Week 5, Days 1 & 2 (Hairsprings and Lecture on Cleaning)

So far, this week has been more of the same from last week. I’ve been doing a lot of hairspring work, specifically focusing on Out-of-Flat bends. About half-way through the day on Monday, Mr. Poye switched out my hairsprings for smaller ones. One of the things about working with a smaller hairspring is all the movements that I had been used to doing with the larger hairsprings is greatly exaggerated in smaller springs. So for the past few days I had gotten used to doing a specific amount of pushing/pulling, but when I went into “auto-pilot” for my first go-around I over-corrected the bend (imagine having a bend angling up and pushing it past flat and making it angle downwards instead). The rest of the day on Monday was spent working with various pressures and tweezer distances.

This morning, we had a small break from the hairsprings and had our lecture introducing the cleaning process.

We use ultrasonic machines to clean the watch parts. There are a few different machines that we are going to use. One for the case and bracelet, the other one will be for the components of the watch movement (except for the hairspring, pallet fork, and if I remember correctly, the safety roller-so the hairspring and any part that has shellac on it). Ultrasonic machines use a process called cavitation to expedite the cleaning process. Basically, the machine uses sound waves to create bubbles that implode on contact. That along with the solvent results in clean parts.

There are two (three) solvents that can be used-an oil based one and a water based one (the third one is called one-dip and is used solely for hairsprings, pallets, and other delicate parts). According to Mr. Poye, both oil and water do a good job cleaning the parts, but the water-based solvents can lead to rusting if they aren’t dried properly. For the next few semesters, I will be using oil-based cleaners.

The process for cleaning is as follows (assuming the watch has been dismantled)

  1. Place the parts in the cleaning basket (small parts go in smaller baskets inside the cleaning basket)
  2. Place cleaning basket in container on the ultrasonic machine and turn it on for 3-4 minutes
  3. After cleaning cycle, dip the basket in the first rinse and shake it off gently
  4. Place the basket in the second rinse container, turn on ultrasonic for 2-3 minutes
  5. Place the basket in the final rinse for another 2-3 minutes
  6. Place the basket in the drying container and dry for 4-6 minutes

After these steps have been followed, the parts should be clean and shiny. The benefit to having clean parts (other than them being clean), is that once you start to oil the parts, the oil will go (and stay) where you need it, which means the reassembly should be easier as well.

After the lecture, we went back to hairsprings for the rest of the day. Mr. Poye gave me a new hairspring that I forgot to take a picture of, but I will post it on Friday. This hairspring had a collet in the center which threw off the how I checked if it was flat or not. Instead of resting it on the glass, I had to hold it from the collet and angle it around to see if it was flat or not. Not a lot more difficult, but good practice for when I will be adjusting the hairsprings in the watch.

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2 responses to “Week 5, Days 1 & 2 (Hairsprings and Lecture on Cleaning)

  1. I love this blog. Your enthusiasm and the clarity of your explanations really make it and the pics are a huge help. Well done. G. PS what course is it?

    • I’m glad you have found this helpful! It was a lot of fun learning, and I tried my hardest to make what I learned easy to understand.

      The course was the Associates of Applied Science in Horology at Paris Junior College in Texas, in the United States.

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