There is no special reason why thirty degrees of roller action should be employed, except that experience in practical construction has come to admit this as about the right arc for watches of ordinary good, sound construction. Manufacturers have made departures from this standard, but in almost every instance have finally come back to pretty near these proportions. In deciding on the length of fork and size of roller, we first decide on the distance apart at which to place the center of the balance and the center of the pallet staff. These two points established, we have the length of the fork and diameter of the roller defined at once.
To illustrate, let us imagine the small circles A B, Fig. 54, to represent the center of a pallet staff and balance staff in the order named. We divide this space into four equal parts, as shown, and the third space will represent the point at which the pitch circles of the fork and roller will intersect, as shown by the arc a and circle b. Now if the length of the radii of these circles stand to each other as three to one, and the fork vibrates through an arc of ten degrees, the jewel pin engaging such fork must remain in contact with said fork for thirty degrees of angular motion of the balance.
[Illustration: Fig. 54]
Or, in other words, the ratio of angular motion of two mobiles acting on each must be in the same ratio as the length of their radii at the point of contact. If we desire to give the jewel pin, or, in ordinary horological phraseology, have a greater arc of roller action, we would extend the length of fork (say) to the point c, which would be one-fifth of the space between A and B, and the ratio of fork to roller action would be four to one, and ten degrees of fork action would give forty degrees of angular motion to the roller—and such escapements have been constructed.
Now we have two sound reasons why we should not extend the arc of vibration of the balance: (a) If there is an advantage to be derived from a detached escapement, it would surely be policy to have the arc of contact, that is, for the jewel pin to engage the fork, as short an arc as is compatible with a sound action. (b) It will be evident to any thinking mechanic that the acting force of a fork which would carry the jewel pin against the force exerted by the balance spring through an arc of fifteen degrees, or half of an arc of thirty degrees, would fail to do so through an arc of twenty degrees, which is the condition imposed when we adopt forty degrees of roller action.