Monday, June 13, 2016

Speed: The Supra

Well, I'm going to miss this beast. Probably going to sell it this Saturday for a song. I was so pumped when I bought it, thinking that buying a nearly finished project would get finished faster than my earlier self -build projects (power steering delete, aluminum driveshaft, weight cut, on a JDM 1JZ Supra for example). But it's been modded enough that the few 'little' things it needs to be perfect are still more than I want to spend. At least on a car.

The idea is that the piddly amount I'm selling it for (under half what I bought it for, ugh...) will go towards most of a bench-top CNC milling machine. And that will be back to the Time aspect of the blog.

The problem with project cars in a place like GVRD is the cost of space to work on them, plus the added cost of larger industrial equipment. Those issues are one reason I veered off to Horology, as bad as I want to make a Locost 7 with a North-South aligned Yamaha 3.4L 60° V8, twin turbocharged power plant. And I have the knowledge base to make it grip, respond, and balance. Motion ratios, damping curves, weight transfer, suspension frequency, camber curves, etc... all down. Just nowhere to apply it. Funding limited.

Oh well, I'm working on the black arts of Horology now. And if I can sort out damping curves and acoustic header/exhaust tuning, I should be able to wrap my head around amplitudes and beat errors.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Time: Manufacturing

Manufacturing watches is my 'Endgame', to use a term trying to be popularized by WUS member Chuasam. Once I can produce watch cases, dials, and hands in an independent, structured, and reliable way I will be mostly done purchasing commercial watches. At least dress, métiers d'art, and casual types. Technical tool watches with clicky bezels and excessive depth ratings aren't on the foreseeable project list.

I started screwing around last year with my Sherline lathe, making some watch-ish parts out of sterling silver and testing a friction fit. Pictures below.

After basically wasting some silver in that test (I could make a curio box maybe later), I started researching movement fitting sizes and came to the conclusion that soldering a bar closed and hammering it round before machining, isn't going to work for man-sized watches. And I'm talking old style man-sized of 34mm+. This has to do with common silver bar stock sizes, as well as the thickness to radius ratio that makes getting the ends bent and aligned for soldering a massive pain in the ass. The other issue I had was holding the piece on the lathe without marring it, or it slipping with too much cut depth. Plus sterling silver machines kind of gummy.

So in typical fashion I set it away to think about, and that's become more of a problem avoidance thing than solution seeking. The solutions are now ready in theory but have yet to be acted on or tested.

Size of the initial round parts I will need can be solved by starting with castings. Castings can be then forged on a mandrel to reduce porosity issues and work harden before machining.

The gumminess of traditional sterling silver can be resolved by changing to a high end tarnish resistant sterling silver called Argentium™. This has several added benefits over traditional sterling. It's purer silver, Argentium has 93.5% or 96.0% silver content vs 92.5% silver content in traditional sterling. It's whiter in colour due to the higher silver percentage. It is tarnish resistant due to substituting some of the copper balance with germanium. (From what I can tell the germanium in the silver acts similarly to chromium in steel, producing a transparent, self-healing oxide layer that acts as a barrier to the environmental contaminants that cause tarnish.) The new alloys allow the Argentium to be heat treated to increase hardness and strength above that of traditional sterling. This allows for superior machining and polishing operations.

Finally the work holding problem is hinted at in the last picture, precision fitting collets combined with a 'wax' chuck. I was going to try the traditional method of melting shellac, but then read about super glue for this purpose. I tested some pieces and the bond is good, but they didn't release well with acetone, which is supposed to dissolve cyanoacrylate glue. So I got disappointed. Later found out you just his the chuck with some heat (propane torch) and parts release nearly instantly. Soak them in acetone after to remove glue residue.

So this is kinda my to do list:

Finds a caster that can do some specific size Argentium™ 960 Pro rings.

Make some collets for inside and outside diameter piece holding.

Maybe fit an existing movement, dial, and handset (2892 from a Bulova I have) into a hand-made round, lugless case this decade.

Need to focus more on doing after the thinking is over...

Time: Tissot Couturier

Some thoughts on my Tissot Couturier automatic.

This is a watch that I was very attracted to when I first saw pictures of it, but while I still like it the shine has metaphorically worn off a bit.

The basics of what this is is a fairly simple watch with a plated rose gold case, black dial, and asymmetrically laid out dial with time, small seconds, and date window. Originally it came with a fitted black leather strap that felt like plastic garbage. It's now on a Hirsch Merino leather, and the factory butterfly style deployant.

Since the styling was what attracted me, I'll talk about it first. The dial layout is somewhat reminiscent of the legendary Lange 1, from the crown jewel of Richemont's Maisons, A.Lange & Sohne. But it also has a minimalist approach, lacking individual minute markers for the time, as well as not having any lume. The case is a mix of polished and brushed surfaces but seems rather thick, or at least tall. This is probably due to the movement height.

So with regards to the technical stuff of the movement, it's an interesting approach. From what I've read it's referred to as a 2825. It seems to be simply a module attached to a 2824 base, following nomenclature seen by ETA with the 289x variants. From looking at other uses within Tissot and Hamilton (brothers within the Swatch Group's family), it's probably a plate that allows offsetting of the hours, minutes, or seconds in a variety of positions. It's neat for easily changing dial presentation rather drastically on a single movement.

Timing and quality is anecdotal, based on a sample of... two. Why two? Because the first one I received had a faulty crown that did nothing to impress me with my first new from an Authorized Dealer 'Swiss Made' watch. My Seiko and Orient autos at a fraction of the price have all been perfect out of the box. But small sample size, anecdotal, yada, yada. So how about timing? First off, it's not a huge priority on a watch I can only accurately set at 5 minute intervals. But even so, it's kinda meh. Gains maybe a couple minutes a week, which is on par with my worst Seiko 5 (7S26). Not impressed again, and I'm not sure what the spec is for this new 2825, nor even the grade of this specific movement. It's probably in spec for a ETA Standard grade, which would be my guess by looking at the movement. Despite a couple blued screws and a striped rotor, the key tells for it not being a more accurate grade are the Novodiac rather than Incabloc shock protection, and the straight balance spokes that indicates nickel rather than Glucydur. But like I said this is more of a looker than a performer. I can live.

Overall it's OK. I bought it as a reward for busting ass at work on a long, crazy, OT shift. It's not going anywhere. But still only gets on the wrist about once a month or two.

Beginning Again


Well, I'm giving this another shot. Consistency and diligence aren't my best attributes, but I still like the Time Speed and Distance theme. This one will be about Distance.

So what initiated this nth attempt at the Blog is my recent decision to visit Japan this coming September. Finally, I guess. I've been studying Japanese on and off for ages, but never fully committed to it given a lack of real reason. I prefer sharing English with the Japanese students I meet at Nikka Center for language exchange. So now I'm going, for a reason I'm not really going to get to in depth about.

I don't have much of an idea of what to do there, beyond a general sense of where I'll be initially arriving at, a suburb of Japan's third largest city, Nagoya, in Aichi prefecture. It's the hub of Japan's auto industry, so there will probably be several Speed related posts. Toyota City is nearby. But beyond that, no idea. I'm writing this from Coal Harbour, across from Vancouver's Stanley Park, and am fully aware of what an apathetic tourist and traveler I can be.

But there may be more to this than a simple vacation. I haven't decided myself yet, and likely won't until I'm there, but there could be some complexity involved. This gets back to a Time related subject, but also another thing. But that's for another time.