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Cleaning Solutions, UltraSonic and not

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I clean the balance and hairspring mounted on the main plate. I rinse off the cleaner by submerging the plate in a basin of water at 50 degrees centigrade for about ten seconds, then blow off the excess water with a puffer. The plate is then placed in a container with alcohol and agitated with the puffer for about thirty seconds. I then remove the plate and place the plate onto a folded piece of kitchen roll to absorb the majority of the alcohol and gently use the puffer to blow air on the balance until it starts to swing correctly. At this point I remove the balance from the plate and store it separately until assembly. It is only at the point of assembly that I remove the balance jewels and clean them separately in lighter fuel.

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I clean the balance and hairspring mounted on the main plate. I rinse off the cleaner by submerging the plate in a basin of water at 50 degrees centigrade for about ten seconds, then blow off the excess water with a puffer. The plate is then placed in a container with alcohol and agitated with the puffer for about thirty seconds. I then remove the plate and place the plate onto a folded piece of kitchen roll to absorb the majority of the alcohol and gently use the puffer to blow air on the balance until it starts to swing correctly. At this point I remove the balance from the plate and store it separately until assembly. It is only at the point of assembly that I remove the balance jewels and clean them separately in lighter fuel.

Thanks for the detailed steps Geo, I assumed that would be the way to go, leaving the balance on the mainplate etc.. Just got confused, as Bogdan suggested not to clean the balance in alcohol.

Sent from my SM-G920F using Tapatalk

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Do not soak the balance for any great length of time if you will could have a problem with the roller jewel. That's why I say to dip it only for seconds before puffing it dry.

PS I have been doing this for years when cleaning parts in the ultrasonic tank and have never had a problem.

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I have a question @Geo.

 

You clean the balance assembly put on the main plate and only at the end you take off the balance jewels and clean them separately.

 

How are you sure that you sufficiently cleaned the balance pivots. I believe hardened oil and dirt could remain on it (between it and the jewels). This is why, if I had a machine, I would wash the ballance on the main plate, but without the jewels on.

 

Thank you,

Bogdan

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Hi Bogdan.

If it is a really dirty watch that hasn't been serviced for years I will strip the movement completely then soak all parts overnight in naphtha (lighter fuel) to soften any hard oily deposits. This includes the main plate and balance assembly as separate units. The next day I will attach the balance to the main plate complete with balance jewels and clean them in the ultrasonic tank with ammoniated cleaner at 50 degrees centigrade for five minute, then rinse as previously described. This has always given a good result, and I feel that it is due to the pivots vibrating inside the jewels which aids the cleaning process. It will have a pistoning effect that I imagine should help wash out the muck.

After this process, I remove the jewels and give them another clean in naphtha just for good measure.

I might be completely wrong with my assumption, but the process does work with great results for me. Before using this technique, I had the odd issue with jewels and residual muck.

There are some watchmakers that do recommend removing the jewels as you described, but I don't.

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This really has been extremely enlightening. Think I've finally got my head round the cleaning cycles & can see where I've been going wrong. It may even shed light on some of the issues I've had in the past. Thanks guys

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Like George I have been getting on OK with Naptha for a while now and I use Isapropanol for the final rinse but my stuff is small scale as I don't really have a need to do anything in bulk. I do treat the pallets separately.

Cheers,

Vic

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I recently bought a watch cleaning machine from a retired watchmaker, when I collected the machine the jars already contained solution, the watchmaker told me the rinse jars contained isopropanol. I did ask him what effect on the shellac holding the pallet jewels would the isopropanol have, saying I would be worried that it would dissolve. He said he had used it since Benzine had been unavailable to use, and as long as I rinsed for no more than 15min in each wash there would not be a problem. He also said it was very quick to evaporate in the drying stage and left no residue.

 

I have ordered new cleaning solution and rinse solution from Quadralene and intend to use these.

 

I have though cleaned 4 watches last week in the solutions in the machine and have not had a problem.

 

Today I decided to test and see how long it took to actually dissolve the shellac,

before_zpsucftxlfh.jpg

 

 

The image above shows 3 Russian and one Swiss set of pallets and the shellac can clearly be seen. I have been using the solution for 15min each rinse and have not had a problem so I put the pallets in a isopropanol rinse for 1hr  to see what effect it had

after_zpsrbal1bqq.jpg

 

On the Russian pallets it has greatly degraded the shellac and almost totally washed it away on one, but on the Swiss pallets it has not even touched the shellac on those.

