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Machine cleaning with or without cap jewels?

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For cleaning I like to have the balance assembly, with the spring settings, installed onto the main plate. Prior to cleaning I remove the cap jewels from both upper and lower settings and keep them in separate baskets, but is it really necessary since they will be anyway in the end dipped in One Dip solution?

So, would it be acceptable to do the wash with the cap jewels in their settings, then,  after wash, use One Dip for the balance assembly which would take care of the hairspring. Finally, take the settings out, separate the cap jewels from the hole jewels and put all through One Dip so that the jewel holes and cap jewels would be cleaned in the solution?

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Some remove the cap jewels and clean with the balance attached to the main plate. However I do not use a ultra sonic cleaner but a watch cleaning machine. Because of this I just don't like the idea of the balance staffs moving around without support.  I just use the method Mark uses which is clean with the balance attached to the main plate and after remove, clean & lubricate the cap jewels.

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Thanks! I am going to use this method now. That is keep the cap jewels on for the wash in the cleaning machine, then take the setting out, clean the jewels in One Dip, and lubricate the caps.

The addition benefit is that this also calls for less of opening and closing of Incabloc springs, which occasionally have a propensity to fly away into the ether...

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This what I used to do.

Remove the balance from the balance cock. Put the balance in ronsonal in a pot with a screw lid and leave. All other parts went into the watch cleaning machine, which was an L & R Varimatic with ultrasonic, one of the best machines in those days money could buy. Never needed to remove jewel caps, that machine did the lot.

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49 minutes ago, oldhippy said:

Never needed to remove jewel caps, that machine did the lot.

I'm not sure what type of watch we're talking about, but on Seikos and other shock-proof watches if you don't remove the ebalance nd stones, you can't properly lubricate them, and you haven't done the work.

Exception, personally I don't remove the two small diashock springs and stones, which are too small and delicate to be worth fighting with. That has been discussed in a recent thread.

Edited by jdm

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14 hours ago, nickelsilver said:

With kif/incabloc, remove the hole and cap jewel and clean them separately. The balance with cock goes back on the mainplate. The staff is fully protected and everything gets cleaned.

Does it mean that the balance with cock, but without hole and cap jewels, goes on the mainplate for the wash?

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2 hours ago, oldhippy said:

This what I used to do.

Remove the balance from the balance cock. Put the balance in ronsonal in a pot with a screw lid and leave. All other parts went into the watch cleaning machine, which was an L & R Varimatic with ultrasonic, one of the best machines in those days money could buy. Never needed to remove jewel caps, that machine did the lot.

I always remove the balance from the cock for cleaning IF the balance is not using Etachron system. With Etachron, such as 6497, I tried it once. Taking it out was easy, but pushing the stud back into the jaws of the stud holder during reassembly was tricky (and dangerous). I had to apply quite some force while praying that my pushing "tool" would not slip. The regulator pins needed to be spread out some to allow for the hairspring to drop through (easy), but then on reassembly they need to be closed back - again hoping for the best while working so close to the hairspring. I would not try to repeat this process every time I clean the movement.

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Does it mean that the balance with cock, but without hole and cap jewels, goes on the mainplate for the wash?
Yes.
If the watch is non-shock protected then the balance needs to come off the cock, cap jewels removed and everything cleaned disassembled.

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I think i will never understand some watchmen. I am in in this just for 8 months, and since 3 months, i never need any magnification and so extreme attention, also working on balance staff on many fake watches, citizen and Seiko movements... After many practicing, i got accustomed and also felt obsessed about cleaning the all balance staff one by one, until the hairspring collet...  Until to see highest amplitude, i work on all of them... That's joy for me...  Taking my next unemployment salary, i think to work on chronograph movements...  First the fake ones... 

By the way, thanks to all Mark's presentations... I owe him so much !...

Edited by Asmobrat

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On 5/1/2019 at 1:11 AM, nickelsilver said:

With kif/incabloc, remove the hole and cap jewel and clean them separately. The balance with cock goes back on the mainplate. The staff is fully protected and everything gets cleaned.

My apologies @nickelsilver, you do seem to have clearly answered the following question but I just want to make sure I get it right... (I seem to misunderstand things more often than I'd like to think).

IMG_9589.JPG.9b1af5fb289dfd4e73c68717d0bc1ff5.JPGWhen you write "the hole", can I assume that you mean (what many would call) "the jewel housing"? If the answer is "yes", can I also assume that if I were to screw back what you see in the image above onto the mainplate, then put the mainplate in a separate tray compartment in my almost 70 years old ELMA watch cleaning machine (the kind with a rotating basket), the HS should not become distorted and the balance staff pivots should not become damaged? If that's the case, surely that must be the better method as it will better clean the balance staff pivots and the inner of the block holding the hole/jewel housing!?

