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PeterS

Ultrasonic concentrates

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Has anyone used Elma jewellery concentrates on cleaning watch parts?
I have an old inexpensive ultrasonic cleaner and I’d like to try it out instead of using Horolene and brushes to clean each part individually. It does get a little tedious.
I have seen that many use different concoctions but I’d rather have one hassle free product if that’s possible.

There are several concentrates on Cousins website, I’m only showing 2 that I think may be suitable for the job:

Elma EC 90:

Suitable for all metals used in the watch and jewellery sector
Gentle brightening effect and integrated corrosion protection

I shortened it, there are more points in the description on the website. I’m not sure what the ‘corrosion protection’ means. Would it leave some unwanted residue?

Elma 1:9:

In the case of quick drying by water removal dip into "Elma Suprol Special" (F5501)
then dry by air .

Plus more points on the web and I don’t know what they mean by ‘quick drying by water removal’

It’s the EC 90 I’m more inclined to.

Any recommendations?

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I'm browsing Elma website and reading through pdfs...

Would these be the correct steps?

1. Clean parts in an ultrasonic bath using the Elma 1:9 solultion.
2. Transfer the parts from the ultrasonic bath to a jar containing Elma Suprol Pro. Remove after 2-3 minutes.

Is that it?

Would I need to dry the parts when I take them out of the ultrasonic before they go in the Suprol?
And again, will I need to dry the parts when taken out of the Suprol?

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5 hours ago, JohnR725 said:

When I'm reading this discussion are we talking about cleaning the watch movement parts or the watch case parts?

watch parts

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On 5/24/2020 at 9:16 AM, PeterS said:

1. Clean parts in an ultrasonic bath using the Elma 1:9 solultion.
2. Transfer the parts from the ultrasonic bath to a jar containing Elma Suprol Pro. Remove after 2-3 minutes.

Is that it?

Would I need to dry the parts when I take them out of the ultrasonic before they go in the Suprol?
And again, will I need to dry the parts when taken out of the Suprol?

What I would recommend doing is reading the PDF For the cleaning fluid it has detailed specifications. Basically what they're saying tap water to mix up your solution anywhere between 3 and 10 minutes for cleaning. I wouldn't go over 10 minutes and I wouldn't make the solution stronger that supposed to be it has ammonia. Ammonia is really good at making things bright and shiny and looking clean but if you go too long it Can frost the  Brass parts. Basically starts doing the opposite of cleaning stuff looks not clean.

Then you're supposed to follow up with the water rinse and their real clear on what that water is supposed to be distilled or demineralised. I assume what they're basically saying is the water needs to be clean. Does not specify unfortunately how long it should be in the water but you do want to remove the cleaning product.

Then the last rinse is the Suprol . In this case is used to displace the water before drying to keep the parts from rusting as a guess. If you are using a non-water-based cleaning fluid then you would typically have several rinses so in each one could reduce the concentration of the previous solution more and more.

Then it says error dry? But how do curiosity and looking at one of the watch companies recommendations which is three minutes in each of the rinses they are recommending three. Followed up by warm air drying.

So basically off to figure out some of the stuff on your own like whether you really can error dry or not? You may find that a little but a warm air blowing across the parts helps.

Then is there any reason why You're not using the non-water-based watch cleaner?

 

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I use the Greiner GS concentrate. It's mixed 1:19 with distilled water, so 50ml makes a liter. The rinse is pure isopropyl alcohol, and my machine distills it so it's clean, 1st rinse, dump the alcohol then 2nd rinse in clean alchohol. Drying is in warm filtered air. Greiner recommends rinsing the balance and fork alone in the first clean alcohol bath for 30 seconds to a minute to avoid softening any shellac; the rest of the parts then go through as above.

 

For clocks I use a water based solution that is a recipe from the Finnish watchmaking school; with that I clean in the ultrasonic, rinse in warm running water, then a final rinse in alcohol to absorb the water, dry in warm air flow.

 

Both are fairly gentle cleaners, and I've never had anything rust with the water based cleaners. I like them as they are pretty environmentally friendly, and I'm never wondering is the final rinse is clean enough.

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On 5/25/2020 at 10:56 AM, PeterS said:

I'll give the 1:9 and Suprol Pro a go and see how it goes

Be very careful not to overdo it like I did. You may find this and this post interesting. Suprol Pro is some truly nasty stuff. Smells like death and has a narcotic effect. Be very careful with it. Have an open window or try to do your cleaning outside.

