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I'd always thought a key aspect of great watch cleaner was no residue, like the L&R products with multi jar contraptions (which I have and really like).  I think  L&R makes an ultrasound solution as well.  Once trick to controlling cost is to put water in the tank but suspend a glass jar with parts and special cleaning fluid into the water;  it greatly reduces the cleaner required and the waves travel well through glass.

I also like using water and some simple green general cleaner/degreaser in my ultrasonic cleaner..it does an amazing job of cleaning general things, but I haven't used it on watches as I've no idea of the residue factor

 

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I've been using and abusing ultrasonic cleaners for more than 30 years. I've also repaired many units for friends. I've encountered brands like Elma and L&R Quantrex, and unbranded ones like Chine

Like almost everything else in this group we've discussed this before. So I have a link all kinds of ideas and I swiped a picture out of the link to post here. I'm using commercial watch cleaning

Really? Maybe during the war it was the only thing available. Below a page from an early 1900 watchemaking book, benzine is the same product is still best fo degreasing, and post-ammonia rinsing. You

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I would like to revise my advice in terms of buying ultrasonic cleaners, and specifically Chinese ones:

If you are planning on using them long-term, then get a European or USA-made model. 
 

I’ve been through four Chinese models now at a cost of around £160. I limited use to 5 minutes at a time to avoid overheating and always kept the tank suitably filled. But the last one started pouring horrible smoke out the side. 
 

The British-made units last for years (eg. Walker) and will be more cost-effective long term. 

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1 minute ago, rodabod said:

I would like to revise my advice in terms of buying ultrasonic cleaners, and specifically Chinese ones:
If you are planning on using them long-term, then get a European or USA-made model. 
I’ve been through four Chinese models now at a cost of around £160. I limited use to 5 minutes at a time to avoid overheating and always kept the tank suitably filled. But the last one started pouring horrible smoke out the side. 
The British-made units last for years (eg. Walker) and will be more cost-effective long term. 

Yeah mine blew also. As I wrote many times, I do not miss having one, I get the same "cleanliness" anyway for both internal and external watch parts.

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  • 4 months later...

I rinse in lighter fluid and isopropinal immediately after clean. 

 Balance and fork pivots/jewels get pegged with a toothpick dipped in lighter fluid, balance complete a dip in lighter fluid and blowdry with warm air.

Avgas, paint thinner for clean.

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Like almost everything else in this group we've discussed this before. So I have a link all kinds of ideas and I swiped a picture out of the link to post here.

I'm using commercial watch cleaning fluids but the rinse doesn't like to dry even with a source of hot moving air. Then and you'll discover that when you go through the link I'm not using a commercial cleaning machine. One of my acquaintances recommended alcohol   which is what I'm using I'm just not using the safe alcohol. Even though the alcohol I have will dissolves shellac I just dip it in for a few seconds and then immediately into the dryer and I've never had problems.

The dryer I'm using is a hairdryer or at least that's what it's supposed to be for. The original one I had didn't get as hot as the current one. This one gets really really hot. Then I get obsessed with another or a better idea for a dryer than just leaving the parts on the newspaper and blowing air across so as you can see I modified a coffee can. The parts are raised up on the screen sometimes I'll put something on top block off most of the air and the hairdryer blows in.

https://www.watchrepairtalk.com/topic/285-ultrasonic-cleaners/

drawing watch parts.JPG

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Good morning/afternoon/evening wherever you are in the world.

 

I am looking at purchasing my first ultrasonic cleaner for watch parts. Although I may only be using it once a week for now I plan to use it more often in the future and want it to last. For this reason I have neglected looking at Chinese alternatives, if you believe I am wrong for doing so please guide me in the right direction. Are heated cleaners also the better option?

 

I was going to order this 3L Durston but 1) it is out of stock and 2) I believe it is too large for my requirements...

https://www.cousinsuk.com/product/durston-pro-line-commercial-use

 

My other and newly found option is this 1.5L Ultrawave. 

https://shop.ultrawave.co.uk/collections/u-series/products/u100-u100h-ultrasonic-cleaning-bath?variant=31324460318831

 

If anyone has used either of these and can shed some light on their reliability and effectiveness or can suggest another product to suit my needs please let me know!

 

Hope everyone is well ✌️

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I agree, don't dismiss chinese units. Most often, it will break if abused and my trick is to make sure to allow cooldown time between uses and don't run for more than 20 mins. It served me very well and I'm also using it from time to time.

For professional watchmakers doing it daily, it's better to buy better ones like Elma as it's built to stand abuse.

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I've been using and abusing ultrasonic cleaners for more than 30 years. I've also repaired many units for friends. I've encountered brands like Elma and L&R Quantrex, and unbranded ones like Chinese brands and Italian made ones.

The biggest problem I see with ALL brands is fluid infiltration. Ultrasonic cleaning solutions have a strange property of surface creep. It has very low surface tension and pulls itself along any surface. It is designed to penetrate nook and crannies. You can imagine what it does if it gets inside the machine. In my dental profession, we fill the whole tank with cleaning solution and pour it out after use. Any drips down the sides have to be cleaned up straight away. 

The next problem I see is overheating. Some units have very small fans to cool the inside electronic components. If the fan fails or if it get clogged with dust, the unit will overheat and burn.

Another common problem is timer failure. Electronic timers seem to be less reliable. Mechanical timers do fail too. But that's in our realm as watchmakers! 🤣

I've been using a Chinese unit for the past 5 years. The mechanical timer failed once which was solved by rebushing it.

So would I recommend using a Chinese unit? Definitely! 

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On 12/13/2020 at 5:54 PM, Orologi67 said:

I bought a refurbished Bulova Watchmaster ultrasonic cleaner.  It comes with a heated, spinning dryer with fan.  

