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National Electric Watch Cleaning Machine

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Please note that Pearl Janta baskets and racks is that a substantial poorer quality than the original Elma. I have just sold a similar set for the same reason as I did not find it useful.

I bought instead of a complete Elmaset set of Cousins

A little hint! If you buy "basket complete" then you will have to pay 199,50 + vat. If you buy mount and Holder with baskets for themselves will be  cheaper.  Lid/holder R37669 27,95 GBP Baskets and holder C0386 109,95 GBP Total 137,90 + vat 


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Thank you all for your input! I am unable to upload an image for some reason? I keep getting a triangle with an exclamation mark a few seconds after clicking upload.

Until It allows me to upload, if I understand correctly. I should be able to purchase this https://www.hswalsh.com/product/elma-64mm-basket-complete-rm90-superelite-solvex-se-solvex-rm-hc516

and just fix it to the shaft via the grub screw?


You have a number of options open to you, try and find a National electric complete basket off the bay but I think you would have more luck finding a bag of rocking horse poo than that. The national uses a three prong bayonet fitting that is 80mm across, the basket fits to a shaft with bayonet fitting  that is connected directly to the motor.InkedIMG_2500_LI.thumb.jpg.b0879c8b97b3e820dab72ca12b32cc5c.jpg

The photo above shows a National basket compared to probably the most common type of basket which is a Elma basket these are approx 70mm across, the dividers from the elma will fit snugley into the national basket so divisions can be created in the basket using these, I can with my national basket create 3 useful layers using elma dividers.

The Elma bayonet fitting is not wide enough at 70mm to fit directly to a national machine, but you can remove the shaft and fitting from the national by loosening the grub screw that hold the shaft to the motor and replace it with a Elma shaft and fitting again held in place with a grub screw, this would allow you to use elma baskets and dividers on the National machine,

you can also buy useful little baskets that will fit in your National such as these,


Complete baskets and dividers can be bought for elma type machines new such as this,


I am of course providing this information assuming that your National machine has the original basket and shaft fitted, so a photo would be useful of your machine to confirm,

you will have to at any rate to keep your eyes peeled on the bay but with a little adaption your options are open in order to have a useful machine.


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No you have the wrong end of the stick or as it is the "shaft" at the moment I will post a explination with pictures shortly.

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Below is a picture of the shaft that fits directley over the spindle from the motor at one end is a grub screw that attaches it to the spindle of the motor the other end is where the bayonet fitting and basket are fitted again on the Elma held with a grub screw


.On the national machine the shaft and bayonet fitting are all one unit and attach to the motor spindle via a grub screw.

It would be useful to know the model number of the machine you have if you cant supply pics

Below is the same shaft with basket fitted these do turn up on ebay its where I got mine the advantage of switching to elma type is that the National are long defunct and Elma are still plentiful,


But national machines do turn up quite cheap if you can find one with basket that may be another option.

Below is a two part national basket which is pretty much what they came with InkedIMG_2512_LI.thumb.jpg.87006c12aad6bdb36651a1b2e8cfb228.jpg

The elma basket dividers can be fitted into these InkedIMG_2513_LI.thumb.jpg.ba51d7741b230d1738f42d37eab6028e.jpg

And small mini baskets can be placed in anyInkedIMG_2514_LI.thumb.jpg.5d3829f6794d4bde6ea6ed32eaaefc7b.jpg

So with a bit of adaption or the use of elma basket parts you should be able to cobble together a useful set without spending a fortune.




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For some reason it will only let me upload with the image orientated in this direction? weird right? As you can see it appears like the Nationals shaft for the basket contains 2 screws? Does this mean I could attach my previous linked item?



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Hi this is a much older machine than mine which is a mark six please provide the following measurment,



if you can undo the bottom grub screw and try and remove the bayonet attachment you will have to remove the three pronged spring which is held to the middle of the shaft via a long screw,

If the bayonet attachment comes off you need to measure the diameter of the very bottom of the shaft that fits into the bayonet attachment and let me know the measurement I will then check the elma shaft and see if they are the same if so yes you would be able to fit the elma baskets without having to change shafts.


