Another OSA Owned Watch Rebuild – 1961 Bulova Type A17A Military Issue Navigation Watch

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thor447

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Is it just me or the photograph, but the hands look dirty or darker than they should.
The hands and dial were not touched. I left them in the same condition that they were received in.
But he said it was not radioactive paint.
It is definitely aged, but I can confirm that it wasn't radium. It didn't budge the needle on the Geiger counter.
 

thor447

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@TANSTAAFL, there's a trick to getting that aged look when applying lume to a watch. If you mix up white lume, then add a tiny amount of coffee to the mix, you can get it to have that 50+ year old look. A trick a watchmaker from Texas showed me on another forum earlier this year.
 

TANSTAAFL

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But he said it was not radioactive paint.
If it were tritium paint two things occur, Tritium (Hydrogen 3) has a half life of 11 years, so if any remains after 6 1/2 lives it may be undetectable. Hydrogen molecules do have a tendency to "leak" over a period of years as well. They are so small they even have a slight tendency to "leak" through glass! Wax or chemical varnishes are no match for holding it. So, assuming all the Hydrogen is still there, it may not be easily detected after almost 6 half lives even with very sensitive geiger counters.

Another Isotope was used in self luminous paints as well, Pm 147 (promethium). It has a half life of only 2.5 years. So after almost 6 decades, well over 10 half lives have passed. Neodymium is the decay product, it is not radioactive.

Of course this is speculation, it could simply be they used an ordinary luminous paint (non radioactive) that oxidized. After decades many luminous paints lose their ability to capture light and re emit light in the dark. Modern luminous paints more than likely will work for scores of decades.

To get back on topic the Bulova is beautiful. It is a very desirable watch among collectors and

thor447 has actually taken this timepeice, had respect for its provenance and history, and added much value to it and made it more of a collectors piece. Kudos on not re-luming it. Personally if it were in my family I would have re-lumed it, since I would have no desire to re sell it.

 

Snattlerake

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I decided to step away from the bench for a few minutes and calm my nerves. I was a Pucker Factor 10!!

You have learned a valuable lesson in basic troubleshooting. Actually two.

Rule number one, if it used to work, there is a reason (possibly multiple reasons) it does not work now. Divide and conquer.

Rule number two, If you are getting flustered, step back, take a small break and try not to think about the problem. Think about the beer or steak dinner you are going to treat yourself to later on.

You have it extremely lucky on your watches. You don't have any issues other than purely mechanical. I had environmental, mechanical, electrical, software, hardware, and internet issues to try to interpret. One time we had to fly in the representatives of three different manufacturers of products to find the problem. It seemed all three of the different manufacturers said the linking of their products would work BUT THEY NEVER PUT THEM TOGETHER TO SEE.

It was a 6 month crapfest with everyone pointing fingers at everyone else and not themselves on a 6.2 million dollar project. The problem was found by one manufacturer bringing with them a special computer code translator and ultimately finding out their device was actually a 4 component instead of a 16 component as we were told. The second we hooked up more than 4 devices on the 16 device box, we lost all communications to all devices.

Sorry to ruin the thread. The more I explained, the more I had to explain.
 
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thor447

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You have learned a valuable lesson in basic troubleshooting. Actually two.

Rule number one, if it used to work, there is a reason (possibly multiple reasons) it does not work now. Divide and conquer.

Rule number two, If you are getting flustered, step back, take a small break and try not to think about the problem. Think about the beer or steak dinner you are going to treat yourself to later on.

You have it extremely lucky on your watches. You don't have any issues other than purely mechanical. I had environmental, mechanical, electrical, software, hardware, and internet issues to try to interpret. One time we had to fly in the representatives of three different manufacturers of products to find the problem. It seemed all three of the different manufacturers said the linking of their products would work BUT THEY NEVER PUT THEM TOGETHER TO SEE.

It was a 6 month crapfest with everyone pointing fingers at everyone else and not themselves on a 6.2 million dollar project. The problem was found by one manufacturer bringing with them a special computer code translator and ultimately finding out their device was actually a 4 component instead of a 16 component as we were told. The second we hooked up more than 4 devices on the 16 device box, we lost all communications to all devices.

Sorry to ruin the thread. The more I explained, the more I had to explain.
Oh I completely get it. I was a field service tech for about 20 years, then moved on as a project coordinator and finally a director of project management & technical compliance. Troubleshooting issues, especially across multiple platforms (electrical, software, hardware, etc.) is something I do quite often.
 

JermR82

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This was a great read and restoration. There is some things that you said are incorrect. I do not believe this watch was originally an A17A due to the fact that the A17A had a 17 Jewel Movement and the 3818A had a 15 jewel movement like yours has. The dial and hands are correct for Mil-W-3818A but the caseback is incorrect because it is an A17A caseback. I recently purchased a watch EXACTLY like this. MIL-W-3818A dial, hands, and movement, but an A17A caseback. I am currently looking for a Mil-W-3818A caseback to make it all correct for the watch.
 

dennishoddy

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@dennishoddy, the one I will be working on actually has the exact same chronograph movement as yours. I’ll let you know how it goes! I’ll hopefully start on it in a week or two.
You may be pleased to know that my Seiko Chronograph you rebuilt needed the time reset one time about two months after the repair. One or two minutes, I don't remember which now, but since that time, looking at the time on my lap top and the watch on my wrist at this moment, there is less than 30 seconds difference.
It's regulated perfectly. Old style wind only, no automatic features.
You did a first class job!
 

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