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New Hermes Pantograph in rough condition - worth buying?

noynac

Plastic
Joined
Jun 19, 2023
Hi! I apologize if this type of post is not suited here.

I have been looking around for a cheap pantograph for some time to use for engraving watch bridges / dials. Occasionally I will see some come up in quite good condition for $250~, but they end up being pickup only 500 miles+ away.
I have now come across this a New Hermes GTX-U for $180 locally that comes with some letters, but the condition seems a bit rough.
I was curious to get some thoughts/input on if it is worth it to purchase in it's current condition, or if I could run into issues that would be a pain to fix & better off saving the money.
Though, I do see letter sets coming up on ebay for $200 or more at times. So perhaps it's worth it to get just for the letters, and then get a better machine in the future?

School is draining my resources at the moment, so I don't have much to work with until I graduate next year.

I have attached two images of the pantograph below.

- Gavin
 

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Welcome aboard, noynac!

I really don't know, as I've never used a pantograph. However, I did watch Joe Pie make one on YouTube and I bought some letters so I can make my own someday.

It would appear to me that the one you're looking at just needs some cleaning and perhaps lubrication.

The question to ask yourself is, "If it doesn't work for me, can I sell it and not lose (much) money on it?"
 
It looks a bit dirty, but if it moves smoothly and the spindle spins freely and quietly, then get it. Fonts (sets of master letters) can be adapted from many makes of machine, so you aren't limited to New Hermes fonts specifically.
 
Pantograph engraving machines fall into two main types; stationary tool and motorized tool. The pictures in post #1 show a stationary tool type, also called a drag engraver. The part is marked by literally dragging a sharp point (diamond, carbide or steel) across the metal and scratching a design on the surface leaving a raised bur around the scratch. They do not do great work, but they are relatively cheap and were likely operated by low-paid low-skill workers. I cannot see how such a device could add value to a watch part. Lowering value would be more likely. I have seen old wrist watches with the case back marked by such a device, perhaps with a presentation message or just an owner's name. Just information in an out of sight location, rather than decoration, in other words.

Motorized engraving machines actually cleanly cut grooves into metal or plastic with rotating sharp single edge cutters. Old ones were pantographs, but computer-controlled machines have taken over the commercial applications like trophies and personalized gifts.

I have quite a few pantograph engravers and lots of letter sets. I am fond of the Green Instrument Co. engravers, which are all good. New Hermes made excellent and expensive machines, but also not so great relatively low priced machines like the one pictured. To keep costs low, some letter sets were made of plastic. Most letter sets were machined from brass. The cost of the brass and the extra time to machine them make large letters cost more than small ones.

Larry
 
Pantograph engraving machines fall into two main types; stationary tool and motorized tool. The pictures in post #1 show a stationary tool type, also called a drag engraver. The part is marked by literally dragging a sharp point (diamond, carbide or steel) across the metal and scratching a design on the surface leaving a raised bur around the scratch. They do not do great work, but they are relatively cheap and were likely operated by low-paid low-skill workers. I cannot see how such a device could add value to a watch part. Lowering value would be more likely. I have seen old wrist watches with the case back marked by such a device, perhaps with a presentation message or just an owner's name. Just information in an out of sight location, rather than decoration, in other words.

Motorized engraving machines actually cleanly cut grooves into metal or plastic with rotating sharp single edge cutters. Old ones were pantographs, but computer-controlled machines have taken over the commercial applications like trophies and personalized gifts.

I have quite a few pantograph engravers and lots of letter sets. I am fond of the Green Instrument Co. engravers, which are all good. New Hermes made excellent and expensive machines, but also not so great relatively low priced machines like the one pictured. To keep costs low, some letter sets were made of plastic. Most letter sets were machined from brass. The cost of the brass and the extra time to machine them make large letters cost more than small ones.

Larry
I see. I had been curious about what type of results to expect from a stationary vs motorized pantograph, as I have come across both before. Perhaps it is better to pass on this after all and just wait until next year after I graduate. I know for $600 - $1k~ I could get something that is in much better condition and motorized.
 
