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TIG welded platinum watch restoration


#1

Hello all,

I wanted everyone to know that I TIG weld on other materials than
silver. Here is a platinum watch that had fallen into disrepair. It
needed new hinges, stone replacement, dial refinishing, new movement,
new lugs, and a new platinum bracelet replacement to match the steel
one that was half missing. All fabrication and repair was welded via
the TIG technique. I felt it would be easier to repair the existing
hinge tubes via building up than to attach new ones. I inserted a
piece of graphite in the tube because I had some handy from a
mechanical pencil and it was easier to remove after the build up. I
was happy to see the emeralds were not effected by the welding even
though I needed to replaced them. I used spot welding mode for this
part of the job and I held the watch case in my bear fingers while
welding. The owner of a laser would most likely have just welded on
new tubing and not had to file it back into shape. But the point is,
this job could have been accomplished with a $400.00 second hand
welding machine. It didn’t take long to shape the tube. It meant a
great deal to my customer to have this family heirloom restored and
was a profitable job for me.

http://www.ganoksin.complatinum-watch-restoration.zip

Regards, Kevin


#2

Kevin-

TIG? As in Tungsten Inert Gas welding, like I use on my cars? I’m
intrigued, could you please elaborate? I can understand using a TIG
torch with a piece of filler metal (mild steel) on an auto body, but
I don’t understand how I would use this on precious metal pieces.

Tim


#3
TIG? As in Tungsten Inert Gas welding, like I use on my cars? 

Yep, same process…and here is the correct link to the zip file.
http://www.ganoksin.com/ftp/platinum-watch-restoration.zip

P@
www.patpruitt.com


#4
TIG? As in Tungsten Inert Gas welding, like I use on my cars? 

Tim, That’s right. My machine is used right off the shelf with no
modifications. I like to say it’s not the size of the hammer; it’s
how you swing it. Years ago I had a good friend that had been a
professional machinist for more than 50 years. He snickered at my
EMCO compact 5 lathe. He thought it was a toy. His lathe, like
himself, was ancient. The lathe was all entirely manual control and
driven with four-inch wide leather belts. It had a five-foot bed and
16-inch swing. The lathe weighed over a ton! I learned from him that
this big old lathe was absolutely capable of turning tiny objects
with extreme accuracy.

If your welder has a spot welding mode, it is capable of creating a
short burst of intense energy, like that of the various other forms
of welding technology. Think about the science. To weld we must
effect the material on an atomic level. The material must some how
become temporarily fluid, commingle, and then re- crystalize. Some
sort of energy that can influence the nature of the atomic particles
that compromise the structure of the material must be introduced to
cause this effect. There are many ways to do this. Electromagnetic
energy, which we call electricity, is a phenomena capable of doing
this.

A TIG welding machine has the capacity to regulate the amount of
energy introduced into the material. It is not the amount of energy
the machine is capable of producing, but the amount of energy that is
introduced. Therefore, car body or platinum watch, it is simply mater
which can be influenced by the controled introduction of electricity.
In my opinion platinum is the easiest of all precious metals to TIG
weld. No special machine functions are necessary. During the process
of restoring the platinum watch, the machine is set up with the
electrode negative and no pulser (amperage modulator).

I use my machine as a spot welder when I feel I can’t control the
weld as much as necessary and a continuous welder when I have more
latitude. While building up the channels used to hold in the emerald
baguettes, I used spot welding mode. Welding the links that received
the floral motif engraving, I used straight direct current continuous
welding. I can create a puddle of platinum while welding and hold it
or drag it around without the entire work piece melting down. To the
amazement of colleagues Tim Green and Jo Heamer, a puddle of molten
platinum could be magnetically drawn through space across a gap. This
is something I could not do with gas and oxygen. I have found the
control that is obtainable with the use of a TIG welder to be a
distinct advantage over gas welding. It is easy for me to understand
why people love the control over welding their laser welder affords
them. The main advantage of TIG welding over laser welding, is the
cost of the machinery.

