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Reviving an old Brenray Cleaning Machine

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Hi all, long time lurker, first time poster:D

I've recently picked up an old Brenray cleaning machine that I want to get back in action. It's actually working perfectly - the motor spins and the heater heats up. However, it's very dirty and the paint is peeling off. I'm going to do a full clean, paint strip and repaint. I've had a look at a few of the older posts on this, so have an idea where I'm heading (I didn't want to hijack one of them!).

My main question regards the heating plate. There is a wired heating disc sandwiched between two heating square metal plates (iron I presume) with a bolt and nuts holding the three pieces together and securing it to the floor of the machine. As I said, the plate works and heats up, but the two plates, bolt and nuts are rusted solid. I sheared the end of the bolt off while trying to get the nut holding it to the floor off. A soak in deruster/wd40, replace the bolt, clean the plates and replace is one plan (please correct me if you think this might cause problems or damage the heating plate). The other is to get a replacement Elma heating pad which, at 80mm is about the same size. My question is this - will I need to get new metal (iron?) plates to reform the sandwich, or can that new plate go in on its own?

Also, the motor is running well, but it is filthy. What is the best way to approach this - I'm utterly ignorant here, so any tips or advice will be very much appreciated! I'll post some pics as I go along if people want to follow the process!

Thanks for reading!

Mark

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Pictures would really help here.  Through a Google search, I found a picture of the insides of a Benray cleaning machine which seems to match your description.Vintage-Brenray-Watch-And-Instrument-Cle

Based on that picture, that assembly seems to exist in a severe environment (moist, possibly acidic and hot) so it's not surprising that rust has formed.  Your plan to soak in penetrating oil to loosen the bolts is sound.  The best penetrating oil to use is 50% acetone / 50% ATF.  Better than the store bought products.  If you can get a torch in there without destroying anything, heating the bolts up as well will loosen the rust's grip.  Don't try to twist the bolt & nut apart, rather attempt to move them gradually apart by progressively tightening and loosening them.  This will put less stress on the bolt and it is less likely to shear. It's hard to say whether the rust has penetrated between the two plates, forming a bond that may destroy the heating element if you try and separate the plates.  If you get the bolts off and the plate out, maybe its a better idea to leave things as they are if you find that separating the plates is impossible.  You should have a Plan B to replace the heating pad should the worse happen.  There are silicon rubber coated heating pads available through The 'Bay that may be a good substitute if you destroy the heater.  When reassembling the parts, install new hardware and use plenty of copper anti-seize paste on the threads to prevent this in the future.  Same paste should be applied between the plates if rust has tended to form there.

As for cleaning the motor, again pictures would help.  My Google search brought up the following image:

brenray-watch-cleaning-machine_360_2a88f

Is this the motor that is in your machine?  If so, it should be a straight forward job to disassemble the motor to clean it.  You'll want to check the state of the brushes and commutator to make sure they are not worn.  Replace the brushes if they are nearly worn out.

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Thanks for the post, Rob. This is the machine - partly disassembled:

IMG_0671.thumb.JPG.5fef78bb7f74d530840d50a1d6579207.JPG

This is the motor. I've cleaned the exterior with some alcohol wipes, but the inside is pretty cruddy:

IMG_0672.thumb.JPG.600b5a1c38ec4991a993a1c91dd45edc.JPG

This is the heating plate I mentioned, along with the control panel, which I'm going to clean, rewire, and repair the broken light:IMG_0675.thumb.JPG.afad359476a0a2f0a46d6c10f578e047.JPG

And finally, this is what it looks like with the paint stripped off:

IMG_0676.thumb.JPG.c2f401b0a98a3e6b63530795bb5180e8.JPG

I hope to get time to paint it tomorrow. After that, I'll turn my attention to getting the motor cleaned up - if I can work out how - then address the control panel issues!

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The motor looks to be in OK shape.  If it's dirty inside, you might try blasting with compressed air to get the loose brush material out.  I'd inspect the brushes and replace them if they look worn.  There are two slotted screw caps on opposite sides of the armature.  You unscrew those caps and the brushes and springs will come out.  I wouldn't bother with trying to disassemble the motor to clean it if the motor works fine.