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I’m using the water-based watch cleaner only because I assume that this one is suitable for ultrasonic baths. I’m happy to use anything that would do the job well, whether it is water-based or not.

I assumed that the other cleaners are for watch cleaning machines after reading the description for Elma WF Pro Cleaner: “specifically developed for the cleaning of mechanical watches in watch cleaning machines"
L&R description states: “For ordinary and ultrasonic cleaning machines”. I assume they mean ordinary watch cleaning machines and ultrasonic watch cleaning machines. They do no mention ultrasonic baths.

I’m in the UK and I tend to buy from Cousins, quick delivery and reasonable shipping charges so I’m looking for something I could find on their website. They do have the Greiner GS-50 but I cannot see a corresponding rinse but I do have a bottle of IPA if that’s what the rinse is.

The 1:9 and the Suprol are on their way but do tell me if I have better options, if the solutions that are intended for watch cleaning machines work well in ultrasonic baths etc.
This is my choice if I buy in the UK from Cousins:
https://www.cousinsuk.com/category/watch-cleaning-rinsing-fluids

I’m glad you told me not to overdo it with the 1:9 guys. Knowing myself I’d probably give it a "really good clean” if you did not warn me.

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Reading the various websites and even the PDF all yield confusion? So cousins indicates ultrasonic with vacuum technology which are not going to have. But the next link I have another company specifically says for watches and is little more open on basically it's a general good cleaning solution. But look at the PDF and it's specifically says is for clockworks?

So ignoring all the silly descriptions it looks like Elma WF Pro Is a good cleaning product and they indicate at least for clock works that the cleaning time should be: 2-10 min.Then a course you follow up with the same rinse you have at least two jars. Then you can just air dry with warm air even though it says you don't need warm air which page of just how to find out how it works for drying.

Elma WF Pro Cleaner

https://www.cousinsuk.com/product/elma-wf-pro-cleaner

https://www.hswalsh.com/product/watch-cleaning-fluid-25-litre-elma-wf-pro-hf6091

 

 

 

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I disregarded all the solutions specified for watch cleaning machines but now I’m thinking, why not in an ultrasonic bath? I have plenty of scrap movements, it’s worth a try. And the WF Pro doesn’t need a rinse in distilled water.
I’m not sure what they mean by ‘rinse with distilled water’. Do I just put the baskets into the water for a while or in an ultrasonic batch for a minute or two?

I’ll try the 1:9 as that’s already on it’s way but no doubt I will also try the WF Pro to see which works better.

When it comes to swapping the cleaning solutions WF Pro instead of 1:9, I presume cleaning the jar with IPA will do the trick?

The results will also most likely depend on the ultrasonic bath I will be using which is a standard £50 ultrasonic bath and looking at the ultrasonic cleaners they can be far more expensive. I’m not sure whether I will have to invest in a better one to get good results.

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The way you're supposed to think of cleaning is that all of it is cleaning. the first bath has chemicals to dissolve the oils Remove oxides make the plates bright put things into the solution make things clean overly simplistic probably but it cleans. The rinse also continues to dissolve things into the solution and is technically cleaning. The other thing it is doing is reducing the concentration of the original solution. Which is why typically a cleaning solution followed by two separate rinses unless looking at the modern machines that might have three rinses.

If you notice up above nickelsilver Posted that he's using isopropyl alcohol is his rinse actually has two of them. Then looks like were similar for clocks in that I use a commercial solution and follow up with hot running water then immediately in the alcohol. But I still don't have enough experience I've only cleaned a couple of clocks. Then it looks like the demineralized and distilled water is basically just really really clean water. Depending upon where you live the quality of water and its impurities plus the fluorides chlorine might be a problem.

