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New member - Is Epilame fixodrop really a necessity? (Im sure this has been discussed at length already here)


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For profesional watchmaking I can imagine that this would be a needed item. For a hobbyist is this really a needed solution? Any previous post links would be appreciated.

 

Glad to be here, as a hobbyist this seems like an invaluable resource for help.   

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I don’t use fixodrop as an amateur hobbyist, tinkering with movements I buy online; I have found good performance in terms of amplitude and rate even without the use of fixodrop. I have to qualify that by mentioning that the movements are stripped apart, cleaned, and put back together with oiling very frequently, and I have no idea about the LONG term performance without fixodrop.

 

If you plan on servicing other people’s watches for a fee, I think fixodrop is highly recommended, since you won’t otherwise be able to ensure good long term performance.

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Just read elsewhere that the fumes from heated Steric Acid makes an effective Epilame, anyone tried that option and also hinted that the same Steric Acid dissolved in Acetone may also work 

Any thoughts on these options.

Paul

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In general no it is not essential but most pros use it always, certainly for some parts it is a must. For example when I serviced my Rolex 3135 it worked great for a while but the auto side stopped functioning correctly. I stripped the auto parts re cleaned and treated with “fixodrop” and it has worked perfectly for the last 5 years.

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13 hours ago, OTH said:

Any previous post links would be appreciated.

The search box top right works OK for basic searches, for more searching a sentence use Google site search.

BTW, we have a dedicated section where it's considered polite for new members to introduce themselves.

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4 hours ago, OTH said:

For profesional watchmaking I can imagine that this would be a needed item. For a hobbyist is this really a needed solution? Any previous post links would be appreciated.

In the factory settings service treating has been used for a long time. The balance jewels are usually treated, the balance staff is treated at least by eta and a sizable part of the rest of the watch depending upon who and when it was manufactured.

Omega for instance now recommends service treating practically everything. In their service center that's what they do and of course the service center they have trillions of dollars to purchase the stuff.

3 hours ago, OTH said:

Looking into a homemade stearic acid as to import Epilame will prove very expensive

 

2 hours ago, Paul80 said:

Just read elsewhere that the fumes from heated Steric Acid makes an effective Epilame, anyone tried that option and also hinted that the same Steric Acid dissolved in Acetone may also work 

Any thoughts on these options.

There is a cleaning machine it's been discussed on this group that is very interesting and clever. Conveniently I can't quite remember the name in any case it used one bath for cleaning like any other cleaning machine. Then it had an area for the rinse that was isopropyl alcohol that was distilled each time. So the machine was not available in the US Supposedly as it is distilling alcohol even if you're not drinking it at least that's the rumor I heard. Then it vaporized stearic acid for the surface treatment.

Somewhere I'd also seen a reference to a patent that applied that the vapor method was much better than the liquid because the coating was much more uniform. But other than this cleaning machine and the reference to the patents I've never seen anything else on vaporizing.

I would assume that typically most hobbyists don't use it either because they don't know what it is or when they find out what it is they have sticker shock at the cost.

 

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18 minutes ago, jdm said:

The search box top right works OK for basic searches, for more searching a sentence use Good site search.

BTW, we have a dedicated section where it's considered polite for new members to introduce themselves.

Ill take a look at the intro section, I was not aware of this... Thanks.

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12 minutes ago, JohnR725 said:

In the factory settings service treating has been used for a long time. The balance jewels are usually treated, the balance staff is treated at least by eta and a sizable part of the rest of the watch depending upon who and when it was manufactured.

Omega for instance now recommends service treating practically everything. In their service center that's what they do and of course the service center they have trillions of dollars to purchase the stuff.

 

There is a cleaning machine it's been discussed on this group that is very interesting and clever. Conveniently I can't quite remember the name in any case it used one bath for cleaning like any other cleaning machine. Then it had an area for the rinse that was isopropyl alcohol that was distilled each time. So the machine was not available in the US Supposedly as it is distilling alcohol even if you're not drinking it at least that's the rumor I heard. Then it vaporized stearic acid for the surface treatment.

Somewhere I'd also seen a reference to a patent that applied that the vapor method was much better than the liquid because the coating was much more uniform. But other than this cleaning machine and the reference to the patents I've never seen anything else on vaporizing.

I would assume that typically most hobbyists don't use it either because they don't know what it is or when they find out what it is they have sticker shock at the cost.

 

You're completely correct about your last statement. Bloody expensive stuff...

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Finally figured out what the machine is called. You can find a description there is several places online if you can find them that will show the machine I've seen pictures of the inside and somebody on this group has one.

https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/greiner-ultrason-cleaning-machine-465667345

Greiner stearic acid cleaning machine.JPG

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16 minutes ago, JohnR725 said:

 I've seen pictures of the inside and somebody on this group has one.

