DIY Water Resistance Tester– 3 bar

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DIY Water Resistance Tester– 3 bar

Post by 28800bph » Tue Feb 07, 2012 4:33 am

.

!!Safety Warning!!
Compressed air can put out an eye, cause severe injury, or death. Proceed at your own risk. The unit I built operates at 3 bar pressure. Champagne bottles typically contain 6 bar. Would you attempt to handle your Cristal without eye protection, hard hat, face shield, and cut-resistant gloves? There are nearly two dozen champagne-accident fatalities each year.* Be safe! *Source article

After any service inside a watch, I always check for leaks. A common way to do this is using the Bergeon 5555/98 tester shown here:

ImageImageImage

Here’s how it works: The watch is suspended in a see-through chamber, right above the water line. The chamber lid is sealed and a manual air pump is used to increase pressure to 3 bar (44 psi). Wait for three minutes. If there is any leak path at this pressure, air will have had some time to enter the case and equilibrate toward 3 bar.

Next, submerge the watch under the water by pushing down on the hanging rod. Immediately release all the air pressure in the chamber by opening the bleed valve on the lid. If there were a leak in the watch, the higher pressure air that had infiltrated the watch will now escape and you will see a steady stream of air bubbles. If you see a leak, note the location and remove the watch for repair.

The test is safe for the watch as water cannot leak into the case. A big advantage of this test versus other methods is that you can pinpoint the exact location of the leak (e.g. crown area, case back, chrono pusher, or crystal seal).

I go inside enough watches that this would be a handy tool. But it costs 555 £ at CousinsUK. Plus more for shipping. So I built a tool to do the same test for $70.36, shown here:

Image


The test chamber is simply a housing for a water filter. It is rated to a max operating pressure of 8.6 bar (125 psi). The burst pressure is not quoted by the manufacturer, but it is typically >2x the rated operating pressure. For liability reasons, the manufacturer says it should only be used for its intended application of filtering water -- not compressed air systems. The clear plastic is styrene acrylonitrile, and the blue lid is polypropylene. Both plastics are often marketed as “shatterproof,” i.e. they don’t fragment into shards when they fail. Though I test at only 3 bar (44 psi), my system is also protected from overpressure by a safety valve that will open at 4.8 bar (70 psi).

Here is the complete bill of materials:

From filtersfast.com:
$16.69 / 158599 / Pentek clear filter housing

From mcmaster.com
$4.43 / 8063K38 / Schrader air fill valve
$5.86 / 9151K52 / Pipe tee
$7.57 / 89895K227 / Stainless tubing
$5.76 / 4912K72 / Ball valve
$5.26 / 48435K769 / ASME rated safety relief valve 70 psi
$11.05 / 9545K63 / Size 13.5 rubber stopper, pack of 3
$6.25 / 9545K27 / Size 2 rubber stopper, pack of 25
$7.49 / 8576K82 / Rubber sheet 6”x6”x1/16”


Here is a photo of the tester with parts labeled.

Image


And here is how the test works.

First attach the watch to the stainless dip tube using the rubber strap. Wrap it around the spring bars like a zulu strap. The strap has four punched holes that fit tightly over the dip tube. You can shake this assembly around and the watch won’t budge. It’s quick to load and unload, yet there’s no risk of scratching or dropping the watch. Note that you get a clear view of the front, back, and sides of the watch.

Image

Image


Partially fill the clear chamber with water.

Image


Screw on the blue lid. Hand-tight is adequate. The watch remains dry, suspended above the water line.

Image


Attach a bike pump to the Schrader valve. This is the same standard valve found on bike and car tires.

Image


Raise the pressure to 3 bar (44 psi) then wait for three minutes.

Image


Remove the bike pump. Flip over the test chamber. The watch will now be submerged under water.

Image


Immediately open the ball valve to relieve the chamber pressure. Air from the top of the chamber will rush through the stainless dip tube and exit out the ball valve. In <2 seconds, the vessel will have returned to ambient pressure.

Image


Look for leaks. A leak will appear as a steady stream of air bubbles. There will always be a few residual bubbles around the case, especially near a rotating bezel. The difference between residual bubbles and an actual leak is quite obvious. Even for a minuscule leak.

Image

Image


No leaks on this test, just some residual bubbles. When the test is complete, flip over the chamber, unscrew the lid, and remove the watch.