Then as far as ultrasonic goes it really doesn't have to be fancy. I started off with a small machine purchased from the drugstore don't think it cost very much money has really surprise was like why Outlook it's 20 and $30 like a century ago or something. Specifically designed where you're supposed to put a beaker into the ultrasonic which today everybody frowns on you shouldn't have anything directly on top of the transducer there should be a separation as bad things will supposedly happen. Except that machine ran for I don't even remember how many years a lot of years before it finally disintegrated. So it didn't seem to suffer any problems of having a beaker directly on top and then surrounded by water to couple the energy. Now if you scroll down the page at the link below I'm using a bigger ultrasonic and to keep everybody happy  and not fuss the beaker is on something above the transducers surrounded by water.

https://www.watchrepairtalk.com/topic/285-ultrasonic-cleaners/page/4/?tab=comments#comment-33803

 

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The solutions have been delivered so I took my ultrasonic bath out of the cupboard only to find out it no longer works. It has not been used for several years and it was only used maybe 10 times in total. Once again, you get what you pay for, at least in my case. I’ve been reading several lengthy threads and it seems to the be luck of the draw with the inexpensive ultrasonics. I even came across your K42 round bath that lasted you 20 years! They probably don’t make them like that any more for that kind of money.

So now I’m looking at decent ultrasonic cleaners. Perhaps the smallest Elma S10H. It’s expensive though. Only 0.8 litre but I don’t think I would need more than that. It fits two beakers, I only need one in at a time anyway, internal dimensions 190 x 85 x 60, enough to fit bracelets in as well. Do I really need any more than that?
Maybe even the Elma S10 (non heated) which is slightly cheaper and from what I’ve been reading heating is not required for watch cleaning.

I’m going to have to think about it and decide whether I pull the trigger and bite the bullet.

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Ultrasonic machines are kinda strange in that my original little one lasted 20 years or more having a beaker in it which everyone says is evil and bad and yet it worked beautifully. I even remember finding a replacement unit looked identical can't remember where I got it from and it just didn't work. but one of the problems of older electronics is the electrolytic capacitors don't last forever. Then I was happy a friend housecleaning got rid of the bigger ultrasonic unit that I'm using. Which does have the advantage of much more intense ultrasonic energy.

The watch cleaning fluid seemed to work just fine at room temperature I'm not sure I want even think about how well it is going to work If the solution is hot.

Whether you have the heat or not depends upon how fast you want to do things? So you wouldn't use it for the watch cleaning but what if you were cleaning the bands Or case? For instance we have several of  this company's products where I work. For cleaning the metal straps on watches the heat really does speed things up. But if you weren't in a rush that's not going to be an issue.

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It probably would be beneficial to get the heated one, I guess I could find other uses for it, not just cleaning watch movements.
I’m somewhat concerned about the size 0.8 litre. Definitely plenty for watch parts but I am not sure how mainsprings are placed into the baskets. Looking at the baskets for the proper watch cleaning machines they are 64mm in diameter so I’m guessing I shouldn’t have any problems with the smaller beakers that fit into the smallest S10H which are 81mm in diameter. A basket intended for a watch cleaning machine (Elma) would fit.
I watch many videos on YouTube and now and again I see watchmakers inserting watch parts into the baskets but I have never seen one with a mainspring hence I have no idea how I’d do it myself. I am guessing mainsprings go into watch cleaning machines?
Would I be regreting it later for some reason not getting a larger ultrasonic bath?

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Main spring cleaning depends upon whose literature you're looking at. For instance Omega has a technical document on recycling mainspring barrels as they call it. They only wiped the mainspring down with a cloth no cleaners Or solvents. They're assuming that it Is a original mainsprings still has the dry somewhat invisible lubricant on its and that's why they just wipe it. At least that's what I'm assuming because there really really clear on no solvents were cleaners.

If I'm doing a watch which is typically is a pocket watch and if I'm going to reuse the mainspring because it's an really beautiful nice condition then I just wipe it with a cloth with a solvent because it usually has sticky grease on it.  So I typically never clean mainsprings in the ultrasonic.

 

If the mainspring is an original blued steel spring Hulk still clean those with a cloth in a solvent but once their clean it put a thin coating of oil and/or grease on them. The Elgin watch company had a interesting document to why mainsprings break and they implied micro fractures due to rust. I tend to think poor manufacturing skills or not understanding things but steel mainsprings definitely do not like rust.

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Hey, bit late to the party but I use the Elma 1:9 too.

I have spent a lot of time trialing different strategies for cleaning parts. The best I have come up with is Elma 1:9 in an ultrasonic at about 40C for 4 minutes, then rinsing the parts basket in distilled water at 40-50C twice, the second time in the ultrasonic. For some but not all parts I use pure Isopropyl alcohol as a final rinse.