That's what master Nickelsiver and I have. I keep mine dormant, but he uses his to make moonshine, which helps in the cold Swiss winter. In the manual, about the epilaming, it says "anti-spread treatment has become much less necessary with the introduction of modern synthetic oils". That was in the '70, go figure now. I would post a picture, but my language is not fully understood by most members.

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As for the cost of epilame, it's obscene but it lasts a while if you look after it. You could also see if there is anyone else in your region who would want to share the cost of buying and splitting some; you don't really need much if you are a not doing this professionally I have found.

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21 minutes ago, Pip said:

As for the cost of epilame, it's obscene but it lasts a while if you look after it. You could also see if there is anyone else in your region who would want to share the cost of buying and splitting some; you don't really need much if you are a not doing this professionally I have found.

As @clockboy says above, not usually needed for home use, but essential in some situations e.g. reversing wheels on Rolex. I serviced a friends Rolex and needed to buy some. I managed to find someone on ebay selling it by the 5ml bottle. 

That's plenty for occasional use. But keep the top tightly on, it does like to escape !

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The original epilame that Moebius sold (Aretol) was stearic acid in some sort of a solvent base. I have a cleaning machine that has a chamber that melts stearic acid and you put the parts in (not in the acid, in the chamber) for 30s or a minute and it deposits a microscopic layer of the fumes. Philippe Dufour told me he uses stearic acid dissolved in alcohol, at a 1:100 ratio but I never found out if that was by weight or volume. I tried to mix some with 99.9% iso alcohol at that ratio by weight and it leaves a visible deposit; as I just use Fixodrop I didn't experiment any further.

 

So for the curious, yes, you can use stearic acid- do a little experimentation with different solvents, and I think less is truly more on the ratio- it just has to be like a molecule thick layer.

 

Ah- just saw JDM's post- hahaha. I would't make moonshine in my machine, but an old guy at Greiner told me many folks did.

Edited by nickelsilver
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I've been thinking of experimenting with fingerprint repellent coatings meant for phone screens. If it repels fingerprint oils, that means it is oleophobic, which is what we want. 

I tried a nano coating liquid screen protector from AliExpress on my phone, but it doesn't seem to work. The instructions say to leave it for 8 hours to dry, but seriously, who can go without his phone for 8 hours! 🤪

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I have dug up the web site https://www.surfactis.com/en/industrial-applications/watch-industry/     which gives an explanation of its us in the watch industry.  I also found out that Stearic acid dissolves readily in Ethanol,  more readily than Acetone.    Its a common fatty acid used in the soap/cosmetic industry. 

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I have too read about dissolving the stearic acid in an alcohol. It would only make sense to then heat the solution to deposit the layer on the parts. I wouldnt venture just "painting" it on the necessary parts as if I am not mistaken it could dissolve the shellac on the pallet fork jewels? Going to be doing some testing through December. Will share what I find out, fortunate enough to have found raw stearic granules.

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17 hours ago, watchweasol said:

  I also found out that Stearic acid dissolves readily in Ethanol,  more readily than Acetone.    Its a common fatty acid used in the soap/cosmetic industry. 

Hmm, I wouldn't be surprised if it dissolves better in ethanol than isopropyl. I was looking at my old (empty) bottle of Moebius Aretol and on the back is printed that they switched from a toxic solvent to a safe one, which ethanol sounds about right.

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20 hours ago, mikepilk said:

But keep the top tightly on, it does like to escape

 

19 hours ago, nickelsilver said:

The original epilame that Moebius sold (Aretol) was stearic acid in some sort of a solvent base.

The reference to escaping is very valid unfortunately. My first exposure to surface treating was in a shop that was doing it incorrectly for variety reasons. In the early days when the watch companies trusted watchmakers and individual shops were service agents or providers for more brands this shop was authorized to service Seiko watches. So on the small ladies high-frequency watches the entire pallet fork is dropped into the bottle of Aretol. Then I learned something interesting if you turn it upside down the pallet fork falls into the lid gently turn over and most the time ill stay at the top of the bottle where you can grab it. Note this is not how you're supposed to apply it because you're not supposed to have it on the pivots or on the side of the fork but that's how we did it.

Then of course there is a proper drying procedure and I'm sure we did not do that correctly either. So I do have a bottle of that and what do I have a brown bottle some sort of residue in the bottom. Even though I kept the lid on really tight it just escaped all by itself never to be seen again

Then the newer stuff which I never get around to using because I just picked the right lubricants that I don't use it seems to be staying in the bottles that is because the newest stuff is supposed to be environmentally friendly and it doesn't evaporate super superfast.

