I was recently given three Watson "Service" microscopes. All have various parts of the condenser assembly missing. One has just the diaphragm missing, another has the diaphragm and lens missing, and the third has the diaphragm, lens and carriage missing. I'm hoping to repair one of these microscopes for my own use. The least I need is the diaphragm. Does anyone have or know where I might find spares for these microscopes? If anyone else is repairing one the these microscopes I'd be glad to swap spares. I know the chances are probably slim but I thought I'd give this group a go.
Usually the condenser has the diaphragm built-in, though it may be separate on an old microscope.
There is a fair amount of microscope equipment on eBay. The Watson Service is not particularly rare. Unfortunately the majority of sellers are in the USA, but my experience of buying from US sellers with good feedback has been almost all good (watch for the import taxes though).
Brunel Microscopes have had Watsons quite often in the past, though I suspect a fair amount of their second-hand trade has defected to eBay.
You could subscribe to the Yahoo Microscope group, it is fairly active and a fair few UK members.
The Queckett Microscopical Society has frequent meetings around the country, and often has trade stands. This may be your best source, as they seem to have a large percentage of "spare parts and accessories, especially for old microscopes.
You could at a pinch use a condenser lens from another make of 'scope. Optically there should be no problem with matching, you would only have to worry about physical fit for mounting. I have a CTS polarising microscope without a condenser; I just tried the condenser from a Baker of similar vintage and it fits perfectly. Haven't tried it optically, but it should be OK. If you go to a swapmeet type of do, try taking the condenser holder (or a measurement and a vernier caliper) with you.
Even a surplus objective lens should work, though you may need to faff around to find one that best matches the objectives in use. A crude test with a spare condenser here suggests that the focal length of the low-power condenser is about 50mm, suggesting an enlarger lens might be good. For higher-power objectives (above about 20x) you will also need a high-power supplementary (FL about 5-10mm) on top of it, which will be a bit more tricky to find and fit.
Sorry, can't help you more specifically as I don't have (and never have had) any Watson 'scopes.
An afterthought, not sure what you want to do, are you sure the Watson is going to be worth the effort? There are many other models out there at modest prices that are a lot more versatile.
Correction from a member - it's "Quekett". I've bought a few s/h items over the years from the annual exhibition, first Saturday in October, at the Natural History Museum, London. Could be worth requesting an invite.
I'd also suggest posting in the fairly lively sci.techniques.microscopy group and
You might actually ask on rec.crafts.metalworking (believe it or not). Gunner, who is the most frequent poster there (especially on off-topic political rants), has mentioned that he has microscope parts amongst his mountains of surplus "stuff". If he has what you are looking for price (if any, lots being given away I think), will be excellent. Despite the political noise, he seems to be one of the most consistently helpful participants on r.c.m.
You know, despite being a member for a few years, I never noticed that! Thanks.
It used to be, but from what I've seen it has been very dull for the last few months; so much so that Gary Gaugler, one of the most knowledgeable participants, and a professional in the field, was considering giving up on it altogether.
I suppose for that reason alone it would be a good idea to encourage others to post there!
Thanks for all the suggestions. I'll contact the groups and see if I can track down the spares I need. I'll also try Gunner at rec.crafts.metalworking, as these parts would be small enough to be worth posting across the atlantic.
I don't have a specific project in mind for the microscope. I just occasionally have a use for one and have always fancied one of my own. I wouldn't have gone out and bought one, but having been given several broken microscopes it seems like a good plan to fix one. Besides the three Watson "Service" microscopes I was also given two Swift "Nine Fifty" microscopes. There are enough parts present on these to build one working microscope without having to embark on a hunt for spares. Any opinions on the "Nine Fifty" series?
Sorry - I have scopes by Zeiss, Leitz, CTS, Baker and Biolam, but no Swifts. If you ask on sci.techniques.microscopy or the Yahoo Microscope group you should get some input though.
Given that you posted the question here, it seems a likely bet that you are into engineering. If so, then you would find several types of instrument more useful than the basic transmitted light compound microscope like the Watson. A good stereo microscope would be the first recommendation, and an incident light compound microscope would be good for looking at metal fractures etc. A toolmaker's microscope is also very useful on occasions.
The most fun I have with an incident light compound (like those you have) is chemical crystal microscopy under crossed polarisers. However, this is really way off topic here.
Yes, its a 50x microscope and a shadowgraph too, with 150x100mm travel on encoders, accurate to 1 micron in 10mm. Lots of clever software features that set up skew datums with 2 points so you dont actually have to align a part to measure, measures hole diameter/radius/centre find, angle measurement and loads more. Outputs to a PC if required.
I was very lucky to get it for a fraction of its cost when we shut my previous company down..
According to my eBay records, I bought a Zeiss inverted microscope (probably 1960s vintage, with 4 objectives, binocular head, eyepieces, and condenser/beam splitter; missing only the illuminator) 3 years ago for £195. This is much better than an upright for looking at lumps of metal as there is effectively no limit to the size of sample you can stick on the top.
I think I may have been lucky, as they don't come up very often. Must get round to fitting an illuminator....
Looks like a fairly sophisticated toolmakers' microscope fitted with DROs on X & Y axes. Bit more upmarket than my old OMT job with micrometer heads, which need gauge blocks to move more than 1".
BTW, a toolmakers' microscope is a moderate power compound microscope with a large table, usually with a big glass area in the centre. It can be illuminated from underneath, or from above, and the table moved by precisely measured amounts or rotated with a very precise vernier angle measurement. In use, the specimen can be aligned with graticules in the optical system and things like gear pitch, thread pitch, thread depth, crest angle, truncation and many other things, can be measured with a high degree of accuracy (far better than thread gauges, for example). They are mostly very big and heavy, but not that expensive (few hundred £ second hand) since there's not a huge market for them. I have had one myself for about 4-5 years, used it in earnest about 3 times, but for those 3 times it's hard to imagine how I would have done the job without it.
I'm doubtful. I can certainly produce a working Swift, but it will show signs of wear and tear. The Watsons show less wear and tear but are incomplete. Any idea what price a decent incident light compound microscope goes for?