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Cleaning Solutions, UltraSonic and not

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I use denatured alcohol to clean the "shellacky" residue that forms on the inside of watch cleaners' jars and SS containers. It breaks down that stuff easily and visibly cleanly.

I don't think that I'd use it on pallet-forks or balances with roller tables/jewels installed. But regarding your basic dilution of isopropyl found in drugstores around the world, is it safe to use as quick rinse on complete balance assemblies? I ask because I just serviced a little 7.75L GP wrist-watch and it's running quite fast. I had noticed that the hairspring was sticking together a bit after soaking in Coleman fuel, what I believe is naptha. It seemed like there was  still a residue left behind.

So, would I be safe, and effectively remove the residue, by swirling the balance around in isopropyl for a bit after soaking in naptha? If there's any question, I'll just have go get some more One-Dip. I don't like the toxicity of it, or that it seems to disappear in a couple of years even if you have the cap on tightly. Any learned help is appreciated.

The problem with these small movements is that each time you manipulate things, you get close to disaster. And it's a game of numbers. Cheers.

 

Edited by MrRoundel

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Hello,

Wan't to start on my first pocket watch movement for a try out...

Planning on buying a Elma cleaning machine later this year, but for now I will do it manually.

Do I understand it right, that you put the parts in jars with 100% lighter fluid ( except pallets ) close the jar and put the jar in to the water in the ultrasonic? ( And then run as far as you can? :D )

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3 hours ago, Koen said:

 

 

 

Do I understand it right, that you put the parts in jars with 100% lighter fluid ( except pallets ) close the jar and put the jar in to the water in the ultrasonic? 

Lighter fluid is for lighters as it contains oils, fragrances and other stuff that does not belong to contemporary watchmaking. 

If you want the plates to shine give a first bath in ammonia based solution. 

Then a bath in petroleum ether (refined naphtha) to dissolve oils, check jewels for cleanliness under the loupe. 

Also useful is Isopropyl alcohol as final rinse and in some cases the only one. 

All these have been discussed many times previously in this same thread, which you can read for further education. 

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Thanks jdm.

 

I read this post, but on the end, I din't see it any more. English is not my normal language, and all different things were recommended.

 

I don't mean lighter fluid, in my country we call it "wasbenzine" let's say "cleaning fuel"... ;-)

 

But here I can find different products I can use, to many to choose off:

https://www.beco-technic.com/werkzeuge-verbrauchsartikel/reinigungsprodukte/fluessigkeiten-zum-reinigen/fuer-uhren.html

 

 

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44 minutes ago, Koen said:

I don't mean lighter fluid, in my country we call it "wasbenzine" let's say "cleaning fuel"... ;-)

Yes, refined benzine is petroleum ether, naptha, shellite, etc, but native English speakers will confuse it with benzene, and tell you that is toxic (true), so better avoid that term on an international forum. 

Edited by jdm

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9 minutes ago, Koen said:

Think I just going to order this machine and the right products:

As a beginner hobbyists you don't need an €2,000 automatic cleaning machine. The same and less money can be spent of important tools like timegrapher, bench case opener, water pressure tester, lubricants and even a lathe. You can get an economic jewelry ultrasound cleaner but event that isn't mandatory. 

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Hey jdm,

Thanks for your good advice.

Need to make some cost for my firm this year, so thats why I was thinking to buy it... And maybe later I make from my hobby a bit of an income, so good material is always a +. ;)

Also looking for this timegrapher:

https://www.beco-technic.com/geraete-maschinen/uhrenpruefgeraete-kontrollgeraete/geraete-zur-pruefung-von-uhren/witschi-watch-expert-pruefgeraet-fuer-mechanische-uhren.html

Maybe to much for a starter... but hey YOLO.

 

What watertester do you recommend? With water or vacuum?

https://www.beco-technic.com/geraete-maschinen/uhrenpruefgeraete-kontrollgeraete/geraete-zur-pruefung-der-wasserdichtheit.html

 

The ultrasonic cleaner I already have here... Use it for the jewelry of my wife. :D

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32 minutes ago, Koen said:

Need to make some cost for my firm this year, so thats why I was thinking to buy it... And maybe later I make from my hobby a bit of an income, so good material is always a +. ;)

If you have the funds buy a watchmaker lathe, accessories and learn how to use it. You may be become a good watchmaker as opposed to an equipped cleaner. 

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12 hours ago, Koen said:

Hello,

Wan't to start on my first pocket watch movement for a try out...

