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Ammoniated watch cleaning solution


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Hi Chaps,

I have for many years used a water based cleaner (from M&P) in my ultra sonic cleaner. However I recently changed the cleaner to Elma WF pro + Elma rinse.

I have been really pleased with the cleaning but the fumes I find very overpowering also a bigger concern is the wife has started to complain. Has anyone had that same issue & if so what solutions have you found. I have been trying the purchase a dedicated watch cleaning machine such as the L&R ULTASONIC VARI-MATIC or an Elma but unfortunately I keep getting out bid on flee bay.  I don,t know whether these machine control the fumes better or if other cleaners such as L&R have fewer issues with the fumes.

I might have to move the cleaning side of the operation to my garage but hoping to find another way. :thumbsd: 

Edited by clockboy
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Ammonia is a good cleaning agent, with the added benefit as said by jdm that it brightens brass. It has been linked to stress cracks in brass, primarily antique clocks; it seems not to be an issue in

The only time fumes will be an issue is when the jar is opened.  I use L&R 566 which is labeled non-ammoniated, BUT it does contain ethanolamine which stinks like ammonia.  I typically run the cle

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I can say that the l&r does not dissipate the fumes. Obviously The fumes are worse during the heating/drying stage.

It's best to operate in a well ventilated area.

I used to work in a department store and we used to keep the machine in a cupboard in order to keep the floor manager happy. It helped.

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Thanks, does the L&R have less fumes than the Elma.

Even as I poured from the bottle to the cleaner is was very strong & smelly and as my workshop is a converted bedroom in my house er indoors is not happy. So I need to find a way around this, perhaps rig up an extractor fan.

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I used to use solvent-based paints for spraying small items with an airbrush, many years ago, also in a fairly confined area. I rigged up a small fume cupboard - essentially a plywood box with a cloth front to it and an extractor fan behind it. The fan extracted the fumes into a cloth and rubber hose contraption and out of the window. A little clumsy, but it did get rid of fumes and was less hazardous to health.

 

As a young man I worked for a spell on a mobile library. In quiet periods we used to clean off the stickiness on the plastic covers of books with - guess what - carbon tetrachloride! Unbelievably lethal. My colleague, one cold day, was doing it with the bus door closed, and nearly collapsed from the fumes. Luckily I came back from lunch and got her out. Modern H&S would never have allowed that to be used - but it was early 1960s.

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Willfly,

Similar story I was an apprenticed served letterpress printer followed a by a 2 year litho training scheme. During the early days as an letterpress printer we used to use a chemical called "ink stripper" without gloves this stuff would strip paint. In my litho days another chemical was used the revive printing blankets called MEK again lethal stuff and some of the guys used to use it without gloves. If you used it a lot it could make you very light headed. No H&S them days either.

 

I think I will try some sort of extraction fan rigged up to a tumble dryer extraction pipe but will waited to see if I can purchase a proper watch cleaning machine. In the mean time it will be the garage for me.

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We used to use carbon tetraclouride as a degreaser when cleaning watches years ago until the chemist stopped supplying us. I currently use MEK as an accelerant for my micro flame soldering machine. It's pretty stinky stuff.

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My colleague, one cold day, was doing it with the bus door closed, and nearly collapsed from the fumes. Luckily I came back from lunch and got her out.

Excellent time for mouth to mouth resuscitation! :crazysmile:

 

On a more serious note, I've heard somewhere of a filtering machine that is supposed to eliminate and decompose the harmful gasses of the watch cleaning machine....maybe at cousins? I'll try to find the link. It didn't seem very expensive...worth a try considering it is our health.

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Willfly,

Similar story I was an apprenticed served letterpress printer followed a by a 2 year litho training scheme. During the early days as an letterpress printer we used to use a chemical called "ink stripper" without gloves this stuff would strip paint. In my litho days another chemical was used the revive printing blankets called MEK again lethal stuff and some of the guys used to use it without gloves. If you used it a lot it could make you very light headed. No H&S them days either.

 

I think I will try some sort of extraction fan rigged up to a tumble dryer extraction pipe but will waited to see if I can purchase a proper watch cleaning machine. In the mean time it will be the garage for me.

30 years in the same trade (you get less for murder) until 6 years ago, still got a can of MEK - very useful heavy duty cleaner. Never used gloves as they would either dissolve or leak. Stung a bit on the paper cuts though!

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I've cleaned quite balances ultrasonically over the years without any problem. If in doubt, try it on an old movement first to see how you get on. The only thing I will not ultrasonically clean I'd the dial. I tried it early on and it destroyed the finish.

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Mark re-attaches the balance to the plate prior to cleaning in his videos, and the manually cleans the jewels after. Whipping around a liquid bath seems more violent and sitting stationary in an ultrasonic cleaner so I'd assume it's safe.

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Mark re-attaches the balance to the plate prior to cleaning in his videos, and the manually cleans the jewels after. Whipping around a liquid bath seems more violent and sitting stationary in an ultrasonic cleaner so I'd assume it's safe.

 

Mmmmmmm, sloshing about may be Ok, I'm concerned that 22Mhz may mess with the hair spring..............

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I have been collecting the tiny little Wilkin and Sons jam jars you get in some cafés, I can fit 3 in my ultrasonic cleaner and it means I can have a different fluid in each one if I wish. 

The brass fine mesh balls are useful sometimes as well for the really small bits. 

Like Bob and George I clean just about everything bar the dial and pointers.  The only thing I would say is dont use any solvent cleaner type substance that could dissolve the shellac/glue holding the jewels in place.

Since seeing Mark do it, I have started putting the balance back on the plate and it seems to be perfectly ok that way, it does not take long plus the plate gets a clean as well.

 

Cheers,

 

Vic

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I have been using Mark,s method with my L&R cleaning machine (that also ultrasonic cleans in all three jars) and perfect results every time.

Pallets could be a problem if one of them is loose other than this scenario no problems.

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I clean all my balances in the ultrasonic and have had no problems, however I have learnt to be a bit more careful with the Pallets as the cleaning solution can get a bit warm if used for an extended time period ( I personally can use it quite a lot in a one session) and sometimes Pallet jewels can come loose due to the shellac/ adhesive softening because of the increase in temperature within the cleaning solution...

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I'm in the process of making my own experimental ultrasonic cleaning apparatus. One thing I'm not sure of is; how long do you run it for when loaded? Can someone give me an idea of ultrasonic cleaning and rinsing times please? Do the 2 rinses need to be agitated also?

 

thanks.

 

Tim

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I give them about 9 - 10 min and sometimes if the part is too dirty an extra 3 min. My machine only do 3 min at a time, so I press the button 3 times...but sometimes I loose count so I've probably done 4 times 3 min....Never had a problem. It doesn't agitate apart from the ripple proper of the ultrasonic.

 

 

I'll be interested in this project too!

 

Cheers,

 

Bob

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