Long-term 7A38-7000 resto' project: 'El Caracortada' revisited

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Long-term 7A38-7000 resto' project: 'El Caracortada' revisited

Post by Seiko7A38 »

To understand the context of these couple of somewhat belated postscripts, you'll need to have read this thread in the old forum's Workshop section: A very long-term restoration project: 7A38-7000 with 'patina' - or not worth effort ?

I may have left a few threads on the old Webs hosted forum unfinished, but occasionally the need arises to resurrect them, as in this case. I'd last updated that particular thread in late October 2013, nearly 8 years ago, when I wrote:

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I'm almost ashamed to admit, I never did anything more to it. :oops: I gave it the nickname 'El Caracortada' (Latin American for 'Scarface') as a nod to the eponymously titled 1983 f-rated movie starring Al Pacino and obviously the scabby scarred dial. It joined the roster of my regular everyday beaters and was particularly comfy to wear, because I'd fitted a spring-loaded clasp extender to the slightly too short bracelet (which really needed one more adjustment link). I've posted a number of unflattering wrist shots of it in the old forum's WRUW thread (and elsewhere) over the years and not cared what people might think, safe in the knowledge that I've a few much better examples of stainless 7A38-7000 SAA007J in my collection, including two in almost mint / NOS condition.

As a quick recap of the opening posts of the old forum thread, I'd originally bought a basket case stainless 7A38-7000 off eBay in the States, back in March 2010 for $42.05, which was subsequently to become the basis for 'El Caracortada'. It was well botched, including a glued-in acrylic crystal. I initially discarded most of it in disgust and subsequently used the 700L dial / movement to construct my first 7A38-7029 based franken in August 2010. See this post. That Franken later evolved for the better, when I fitted it with a Seiko p/n Z1020S bracelet.

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Though I was never entirely happy with that particular case / dial combination. I'd been toying with the idea of building another 7A38-702x franken for some time. Last Friday, I built up a new black 709L dial / movement (deliberately using non-standard hands). I could easily have cobbled together a suitably refurbished 7A38-7029 case to fit it into (plus I had a spare NOS Seiko p/n Z1020S bracelet), but instead I decided to fit into to my existing Franken, thereby displacing the 700L dial / movement and resulting in this rather more attractive franken combination, which I was quite pleased with.

Freeing up that 700L dial / movement to use it to improve 'La Caracortada's appearance was the other part of my plan. Indeed, I'd hinted at it a few weeks ago, when I'd tried another franken combination that I wasn't entirely happy with:
Seiko7A38 wrote: Tue Jun 29, 2021 10:08 amIncidentally, it very nearly received a slightly better 700L dial / movement transplant at the weekend, which amusingly might have reunited the well-worn watch case with its original dial / movement. See this post ....
Which I deliberately re-quoted in my WRUW post yesterday ....
Seiko7A38 wrote: Mon Aug 23, 2021 9:34 am
Seiko7A38 wrote: Tue Jun 29, 2021 10:08 amIncidentally, it very nearly received a slightly better 700L dial / movement transplant at the weekend, which amusingly might have reunited the well-worn watch case with its original dial / movement ....
Perhaps I'm sometimes overly sentimental about certain 'lesser condition' watches in my collection, for all the wrong reasons. Well I've finally decided that it's time for 'El Caracortada' to meet his maker. This is absolutely the last time you will see me wearing what is undoubtedly my worst condition stainless 7A38-7000 SAA007J, in its current guise. :(

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Re: Long-term 7A38-7000 resto' project: 'El Caracortada' revisited

Post by Seiko7A38 »

To reiterate what I wrote in my WRUW thread post, earlier this morning ....
Seiko7A38 wrote: Tue Aug 24, 2021 10:09 am In true gangster form, 'El Caracortada' didn't give up without a fight. Whereas I could have just simply swapped over the complete better 700L dial / movement (that had become available from the 7A38-7029 Franken I re-hashed last Friday), instead I chose to do it the hard way. :roll:
Exchanging the 700L dial / movements (as was) would have been by far the quickest most expedient solution, but being the pedant, I'd already decided that I wanted to use the best combination of dial / hands and movement. So what could have been a 5 minute job ended up taking me the best part of yesterday afternoon. :roll:

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Despite the rust staining visible around the edges of its dial spacer plate, the 'El Caracortada' 7A38 movement had run faultlessly for nearly 8 years, with full functionality and nice clicky pusher switch action. The 'target' movement had always been a bit suspect from Day #1, both the sweep and 1/10s hands needing some persuasion to get them moving. Its antimagnetic backplate was badly tarnished and if you look closely, you can see the bosses of all three sub-dial hands (particularly the 1/10s) are distorted, where some clumsy incompetent botcher had tried to pull them.

I duly carefully pulled all the hands from both movements, selected the best of them and put them to one side. Never having bothered before, when I removed the 'El Caracorta' 700L dial (you can still see the scars where the ground glass fragments were dragged around it by the hands in the photo below), I was in for a bit of a nasty shock. :o
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Flipping it over revealed another different side to it ! Plenty of evidence of past moisture ingress and battery leakage: rust staining and dried up fluid excrement !

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Once I'd undone the two tiny retaining screws, the dial itself came off relatively easily. However the steel spacer plate underneath, whose rusty outline imprint remained on the back of the dial, was effectively seized solid to the movement backplate by dint of its badly rusted locating pins, especially the one near 4 o'clock. I eventually managed to prise it off (to facilitate cleaning it up) with a couple of tiny drops of WD-40 and using a scalpel blade to gradually open the joint.

At that point, I briefly reconsidered which movement to proceed with, but stuck to my original decision. I had to put my camera battery on charge, so just got on with the rest of the clean-up exercise, which I should have done back in 2013.

Ignore the time shown in the photo below, it was late afternoon yesterday, by the time I'd cleaned up the movement to my satisfaction and fitted the better 700L dial and hands. Those of you who've tried setting chronograph hands, so that they hit their marks exactly, will know it's something of 'black art' - and can sometimes be a bit 'hit and miss'. I've had plenty of practice, but my hands aren't as steady as they were ten years ago and so I have good days and bad days. :( Yesterday was a bad day. I took the photo below after my third attempt at both the sweep second and 1/10s sub-dial hands. I had one more stab at improving the alignment of the 30 minute hand, before deciding enough was enough.

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It might not be visible to the naked eye, but despite being a vast improvement on 'El Caracortada', that used 700L dial is far from perfect. There are a few tiny marks and scratches, notably around '0' on the 1/10s sub-dial, inflicted by some previous cack-handed botcher (not myself). The lume on the (opposite) ends of the 8 o'clock and 10 o'clock hour batons is slightly degraded too. Still, it's in keeping with the overall condition of the rest of the watch, so it'll have to suffice.

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Re: Long-term 7A38-7000 resto' project: 'El Caracortada' revisited

Post by Seiko7A38 »

Here's a slightly different wrist shot to the one I posted in the WRUW thread earlier (which doesn't particularly illustrate the point I'm trying to make any better).

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I'm not quite finished yet. Though the next phase of 'El Caracortada's 'facelift' will probably take a little longer. Fitting the better dial and hands has greatly improved its overall appearance. However, I'm now finding my eye drawn to the bezel, with its multitude of small dings. :( I assume the old scabby dial previously served as a distraction. Fortunately, I remembered that I still had a NOS Seiko p/n 82333609 bezel and a p/n 325W20GN00 crystal in my spare parts stock.

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No of course I'm not going to 'waste' them on this watch. :P I'm going to fit them to my first almost mint example, which has a couple of tiny scuffs on the bezel. I'll then fit that removed bezel to the most deserving of my 'second string' examples, cascading down until I'm left with a lightly dinged bezel, which will get fitted to 'El Caracortada'. ;) Only problem (that's preventing me starting 'the chain reaction') is, I was surprised and annoyed with myself, to find I didn't have a crystal gasket in stock. So I've just ordered a couple (Seiko p/n 86570300) from Tony Plaza (seikoparts14).

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