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Hi everyone....I can discover L&R cleaners. I haven't searched for other people. Ammoniated or non-ammoniated? On the off chance that I read accurately, the smelling salts can be an issue for plating on old developments. I'm willing to allow it to take longer in the tank if that makes the parts more joyful. For reference, the vast majority of what I'm dealing with is Seiko 6309 or 7009 developments since they're not difficult to track down inexpensively on ebay, despite the fact that I do have a late 60's Bulova I'd prefer to attempt sooner or later.
What's the commonsense distinction between L&R ordinary and additional fine? Could I simply utilize it is possible that one?2. What's the practical difference between L&R regular and extra fine? Can I just use either one?

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Please introduce yourself as jdm has mentioned. 

This is what they say about all three.

L & R Extra Fine Watch Cleaning Solution. Formulated for the cleaning of mechanical watch parts in watch cleaning machines that require a more efficient cleaning material. For use in ultrasonic, vibrasonic and manual watch cleaning machines


L & R #111 Ammoniated Watch Cleaning Solution. Designed for the cleaning of watch parts. For use in ultrasonic, vibrasonic and manual watch cleaning machines. US Gallon = 3.81 litres. This solution must NOT be used directly in an ultrasonic cleaning tank. Only for use in ultrasonic cleaners with positioning cover and pyrex beakers with lids.


L & R Non Ammoniated Waterless Watch Cleaning Solution. For use where ammonia fumes are unacceptable. For use in ultrasonic, vibrasonic and manual watch cleaning machines. Non-Ammoniated Waterless Watch Cleaning Solution. US Gallon = 3.81 litres. This solution must NOT be used directly in the ultrasonic cleaning tank. Only for use in an ultrasonic cleaner with positioning cover and pyrex beaker with lid.

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The cleaning watch part is a difficult subject because this is not only about methods but for also for many hobbyist about cost.

As far I know the best way to clean mouvement part are with dedicated watchmaker cleaning machine using dedicated cleaning fluids. The most expensive are REALLY expensive and even old and used second hand are at best around +500 USD.

This bring us to other solutions :

  • The 100% manual solution seems to be using a Glass jar with lid and cleaning the part with a small painting brush in a petrochemical fluid
    • in US lighter fluid is used 
    • In Europe benzine or Nafta or many other name but important it's NOT Alcohol based  (because shellac is dissolved in Alcohol).
  • But the process is very slow even for an hobbyist 😁

So after reading multiple proposition I've elaborate this procedure and I would like to know what do you think about it (am I completely out of mind ?)

Never ever use this for balance and pallet fork (only very gentle manual cleaning for these parts)

  1. Put all part in tiny mesh basket the same used in standard cleaning machine (I've posted a picture)
  2. Put in Ultrasonic cleaning machine the baskets with the parts
  3. I use ELMA RED 1:9 for cleaning phase (very effective do not even try to compare with soap it's not) 10 minutes 50W power no heating
  4. First rinsing with tap water 10 minutes 50W no heating
  5. Second rinsing distilled water 5 minutes
  6. Then I transfer the baskets in tiny jars (I've posted a picture) 
  7. fill the jars with IPA Alcohol 99% close the lids 
  8. Put the jar in Ultrasonic water 5 minutes (keep the water below the lid of course you don't water inside the jars)
  9. Dry the part with air blower   

It's giving very good results but I'm afraid about long term may this procedure induce rust with time I really don't know

 Thanks for your comments




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Hi  If you have read the many posts on the site regarding cleaning and what to use and not to use, It wouls seem thats every body has their own opinion.  The method you are using will be ok. The main thing is to dry the components thoroughly and there will be no rust.  rust only occurs when the drying process has not been don properly. If you are happy with the results you get from your method, continue to use it.

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  • 1 month later...

So, just got the Elma Suprol Pro waterless cleaning solution and Elma waterless rinsing to use with ultrasonic cleaner.. But boooy the fuems from that solution is strooong. The results are great! I mean, it really cleans the parts well, no problem. I guess anything smelling like that would clean just about anything you trow at it. BUT, just by opening the lid to the jars  for a few seconds when putting the parts in/moving from cleaning to rins, i allready feel dumber and dizzy.. I just dont feel like using the stuff anymore.. Is there any "milder" solutions that are not attacking you like a baseballbat once opeing the lids?