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The grub screw is rusted to the point it's head is just crushing under pressure of the screwdriver. The measurement is around 74mm (difficult to measure correctly without removing)

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  • 1 year later...
On 5/24/2017 at 4:09 PM, JMElam said:

I hope you're all well! 

I have just picked up a National Electric Watch Cleaning Machine, all works fine apart from the heating element. I have a new one to put in. I will also be stripping cleaning and re painting the machine. 


My question is does anybody know where I can get some more baskets that will fit this machine? It only came with one small basket. 

As a matter of interest, may I ask which replacement heater did you use? Would a spare from an almanac work?

( I realize this is an old post, but hopefully an answer is possible.)

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  • 5 weeks later...

Hi all.

I have got a National Electric Watch Cleaner and as expected the heating element is bug***d (sorry, not working). Everything else is OK and the motor and bearings are nice smooth with good control from the speed dial. With a bit of TLC (and rattle-can black) it will provide me with good service.

Does anyone know if the heating element from the Elma RM80 (90) is a good match for this machine? It basically just needs to operate at mains voltage and fit into the space where the old element used to fit. I could use it without the heater and just bodge something with an old hairdryer to provide a warm airflow, but I am hoping that the Elma element could be used. Has anyone ever tried this?

I am going to re-wire it and makes sure it is up to current safety standards, as it still has its original (seriously old now) wiring scheme. New Jar seals will be needed but I have some aviation fuel/chemical grade 3mm rubber gasket material I can hand cut to suit, so that will be OK. The jars and lids are sound and just need cleaning (and the seals). And it has a complete set of baskets, which is a plus.

I have included a photo of the old heating element for a size reference. Unfortunately for me, Elma do not state size of their replacement element.




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17 hours ago, yankeedog said:

are the heating coils removable?

I would say not. The entire assembly is and I was hoping to wire in the Elma Heater. Working on the assumption that you turn it on, it gets hot enough, you use it, then you turn it off again. I think the Elma element must be self regulating, or designed to operate at a certain temperature. Looking at the Elma spare part in the catalogue, there is a simple two-wire connection, same as this one.




Edited by Moose
Added Elma Element image.
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It looks like an old fashioned stove element to me, or possibly a very old kettle element. What are the dimensions of the space it needs to fit in?

Is the thing on the metal disk a thermal fuse, or a thermostat?

If it is a stove element, then you might be able to adapt a modern one to fit.





You may need to add in your own thermostat to get these to cut out at a reasonable temperature, I'm pretty sure you don't need to boil a Rolex to get it clean.


Edited by AndyHull
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Don't forget to ensure the thing is correctly earthed and that you are on an RCD protected circuit if you are testing any modifications, we don't want any hair raising incidents. Bangs and electric arc flashes may make good youtube content, but only if you are not part of the fireworks.

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BTW you can also buy kiln elements, in various power ratings, which might do the trick. Do you know what the original power rating of the element was?

Example -> https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/AC-220V-2500W-Heating-Element-Coil-Pottery-Kiln-Furnace-Resistance-Restring-Wire/202496373526?epid=25030666425&hash=item2f25b97316:g:LW4AAOSwyiFb5PWO



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One further thought, if you are feeling particularly brave, you could purchase the nichrome wire and re-make the element, however you would need to know the specification of the original coil, its total hot resistance,  the gauge of the wire, its total length and the resistance per foot/meter of your chosen wire, so you could make something to match.


.. but a suitable kettle element (or perhaps two in series) and a suitable thermostat sounds like a much simpler substitution.

Edited by AndyHull
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The basic dimension is shown in the photo, 75mm diameter. The other “thing on a metal disk” is the replacement heating element for the Elma RM80/90.