Furthermore, TIG has the ability to weld thicker precious metal jobs
in a fraction of the time it would take to laser weld. There is a
reason that the majority of industry uses TIG welding as a solution
for joining metal. TIG affords flexibility and value. More production
with less tool cost. The catch is, that aside from the very intricate
welds my colleagues skillfully accomplish with their laser welders,
laser welding is simple. It takes about fifteen minutes to learn how
to make a simple weld with a laser. Not so with TIG welding. Thinking
back, it was very difficult for me to solder my first band ring. It
melted and I had to do it again and again. I persevered and with a
great sense of accomplishment, soldering became second nature. It was
very difficult for me to make my first TIG welds. Eventually I became
familiar with the tool and now welding is second nature. If you have
a desire to add a new skill to your resume, I would encourage you to
learn to arc weld. If you wish you could justify the purchase of a
laser, but can’t.

Consider arc welding. If you work in silver, palladium, or platinum,
TIG welding might make your life easier. Most of us are proud of our
small victories over the fussy business of make a piece of jewelry.
I’m proud of my welding skill. As a welder I’m not alone. There are
thousands of TIG welders toiling away in industries around the world,
making welds, building the objects that we use every day. At some
point, TIG welding was over looked by the industry. I’m uncertain
why. Perhaps someone can enlighten me. I’m ready to hear from others
why TIG welding is valuable or invaluable to the jeweler. I know it’s
not the great panacea, but is there a place in your shop for an arc
welder? Jim, Jo, and Pat, care to comment? Kevin Grey, did you try
it? How did it go? Theresa Frye, how does Techform utilize a TIG
welding machine?

Best regards, Kevin


#5

I’ve been getting closer to buying a TIG. Well, really I want to
fabricate an aluminum intake manifold for my hemi. But the nice
thing about owning a business is that you can deduct the cost as a
business expenditure if its business related. So I’d be looking for a
machine that can do small as well as medium/large welding jobs. Does
such an animal exist?


#6
I've been getting closer to buying a TIG. Well, really I want to
fabricate an aluminum intake manifold for my hemi. But the nice
thing about owning a business is that you can deduct the cost as a
business expenditure if its business related. So I'd be looking
for a machine that can do small as well as medium/large welding
jobs. Does such an animal exist? 

Interesting thread, I’ve recently begun to use TIG welding on both
stainless steel castings and repair, and on platinum. I have a large
Miller 180SD that runs on 220 and provides a ‘high-frequency’ arc
start so that you can create the arc without scratching the tungsten
electrode on the work. It is adjustable down to a pretty small arc
and does a great job on sizing stainless steel rings. The arc
intensity is controlled by a foot pedal. The 180SD also provides
alternating current for welding aluminum and magnesium. I used it to
make an aluminum intake manifold.

I also recently purchased a Harbor Freight Inverter TIG welder. It’s
very small and light and does not offer the alternating current
capability. It does, however, work pretty well. It does not have a
high frequency start, so you have to scratch the electrode on the
workpiece being welded in order to start the arc, and the arc does
not start very easily at the lowest current setting. I’ve
successfully used this machine for stainless steel ring sizings and
repair, but it’s difficult to get the head of the torch into small
spaces, like the inside of the ring when sizing. I’ve found it’s
best to be able to fully weld the ring from areas that are accessible
with the torch.

Both the above welders require and argon tank and regulator and I
would highly recommend an auto-dimming helmet so that you can see
what you are doing up until the instant the arc starts.

Pics of the welders are here:
http://rchristopher.com/tech/welder.html

Bob


#7
So I'd be looking for a machine that can do small as well as
medium/large welding jobs. 

