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National Electric Watch Cleaning Machine

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Glad you found it useful. 

I was impressed at how quiet it was as well. For such an old machine, I sort of expected wear in bearings or something to perhaps create some imbalance and vibration, but no, steady as anything.

Certainly downward force on these older machines, but mostly nowadays they are automatic and bi-directional and as far as I know the “rotor” part does not exist anymore, so there is no imparting of a flow direction when it rotates.

I think for the average hobbyist, just using a machine, even of this vintage, is going to make a such a difference to cleanliness, that it won’t really matter.

still can’t wait to hear about you starting on your machine. I wish you well with it.


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Stephen, the brushes look as though they still have plenty of meat on them. Have you had a look at the commutator? It may need cleaning. Have a look at this: m.youtube.com/watch?v=MkBLwUG_AdU

Thanks guys. Rather than getting new brushes I've just done as suggested and cleaned everything. Now working as good as new - well, as good as a decades old machine anyway. Pity the speed control no l

If the bush is sintered then it will hold lubricant inside the material.

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I would particularly be interested in viewing the rheostat. I have a theory about the later editions of the model 1, like yours, with the additional on/off switch for the motor.

My thinking is that they changed the design of rheostat which necessitated the addition of an on/off switch, as the new version did not have an “off” position, like the one originally fitted  in mine.

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4 hours ago, m1ks said:

Some quick snaps of the National, had a quick play and all functioning. 

2019-06-28 12.10.59.jpg

Thanks for the update. Looking good and I'm pleased its functioning well for you.

I'm guessing that somewhere in its life, someone has replaced the motor with that from a Mark V, which would explain the off-white colour. Not sure why the heat tunnel is white though, never seen a National Machine with a square and white tunnel and the Mark V tunnel is tubular. Maybe someone just painted it white? (See photo of a Mark V, below.)

Looks to be in much the original condition that mine was in: The internal wiring is the same, fabric wound stuff and the heater and the way it's mounted is the same as well.

The difference - and I was expecting it - is the rheostat. Yours seems to have - what must be - a later modification, which changed the "flat-pack" style of fixed-resistances that mine had, with a more up-to-date (for the time) wire-wound and circular resistance. I think this is also why Lanzetter added the additional ON-OFF switch, as the circular rheostat did not have an OFF position, whereas the "flat-pack" version that my older one has, has the first stud-contact not connected to anything, thereby isolating the motor from the mains voltage when turned to off.

What's still the case, is that they were both just as unsafe really - even by standards back then - mainly due to the unprotected, mains-potential connections on the rheostat. It would have been a relatively simple thing to incorporate some form of protective cover over that area, to make it safer.

All the same, a good acquisition as it is and an even better one, once you have spent some time on it.
Good catch!




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Thanks Moose, interesting info re the motor etc. The ad did say the motor had been replaced at some point.

I noticed the rheostat was different to yours with the button type connectors but otherwise much the same everywhere else.

Oldhippy, that's what I'm hoping for, prior to this I've only ever cleaned by hand and had acceptable results but it's time consuming. There's something that niggles at me regarding ultrasonics so never used one but always fancied a proper watch cleaning machine mainly because I love gadget y things. 

Interestingly, I swapped a few messages with a fella on a group who started his career at Lanzetters, 2 brothers, one who dealt with the accrual watchmaking side and the other, the tools such as this and he worked on both departments, watchmaking after the tools section stopped.


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  • 2 weeks later...

But will Elma attachments fit the Lanzetter National?

(No...) :thumbsd:

The problem is simply size related. Whilst the two baskets look to be very close, the measurements are different enough to matter. Now - IF I had a lathe, and IF had the inclination...

In these photos you can see the size differences.

The inner diameter of the Elma baskets are 64 mm. The outer diameter of the National attachment point is 67 mm. Also the wall thickness of the Elma basket is only 2.2 mm, so there is insufficient thickness to be able to reduce it to allow the National head to fit, as there would be insufficient material left to provide enough strength.

As can also be seen, unlike the Elma Basket arrangements, the National basket holder and impeller, are both an integral part of the shaft. The Elma basket holder attaches to it's motor shaft via a metal bush and grub-screw, so it would need more "metal bashing" in order to fit an Elma Basket support to the National motor spindle.