I got myself a used ELMA cleaning machine a few weeks ago (approx. $150) and I've tested it with other watch parts with good results (ELMA Red 9:1 for cleaning, deionized water for 1st rinse, and ELMA SUPROL PRO for final rinse) but I just seem unable to muster the courage place a HS in it.

 

Edited by VWatchie

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Yes, the "chaton" as Incabloc calls it (in the pic the hole jewel is out of the chaton but it's friction fitted in and never comes out) is what I mean by hole jewel, those and the cap jewels go in a little basket, and then like you say the cock as you've pictured goes back on the mainplate. The balance, pivots, and spring will be A-OK in your Elma.

incabloc.jpg

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So, I've now tried cleaning (using my old ELMA) a watch movement (Orient cal. 46E40) with the balance on cock on the mainplate and with the holes (Chatons) removed. I couldn't detect any distortion of the HS or any damage to the staff pivots whatsoever. So my conclusion is that removing the holes is the better option.

Unfortunately, I'm not used to water based solvents so I let the basket in the cleaning solution (ELMA Red 9:1) and the rinse (deionized water) for far too long, having the result that some micro rust started to develop, for example on the staff pivots. Except for this the cleaning result was sort of acceptable but not perfect. Perhaps running the ELMA for too long had a negative effect on the cleaning result!? I'm leaning towards going back to naphtha and ultrasonic.

To deal with the micro rust I quickly dipped and brushed all parts in vinegar essence (12 %), rinsed in IPA, polished the pivots using toothpicks, and finally rinsed and brushed in IPA again. Fortunately, it worked perfectly. Vinegar essence seems very potent as micro rust seems to dissolve almost instantaneously as it comes in contact with the vinegar.

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I use a water based cleaner, from Greiner, it's mixed 19:1 with distilled water. I rinse in IPA only, but I have a distiller so the final rinse is always perfectly clean. When I do clocks, with a similar but homemade cleaner, after cleaning the parts get a quick rinse in warm water to get the solution off then a dip in alcohol to absorb the water, then on the dryer. Cleaning cycle for both 10-15 minutes depending on how things look. No rust ever.

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3 minutes ago, nickelsilver said:

Cleaning cycle for both 10-15 minutes depending on how things look. No rust ever.

My parts were in the ELMA solution and the deionized water for about 25 minutes and in the final rinse Suprol Pro for about 10 minutes so I guess that explains the rust. I wonder if the Suprol Pro too is water based (it smells like hell and makes you dizzy so good ventilation is required). Anyway, the parts didn't look as clean as I wanted them, especially the wheel pinions. As a matter of fact, having brushed the wheels in vinegar the pinions looked cleaner than I ever saw them before. I guess the acid in vinegar dissolves all kinds of organic material too.

So, I take it that when you rinse in IPA you remove the pallet and the mainplate with the balance from the basket to avoid dissolving the shellac, no?

Not sure I understand your cleaning process for watch movements. So first Greiner, then IPA then ??? For how long do you rinse in IPA. I guess if it's just for a very short period of time and then immediately over to the heat chamber there would be no need to remove the pallet and balance?

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My cleaning machine was made by Greiner, in the late 60s and made till sometime in the 70s. All the parts are strung on wires in what we call the "Christmas tree", any parts that can't go on wires go in a little basket. The balance and fork are supposed to go on a separate tree stacked on top. After cleaning the top tree with balance and fork go in the ultra clean alcohol to rinse for 15 seconds, then the rest goes in and the rise gets dumped and then refilled from the distiller. It's fabulous.

In practice I leave the shock protected balance on the mainplate and fork in the little basket. Modern balances have the roller jewel press fitted so no problem there, and 7/10 watches I adjust the escapement so I'll reshellac anyways.

But a quick rinse in alcohol will not hurt shellac; if the alcohol is ambient temp you can do several minutes no problem. In my machine it's always very warm and if I'm busy and leave it it's likely to at least degrade it. My escapement heater is almost always on (and kudos to Bergeon, solid piece of equipment!) so 30 seconds to reflow/add shellac if necessary.

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Everyone has their own style...and they seem to work for the most part.

For me, if the watch is really dirty I will plonk the whole movement into the ultrasound (minus calender wheels and any other plastic bits). This get rid of most of the crud. I then follow my normal routine of hand cleaning in lighter fluid etc. I wouldn't depend on a watch cleaner to get all the crap out as its basically in a blind hole and stuff may vibrate loose but still be in the hole.

That's what I do...give the various suggestions here a try and decide what works best for you.

Anilv

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