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Question for those who work on Vintage Timex watches:

I've restored several Timex pieces from the late '60s to the late '70s.  The technique I learned (from Internet posts and tutorials) say to simply loosen the dial-side balance pivot by unscrewing it 1/2 turn prior to cleaning the entire movement in an ultrasonic cleaner.  This method contradicts the official Timex service manuals, which state that the balance should be removed, cleaned separately and reinstalled.  Thus preventing the hairspring form being damaged in the ultrasonic cleaner.

My experience is this: 

  • Leaving the balance in place (slightly loosened) is much easier and will work on the standard movements used in the '70s (M24/25, M32/33, M104, etc.)
  • Attempting the same method on movements from the '50s and '60s (M22, M29, etc) will result in a kinked hairspring that is damn near impossible to un-kink. 

So my question is this:

What do you experienced Timex restoration experts recommend?  Leave the balance/hairspring in the movement for cleaning, or take it out to soak in a separate jar?

Is the potential for hairspring damage greater when removing/reinstalling the balance - in comparison to leaving it in place?

I've messed up a couple of vintage movements that I really wish I hadn't.   I don't want to make those mistakes again.

Thanks for any insights!

  -Todd

 

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Hi  The origional timex movements were made before the use of ultrasonic cleaners were in general use in the watch repair industry, which then used the International, Benray and Elma machines with the jars. Therefore the advise given in the manuals refers to that time. The common use of ultrasonics in the industry is the norm and as you have found out the vibration screws up the balance spring, so to err on the side of caution I would remove the balance for cleaning in a separate jar using Naptha, Iso alchohol or best of all carburetter cleaner (no residue) a little extra time perhaps but less time than obtaining parts to fix a cock up.

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@watchweasol - thanks for the feedback!

What is your opinion of using the "swish" method instead of an ultrasonic when servicing the older movements?  Perhaps that would get the job done without necessitating the removal of the balance.  But I'm not sure if it'll work as well.

As you can see - I'm not a fan of tinkering with the balance if I can help it.  

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How does the ultrasonic screw up the spring? I would imagine the average old school machine that swishes the parts around a jillion times would be more of an issue (and it isn't). Is there something particular about Timex stuff?

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Hi The early timex watches were build cheaply as probably throw away/replace movements but were able to be serviced of sorts, The design lead  to them being cleaned as is (swish) in Naptha, or as I use Carburetter cleaner then dried slowly on a tissue under a lamp. Then oil the movement, To do the balance cups just remove then clean and peg out   a touch of oil and replace set the end shake to a minimum then off you go.     It is not the best method but will suffice as far as timex go'es ( JersyMo will have a dicky fit) he's the guru on timex on this site. If you require the manuals message me I have them on the computer.

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23 minutes ago, nickelsilver said:

How does the ultrasonic screw up the spring? I would imagine the average old school machine that swishes the parts around a jillion times would be more of an issue (and it isn't). Is there something particular about Timex stuff?

I don't know why the earlier movements seem to be prone to hairspring damage if the balance is left in the movement during ultrasonic cleaning.  I posted the question to see if other people experienced the same phenomenon.  Perhaps others have had a different experience.  

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I guess I mean what kind of damage are we talking about?  It's pretty standard procedure on movements with shock protection to leave the balance on the cock, cock on the plate, with the jewels out, then run it through whichever cleaning machine you like (whether one that cleans by agitation, ultrasonic, or both), this has never caused damage to a spring in my experience. Indeed, there is much less risk to the spring in this configuration, as many a watchmaker has had that little slip up when getting the stud out of the cock!

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I've had good success without using my ultrasonic cleaner (partly because I'm too lazy to dig it out of the attic).

I just leave the movement in lighter fluid (naptha) for an hour or so, then dry  and oil.

I generally blow the excess fluid from the hairspring with a can of air duster, as I remove it fro the jar with the naptha in it,  to avoid the slight risk of the coils sticking together and deforming while it is drying.

Ultrasonic cleaners with relatively low power *may* damage thin metallic elements, and indeed you can punch tiny cavitation pin holes in thin aluminium foil with an ultrasonic cleaner, however I'm not sure my low powered cleaner would do any damage to a relatively thick steel timex hairspring in say 20 minutes of cleaning.  I guess that is an experiment I may have to try at some stage.

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2 hours ago, nickelsilver said:

How does the ultrasonic screw up the spring? I would imagine the average old school machine that swishes the parts around a jillion times would be more of an issue (and it isn't). Is there something particular about Timex stuff?

   THERE IS some thing  different about about "timex stuff"   as a cheap watch, it  is a good training. and a test of your mechanical abilities,   or - just read the repair manual.   cheers,  vin

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with a watch like this , i find that running the movement  while immersed in naphtha works well.the moving parts and solvent tend to carry the crud away, depending on how dirty the watch is you might want to change the naphtha two or three times or until it stays clear. then dry and oil.

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On 8/6/2019 at 12:10 PM, watchweasol said:

Hi The early timex watches were build cheaply as probably throw away/replace movements but were able to be serviced of sorts, The design lead  to them being cleaned as is (swish) in Naptha, or as I use Carburetter cleaner then dried slowly on a tissue under a lamp. Then oil the movement, To do the balance cups just remove then clean and peg out   a touch of oil and replace set the end shake to a minimum then off you go.     It is not the best method but will suffice as far as timex go'es ( JersyMo will have a dicky fit) he's the guru on timex on this site. If you require the manuals message me I have them on the computer.

okay, what the heck is a dicky fit?

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 I've had sucess not removing the end cap and hair spring just as much as removing them.  Just rember that you will have to remove the end cap when applying oil to the movment.  I'd suggest you begin to use the Vintage Timex Watch Forum method.

preliminary steps -

a) check for broken mainsrping and or other such damage.

b) does the stem pull out and push in?

c) can you set the time and or day date?

you get the idea right?  THis is so you understand what you are taking on.  Maybe just a clean and lube or a total breakdown and parts replacment.

so here are the basics.

1) let the mainspring down if wound up.

2) soak in clear amonia for 15 minutes - aggitate the vessel now and then to help lossen any dirt or gunk.

3) rinse in cold water and air or blow dry

4) soak in lighter fuild for 15 miuntes - aggitate as in step 2

5) air or blow dry

6) remove end cap and dot with oil. 

7) lube pivots

8) lube mainsrping

9) lube wingind and setting gears

10) damn I'm tired already!

Does it work on all of them?   Nope! and the reasons are many but mostly because the movement may have never been serviced past the factory.  So it ran for years and years on dry metal to metal and now its just worn out. 

 

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6 hours ago, watchweasol said:

Hi JerseyMo   A dicky fit is an English saying for Strongly disagree or throw a strop or chuck the teddy out of the cot. 

think I will use this phase next time my colleagues in our London office make a difficult request. :)

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