Now - If I had a lathe, and IF I had the inclination, it should be possible to either:

  • Turn down the National basket support to fit the Elma basket holder. After all, it only needs about a mm or 2 taken off to fit. But - I would have to remove the 3 mounting studs during turning and then likely re-drill the newly-turned basket support to fit new ones. OR,
  • I could manufacture a new shaft for the National, bored out at one end to fit on the motor shaft, and turned down to fit the Elma Basket support. (I think someone actually did this, in another post on here somewhere.)

But I don't have a lathe and, crucially at the moment anyway, also do not have the inclination. In any case, we are currently packing up to move house by the end of the month, so it would in any case, have to wait until after we were settled, until I decided if I was tackle this, or just leave things as they are.

Anyway - there it is for anyone else wondering if these things might fit...

(Anyone want to buy a surplus to requirements Elma Basket holder?) :ph34r:





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That's a shame, I'm planning to 'heath robinson' some dividers for my main basket, probably from good old poundland tea strainer mesh because it's the only thing on the machine in not overly happy about. One large open basket for the heavy bits to roll around in.

The current idea is a straightforward cross piece or 3 sectional which will simply drop in. Hopefully it will be adequate enough for separating parts and stopping them bashing each other.

Cleaner and rinse first though and recover from my holiday break before deciding which practise movement gets the first try.

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That sounds like a good idea. I have a very fine mesh colander which is big enough to get quite a bit of mesh material from to fashion dividers.

But, I also fancy a bit of a challenge. Once I get moved I will see if I can manufacture a shaft. I have a mate with a lathe and I’m sure he would let me loose on it for the usual “consideration”. It also depends if I can get together the Elma bits at a lot less money than they seem to be advertised for. On the plus side, I already have the basket holder...

But, it will have to wait till the move is over with and I’m settled again.

So I’m keeping my eyes open in the meantime. And, my wife’s colander may well bite the dust in the meantime.

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  • 1 year later...

Hi Moose, it seems after the Mantel Clock i follow you to repair a National Watch Cleaning Machine, i got a MK VR though. Going to post pictures later, it was only delivered this morning. I found a related video:

What happened to your videos, they don't want to start?

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I guess it is not going to be easy or cheap to get a basket for it. I keep looking. I can see some of the baskets in the USA now you mentioned, but I am not sure if the dimensions of the baskets are correct for national.

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  • 2 weeks later...

hi there Moose,  i know this is an older thread, but hoping you can help me?

I am restoring the same machine as this, nuv I have hit a snag; the wires for the motor have broken at the grommet entering the motor!  I have managed to get the motor apart to replace the wires, but it looks like they are attached the the magnetic windings and I can't seem to get them out of the case!?

Did you have to replace your motor wires and if so, how did you do it?

Many thanks in anticipation 


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  • 1 month later...

Good Morning I hope that you are all keeping safe and well during this tough time.I hope someone can help me with a small problem I have.I have recently purchased a National Watch Cleaning Machine MK VR and everything is working apart from the cable from the heating element has come unsoldered at the switch.I have checked the element with a multimeter and it appears OK.The wiring is in a poor state so I will be replacing all of it with new heat resistant cabling.Can anyone help me with where does the indicator lamp for the heater connect to as the wires are just hanging loose.Also can anyone suggest a suitable connector to use between the central cable to the motor as the existing one is cracked and I will need to replace it.All help will be gratefully received.Regards, Photos and wiring sketch enclosed.





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  • 3 weeks later...

Good Afternoon,I hope you are all keeping safe and well during this tough time.Just a quick question to ask if anyone knows how to remove the motor shaft and basket holder from my machine.There is a small grub screw that appears to go into the shaft just below the motor housing but after removing this screw the shaft is still not moving any ideas????Well I have completely rewired this unit with flexible heat resistant cable and just for extra protection I have also fitted glass fibre sleeving on cables near the heating element.I have also fitted new switches,neon and a PTC Ceramic heating element.I fitted the new element on an aluminium disc of 5 mm thickness cut to 100 mm dia,this resulted in me having to raise the heatin chamber chimney by about 25-30 mm to clear the new heating element mounting bracket.The system is now running great and hopefully I will get many more years out of this unit.Photos enclosed including the old wiring,switches,neon and heater,Regards to all keep safe,Seth.





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That sounds like a great restoration. 

Have you tried tapping the basket assembly to free it? You could place something like a small spanner above where the basket head attaches to the shaft and then tap the spanner with a hammer. If the basket head is cast aluminium then it may be brittle. 

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