Planning on buying a Elma cleaning machine later this year, but for now I will do it manually.

Do I understand it right, that you put the parts in jars with 100% lighter fluid ( except pallets ) close the jar and put the jar in to the water in the ultrasonic? ( And then run as far as you can? :D )

Elma cleaning machine!!!?  NOT .   

I get me a staking set, set up a diy timegrapher ,lots of useful goodies you can get with that kind of money.

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Thank you all for the advice...

 

So no cleaning machine.:D

But still need to spend my budget for the end of the year... if not, government is taking it and spend it for me... :chainsaw:

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31 minutes ago, Koen said:

But still need to spend my budget for the end of the year... if not, government is taking it and spend it for me... :chainsaw:

That is so easy in watchmaking, especially when buying Swiss tools that on many cases  work the same but cost four times the Chinese. But that's another story. 

An other quick way to spend money is to buy  watches for practice. At the very first you can go cheap but ideally you want them to be of quality to be repairable, have parts available, and being of attractive brand and models to buyers to reseller later. 

However money can buy tools but not knowledge, dexterity and skllls, for that reason beginners must focus on practicing on the bench as more they can. Also reading books is very beneficial although nodawaday enrolling into an online course like the one offered by our Host Mark Lovick is probably a better alternative. 

Edited by jdm

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I also have an old Elma, which I got at an Ebay Auction. I use the machine to clean the movements. 

I bought the fluids from elma. 1st Jar for a cleaning solution and the 2 others for the rinse.

The parts come out if the machine really clean and shinning.  Its beautiful!

I'll try to post a pic tomorrow. 

 

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ELMA.thumb.jpg.8b48034d61f1a35b170e4c1265c7cd60.jpg

I got myself a used ELMA as well (manufactured 1952) with replaced wiring for about $150. It saves a lot of time and the cleaning result is good enough and makes all brass parts look really shiny. I still inspect all critical parts (jewel bearings, pivots, etc.) under strong magnification before reassembling and when needed I do some manual cleaning as well, like pegging out jewel bearings and removing rust and corrosion.

I use ELMA RED 9:1 for cleaning (5 min), deionized water for first rinse (1-2 minutes), and ELMA Suprol Pro (1-2 min) for the final rinse. Then into the heating chamber for about 5-10 minutes. Since these solutions are water based it's important to minimize the cleaning time. I tried with 10-15 minutes in each container (total 40-45 minutes) and the parts developed some rust and strange looking spots that I fortunately was able to remove manually using vinegar essence (12%) and IPA (Never again!)

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I’m surprised that you found corrosion when using that Elma soap. Was this on the steel parts or the brass parts? I wonder if it could have been an electrolytic reaction with your baskets. I’ve seen that happen with Horolene and aluminium containers. 

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3L-40kHz-Digital-Ultrasonic-Cleaner-With

I bought one of the Chinese digital models all over eBay, Amazon, and AliX. For $64, and seeming a bit more industrial (I have other uses for it beyond watches), I thought it would be a solid win if it lasts a while. I used it for the first time this week. It takes FOREVER to heat up to the default 50°C, and I feel like it's MUCH louder than ultrasonics I've used in the past, but it got the job done. I got the 3L model, but be warned: that seems to refer to the volume of the entire machine, not the tank. The tank doesn't even hold a single liter. It does hold 3x small diameter mason jars with cleaning fluid in them though! A clean and two rinses, allowing me to cycle watch subsystems through right on top of one another.

The bad: 

I was hoping to be able to fit a V8 carburetor in there, but that's a solid no go... Even if I rotated it around in stages, I doubt I could get the whole thing. Even a 2 barrel carburetor would need to be done in stages.... Actually... Now that I think about it, I'm not sure the stock carb off a 1200cc VW would make it in one pass... The "3L" spec is beyond misleading...  

I haven't timed it or anything, but with about 1/3rd of the tank full at room temp and the lid on, it took about an hour to get to 50°C (the default heater temp). That's a long time. To be fair, the specific heat of water is pretty high, but it's definitely not that high. And once it reaches the set temp, it just turns itself back off and cools down at the rate water cools down with no heat source or insulation, so you have to keep turning it back on again every so often to hold the temperature.