One of the references to drying procedure and superfast evaporation is the other problem with the older stuff. The solvent evaporated so fast it would cause condensation on the steel part of the fork. You would end up with rust the used be a website which is long since gone that had pictures of jewels like the roller jewel cut in half from the rust on the end of the fork at least that was the theory of how the rust got there. I was a lecture once was explained that when you put it on the fork just on the stones then you are supposed to dry it with a hairdryer really really fast or else you got rust so the choices solvent is also an issue

Then there is a minor other problems a DIY message as somebody mentioned above. There is an elaborate procedure when you're supposed to be using it in other words you not supposed to drop parts into the entire bottle. You supposed to poured out into a special bottle which is really expensive and it's a special shapes the fluids in the bottom turn it upside down it gets into the basket on the top gets all the parts Coated that are supposed to be coated. Turn the bottle over it goes back into the bottom and from time to time you change the solution possibly crying each time you pour out that expensive fluid. The reason is if the concentration builds up to strong the Coating is too thick And that supposed to present a problem also

19 hours ago, nickelsilver said:

I have a cleaning machine that has a chamber that melts stearic acid and you put the parts in (not in the acid, in the chamber) for 30s or a minute and it deposits a microscopic layer of the fumes.

Personally I'm still in favor of this method it seems simple. The microscopic layer is all you need it would eliminate all those other pesky problems. I don't suppose you have any idea how hot the chamber gets?

 

 

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There are different formulas being suggested here which is fine for us to test and tinker with but for a pro it’s just too risky. ETA have a lubricant specifically for reversing wheels “Lubeta V105” and it works but I see on a YouTube site a guy was using 90% petrol + 10% mobius 9010.
Again for me just too risky, also the amount of these liquids that are actually used compared to the amount of movements that can be serviced it is very reasonable.

Thats my opinion anyway😊😊

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3 minutes ago, clockboy said:

There are different formulas being suggested here which is fine for us to test and tinker with but for a pro it’s just too risky. ETA have a lubricant specifically for reversing wheels “Lubeta V105” and it works but I see on a YouTube site a guy was using 90% petrol + 10% mobius 9010.
Again for me just too risky, also the amount of these liquids that are actually used compared to the amount of movements that can be serviced it is very reasonable.

Thats my opinion anyway😊😊

I can appreciate the fact that in professional watchmaking its best to use the industry standard. Wouldn't want a client's expensive watch damaged because of experimentation.

I wouldnt want that for my own watches... Ill most likely end up buying some anyway. There is just something really fishy about that price though. Stearic crystals and ethanol dont add up to what they are asking for it. 

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18 minutes ago, JohnR725 said:

 

The reference to escaping is very valid unfortunately. My first exposure to surface treating was in a shop that was doing it incorrectly for variety reasons. In the early days when the watch companies trusted watchmakers and individual shops were service agents or providers for more brands this shop was authorized to service Seiko watches. So on the small ladies high-frequency watches the entire pallet fork is dropped into the bottle of Aretol. Then I learned something interesting if you turn it upside down the pallet fork falls into the lid gently turn over and most the time ill stay at the top of the bottle where you can grab it. Note this is not how you're supposed to apply it because you're not supposed to have it on the pivots or on the side of the fork but that's how we did it.

Then of course there is a proper drying procedure and I'm sure we did not do that correctly either. So I do have a bottle of that and what do I have a brown bottle some sort of residue in the bottom. Even though I kept the lid on really tight it just escaped all by itself never to be seen again

Then the newer stuff which I never get around to using because I just picked the right lubricants that I don't use it seems to be staying in the bottles that is because the newest stuff is supposed to be environmentally friendly and it doesn't evaporate super superfast.

One of the references to drying procedure and superfast evaporation is the other problem with the older stuff. The solvent evaporated so fast it would cause condensation on the steel part of the fork. You would end up with rust the used be a website which is long since gone that had pictures of jewels like the roller jewel cut in half from the rust on the end of the fork at least that was the theory of how the rust got there. I was a lecture once was explained that when you put it on the fork just on the stones then you are supposed to dry it with a hairdryer really really fast or else you got rust so the choices solvent is also an issue

Then there is a minor other problems a DIY message as somebody mentioned above. There is an elaborate procedure when you're supposed to be using it in other words you not supposed to drop parts into the entire bottle. You supposed to poured out into a special bottle which is really expensive and it's a special shapes the fluids in the bottom turn it upside down it gets into the basket on the top gets all the parts Coated that are supposed to be coated. Turn the bottle over it goes back into the bottom and from time to time you change the solution possibly crying each time you pour out that expensive fluid. The reason is if the concentration builds up to strong the Coating is too thick And that supposed to present a problem also

Personally I'm still in favor of this method it seems simple. The microscopic layer is all you need it would eliminate all those other pesky problems. I don't suppose you have any idea how hot the chamber gets?

 

 

Strange that they had rust issues. Perhaps due to contamination? Stearic acid is used in a few coatings/paints as it inhibits rust development. 

Do you buy specific lubricants that then do not require you to use any form of fixodrop? (Sorry I might have misunderstood here)

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