Image


Here are some details on how I built the tester:

I pushed two small rubber stoppers (Size 2) in the center hole inside the blue lid. Their job is to hold the dip tube in place. These stoppers come bored-through with a hole diameter of 0.20”. So they grip firmly on the 0.25” stainless tubing and hold it in place securely. Once the tubing is pushed through the holes into the lid, you will have a nearly impossible time to get it back out (which is a good thing, it will never fall apart unexpectedly). I cut the rubber stoppers with a utility razor so that they both fit inside the blue lid when stacked. To be clear, I cut a little bit off their length, not their diameter.

Image


The two big stoppers (Size 13.5) are also slipped over the dip tube prior to mounting it on the lid. These serve to reduce the free volume of the chamber. Therefore you need less air volume when pressurizing to 3 bar. Also they allow the watch case to sit more toward the center of the chamber, which makes it easier to view when checking for leaks.

Image


I cut the stainless steel dip tube to size with a tubing cutter, and bent it with a tubing bender.

Image


If you don’t have access to these tools, you can cut tubing with a hacksaw and just use a straight tube piece. I added a bend to the tubing so that the watch could sit centered in the chamber. This bend is optional. It’s nice to have, but there’s plenty of excess room in the chamber even if the watch is mounted off the centerline.

The rubber strap that I used to secure the watch is 1/16” thick. I cut it to size with a rotary cutter in order to get a very straight cut. A pair of scissors would work just fine too. I used a standard paper punch to make the holes. I selected ECH rubber because it is unlikely to tear, and has minimal odor.

Image


All the metal thread connections are NPT (National Pipe Thread tapered thread). They require the use of a thread sealant. I used Teflon tape. Wrap 3 layers of tape in direction of threads, don’t cover the first thread. Do not overtighten the fittings. If you don’t have Teflon tape around the house, you can get a roll at the hardware store for ~$2.

I assume most everyone has access to a bike pump with a built-in gauge, so I didn’t include it in the cost of materials. They can be bought for <$20.

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Re: DIY Water Resistance Tester– 3 bar

Post by Kip » Tue Feb 07, 2012 5:31 am

You never cease to amaze me.......Well done again Sir!!
:clap:

It is fantastic to watch the developement progress on these testers.

Thank you so much for sharing all this information and providing the instructions and parts lists. Most generous of you.

Do you have any plans for a wet and/or dry unit that will test the core range of 3-20 or 3-30 bar with a clear chamber?

This would cover the majority of watches on the market and a unit I would most certainly be interested in. I am willing to bet CWL might be interested as well.
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Re: DIY Water Resistance Tester– 3 bar

Post by 28800bph » Tue Feb 07, 2012 6:52 am

Thanks Kip,
Kip wrote: Do you have any plans for a wet and/or dry unit that will test the core range of 3-20 or 3-30 bar with a clear chamber?

This would cover the majority of watches on the market and a unit I would most certainly be interested in. I am willing to bet CWL might be interested as well.
I'm thinking that a clear chamber design would get very expensive for testing above 10 bar in compressed air. Safety would become a big issue, and there would probably have to be a video camera rather than direct human observation.

Alternatively the watch could be pressurized safely under air inside a steel vessel to 30 bar, then depressurized quickly and transferred immediately to a clear vessel containing water at ambient pressure. That might be workable. I wonder how many watches rated for an external pressure of 30 bar could handle an internal pressure of 30 bar without blowing out the crystal?

Probably it's easier to stick to a test method of differential pressure measurement or case deflection measurement in the range of 3-30 bar so that a clear chamber is not needed.

I built a differential pressure unit that goes to 10 bar shown here. The internals remain a trade secret for now.

Sealed:
Image
Differential Pressure Tester 10 bar by jp28800, on Flickr

Open, with a C6 Kingfisher inside:
Image
Differential Pressure Tester 10 bar by jp28800, on Flickr

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Re: DIY Water Resistance Tester– 3 bar

Post by Kip » Tue Feb 07, 2012 2:06 pm

28800bph wrote:Thanks Kip,
Kip wrote: Do you have any plans for a wet and/or dry unit that will test the core range of 3-20 or 3-30 bar with a clear chamber?

This would cover the majority of watches on the market and a unit I would most certainly be interested in. I am willing to bet CWL might be interested as well.
I'm thinking that a clear chamber design would get very expensive for testing above 10 bar in compressed air. Safety would become a big issue, and there would probably have to be a video camera rather than direct human observation.