I have a gallon of the Suprol rinse here doing nothing but posing a fire hazard. Because I hate the smell of it and also, no matter what I tried it would leave some residue on the parts after drying.

I have an Elma S10, non heated ultrasonic cleaner, it works very well. I just run my tap to get the water temperature right, and considering the short cleaning times the water doesn't cool down much.

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Hey JBerry, not late to the party at all! Read on…

John, what kind of cloth do you use? I have been using watchmaker’s tissue paper soaked in Horolene but the result is not what I’d like, mainly towards the centre where it is all very close together. I came across Mark’s video where he places the mainspring in a separate basket with no dividers on it’s own and then another basket with parts on the top of it. Should you want to see it, it’s here, time 8:28

I haven’t decided which ultrasonic to go for as yet although I’m leaning towards the S10H. The price is steep considering that the basket needs to be purchased separately, several beakers for the solutions, beaker holder and even basket support clips to minimalise damage to the tank and basket! It all adds up. I was and still am tempted to save the money and buy a cheap one but I already have one that does not work, most importantly they tend to have 5 min limit, it’s not enough for 2 or more cycles. The S Line can be set from 1 to 30 minutes and have safety cut out after 12 hours continuous use.

I also have the Suprol Pro and will certainly try it out. I contacted Elma, they recommended the 1:9 and the Suprol Pro for ultrasonic bath and watch parts, that’s why I purchased them. I would contact them again if I have residue on parts and ask them whether I’m doing anything wrong. They manufacture it and should have an answer to that. Knowing myself I’ll probably end up trying all different solutions, Greiner, L&R and see what works best. Pitty they don’t sell small testers.
Have you had the S10 a while and or used it extensively? I presume you don’t use the IPA on the pallet fork and impulse pin, how do you rinse off the 1:9?

Guys, thank you very much for your input.

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You're right, I should contact them regarding the residue. I tried a few different approaches with no luck.

I have had the S10 about two years now. It's been great, horrible on the ears but all ultrasonics are. I'm an analytical chemist and have used lots and lots of different Elmas and never had any problem with them, which is the big reason I splashed out on it. I think for the time scales of heating here there is no real need to get the H.

The pallet fork and balance assembly I just give the two rinses in distilled water following the 1:9, and a quick 10 second dip in the IPA. It seems to work well cleaning oiled up balance springs. I make sure to blow dry the parts so the IPA isn't sitting on the shellac.

I don't use a basket, but two glass jars with rubber sealed lids, and within these I have the parts either loose (like the plates) or in small mesh baskets

 

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From what I read, items should not be placed directly in ultrasonics but should be placed on the basket. I don’t know anything about it, it’s the advice I’ve been given and came across in different threads.

Worth a try contacting Elma. I sent them two emails and they answered both within 24 hours. I’m sure they’ve done a lot of testing before releasing the solution. They should be able to tell you why you get the residue.

I was also going to use jars with rubber sealed lids that can be purchased from supermarkets but I wasn’t sure about the sealing and that’s one of the emails I sent to Elma, this is the response:

Cleaning in an ultrasonic bath is possible, the glasses with Suprol or Wf must not be sealed airtight.
During cleaning, the sound heats up the water bath and thus the solvent in the glass. This causes a pressure build-up
and depending on the closure, the glass can also explode.
If you would like to clean in a beaker in a water bath, we have special cleaning glasses and insert lids (not airtight) for cleaning in an ultrasonic device, you should ensure good ventilation (fume cupboard, open window, etc.)

As for the pallet fork and balance, if the Suprol does not work for me as well, I’ll probably use the Bergeon dip, it should be kinder than IPA.

It’s good to hear that you have plenty of experience with Elma products and owned the S10 for couple of years. It makes me feel more comfortable about purchasing one. I feel that my wallet might be somewhat lighter soon.

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Definitely better practice to use a basket yes, especially if you're using metal.

The rubber jars I have have a very light seal, and in the process of sonicating usually vent a little bit.

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I guess watch cleaning machines will spin off most of the solution before it is suspended into another solution, but what’s the best practice with ultrasonic baths? A little shake? Blow dry? And how do you remove it from the jar? I’m thinking scissor tongs or cooking tongs would be good for the job.

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