I guess most of us in here are amateurs, or at least do not have a professional workshop with professional ventilation built for dedicated suction areas for the sucking up air like this. So what cleaning solutions are people using? Me myself have a pretty small room for my bench. But for this Elma fluid i move the cleaning down to my kitchen/livingroom area and put the machine under kitchen ventilator at full speed when cleaning.. But there must be some fluids that are not that "heavy"? Before i used to use napta and isopropanol.. The napta fuems does not seem good for you, but compared to the Elma fluids i got now, the napta seems like standing on a mountaintop smelling fresh air..

Is the L&R better considering the fuems? Or are they all "killers"? 


Oh, i have also used Grainer consantrate, that is pretty mild and not like the other stronger cleaners. It cleans pretty well, but its a "mix with water" solution. And i would preffer not to use waterbased cleaners..

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I need to clarify is it just the cleaning product with its ammonia or is it all of it? On the water-based cleaners with the ammonia it is extremely strong. I found with the clock solution I basically had the mix it up outside as it was really really bad. Once it was mixed up it was better but still strong.

If you look the companies will make ammonia free cleaning products they won't clean as well? Perhaps that's misleading the ammonia is what's making everything bright shiny takes the tarnish off. No ammonia unless they use something that doesn't smell and that bad it probably won't look as bright and shiny but I don't actually know that I've never use the non-ammonia cleaners

so if you can stand the rinsing solution then he can get a Cleaner without ammonia. If the rinse which is also the basis of the cleaner usually at least the material safety sheets is also bothering you your kind of sort of screwed perhaps. The thing to do is look at the material safety sheets and stabs the problem because the other cleaners may use a different base that doesn't evaporate as much. Like for instance the L&R rinse doesn't like to evaporate to the point where I have to use a final rinse of alcohol we also do the same thing at work because otherwise it won't draw. But I don't recall it having a strong smell only the cleaner with the ammonia and I'm reasonably sure they do have a Non-ammonia cleaner.

This is why if you have a really fancy cleaning machine they have ventilation systems that either used to blow the smells outside or have activated carbon to take it out because just think if you had a commercial watch shop in your running cleaning machines pumping that into the air how bad it would be.

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6 minutes ago, JohnR725 said:

if you had a commercial watch shop in your running cleaning machines pumping that into the air how bad it would be.

I am using L&R with ammonia and yeah, it does smell, but for me not so bothersome.  My Dad's shop ran the same and I never really noticed the smell as I recall...nor did anyone complain.

I was talking to my sister-in-law the other day and I told her that I was going to go visit my Dad's old business (he sold it).  She had been there, herself, recently and commented:  "Well, it smells the same." Perhaps its the ammonia!!

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I use L&R non ammoniated cleaner and L&R rinse and the smell is not horrible, but I am still a tiny bit worried about the long term effects of both of them. Not to mention the environmental consequences, which I don't feel great about. If there was a biodegradable non toxic cleaner / rinse I would buy them right away - but maybe that's asking for the moon.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 9/26/2021 at 7:48 AM, Nucejoe said:

I got isopropinoal from a pharmacist, he wrote very toxic on the bottle before handing it over, should not be drank, get in eyes etc, I think I inhaled some so been dreaming naked old girls in sleep.🤠


I realize I'm responding to a comment that is a few months old but some things make me twitch. 

Isopropanol aka isopropyl alcohol aka 2-propanol has a toxicity in humans only marginally worse than ethanol. Still don't drink it - isopropanol intoxication can hit hard enough to stop your heart. It's why moonshiners sometimes adulterated their products with it - packs a punch in a hurry. 

But casual exposure is no big deal. 

Methanol is far more toxic in humans. Don't use regularly without good ventilation and good gloves toxic. And over time it can be sensitizing, which is to say that if you are exposed to it frequently there is a risk that you could have increasingly severe reactions to it.

I use hardware store "solvent alcohol" which is up to 50% methanol and the rest ethanol in alcohol burners because it burns clean and isopropyl does not. 

fwiw, people refer to methanol as "wood alcohol" but in actuality it can be obtained through the fermentation of any sugars with an odd number of carbons, iirc. Have to ask my retired chemistry professor friend again. And at any rate both isopropyl and methyl largely come from oil refineries these days. 