Alternatively the watch could be pressurized safely under air inside a steel vessel to 30 bar, then depressurized quickly and transferred immediately to a clear vessel containing water at ambient pressure. That might be workable. I wonder how many watches rated for an external pressure of 30 bar could handle an internal pressure of 30 bar without blowing out the crystal?

Probably it's easier to stick to a test method of differential pressure measurement or case deflection measurement in the range of 3-30 bar so that a clear chamber is not needed.

I built a differential pressure unit that goes to 10 bar shown here. The internals remain a trade secret for now.

Sealed:
Image
Differential Pressure Tester 10 bar by jp28800, on Flickr

Open, with a C6 Kingfisher inside:
Image
Differential Pressure Tester 10 bar by jp28800, on Flickr
You are correct, of course, as to the clear chamber suggestion. I am sure that would defeat the affordable goals. As to blowing a crystal...most definitely an issue in the scenario you describe.

Watches that pass a 10 bar test will also pass a 20 bar test about 98% of the time. The problem is subjecting a 3 or 5 bar rated unit to a 10 bar or more test. I have shattered a couple of crystals, in my time, when making an error on the test. It is bad enough when the occasional crystal shatters on it's own under a deflection test due to a chip or unseen defect.

A variable test unit would be an ideal solution if it is affordable to collectors. I do believe that most people are far more comfortable with dry testing with the exception of dive watches. Divers that would be subjected to water are of course better tested that way and should be tested at their maximum rating.

You are doing a wonderful job...keep it up! :thumbup:
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Re: DIY Water Resistance Tester– 3 bar

Post by alphajet » Tue Feb 07, 2012 4:57 pm

An excellent post, thanks for sharing. :clap:
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Re: DIY Water Resistance Tester– 3 bar

Post by downer » Tue Feb 07, 2012 10:56 pm

Another very interesting and well-written technical post. Thanks. :)
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Re: DIY Water Resistance Tester– 3 bar

Post by Leo David » Wed Feb 08, 2012 10:06 pm

Another brilliant post that has clearly taken considerable time, thought and effort to put together. Many, many thanks indeed for yet another erudite explanation enhanced by a clear and concise narrative and excellent visuals. I never cease to be amazed! Marvellous stuff :clap: :clap:

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Re: DIY Water Resistance Tester– 3 bar

Post by Kip » Thu Feb 09, 2012 12:16 am

What I want to know is.......

Who shall be the first to build one of these?

The parts list and instructions are here....

Who shall it be? :-k
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Re: DIY Water Resistance Tester– 3 bar

Post by TXAG96 » Tue Feb 28, 2012 10:03 pm

Awesome post. And posting the picture of the "trade secret" unit further raises the intrigue. I can't be the only one reading this wondering what's behind those opaque walls inside that cube. Thanks for contributing so much interesting and useful information for the benefit of the community.

Personally, I just built a step stool for my daughters. Materials: 1 - 8' X 14" X 1" poplar board for around USD 30.00. Wood glue. Pink paint. I cut box joints to put together the base...you know what? It's just not near as interesting as a pressure tester. I give up! I can't compete with a Knight!
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Re: DIY Water Resistance Tester– 3 bar

Post by milhouse » Thu Mar 01, 2012 11:33 pm

Excellent post. I think I know what my next project will be...

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Re: DIY Water Resistance Tester– 3 bar

Post by 28800bph » Mon Mar 05, 2012 12:43 am

TXAG96 wrote:Awesome post. And posting the picture of the "trade secret" unit further raises the intrigue. I can't be the only one reading this wondering what's behind those opaque walls inside that cube. Thanks for contributing so much interesting and useful information for the benefit of the community.

Personally, I just built a step stool for my daughters. Materials: 1 - 8' X 14" X 1" poplar board for around USD 30.00. Wood glue. Pink paint. I cut box joints to put together the base...you know what? It's just not near as interesting as a pressure tester. I give up! I can't compete with a Knight!
Thanks Tex,

I want to see a photo of that stool you built! I bet my daughter would prefer if I built her a pink stool vs. a watch pressure tester for myself!

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Re: DIY Water Resistance Tester– 3 bar

Post by keldy2000 » Thu Apr 12, 2012 9:17 am

Great post very interesting

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Re: DIY Water Resistance Tester– 3 bar

Post by BillP » Sun Nov 25, 2018 1:02 am

Brilliant! Very ingenious and simple. An elegant solution for a DIY pressure tester!

I built one of these this weekend. I made some minor and (I hope) inconsequential changes for my particular needs.