Gortons and Deckel pantos are awesome but they are a much larger machine. Not portable by any means and take up a lot of space. I've got a New Hermes with a motorized spindle, works pretty good for what it is. Good enough for doing a good job on most of the small stuff I've used it on. Nothing like one of those larger machines though.
 
I just gave away a Deckel G1L. Collets are hellish expensive, seriously thought of converting it to a ER11 but I have better things to do with my time. Great piece of gear if you have the work for it. Currently do all my engraving on the CNC or the laser.

On topic, I would wait till you can buy something better than the one in the photographs.
 
How do you feel about the gortons ? (as an ex-mastermil owner, I kind of like that company so be gentle, please ...)
Gorton made great machines, but I have never owned one. Here is a picture of my big Green D-2 pantograph, originally purchased by Oldsmobile in 1955. The base machine price then was $1155 ($13,107 in today's money) without the type sets and other accessories that Olds bought. Olds made the dolly. I added the Green X-Y table, Green rotary table and Moffatt lamp after I got the machine.

This is a manageable size machine, considering it is industrial quality iron, not like the aluminum trophy shop stuff that New Hermes built. The bare machine weighs 375 pounds and the empty steel cabinet weighs 200 pounds.

My employer had a more or less unused Deckel pantograph that they auctioned off years ago. I decided it was too heavy to haul home and rig into my shop, so I did not bid on it.

Larry

DSC00117.JPG
 
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Gorton made great machines, but I have never owned one. Here is a picture of my big Green D-2 pantograph, originally purchased by Oldsmobile in 1955. The base machine price then was $1155 ($13,107 in today's money) without the type sets and other accessories that Olds bought. Olds made the dolly. I added the Green X-Y table, Green rotary table and Moffatt lamp after I got the machine.

Larry

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2D or 3D ?
 
I've got a Gorton P1-2, which is a 2D machine. I think it was their smallest, but it's no lightweight. I've used it mostly with plastic (different color faces and center) and brass, and it works very well. Steel also, with light cuts. You can also use it for light milling.

Collets for these are expensive and hard to find. Several collets will likely cost you more than the machine itself, same with the font sets. So, tooling is the key. While there are dozens of different font styles in addition to all sorts of artwork, you may be able to live with just one or two. Incomplete sets are usable as long as you have all letters and numbers and multiples of the common ones - you can always switch letters in the middle of a run, although it is a PITA. And one standard collet with an adapter for taper shank cutters may be sufficient.

The seller I got my machine from essentially gave the machine away with the purchase of the font sets. And the machine was in great shape.
 
Suggestion. Call around to your local engraving shops tell them that your a student and are looking for letters and a photograph, they might have one their dad used over in the corner and would like to fine a good home for.
I have a friend who does restoration book binding and who wanted a larger hot stamper and type. I suggested she do this and someone gave her a great deal partly because they wanted it to go to a good home where it would be used and cared for..
 
I had a New Hermes engraver. I sold that and bought a Gorton P1-2. I then sold that and bought another New Hermes. In my opinion the op will be best served with a New Hermes engraver that has a rotary head.

I suggest one with a rotary head. With a rotary head engraver you can still do drag engraving with the right tip. Drag engraving is really meant for trophy plaques and similar surfaces. You can still do drag engraving with a rotary head and the right tip.

The really nice thing that the New Hermes engravers do that a 2d machine tool type engraver doesn't do very easily is to follow a curved surface. The New Hermes engravers have a depth setting ring that goes around the cutter and you hold the cutter down against the work with one hand while guiding the stylus through the templates with other hand. My Gorton was a beautiful machine, mechanically almost new, and very nicely made. These machines are made for serious engraving and they take more setup than a New Hermes even for simple stuff. For it to follow a curved surface a separate guide form guide was required. I think the 3d Gortons and Deckels will so this curve following more automatically but they are even bigger machines.

My first New Hermes engraver was I think a TX model. These are sort-of tall and I think designed that way to allow engraving on bowling balls. The one I have now is a IM model. This is smaller and I think would be practical to buy on ebay and get shipped. Also, it's nice because it fits in a cabinet and doesn't take perpetual floor space. Some of the New Hermes engravers are only intended for engraving flat material so if you want to do anything with some depth, even 1", they probably are not a good choice.
 
