ELGIN 717 GOLFBALL DIRECT READ JUMP HOUR 1957

The Elgin Direct Read was introduced in 1957/58 at the same time as the competing Benrus Dial-o-rama  (don't you find that interesting?). The Elgins were "100% American made" and are more collectible due to better designs and endorsement by King Elvis. The entire direct read family was based on a slightly modified inhouse analog 710-series movement so you can easily find spare parts in hundreds of Elgins from the 1950/60s. The most popular is the Golfball very sought after by golf enthusiasts. It featured the cheapest plain 717 calibre with 17 jewels whereas the Chevron (719/19j.) and Elvis Tank (721/23j.) had nicely finished highgrade movements.  All of them are fully interchangeable so it is not uncommon to find a cheap 717 in an expensive Elvis Tank.

 

 

The Elgin jump hour concept is smart but is not that robust as the Dial-o-rama. The main issue is the transparent plastic minute disc that is usually discolored, cracked or completely broken after so many decades. I have once managed to create a spare from scratch but it was very timeconsuming as I had to find a perfectly angled piece of transparent plastic. I cut an angled circle from some crystal clear packaging of big round candles and applied a sticker with scanned graphics :)) These challenges are now history thanks to Gary Clark "nostalgia-2000" who introduced newly manufactured Elgin minute discs in 2004. They can be purchased online for 30$ and will bring your beloved Elgins back to shape. My only comment... the print could have been ivory instead of white to match the aged hour disc properly.

 

 

The jumping functionality is over-engineered thus extremely difficult to assemble correctly. The servicing manual is shown below but here is my explanation:  The minute disc is mounted or glued onto a carrier hub (wide side upwards!) that is firmly press fitted onto the cannon pinion. This minute assembly holds the hour disc in place so proper assembly is vital for proper indexing (jumping). A special set of tweezers was designed for quick and safe removal (pictured left). This combination tool is a must for the serious collector and is really worth the money if you ever find one :) If you don't have this tool you can try with presto-tweezers or you can pull the minute assembly with your fingernails but you might end up with breaking the plastic disc. You might also remove both the minute and hour assembly including the cannon pinion.

 

 

The hour disc assembly (above) consists of the hour disc (press fitted hour dial+carrier) and the hour wheel with tiny spring which is responsible for proper indexing. The most important thing is to assemble the hour wheel properly by attaching the spring hook onto the pin on the hour carrier and afterwards inserting the pin in the kidney-shaped hole. This spring gathers power with every rotation and in effect the hour wheel is suddenly indexed when a pin on the moving lever (cam pawl) is  raised and released by a finger (actuating cam) on the cannon pinion. The hour assembly is rotated every hour by one tooth on the hour carrier and is stopped at the next tooth by the pin on the cam pawl (lever). The hour assembly is raised slightly with every jump thus it is necessary to secure it with the minute assembly  to prevent vertical movement.

 

 

 

If the print on the hour disc is misaligned you can use the combination tool (pictured above) to turn it clockwise to so that an hour mark corresponds with a special punch hole on the base plate. As mentioned earlier an Elgin direct reader can be repaired with parts from a 710 series movement excluding the jumping section. When it gets jammed for some reason and somebody is trying to set the time by brute force the most likely result is a busted minute wheel with high gear on top (pictured left). The minute gear on a direct read movement is responsible for rotating the hour wheel on the hour assembly and for this purpose it was increased in height when compared to the base calibre. Fortunately this gear is press fitted onto the minute wheel and it can be easily punched out and transplanted to a broken wheel.

 

Note! The Elgin jump hour section is a pain to work on and you will surely need a few attempts before getting it right. Usually when an Elgin does not jump properly it means that the hour disc has jumped to far upwards and has been released from the hour wheel. In this event you will need to disassemble all sections and start anew. Cleaning the parts thoroughly might help to prevent sticky surfaces.

 

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Keywords: elgin jump hour, elgin golfball

Market value: 100-300-500$ (yellow gf version, extremely rare white gf version, condition, rare box)

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