I have several "puck" style scuba diving computers. They all work fine, but some are older and have been abandoned by the maker, so battery replacement kits aren't available from the manufacturer. Since they can't get kits from the maker, my local dive shops won't change the batteries so the computers would have to be sent out for professional battery changes with pressure testing. The batteries aren't considered "user replaceable". The batteries and o-rings are readily available and it ain't that hard to do, but I didn't have the means of doing the pressure testing myself. I also have some newer dive computers and several dive watches that need pressure testing after battery changes too. One round of battery changes for all of that stuff and the pressure pot pays for itself.

As for the changes I made:

First, the Pentek 158599 clear filter housing is still available, but it seems to be an older model now. FiltersFast.com sells them in packs of 12 for a little over $300, but I didn't see where they sell singles anymore. The 158599 is on Amazon.com for about $35. A newer model appears to be the similar Pentek 158116 available for about $16 on Amazon. The 158116 has the same working pressure as the 158599 and at least superficially, looks identical. McMaster.com still has all of the other listed parts available, and they cost me $49.40 including shipping. (Less the steel tubing- see below.) McMaster.com was a great source for parts.

Because I am also testing the puck computers in addition to watches, I need more room in the chamber so I only used one size 13.5 rubber stopper. That left me a little extra space to easily submerge a computer to see if the battery compartment sealed, and I can also pressurize more than one computer simultaneously to see if their readings agree.

I used 1/4" copper tubing instead of stainless steel. It was cheaper than the steel at McMaster.com and is readily available in 2' lengths from my local home improvement big box store. I also thought that it would be easier to work with. It is so malleable and easy to work that it's hard to get it to look nice and straight like the photos of the steel tubing in this thread, but no one will see it but me. I also picked up a $13 tube bending tool from the home improvement store that worked fine.

Don't know if it's minor design changes from your Pentek 158599 to my 158166, but I had to twist the pressure relief valve and the ball valve at 90° angles from what you show. The clear canister is large enough that it wouldn't fit on the lid with the pressure relief valve like you have it oriented, and it kept the ball valve from opening. Twisting them 90° worked fine.

My <$20 bike pump doesn't make a reliable air-tight seal with Schrader valve. It seals well enough to pressurize the system, but it doesn't hold steady pressure long enough to simulate a dive on a computer. If I try to remove the pump so the Schrader valve closes, too much air is lost in the process. So I added a second ball valve between the Schrader valve and the pipe tee to shut it off and prevent a leak.

I've seen other designs for pressure testing chambers online, but I think this is the best that I've found. It was a fun project. Thanks for sharing 28800bph!

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Re: DIY Water Resistance Tester– 3 bar

Post by kyoto » Sun Dec 02, 2018 8:09 pm

28800bph wrote:
Tue Feb 07, 2012 4:33 am
.

!!Safety Warning!!
Compressed air can put out an eye, cause severe injury, or death. Proceed at your own risk. The unit I built operates at 3 bar pressure. Champagne bottles typically contain 6 bar. Would you attempt to handle your Cristal without eye protection, hard hat, face shield, and cut-resistant gloves? There are nearly two dozen champagne-accident fatalities each year.* Be safe! *Source article

After any service inside a watch, I always check for leaks. A common way to do this is using the Bergeon 5555/98 tester shown here:

ImageImageImage

Here’s how it works: The watch is suspended in a see-through chamber, right above the water line. The chamber lid is sealed and a manual air pump is used to increase pressure to 3 bar (44 psi). Wait for three minutes. If there is any leak path at this pressure, air will have had some time to enter the case and equilibrate toward 3 bar.

Next, submerge the watch under the water by pushing down on the hanging rod. Immediately release all the air pressure in the chamber by opening the bleed valve on the lid. If there were a leak in the watch, the higher pressure air that had infiltrated the watch will now escape and you will see a steady stream of air bubbles. If you see a leak, note the location and remove the watch for repair.

The test is safe for the watch as water cannot leak into the case. A big advantage of this test versus other methods is that you can pinpoint the exact location of the leak (e.g. crown area, case back, chrono pusher, or crystal seal).

I go inside enough watches that this would be a handy tool. But it costs 555 £ at CousinsUK. Plus more for shipping. So I built a tool to do the same test for $70.36, shown here:

Image


The test chamber is simply a housing for a water filter. It is rated to a max operating pressure of 8.6 bar (125 psi). The burst pressure is not quoted by the manufacturer, but it is typically >2x the rated operating pressure. For liability reasons, the manufacturer says it should only be used for its intended application of filtering water -- not compressed air systems. The clear plastic is styrene acrylonitrile, and the blue lid is polypropylene. Both plastics are often marketed as “shatterproof,” i.e. they don’t fragment into shards when they fail. Though I test at only 3 bar (44 psi), my system is also protected from overpressure by a safety valve that will open at 4.8 bar (70 psi).