As for the heater, I'd brush off the loose rust on the plates and use a stabilizer to stop any remaining rust from progressing more. The stabilizer is probably available at a place like Axeminister, and is used to prevent rust on machine tables. It looks like the heater is a bare nichrome wire and I think it would be very fragile. If you try to separate the plate, I fear it could break the heater wire and then you're in for a bit of work finding a replacement.  If the heater works now without problems, then like the motor leave well enough alone.  I certainly would repair the crimps that connect the heater wire to the front panel.  That blue electrical wire's insulation looks very old and brittle.  I would not recommend soldering, rather use metal crimps to clamp the wires together.  It is less likely to have broken connections that way.

Good luck on the refurbishment.

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Thanks Rob. I'm going to leave the motor alone. I popped out the brushes, and to my inexpert eye they look fine - shiny metal with a flat end surface with crisp edges, which I'm taking to mean there isn't much wear. I'll take a photo when I get the chance.

All of the wiring on the control panel is pretty old and brittle, so I'm probably going to replace it. The same goes for the power cable. If I'm resoldering connections, I might as well replace the whole lot! I think the rheostat is ok, but maybe needs to be cleaned up a bit? The bulb is bust, so I'm considering replacing that with an LED. I'm not quite sure what the spring going across the two contacts there is - a resistor? But that looks like it might be better replaced with something more up to date!

Finally, the wiring attached to the heating plate is pretty awful, so I'm thinking of replacing it with a spare for an Elma RM 90 machine. I'm hoping that will slot in ok! If not, I'll have to do the best I can with the old one, but the wiring on it will need to be replaced. I'll crimp it to the wires on the control panel as you suggest, whichever route I go with.

My knowledge of electronics is basic at best, so I'm hoping everything will have the appropriate amount of power getting to it!

IMG_2751.JPG

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Based on the photo you posted, here is what I think is the schematic diagram for the wiring:

https://goo.gl/photos/AYv4okiS3kvzL8XW6

Please double check my drawing against the actual wiring before taking this as gospel.  I am working from a single photo and don't have the machine in front of me to validate my work.

If it were my machine, I would not touch the solid wiring interconnecting the switches and rheostat.  I'd reshape that coiled resistor to make it even and floating between the two terminals, making sure it doesn't touch anything.  The reason that coiled resistor is there is because there is a small amount of voltage dropped across it when the current is applied to the heater, and that resistor ensures the correct amount of voltage appears across the bulb.  It also ensures that the heater continues to operate should the bulb burn out.  You can't replace the bulb with a LED because it will be destroyed when you turn on the power.  Find a vintage looking pilot light to replace the original one.  They are very readily available for low price.  Measure the voltage across the coil with the bulb removed.  That will tell you the voltage of pilot light you need to buy.

An alternative to buying a new light is to remanufacture the original lens.  See this Youtube video for inspiration:

The shininess or crispness of the brushes is not important, their length is important.  If they are too short, the motor will not run properly because they won't be contacting the commutator properly.  Also, don't clean the rheostat.  It also uses a carbon wiper and you may damage the wire windings if you aren't careful. Just use an electronic spray cleaner, like Deoxit, to clean the surface of the windings.

Like I mentioned, replace the stranded wires connecting the heating pad to the panel using good PVC or Teflon insulated wire of the correct gauge.  You can solder it onto the connectors on the panel but only crimp it to the heater wires (because of the aforementioned breakage that could occur).

Good luck.  It's going to be a nice looking machine when you're done.

Edited by robmack

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Thanks again Rob. I've taken some photos of the brushes. I don't know how long they need to be, but they are spring loaded and seem to be in contact with the motor. Hopefully you'll be able to see from the photos if this is the cast and they are ok. It was hard to get a good shot. It'll also give an indication of the dirt inside the motor housing.

IMG_2754.thumb.JPG.36c9f6059428e276a42f6b236db71421.JPG

Other images to follow... I'm having an upload issue!

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The photo size will most likely be the problem. Try cropping it. I can't remember which way round it is but I think I can only post portrait pics from my phone not landscape.

Those brushes look fine. You can clean the commutator ring that the brushes run against with isopropyl alcohol or meths. If it is heavily scored or at all corroded then rub lightly with 1000 grade wet and dry paper wrapped around a piece of wood, although only remove what you need to make the brushes run smoothly around it.  Brush between the contacts with a soft toothbrush to clear away any debris.

