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Clarifications on cleaning by hand


Hi guys,

I’m following Marks course level 2 at the moment. 

I’m not clear at all about the cleaning by hand process, I will put my doubt underneath:

  • I’ve got myself Zippo lighter fluid, and also Bergeron One-dip solution. It is not clear to me when to use one or the other, or if they are alternative to each other.
  • Phases: Soak, rinse, clean by hand, rinse again...what’s the exact order to follow in cleaning by hand?
  • In the course is said to do a rinse with fresh fluid starting with the balance assembly. Does this imply that the balance assembly is cleaned only one? Or do I do 2 rounds changing fluid, both rounds started with the balance assembly?

Thanks again for clarifications and any additional tips, or the method you use to clean by hand (I will think about a cleaning machine in the future but I’ve spent already a lot of money to start with!)


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You'll find lots of different opinion about cleaning and which fluids to use.  Here are some points that may help you.

Lighter fluid is pretty much like One-Dip except one-dip is pure, won't leave a residue and is expensive.

I keep 2 glass bottles of lighter fluid (actually Renata Essence).  One for cleaning, one for rinsing. 

When the first bottle starts to look dirty (maybe after cleaning 5 movements) I empty it (responsibly) and use the rinse bottle as my clean bottle and make up a new rinse bottle.

I would soak parts in the first bottle for 5 minutes while agitating it with a hand blower.  For stubborn oil use a soft brush.  For very stubborn marks use pegwood.  Then put everything in the rinse bottle for 5 minutes and agitate again.  Finally move the parts onto clean paper (I use normal A4 printer paper) and air dry with a hand blower.  At this point I inspect each part and use rodico to remove any residue.

I would save your one-dip for the balance complete and possibly the pallet fork.  Some cleaning fluids can attack and soften the shellac but one-dip is safe.  Renata Essence and lighter fluid is also ok to use on parts with shellac.  Do not use IPA on these parts.

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The above is more or less what I do. 

Balance complete and pallet fork get one dip (more than once) with scrupulous inspection along the way. 

The rest bathes in Ronsinol and dried on watch paper (once the heavy stuff is off) as many times as needed, and final rinse is 91% minimum Isopropyl alcohol, and then a dry with the blower. I like to keep the Ronsinol film on everything until I’m ready to assemble, at which point I do the alcohol right before oiling. 

Keep the alcohol away from the balance and pallet fork due to the shellac. Many members have dipped in alcohol with no problem but since you have one dip, use that only. 

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