I will not use isopropanol again in a cleaning machine and intend to try a similar test with the Quadralene rinse to see how shellac friendly that is because the data sheet doesn't specify what ingredients are in it, but quadralene did tell me they have many watchmakers who buy their rinse and have not had any problems.

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On 19/10/2015 at 4:26 PM, wls1971 said:

I recently bought a watch cleaning machine from a retired watchmaker, when I collected the machine the jars already contained solution, the watchmaker told me the rinse jars contained isopropanol. I did ask him what effect on the shellac holding the pallet jewels would the isopropanol have, saying I would be worried that it would dissolve. He said he had used it since Benzine had been unavailable to use, and as long as I rinsed for no more than 15min in each wash there would not be a problem. He also said it was very quick to evaporate in the drying stage and left no residue.

I have ordered new cleaning solution and rinse solution from Quadralene and intend to use these.

I have though cleaned 4 watches last week in the solutions in the machine and have not had a problem.

Today I decided to test and see how long it took to actually dissolve the shellac,

 

The image above shows 3 Russian and one Swiss set of pallets and the shellac can clearly be seen. I have been using the solution for 15min each rinse and have not had a problem so I put the pallets in a isopropanol rinse for 1hr to see what effect it had

 

On the Russian pallets it has greatly degraded the shellac and almost totally washed it away on one, but on the Swiss pallets it has not even touched the shellac on those.

I will not use isopropanol again in a cleaning machine and intend to try a similar test with the Quadralene rinse to see how shellac friendly that is because the data sheet doesn't specify what ingredients are in it, but quadralene did tell me they have many watchmakers who buy their rinse and have not had any problems.

Great test & thanks for your sacrifice. It really does prove how in the wrong hands & without the correct information you could be left with a big problem.

Edited by jdm
Please don't include pictures in quoting

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Thanks to WLS1971,

 

This chestnut has been discussed a lot on the forum but we now have some evidence thanks to your efforts.  Interesting how the shellac seemed to be of differing composition between Russian and Swiss.

 

Cheers,

 

Vic

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I think isopropanol is safe to use if cleaning by hand for short periods, but I wouldn't use it in the machine again, the information given to me is probably correct in that 30 min exposure to isopropanol has little effect but at some point beyond that it softens the shellac, and once it's at that point it would attack it very quickly in the cleaning machine because of the constant agitation..

 

Why the shellac on the Swiss pallets was not effected I don't know they had exactly the same exposure as the Russian ones.

 

I cleaned last week a Sekonda pocket watch a Cyma pocket watch a Regency wristwatch with FHF movement and a ladies Lanco the exposure they received was 15min each rinse and there was no problem.

 

The only conclusion to be drawn from the test is avoid its use in a cleaning machine and don't soak or rinse beyond 30mins as a max which wouldn't happen any way if cleaning by hand unless you where distracted or forgot and left them too long.

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Just to add when isopropanol dissolved the shellac on a pallet and balance impulse Jewel of mine , (mentioned above) this was 2 separate occasions and they were only in the solution for 480 seconds , the max setting on my ultrasonic cleaner.

They were Swiss movements , so whether it was a case that the vibrations from the ultrasonic loosened them or maybe the isopropanol was to pure at 99.9% I don't know , but I don't do use it anymore

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That's interesting Andy, it's probably the extreme ultrasonic vibrations that exacerbated the problem. I only use it as a final rinse by dropping the parts in a jar of the stuff for about 30 seconds, I never use it in the ultrasonic bath.

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That's interesting Andy, it's probably the extreme ultrasonic vibrations that exacerbated the problem. I only use it as a final rinse by dropping the parts in a jar of the stuff for about 30 seconds, I never use it in the ultrasonic bath.

Thats what i'm guessing Geo if people are using it for 15mins at a time without issue, i've still got the stuff , i'll experiment again using it as you do just as the final short rinse 

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Hello Everyone,

 

I am looking for a watch cleaning solution to rinse some pocket watch movement parts in. I do not have a ultrasonic cleaning machine. Would soaking the parts in an "ultrasonic" labeled cleaning solution work? Thank you very much!

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darthdosh, I think you are getting too technical for me. :)

 

I would also recommend not to smoke while working on watches even if you are not using any of the different chemicals (for cleaning, lubing and other stuff), a small amount of cinder or any other debris from a cigar/cigarette can contaminate your work...anything can contaminate your work and your workplace. You must strive for a clean, dust free environment.

 

Cheers

 

Bob

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