks!
Did as you said and we're in business.
Did take the battery out, as I'm aware that the watch should not be run w/o a service.

HamiltonElectric
01-08-2011, 12:16 PM
It's a virtual certainty that the battery is shorting out. Batteries for the 505 are becoming a problem because key manufacturers have changed the shape of their #301 batteries.

I strongly advise against the use of Energizer or Maxell batteries as they are now too thick and not only short out instantly, they put enormous strain on the clamp and can easily cause it to break. I use Renata; at last check, Panasonic and Sony were still making the correct shape as well. Still, it is a very good idea to put a piece of tape on the underside and cut out a small opening for the cell lead. None of the modern batteries match the original dimensions perfectly so shorting is always a potential problem if the negative pole is not insulated. But again, DO NOT USE ENERGIZER 301s! It's all too easy to break the clamp.

HamiltonElectric
01-08-2011, 12:28 PM
Here's a picture to show what I'm talking about. The batteries on the left are original 1960s Union Carbide (which is today Energizer). The center battery is a modern one of correct shape. The one on the right is a new Energizer. As you can see, there is no 'dimple' in the center, the entire battery is the same thickness as the center of the original. That makes the sizes much thicker than the original, which was designed so the dimple would nestle neatly into a recess in the pillar plate. A new Energizer is much too thick at the edges, and the entire negative pole presses against the pillar plate causing a short circuit.

Indyago
01-18-2011, 10:24 PM
I have a loose second hand on my 'Eaton'. I have re-applied it a couple of times now. Is there a prescribed way to make it a bit more secure? Obviously, I don't want to go overboard and make it too permanent, knowing it will eventually need to be serviced.

Also, will a 6/0 second hand fit a 980 movement? I have some spares to go on 987's but, no extra 980 second hands.

omega564
01-19-2011, 01:21 PM
Yes , First find a pin or another piece of metal that will fit into the hole in the post. Something metal that will almost fill the hole , then using a nail clipper GENTLY crimp the tube on the hand . The metal that you inserted will keep you from collapsing the tube . As you do this be sure to crimp it in the SAME PLACE . If it takes you 2 or 3 tries then you're doing it right . Crimp and check when it fells snug put a match book cover near the hole this will keep you from pushing down too far push down until you touch or nearly touch the matchbook. PUSH SLOWLY AND STRAIGHT DOWN . It's not that hard to do...........Jesse

HandyDan
01-19-2011, 02:07 PM
Yes , First find a pin or another piece of metal that will fit into the hole in the post. Something metal that will almost fill the hole , then using a nail clipper GENTLY crimp the tube on the hand . The metal that you inserted will keep you from collapsing the tube . As you do this be sure to crimp it in the SAME PLACE . If it takes you 2 or 3 tries then you're doing it right . Crimp and check when it fells snug put a match book cover near the hole this will keep you from pushing down too far push down until you touch or nearly touch the matchbook. PUSH SLOWLY AND STRAIGHT DOWN . It's not that hard to do...........Jesse

That's a good post Jesse - I think if you happened to have a spare third wheel you could probably use it as the pin to make sure you didn't over crimp.

I do think 987 second hands would work but I'm not 100% sure.

The only other thing I would suggest is when you do stuff like this try do it inside a big ziploc bag - you can get REALLY big ones that you can even fit a back pack in to give you room to work. I've tried to tweak a couple of second hands and they simply vanished into thin air. Just the slightest apparant pressure from tweezers can send small pieces flying. I'm sure Newtonian physics would say they're still in my workshop somewhere... probably next to the 982 center wheel and a couple of impulse pins that vanished under similar circumstances.

zephyrnoid
07-09-2011, 08:39 AM
OK. Rene might well have to recondition/repair my Converta IV
anyway, I've learned a cool trick for clearing out decades of 'DNA' from bracelets without using an ultrasolic cleaner. Not sure if anyone else does this but I found Dow bathroom scrubbing bubbles aerosole to be the trick. i open the bracelet out and blast it with a shot of the bubbles. allow to sit for a minute and brush gently with with a toothbrush. smile gleefully as streams of brown gunk are rinsed away ! leaves it all shinny and new looking too. then I blow dry the bracelet and drip MilTec-1 with a needle oiler into the crevaces, dab the excess with tissue paper and blast with the blow drier on high for about a minute. that lubes and protects the insides for about another 20 years ;)

Sure - or in the regular forum and then the topic can be moved here afterward

Playtme
07-26-2011, 07:40 AM
Where do you guys take your Electric Hamiltons to cleaned, serviced?

Indyago
07-26-2011, 09:26 AM
The first poster in this thread has forgot more about servicing Hamilton Electrics than the rest of us will ever know. Google his website for more info.:wink:

strap & buckle fan
09-30-2011, 09:23 AM
UV is good for glass crystals and the GS cememt is good for the plastic ones.

The 2 part epoxy is much better then GS and can be used on both glass and plastic. Mix it together with a tooth pick and then apply it with a tip of a small screw driver all around the bezel. Dries slow so you can take your time. No clean up is needed if you are carefull. Any lamp with a 100 watt blub pointed down over the crystal or from the underside will dry/harden it quickly. 10-20 minutes does it. The metal tip on the GS is a real mess and gets to much of that rubbery GS cement on the bezel. It realy does not hold that well over time. Real pros never use GS cement.

HandyDan
11-15-2011, 03:26 PM
There are several older threads that discuss dial cleaning.

The likelihood of success is really dependent on the type of dial and you really need to consider the Hippocratic oath - "First do no harm".

The least damaging level of cleaning is Rodico putty that you can get from lots of watch / jewelry supply places. It's great for removing dust, dirt, grime, finger prints and stuff like that from all dials.

For lumed dials you're pretty limited to Rodico since anything wet will remove the lume.

For enamel dials you need to be very gentle and not rub or the enamel will be lost or faded.

Butler finished and white painted dials with gold numerals or markers are the best candidates for cleaning in my opinion and it's best to remember that "slow and steady gets the job done".

I've had some remarkable results using a jewelry concentrate like Hagerty's Jewelry Concentrate (http://www.amazon.com/Hagerty-6-Ounce-Ultrasonic-Jewelry-Concentrate/dp/B000PGZPEU/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1321391824&sr=8-2).

All I do is put a few drops on the dial and let it soak for a minute or so, then rinse in warm (not hot) water. Then I do it again, and again, and again, until tarnish and grime is gone. It may look like crap after the first pass but it will look better as it goes from totally dirty to partly dirty to partly clean to mostly clean. Stop at mostly clean - I'm not a miracle worker here.

I have an ultrasonic cleaner and I'll rinse it in there but only briefly as the ultrasonics can lift the printing off the dial.

That's my secret, don't tell anyone. :wink:

Here's a recent before and after:

http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y359/Fun2goFish/RossBefore.jpg

and after...

http://i1029.photobucket.com/albums/y359/Fun2goFish/5dbae8e6.jpg

gottahaveonion
02-19-2012, 06:05 PM
this is an interesting topic because i have a similar watch i would like to restore for my mother because it is sooooo small .....needs a new dial crystal and the movement is seized up...dont have the model no but is from 1935...it is similar to the op case except is square ...i don't think i can do myself but def want to restore