In some regions you can get "alcohol fuel" that is straight ethanol + a bitterant that makes it undrinkable, and that would be the safest alcohol to use as a cleaning product, but you should always check the safety sheet (formerly called an MSDS in north america, now called an SDS globally). And you might want to wear gloves anyway, because bitrex is the bitterest substance on earth, and it's not a pleasant bitterness. 


For the rest of it, my chemist friend and i went over a lot of safety sheets for watch cleaning products years ago. 

L&R 111 is 60-65% naphtha, 15-20% mineral spirit, 5-10% oleic acid, 1-5% Isopropanolamine, 1-5% 2-Propoxyethanol, 1-5% Ammonium Hydroxide. 

My chemist friend proposed that, aside from some of it forming a soap with some of the ammonia, the oleic acid may leave a single-molecule-thick film on parts that may help protect them from corrosion. 

For what it's worth he seems to be of the opinion that ammonia is a bit harsh for cleaning brass since the ammonia is literally removing the oxidized copper and zinc from the surface, which is why the resulting surface is so bright. 

Thiourea is gonna be more gentle but, uh, carcinogenic, and stinky in a different and somewhat more noxious way. So how much does it matter to you if your brass is shiny? Maybe use the ammoniated products sparingly when you need to brighten things up. 

We postulated maybe going with 3:1 naphtha and mineral spirit with a drop of olive oil. 

I do note that L&R's rinse products don't contain the oleic acid. Or the ammonia. 

A whole lot of Zenith's wash and rinse products appear to be straight naphtha. 

Zenith Hi-Solv is Crest Hi-Solv - a product marketed as a final paint prep solvent for automotive work - in a different can. Auto paint guys are extremely serious about clean surfaces and there's nothing in it that would dissolve shellac. I'm considering seeing if i can get it from a paint store locally. Crest sells it online for $22/qt + $13 ship and $35 seems a bit much for a quart when i can get a gallon for $55 (plus ship) from esslinger. 

Zenith Hi-Tech is an isoparaffin concoction and i would not be surprised if it turned out to be very similar to one of the "naphtha substitute" products sold in CARB-restricted regions of the USA. If it works, great. Chemist said, isoparaffin solvents work great except when they don't, and a "substitute" for naphtha won't perform like naphtha in all cases. 

I am pretty sure that the admonition not to use any volatile solvents in ultrasonic baths is related to the whole idea of just filling the tank with solvent. Not just the heat, but the rapid vaporization that would happen. And some people do it anyway and don't die. But solvent in a sealed jar set in water in the ultrasonic is going to be pretty safe, and that's what i have done in the past and expect to do in the future. 

Final advice from the chemist was that a lot of hardware store solvents and fuels may contain waxes and other heavier oils and greases that may not be in the commercial watch and clock cleaners. In particular, mineral spirit often has some waxes in solution. 

To get rid of those, put the solvent in your freezer for a few hours. The heavy stuff will plate out and most of it will stick to the walls of the container. What doesn't, you can take care of by running the solvent through a paper coffee filter while still freezing cold.

You could theoretically use this method to recycle spent non-ammoniated wash solution into, well, I guess you probably still wouldn't want to use it to wash parts, and you could use it as bbq lighter fluid without purifying it. You could use it to clean tools? *shrug* 

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The ammoniated cleaners - water based and petroleum distillate alike - produce brighter brass but they do so by stripping oxidized metal off of the surface. I have a friend who is a retired chemistry professor who is of the opinion that ammonia is too aggressive for cleaning brass parts like furnace burner nozzles. So it seems pretty wild to me that many consider it not too aggressive for watch parts. 

the ammonia cleaners are going to work better and faster but at what cost? If the plating is starting to fail, it will make it fail harder and faster. 

I'm using an old Branson B200 ultrasonic and small jars that used to contain pimentos or minced garlic. A lot of ultrasonic cleaners have an additional heating element but this one only produces heat as a side effect of the ultrasonic operations. I modified the internal timer to give it a cycle a bit past 20 minutes. The fluids get warm but not hot - I am not at all worried about it turning into some kind of conflagration. 

