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Clock cleaner

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A Finnish watchmaker I know gave me the recipe they used in school, I've used it for some time and am very happy with it. It's gentle and fairly nontoxic (don't drink it of course, but it doesn't contain harsh solvents).

1L 99% isopropyl alcohol

3L distilled water

50g oxalic acid

60g oleic acid

around 80 grams of 24% ammonia

In a stainless pot, heat the alcohol and 1L water, add the oxalic acid (powder) and dissolve, add the rest of the water and oleic acid, then add ammonia slowly. It will go cloudy, then turn clear. The ammonia is reacting with the oleic acid making a soap, when it goes clear all the oleic has reacted. This keeps the solution fairly safe for brass, as the ammonia now being a soap doesn't eat the metal like some other cleaners with higher ammonia concentrations.

Rinse in hot water, with a final bath in alcohol before drying with hot air. I have never had a part rust with this, but the final alcohol rinse is important.

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I'll add- the oxalic acid is a mild rust remover. You might find it advertised for removing rust stains. And this solution won't magically clean a filthy movement. Some time with a small stiff brush and lighter fluid getting the gunk off prior and pegging holes after (and/or before) is still required. And as mild as it is, it can still eat certain lacquers. On a laquered piece I usually just hand clean with soap and brushes and water. Alcohol to absorb to water, dry in hot air, then check and peg all pivot holes. You only have to assemble one clock without pegging and see black gunk flow out when you oil to know pegging is actually a time saver.



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thanks for mentioning oleic acid.  i use it on the tool when turning copper.   also;   where do you get 99% iso prop.?  vin       ps  oleic liquid acid.

Edited by vinn3

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