What would be useful to know (but not information I can find online), is what diameter the Elma replacement is and, if it is also a 240 volt element.

if anyone out there uses an Elma 80/90 it may be easy to see it in the bottom of the drying chamber. Or maybe a circuit diagram was supplied with the machine.

At £45 for an Elma element, I’m not sure I want to take the risk of buying one just see if it will work.

Otherwise, I will just as likely refurb it without a heater, and keep an eye open to see what might come up. I can always blow some hot air in from a hairdryer or something to get a drying effect.

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it looks like all the sections are still there . it's just a coil of nichrome wire.Form the ends so that you can hook the sections together, it will work. for how long is anybody's guess, all you need is continuity.

Edited by yankeedog
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I dont know about the ID of the coils but you could also cut sections , of oh say 12 AWG solid conductor wire and insert them inside the coils connecting the sections together.just so it's inserted for a few turns on each side. it will get hot.

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I'm certainly going to explore some of the options mentioned here, thanks. From what I have found out, is that the heating output is around 200 watts, so not too much. 

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If you decide to fix the existing heater I would tackle the problem as follows.

Count the coils.

Figure out the diameter of the coil.

The total length of wire in the existing coil is is Coil Circumference multiplied by number of coils or if you prefer...

2 * Pi * 'Diameter' * 'Number of coils' 

... since the diameter of the coil is much easier to estimate.

Nichrome wire is rated in Ohms/meter, this figure will be on the spool. The exact figure depends on the gauge of the wire,  so you should be able to work out the total resistance of a new coil.

The old coil can be cobbled together by twisting (not soldering) the coils together using bits of copper wire, per Yankeedog's suggestion.

You can then measure its approximate resistance, which should be close to what it was when new, or at least close enough for the purposes of this game.

You can probably get a rough estimate on the old coil's resistance using a micrometer to work out the wire gauge, then multiplying that by around the figure obtained from new wire of similar gauge, or even by guessing at 4 Ohms per meter.

More details here -> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nichrome

In other words, it should be possible to create your own coil, using a spool of cheap nichrome wire from ebay, a suitable round stick to form it on, and a little arithmetic. It can't be that hard, since the Victorians had this figured out long before we came on the scene. Mind you, they were still starching their hat brims with mercury, so perhaps health and safety wasn't their strong suit. 

Ohms law states that for resistive power in a DC circuit, Watts = V^2/R so you should be able to tell if you are in the right ball park with your calculations, based on that and your estimate of 200 Watts.

The fact that we are actually dealing with AC power and the fact that the resistance changes with temperature mean that this is an estimate, but probably close enough to tell if we are in gentle heating or explosive melt down territory.

I do, of course, completely absolve myself from any responsibility if your experiments set the cat's tail on fire, or result in lots of smoke and loud profanity. Also 240v AC is dangerous etc.

In summary, get the correct gauge of nichrome wire, wind the correct number of coils of the correct diameter, try it, but don't forget your safety glasses,  and work on a heatproof surface, since hot globules of exploding nichrome can be very "interesting".

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All excellent advice.


I have decided to purchase a modern 200W PTC heating element. It looks much like the one used by Elma in their new machines. It's about 75mm by 35mm rectangle shaped and can be mounted on the existing heatproof plate without issue. As standard is gives me 200W heat output at 220/240 volts and is self regulating - all I need to do is turn it on and off. 

To be honest, I did consider re-constructing the original, but then if more modern (and safer) technology is available, I may as well use it. I suspect it is a better solution that trying to hand produce a new element for a 50's or 60's heating element, as interesting as that might have been to actually try. Bottom line is that what I need is about 200 watts of safe, controllable heating. A PTC heater is the safest option for me.

Mind you, if anyone out there wants my old element to try to repair it, they are welcome to it for the postage cost from me to you.

If anyone is interested, the cost of the element is only £25 from Farnell, vs £45 to get the official Elma element from HS Walsh. For my money, it's exactly the same thing, only the Elma version is mounted on a steel plate. If you take a look at my earlier photo, you can see the PTC heater mounted on the circular plate.