If your going to work with aluminum, you will need a machine that
can weld with alternating current. The switching of polarity while
the arc is established causes the surface oxides on the aluminum to
break apart, thus allowing the operator to successfully weld. MIG
and TIG are by far the most common way of welding aluminum. Look for
a machine that can produce AC and DC current. Miller builds several
machines that fit your requirements. They offer technical articles
at their website. Free technical support by telephone is available.
They would be able to tell you how many amperes you would need for
your manifold given the parameters of the work piece. Once you know
your requirements, you will be able to match up machines. Keep in
mind that you don’t have to have a sub 1 amp machine to weld small
objects. You do need a machine that can control the amperage to a
small amount.

My Miller Dynasty 200 DX can operate at 1 to 200 amps. Some machines
are limited to 5 amps on the low side. Occasionally I might use a 1
amp spot weld, but It doesn’t happen often. With the help of Hanuman
I am providing a link to some images of a prong repair done on a head
that is surrounded by opals. This repair was achieved with 10 amps,
modulated, for.03 seconds. Please forgive the low quality of the
darker images. I was trying to shoot the picture through the eye
piece of my scope. The first image is of a stress crack in the prong
of a.04 ct 14KY head. The point of my tungsten electrode can be seen
pointing at the crack. The other images are after the weld. Lasers
and Pulse welders can also make this weld. Due to the economy, I’ve
noticed somebargains onsecond hand TIG welding machines lately.
Second hand purchases come with risk, but arc welding machine are
generallyruggedand reliable for many years of use. Keep in mind that
this is not new technology and most of the bugs have been worked
out.

http://www.ganoksin.com/ftp/platinum-watch-restoration-2.zip

Regards, Kevin


#8

In a previous post I mentioned that it was only on occasion that I
would set my TIG welding machine to 1 amp. Today I set my machine at
1 amp for the duration of.02 seconds. I used this setting to weld a
22 gage chain end ring. Have a look at the results.

http://www.ganoksin.com/ftp/platinum-watch-restoration-2.zip


#9

We bought a small Miller TIG welder several months ago primarily for
our 950 palladium product. We found that the laser couldn’t do "big"
jobs like sizing 950 Palladium reliably so with Kevin Lindsey’s help
we set up TIG welding at our facility. The machine has been great,
and we have also used it on platinum for the bigger jobs because it’s
quicker than the laser at delivering new metal to join etc. We also
cast a lot of 316 stainless and it works well on that too. For the
price, I think this is a great tool to add to your shop. Particularly
if you do a lot of palladium, I would wonder how you would get by
without one. From what I have heard, it’s the only way to get a
flawless color match on a sizing. We bought a demo unit at a really
fantastic price, but even full price is in the $1,200 range I think.

Teresa Fry
TechForm Advanced Casting Technology, LLC


#10
I know it's not the great panacea, but is there a place in your
shop for an arc welder? Jim, Jo, and Pat, care to comment? Kevin
Grey, did you try it? How did it go? Theresa Frye, how does
Techform utilize a TIG welding machine? 

Sorry for being so late to chime in on this. For me, there is
definately a usage in my studio and I actually preferr using the
right tool for the right job. Personally I am still having issues
welding very dis-similar thicknesses of material, but that is its own
issue. As to why the technology hasnt quite made it into the jewelry
industry I can think of a couple of reasons. 1) Ease of use, and 2)
Cost.

Granted the technology is now at a very affordable price (all things
compared) so the cost portion of the equation is not too much of a
factor, I still cite the ease of use is still up there. Of all the
welding techniques it requires the most skill to sucessfully preform
and can be quite daunting to someone that has never welded before.
Secondly, the other welding options out there (laser, PUK style
welders, etc) have a much easire learning curve, and have very high
sucess rate, and that can justify the increase in price.

I feel the one area that TIG welding is far superior to any other
welding techniques for jewerly production/fabrication is the ability
to add substantial ammounts of material to a piece seamlessly. With a
filler rod of identical material you can build up the volume of a
part where you need it with little problems.

Ill have to post some more usage of my TIG in fabrication this
summer. But to give my two cents, I love the tool, it works perfectly
for what I need it for. That doesnt negate my lust for a Laser to be
used for other purposes.

P@
www.patpruitt.com