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I have the motorized version of that model, the TX i use for marking Gun barrels or other small tools. I paid 600 for it a few years back with two sets of font and felt I got a good deal. For 180 id jump on it. You have the diamond drag, nothing wrong with that, tips are easy to find, no motor to go out, just not going to engrave super deep but will do contours better. You can do contours with a motorized one but need to change the nose cone and adjust the tool stickout.
A tip on the fonts, learn the model numbers and look on Ebay in the pics. You can find incomplete sets and match them cheaply to make a super set but also to avoid getting screwed by an unknowing or devious seller.

Ive bought the rotary attachment, a diamond drag, and other accessories for mine and have duplicates of some fonts, vise jaws, peg jaws, soft jaws. watch jaws, even a set of Old English font. Let me know if you get it we can work something out.
 
Why do you need one?
Watches?? maybe this is not so good at tenny tiny sizes.
We had four of what seems this size for marking toolholders. (pain it the ass and
not money makers..)
Then the world went to lasers. Not the same and I did/do like this marking more.
Money may be tight but $180 is six to eight trips to McDonlads or Wendys for one person.
The downside is speed. I am thinking that not a concern.
All said ,,, Looks like a buy now to me,
 
Why do you need one?
Watches?? maybe this is not so good at tenny tiny sizes.
We had four of what seems this size for marking toolholders. (pain it the ass and
not money makers..)
Then the world went to lasers. Not the same and I did/do like this marking more.
Money may be tight but $180 is six to eight trips to McDonlads or Wendys for one person.
The downside is speed. I am thinking that not a concern.
All said ,,, Looks like a buy now to me,
I am a watchmaking student, and while in the US that is only watch repair, I am interested in the manufacturing and finishing of movements.
I don't have the means to actually make a movement at the moment, so I am starting with skeletonizing existing movements, and practicing various finish techniques that are relatively low cost. Black polishing, matte / frosted finish, anglage, perlage, etc. I had also considered geneva stripes, but that will require a bit more tooling. So perhaps in the future.
In addition to that I am also working on modifying a movement to add complications such as a jump hour module.

Anyhow, I'd like to engrave my name onto the train bridge. It would also be nice to have the ability to engrave the chapter ring.
I did experiment a bit with photo resist etching with ok-ish results, but it's a pretty slow method, and really only suitable for the dial, not the rest of the components.
 
Hand engraving is what you really want? Cheap tools, only takes a lifetime to learn how to do it well.
When I was at West Dean College, we had a one day master class with an amazing engraver. His tools where a few hand gravers and a double sided India stone. Watched him engrave a clock chapter ring by eye as well as doing some beautiful 17-18th century lettering. Me? He complimented my ability to sharpen my graver but, politely I'm sure, said nothing about my horrible attempts to use it.
 
Hand engraving is what you really want? Cheap tools, only takes a lifetime to learn how to do it well.
When I was at West Dean College, we had a one day master class with an amazing engraver. His tools where a few hand gravers and a double sided India stone. Watched him engrave a clock chapter ring by eye as well as doing some beautiful 17-18th century lettering. Me? He complimented my ability to sharpen my graver but, politely I'm sure, said nothing about my horrible attempts to use it.
Reminds me of 1976, when I had carved my interpretation of an old Japanese masterwork in metal using a picture in a book. I took it to a Tokyo museum and the director had the original brought up from the vaults so I could hold it in my gloved hands and see for myself how far I had missed the mark with my version. But he did complement me on the way I had done the edges and how well I had engraved my name in Japanese. I signed it Vanice made this in America in the 200th year since the founding of the nation, which is similar to the old format of signature used by Japanese tsuba makers.

Larry

Tsuba 6.JPG
 
I don't mean to revive dead posts, but I just thought I would give an update. I purchase a Scripta SM with letter sets. Thank you for the advise here. Hand engraving is something I look to learn in the future for flourish / scroll work, but not so much for text.
Here's a pic of the Scripta. The design looks extremely similar to a gravograph/gravotech IM3
ScriptaSM.png
 








 
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