Here is the complete bill of materials:

From filtersfast.com:
$16.69 / 158599 / Pentek clear filter housing

From mcmaster.com
$4.43 / 8063K38 / Schrader air fill valve
$5.86 / 9151K52 / Pipe tee
$7.57 / 89895K227 / Stainless tubing
$5.76 / 4912K72 / Ball valve
$5.26 / 48435K769 / ASME rated safety relief valve 70 psi
$11.05 / 9545K63 / Size 13.5 rubber stopper, pack of 3
$6.25 / 9545K27 / Size 2 rubber stopper, pack of 25
$7.49 / 8576K82 / Rubber sheet 6”x6”x1/16”


Here is a photo of the tester with parts labeled.

Image


And here is how the test works.

First attach the watch to the stainless dip tube using the rubber strap. Wrap it around the spring bars like a zulu strap. The strap has four punched holes that fit tightly over the dip tube. You can shake this assembly around and the watch won’t budge. It’s quick to load and unload, yet there’s no risk of scratching or dropping the watch. Note that you get a clear view of the front, back, and sides of the watch.

Image

Image


Partially fill the clear chamber with water.

Image


Screw on the blue lid. Hand-tight is adequate. The watch remains dry, suspended above the water line.

Image


Attach a bike pump to the Schrader valve. This is the same standard valve found on bike and car tires.

Image


Raise the pressure to 3 bar (44 psi) then wait for three minutes.

Image


Remove the bike pump. Flip over the test chamber. The watch will now be submerged under water.

Image


Immediately open the ball valve to relieve the chamber pressure. Air from the top of the chamber will rush through the stainless dip tube and exit out the ball valve. In <2 seconds, the vessel will have returned to ambient pressure.

Image


Look for leaks. A leak will appear as a steady stream of air bubbles. There will always be a few residual bubbles around the case, especially near a rotating bezel. The difference between residual bubbles and an actual leak is quite obvious. Even for a minuscule leak.

Image

Image


No leaks on this test, just some residual bubbles. When the test is complete, flip over the chamber, unscrew the lid, and remove the watch.

Image


Here are some details on how I built the tester:

I pushed two small rubber stoppers (Size 2) in the center hole inside the blue lid. Their job is to hold the dip tube in place. These stoppers come bored-through with a hole diameter of 0.20”. So they grip firmly on the 0.25” stainless tubing and hold it in place securely. Once the tubing is pushed through the holes into the lid, you will have a nearly impossible time to get it back out (which is a good thing, it will never fall apart unexpectedly). I cut the rubber stoppers with a utility razor so that they both fit inside the blue lid when stacked. To be clear, I cut a little bit off their length, not their diameter.

Image


The two big stoppers (Size 13.5) are also slipped over the dip tube prior to mounting it on the lid. These serve to reduce the free volume of the chamber. Therefore you need less air volume when pressurizing to 3 bar. Also they allow the watch case to sit more toward the center of the chamber, which makes it easier to view when checking for leaks.

Image


I cut the stainless steel dip tube to size with a tubing cutter, and bent it with a tubing bender.

Image


If you don’t have access to these tools, you can cut tubing with a hacksaw and just use a straight tube piece. I added a bend to the tubing so that the watch could sit centered in the chamber. This bend is optional. It’s nice to have, but there’s plenty of excess room in the chamber even if the watch is mounted off the centerline.

The rubber strap that I used to secure the watch is 1/16” thick. I cut it to size with a rotary cutter in order to get a very straight cut. A pair of scissors would work just fine too. I used a standard paper punch to make the holes. I selected ECH rubber because it is unlikely to tear, and has minimal odor.

Image


All the metal thread connections are NPT (National Pipe Thread tapered thread). They require the use of a thread sealant. I used Teflon tape. Wrap 3 layers of tape in direction of threads, don’t cover the first thread. Do not overtighten the fittings. If you don’t have Teflon tape around the house, you can get a roll at the hardware store for ~$2.

I assume most everyone has access to a bike pump with a built-in gauge, so I didn’t include it in the cost of materials. They can be bought for <$20.
Excellent research and posting, a winters project to consider now.

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