The noise. Holy crap the noise. The ultrasonics I've dealt with in the past weren't something you'd want to play over loud speakers, but this guy seems to be piping its tune over loudspeakers! There's the high pitched noise you'd expect, but also a bit of a rattle and hum, and it's LOUD. I initially set it up on the kitchen counter for a test run with just water, dish soap, and a dirty bracelet. My wife immediately went with the baby back to the baby's room and closed the door. I ultimately tapped out and had to go back to our bedroom while it finished its cycle. It's intolerable. When I ran it for real, I took it down to the basement into a stone lined room that's mostly under ground, and closed the doors. If I were attempting to use this machine in a professional capacity, I'd probably pass if it had to live anywhere near where I worked. Even in a hobby setting, you'd better have the real estate to operate it somewhere far away. I might try to see if I can open it up and get some insulation stuffed in there... That may or may not be a bad idea, but the noise is absolutely intolerable.

The good:

It's cheap. I paid $64; I don't recall if that included shipping or not, but feel like it did. Granted, that's twice as much as the plastic cheapies on Amazon and such, but it's also much bigger and heated with some degree of control over its operation. 

It works. It got the job done. At the end of the day, that's the jam, and it acquitted itself nicely.

Lastly, the tank is just big enough for 3X 2oz mason jars in the basket with the lid on. That allows me to perform all three cleaning stages simultaneously and save time.

The verdict:

My feelings are very mixed on this. Watchmaking is a pretty zen hobby, and this machine wrecks any zen. In the automotive setting, no biggy. That's already loud, outdoors-ish, and it's not much of a detractor. As a hobbyist, I can afford the heating time, so that's no big deal. I have the real estate to get it away from me, so I can live with that limitation too. If I were using the machine on even a semi-regular basis, I'd definitely spend a little more on something better. For $64 though... I'd certainly entertain other options if I had the opportunity to lay hands on them and test them out, but I guess it works and it's here so it's what I'll work with until it breaks or I get more serious.

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On 10/13/2015 at 3:12 AM, matabog said:
Hello!

 

I wash the parts in neophaline (benzine) but after that the parts sometimes have a thin layer of grease on them. For that I use isopropanol (isopropyl alcohol).

 

 

But be very careful - the alcohol dissolves the shellac so don't use it on the pallets and the balance wheel.

 

 

 

 

 

Bogdan

 

How do you finish off the parts you don't clean with isopropyl at the end? Do you just let them dry after their first rinse?

Edit: oh wow, just realized I commented on a 5 year old post. Not sure if I can delete.

Edited by pubudeux

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16 hours ago, pubudeux said:

How do you finish off the parts you don't clean with isopropyl at the end? Do you just let them dry after their first rinse?

Don't let part dry in air, blow with the air pump and store under the dust cover.

16 hours ago, pubudeux said:

Edit: oh wow, just realized I commented on a 5 year old post. Not sure if I can delete.

Post was started 5 years ago, and it has been continuously updated since.

Members cannot delete their own postings but can edit within 1 hour and and use flag button top right if they need further help.

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18 minutes ago, jdm said:

Don't let part dry in air, blow with the air pump and store under the dust cover.

Post was started 5 years ago, and it has been continuously updated since.

Members cannot delete their own postings but can edit within 1 hour and and use flag button top right if they need further help.

Thanks for that. Yes, once I had a look through the subsequent pages I learned a whole lot more.

I was looking for a "definitive" answer on the isopropyl alcohol but I can't find one, always seems to be a debate between - no Isopropyl because of damage it can do to shellac and that in small time windows the damage is none to minimal, so it is OK to "finish" off the part by displacing liquid with isopropyl alcohol.

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26 minutes ago, pubudeux said:

Because of damage it can do to shellac and that.

Shellac is only on the pallet fork, other than that  IPA is good for any metal and most plastics. And if you don't have that even household alcohol can be useful.  Really cleaning watch parts is not that difficult,  no need to make it complicated.

Edited by jdm

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14 hours ago, pubudeux said:

Thanks for that. Yes, once I had a look through the subsequent pages I learned a whole lot more.

I was looking for a "definitive" answer on the isopropyl alcohol but I can't find one, always seems to be a debate between - no Isopropyl because of damage it can do to shellac and that in small time windows the damage is none to minimal, so it is OK to "finish" off the part by displacing liquid with isopropyl alcohol.

So IMHO it is not Shellac you have to worry about. In my experience, there were no problems with the shellac (1-2 minutes in IPA in ultrasonic and immeadiatly air blown after). BUT you need to be careful with other glues used, like in the japanses movements - the stud is not glued with shellac, but something else, that I found it softens a bit... For those, I would just rinse by hand in IPA and blow-dry immediatly.

LAtely I am using a hairdryer to blow hot air - I find it more reasuring...

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