When Parts are Not Availalable!
Replacing parts on watches, such as the balance staff, mainspring, jewels, is something that watch repair will require. When a part goes bad, like having a bad mainspring barrel, what do we do?
First, let me say, this is not something that I like to do… As a matter of fact, I will usually exhaust all efforts to find a replacement part for an older watch by scouring the internet, making phone calls, and even stripping down a good watch some times so that a customer’s watch will work again. Modifying a part is never good, and in some cases, can actually cause problems.
In this case, the issue we have is that the original mainspring is no longer produced. The mainspring barrel has quite a bit of wear and damage to it. It is also made of a very soft brass material, so soldering it to try and work with the original mainspring will not work.
In this example, I was able to find a mainspring for an American pocket watch, that fit into the barrel find, except that there was no way to lock the end of the spring to the barrel. The spring I chose, is one that is still manufactured, so there will no doubt be a supply of these for years to come. To make it work, we have to modify the barrel, and in this case, since the barrel is in poor condition, this watch is the best example for a hack like this.
Watch the video here!
Tools you will need!
You will need some tools to do this job, and I’ll break them down for you…
- cleaning solutions
- a Flexshaft or drummel tool
- very small drill bits
- watch oil for the spring
- screwdrivers (watchmakers)
- parts trays
Supplies & parts
- cleaning machine
- new mainspring that fits
For the most part, this went well. It is not the best thing to do to a watch, however, if you are going to have an issue like this, it is the best problem to have on a watch that you probably never find parts for.
In this example, the watch is running and running well. The barrel modification is not really going to de-value the watch, and the watch is not in perfect shape anyhow. Swiss watches make in the late 1800s to early 1900s are nearly impossible to get parts for.
While I’m happy with the performance, I really wish that I could have found a new mainspring barrel for the watch, as it world have made the repair a lot easier and the customer would have gotten his watch back much sooner.
A repair like this also requires testing. Not all springs are equal. Even though it measures out as the same tensile strength, it is about an inch longer, and we need to test the watch to make sure it runs correctly and keeps good time.
I hope that you don’t ever have these issues, but if you do, I hope that this tutorial was helpful for you.!