Right now i am using about a 3:1 mix of VM&P naphtha and odorless mineral spirits for wash, 1st rinse, and 2nd rinse but i am thinking about going to just straight naphtha for the rinse, mostly because I'm annoyed by how long it takes for parts to dry. 

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13 hours ago, TimpanogosSlim said:

I modified the internal timer to give it a cycle a bit past 20 minutes

That seems like quite a long time in the ultrasonic. I have had great results with 5mins in ammonia solution, 4 mins in two rinses and then a couple of mins in IPA (all at 40 deg C).

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1 hour ago, Plato said:

That seems like quite a long time in the ultrasonic. I have had great results with 5mins in ammonia solution, 4 mins in two rinses and then a couple of mins in IPA (all at 40 deg C).

I agree that  sounds a long time. I use Elma WF Pro in an ultrasonic at 40C for 5 mins (the spec sheet recommends 3-8 mins), then 2-3 mins in isopropanol (about 1 mins for pallet and balance due to shellac)

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54 minutes ago, mikepilk said:

I agree that  sounds a long time. I use Elma WF Pro in an ultrasonic at 40C for 5 mins (the spec sheet recommends 3-8 mins), then 2-3 mins in isopropanol (about 1 mins for pallet and balance due to shellac)

I might limit the IPA stage to 1min for everything, it should be enough to help with the drying... I'll experiment on Saturday. 

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4 hours ago, Plato said:

That seems like quite a long time in the ultrasonic. I have had great results with 5mins in ammonia solution, 4 mins in two rinses and then a couple of mins in IPA (all at 40 deg C).

I'll take that under advisement. I can always manually turn it off. The original cycle length was 1 minute or something, just has an on button and an off button. Adjusting the cycle length was a matter of tracing out the timer circuit and replacing a capacitor i think. 

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I purchased some L and R 566. On the back it said it contains Benzene. I was looking to avoid this chemical as it has significant ties to cancer. I was wondering if this product is safe to use. I put it in a glass jar, put my parts in it, and then put the jar in an ultrasonic tank so the parts are agitated. I was just curious if this product is harmful to me, and if so, what are some alternatives. 

P.S I use L and R solution 3 to rinse these parts. 

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28 minutes ago, MattyG said:

On the back it said it contains Benzene.

Is that a new or old can? Can you post a picture of the writing? The current Safety Data Sheet, attached below, doees not say anything about benzene, which has been banned since many years. Furthermore, it says: This product does not contain any ingredient designated by IARC, NTP, ACGIH or OSHA as probable or suspected human carcinogen.

Also, FYI we have a section where it's considered polite for new members to introduce themselves first.



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@jdm sorry about the introduction part. I guess I got too carried away. Ill make sure to do that. I appreciate your reply. There is a warning on the back saying "this product may contain benzene, which is known in the state of California to be cancerous..." I just don't know if its a legal warning they have to put in, or if its a real sign that there is benzene in the bottle. I bought a gallon jug of it. I'm relatively new to watch making and just decided to upgrade my cleaning solution from a water based cleaner to an L&R cleaner as a local watchmaker told me to do.

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8 minutes ago, MattyG said:

@jdm sorry about the introduction part.

Don't worry @MattyG, you can introduce yourself when and if you feel like it. More important then is to be an active member with lots of questions, info, and posts! After all, that's the best way to get to know each other. Please feel welcome by me (and many others I'm sure) without a formal introduction!

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  • 1 month later...
7 hours ago, demichiel said:

 I disassembled it, cleaned it, and now the hard part, I'm trying to put it back together 😀. I have my barrel and train of wheels installed and I just put in the pallet fork.

now and it seems to be seated right.


 What cleaning solution did you use and how did you clean the fork?   you see , petrolium products dislove shelac, you might have lost enough shellac to have  loose pallets now, so the pallet might move in the fork slot or get misaligned. 

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16 hours ago, Nucejoe said:

 you see , petrolium products dislove shelac, 

You're confusing petroleoum-based solutions (as in benzine, engine fuel, lighter fuel , naphta, etc) with alcohol, the first does not dissolve shellac at all, while the second may soften it however it takes a relatively long time. 

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