200w 220/240v PTC Heater

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I have recently purchased a National, Electric Watch Cleaning Machine. Attached is a photo for reference and identification of the model type. As can be seen, it has a fairly typical design, reminiscent of many other types, particularly Elma Super Elite. In fact, I do wonder which came first - the National or the Elma. My musings on this point later.

This is a very old machine, circa late 1940’s, 1950’s, but they seem to turn up sometimes on eBay, in various conditions ranging from the “beyond hope” and only really suitable as a donor for parts, and the “old but serviceable” and might-be-worth-a-punt-on machines.

This one fell into the middle somewhere, as it was a bit tatty and the heating element did not work. On the plus side, it had all its original cleaning fluid jars and lids, and the motor and speed control gave smooth, controllable spinning and no play in the bearings. I went to visit the seller to inspect it and we did a deal on the spot. This is not always possible on eBay, but as the seller had listed it as for collection only (due to its weight), it was a possibility on this occasion.

Once I had it home and gave it the once over, I decided that I would have to either do without heating for the drying stage, or find a replacement element. At the same time, it was very obvious that all of the original cabling was not safe to leave in place and it would all have to be removed and replaced. Any other electrical parts deemed unsafe would also be replaced as I inspected them. So - the idea of a restoration (of sorts) was born.

Now - it is not my intention to restore it to the point where it could pass current electrical safety standards, but I will be making it as safe as possible, without losing any of the essential character of the original machine. This is not going to be for resale, so being safe to use is an acceptable compromise, in my opinion. I will however, perform testing on it once the electrical work is done, to make sure that the essential aspects of earth leakage, earth bonds and polarity etc. are passed. (PAT Testing included.)

Whilst this is not likely to turn into another example of a superb restoration of an Elma Super Elite (as seen elsewhere on these forums), I hope at least to have at the end of it, a perfectly serviceable watch cleaning machine, and a restoration story - of sorts - of a vintage piece of English watch making and servicing machinery.

So first off - the before pictures. This one is a good view of the machine and its cosmetic condition, as purchased. The base is a heavy, cast alloy jobbie, with its original crackle paint job beginning to flake away in places, where the years of cleaning chemicals have attacked it,  but generally sound. The jars still had residues of cleaning and rinse chemicals present. The first wash jar (front left), was particularly grotty and can’t have been cleaned for years. Fairly ironic not to clean the thing, that cleans the things! Maybe it was just left unused and unloved for many years.

The mains cable was a cloth-bound type I have not seen in years and could well have been original as it still had the old UK wiring standard colours of red/black/green. Also adding to the vintage-ness, was a very old, Bakelite three pin plug. This must have been one of the first of its type as I have not seen one in brown Bakelite before! (And I am 62...)

Anyway, that’s enough for now, as I’m not even sure anyone wants to read much about such an old machine. If anyone is interested though, please add comments and I’ll add to the story as I make progress.

At the very least, I hope I have found a potential solution to finding/ making your own heating elements for these old machines, which could also include providing replacements for Elma Super Elite, RM80/90 HCS511 etc. Machines. More details later...


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Looks like a fun project. I suspect there is little that would stop it passing modern electrical safety standards, so long as it is earthed, has the correct rated fuse, and a suitable mains cable attached.

How does the speed controller work? Some of these old speed controllers use an interesting arrangement of compressible carbon disks as a variable resistor.

I have an old Singer sewing machine that uses this arrangement, and a slightly newer Kenwood Chef mixer that uses a triac speed controller. Both are 1970s vintage, and both work well.

I would inspect any capacitors associated with the motor assuming there are any, and perhaps replace those with modern suitably rated ones, but the rest I would suspect is fine. If the motor runs, then it will probably keep running.

If this is a brushed motor, you might like to take the opportunity to clean the commutator with a bristle brush (not a steel wire one) and inspect the motor carbon brushes too. If the brushes are badly worn or damaged, they can kill the commutator pretty quickly.

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