Friday, June 24, 2016

Pallet fork and the secret sunray

Pallet fork cells
Shuai checking the division of pallet fork

Eddie oiling the barrel
The new subject this week for Shuai and Eddie was the shellac-ing of the pallet forks and also the theory of the escapement.  Shellac is extracts from the lac bug which acts as a glue in watchmaking in the olden (golden) days.
Simone looking for the right mainspring

Theren testing out hands polishing
Tomas dynamic poising his balance

Simone started on a restoration piece he has from his good friend.  It is a chronograph in decent conditions.  However, the mainspring is broken and he must undergo the necessary steps in order to replace it.  He will also do some finishing to make it sparkle.
Before finishing

Sunray finishing by hand

Henrik has been developing a super secret technique to restore and make the sunray finishing on wheels (mostly ratchet or crown wheels).  The classical technique is on the lathe using the milling attachment, but in the creative methods Henrik has developed, the sunray can be made with much less setup time.  This technique will be unveiled during the conference in America that takes place in August.  Stay tuned.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Going Atomic

Tomas and Theren in deep discussion on mysterious timing issues
Since last time the students have worked on balances and hairsprings from self-constructed oscillators and modern mass produced oscillators.  Although the modern hairsprings are much more stable this does not make the students' work much easier because the tolerances are also more stringent.  The timing competition continues as we have also added another category, the CTM (Contrôle Technique des Montres).  The CTM is a single value that is calculated to determine the quality precision of a timepiece, very much like how COSC is calculated but in a single value.
Simone checking the condition of his pivots

Shuai and Eddie on the other hand learned the theory of escapements this week while they continued on their exercises on gear train oiling and controlling the end shakes.  They are slowly getting the hang of the scale they must work on and the feel that is required and acquired through all the exercises they have done.
Eddie oiling the gear train

Shuai drilling a new bushing hole

Henrik visited the MIH on Wednesday where they had a presentation on the technological advancement of atomic timekeeping.  CSEM has been working on atomic timekeepers with the goal of one day making an atomic wristwatch, and it looks like they are  not too far away from achieving their goal!
MIH hosted another well planned event

Some of the parts inside the clock came from a silicon wafer.

Atomic clock chips are already quite small

We also had another watch enthusiast come take the bench test this week.  Stan came all the way from Taiwan to find out what watchmaking is all about and to hopefully get a spot in the class of 2017.  After a week of testing, Stan found fascinating things about watchmaking such as the way polishing is done and the micromechanics required of a watchmaker.
Stan learning the art of black polishing

Friday, June 10, 2016

Let the games begin

Theren fine adjusting the hairspring 
Tomas checking his timing results

Simone making the regulating curve
Now that exams are over Tomas, Simone, and Theren can relax and finish up some timing exercises and repairs.  There is a friendly competition between them to see who is able to get the smaller delta value on their constructed 6498 balances.  So far Tomas is in the lead with a whooping 3 second difference between 5 positions. Just for comparison sake, COSC certification has a 10 second delta.
In timing there are so many variables that may affect the outcome.  Theren for example had been stuck for days with an outlier value that couldn't be changed, but in the end it was discovered that the pivots were slightly bent and some burnishing did the trick to fix this error.  Mystery solved.
All green

Bent pivots

Shuai and Eddie have started on the subject of gear train oiling.  They started practicing on their 7 exercise movements.  Besides the oiling of gear trains, they have also studied the subject of cannon pinions and how to properly adjust them to the right tightness.
Eddie oiling the geartrain

Shuai oiling under the microscope
This week the school received a very interesting antique tool as a gift.  The tool is a gear cutting apparatus called the topping tool.  It is made by Sixis and in great working conditions.  Soon Henrik will have to teach the students how the machine operates.  Many thanks to German for this generous donation!
Topping tool donated from German

A Chezard jump second movement prototype purchased by Theren
 Henrik also taught Shuai and Eddie about the theory behind the escapement, focusing on the Swiss Lever Escapement.  However, many other examples where shown, such as the pictures below.

Above and below  Duplex escapements

Virgule or comma escapement
A cylinder escapement

Monday, June 6, 2016

Last exam (almost)

Simone doing his practice exam

Theren sharpening his weapons before the big day

Tomas adjusting the hairspring 
The students took their last exam before the final this past week.  It is most likely the longest and hardest test they had to take in the course.  The exam consists of constructing a complete balance and timing it to the given tolerances.  They are glad it is over, but are eager to find out the results.
Back to using some big machinery

Testing out new tools

Shuai and Eddie have a little time off to after their previous exam to finish off some work they have put off until now.  Eddie made some jewel pushers for his Horia tool while Shuai finished off the rest of his tools from the micromechanics portion of the course.  Shuai also did some testing with tools he bought from Horotec.
The joys of toolmaking

Homemade Horia pushers and stand by Eddie