This man in new jersey sells them.  I dont know where you are in the world though

http://www.timemachinerepair.com/refurbished-for-sale.html

Thanks for the tip

 

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Hi,

Looking into purchasing some sort of cleaner for my foray into horology, and I'm seeing conflicting opinions on the safety of using Ultrasonics on watch parts at all. Many posts on the net from folks in schools, or who are professional watchmakers, urging others not to use ultrasonic cleaners at any time, or risk stripping the plating (Nickel, gold, what have you) from the parts themselves. They note that parts that have been cleaned in ultrasonics in the past have a high risk of plating loss, and suggest that they would never use anything but a watch cleaning machine.

Given that even non-functional machines are running at $200-$300 on ebay, and that I really don't think my watch-repairing hobby (and my wallet) will support the purchase of a new machine, I'd love to use an ultrasonic, but don't want to destroy the plating on any of my movement parts. Not that I'll be cleaning and reassembling $30,000 Rolexes, but you understand what I mean. I'm actually interested in all of your much more experienced takes on the Ultrasonic vs Watch cleaning machine debate.

Imp

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7 hours ago, Imparatus said:

They note that parts that have been cleaned in ultrasonics in the past have a high risk of plating loss, and suggest that they would never use anything but a watch cleaning machine.

That is a unfounded believing, damage to plating can be caused by an aggressive cleaning solution and/or excessive bath times, but not U/S. In fact all makers of watch cleaning machines introduced U/S starting 50 years ago, and you can see it routinely being used by professional.
Anyway, a mov.t plating or other parts rarely need U/S action to be cleaned to perfection. If you watn to return brightness to a plated mov.t use a mild ammonia solution for a short time. The U/S is rather more useful to clean filthy cases and bracelets, although hot wather, dish sopan and brush get to the same final result. 

 

Quote

Given that even non-functional machines are running at $200-$300 on ebay,

Read few postings before your, is no need to spend that kind of money, a 1.5L Chinese unit with heather can cost between $50 and 100. You can also pesn $20 for a mini unity, even if it wont last long you won't have lost much.
That being said of the many tools needed in  watchmaking a cleaning machine is not one of the first needed. Before, you need proper solutions, a  timegrapher, a good bench opener, a pressure tester perhaps, etc.

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I think moderation is the key to everything. 

I've seen crazy people in the dental industry misread the instructions on dual purpose cleaners (clean and disinfect) as needing to ultrasound instruments for 30 minutes to clean our dental instruments after use. The manufacturer actually mean soaking for 30 minutes but ultrasound for 5 minutes only.

I had to condemn many such misused ultrasound units because the bottom of the tanks actually developed holes. (30 minutes after every patient means that the ultrasound is practically on the whole day)

If you think an ultrasound is harmless, I beg to differ. Just take a piece of aluminium foil, make it the heavy duty type even, and ultrasound it for just ONE minute. Then go and count how many holes there are in your piece of foil.

If you take an even closer look, a rectangular or square tank can form standing waves, just like sound wave in a room. You'll get nodes and antinodes of sound energy. An object at a node will get blasted with a lot of energy while those in an antinode will not be cleaned properly. That's why horological grade ultrasound cleaners have baskets that revolve while cleaning to prevent nodal damage. And high end industrial ultrasonic cleaners have sweep frequency generators to prevent standing waves.

My advice for using low end ultrasonic cleaners is to allow a 5 minute pre-soak, then ultrasound for no more than 4 minutes, and rotate the glass beaker constantly. 

Am I OCD? Yes I am. 🤪

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I am OCD as well. Attention to detail is fairly important in my day job. My thought was to soak the parts in small glass jars of appropriate solutions as directed or recommended, and then add a short stint in the US cleaner with, as you say, agitation and rotation of the beaker as you noted.

For my hobbyist pursuits, I don't think it's reasonable at this point to spend a ton of money on an L&R or Elma Super Elite.

Thanks for the replies!

Imp

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Way too much information:). I clean by hand using lighter fluid💪

I use the ultrasonic cleaner for the case but may start cleaning parts in it. Now I am really not sure what cleaning solution to use, however, it appears that putting parts in a glass jar in the Ultrasonic cleaner is the best option.

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31 minutes ago, jdrichard said:

I clean by hand using lighter fluidI

Worth to note once again that  lighter fluid is not an horological product.

  • Does not have guaranteed purity
  • Has additives specific to it's intended use, which is to burn, not to clean.
  • It is never recommended by any manufacturer or watchmaking book.
  • It is more expensive, per quantity, than a professional petrol-bases solution (petroleum ether)
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22 minutes ago, jdm said:

Worth to note once again that  lighter fluid is not an horological product.

  • Does not have guaranteed purity
  • Has additives specific to it's intended use, which is to burn, not to clean.
  • It is never recommended by any manufacturer or watchmaking book.
  • It is more expensive, per quantity, than a professional petrol-bases solution (petroleum ether)

No matter what you think about Ronsonol lighter fluid there is nothing in it that can harm watch parts. It is  shellac friendly. I used it all the time as a watchmaker which in my time in horology came to around 30 years.   

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On 6/9/2021 at 6:36 AM, oldhippy said:

No matter what you think about Ronsonol lighter fluid there is nothing in it that can harm watch parts. It is  shellac friendly. I used it all the time as a watchmaker which in my time in horology came to around 30 years.   

And you can find it noted in some of my old manuals

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16 hours ago, jdrichard said:

And you can find it noted in some of my old manuals

Really? Maybe during the war it was the only thing available. Below a page from an early 1900 watchemaking book, benzine is the same product is still best fo degreasing, and post-ammonia rinsing. You will find the same guidance in the Bulova school text, etc. 

benzine.png.9fd24894427c8158cac40cfa0e43904e.png

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