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Great, that's good to know. I was worried they might be tough to replace! I was planning on getting some electronic contact cleaner to spray on the rheostat. Is it ok to spray some of that into the motor? There's a bit of a track on the copper of the motor where the brushes contact with it.

I picked up all the wire today so will be able to start rewiring over the weekend. The on/off switches for the motor and heater are both marked as 3 amps. I got 6 amp max capacity wire so hopefully that will work ok! Will hopefully find a work around to get pictures up as the restoration progresses. Sticking to the original colour of black, with a hammered texture. Not too exciting, but the metal isn't smooth, so a smooth paint and clear coat won't look as good, I don't think!

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It's ok to spray the contact cleaner into the motor to try and clean the commutator.  The black tracking is desirable so don't worry about it being there.  If you use equal or larger gauge wire than what was originally supplied, then you should be OK.  You can calculate the current roughly by using Ohms power law (P=IV).  From this, I = P/V.  Add up the power of the heater in Watts and the motor in Watts (or VA) and divide that sum by 230. The answer will be the current in Amperes.  If it is less than 6, you're good.  If the motor is only rated in horsepower, then to find out Watts, multiply the HP rating by 760.

Edited by robmack

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Repainting has commenced, will hopefully be able to post photos when I'm done with that part.

There's no indication of watts or hp on the motor, and the heating plate is so rusted I can't see anything to indicate what current it draws. However, the switches are both marked 3 amp, so I'm going to take it that 3 amps is the max current they can allow through to either the heating plate and motor. I'm hoping that's a safe assumption! 

I'm posting one of promised brush photos to see if I can make it work this time... Seems to work when turned to landscape, but not portrait orientation... Odd!

One question on the bushes - the contact ends are slightly concave - were they likely designed this way, or is that from wear? If so, is it worth turning them through 90 degrees to even the wear?

Need to source a new bulb and cover now. The old fitting is cross-threaded in, so I'm having a tough time getting it out. Plus all my tools are metric, and everything on this is imperial!

Thanks again to everyone who's commented - it's really been a great help!

34453713572_73964bbaf9_o.thumb.jpg.98d3c772a3d6d426493eaa8b9161d332.jpg

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The concave shape of the brushes is from wear; they are manufactured straight.  I would re-insert them in their original orientation. It will cause excessive wear on the commutator to rotate the brushes and little gained from the exercise.

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Some updates! Painting complete:

IMG_2762.thumb.JPG.544554cb7cf4e434893acd137ab4cbbd.JPG

Next project is a slight modification to allow it take a modern Elma basket holder. The outside screw thread of the motor shaft is too wide for the Elma holder, but there is conveniently an interior screw shaft that was used to hold a spring:IMG_2758.thumb.JPG.493642074e20f5fb4a9e67f56d80836a.JPG

This allows me to attach the Elma bracket with a screw running through it. It will hold the baskets at about the same level the original holder did:

IMG_2760.thumb.JPG.60a72e8075ba3973fe490f0afda346d6.JPG

Now, the issue I foresee here is getting the bracket centred so that it spins on its axis, rather than offset to one side. The screw thread on the motor shaft is an Imperial 2BA - had to be specially ordered. The screw shaft is narrower than the Elma bracket's hole, though. There's a retaining pin that I can use to hold it in place (I'll add some locking washers also), but the trick will be getting everything centred. I'm thinking of a shim of some sort, but bits for this screw diameter seem to be hard to come by. The original Brenray basket holder, the new Elma bracket, and the screw:

IMG_2759.thumb.JPG.16ee50d2f72812d19babecda7d7b19b9.JPG

The Elma bracket fits almost perfectly in the old basket holder, so I'm hoping to use it as a makeshift jig to get everything centred. It'll take a little eyballing and adjusting, but I'm hoping it will be good enough:

IMG_2761.thumb.JPG.13d34b3e2cf1b3c450824f211d03a0be.JPG

As always, any thoughts or suggestions are very much appreciated!

Edited by Hammer2017

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I put everything together, except for the heating plate, which I've given up on and am waiting for a replacement for. Motor spins up well, although I didn't think to check if the speed control is working. However, the bulb, which has been replaced, didn't work. The heating plate isn't connected, so the wires leading to it are loose. Might the bulb not be working because this circuit hasn't been closed, or is this more likely indicative of another problem elsewhere?

Very much looking forward to having this up and running so I can get back to watches! At this point I think I might have been better off buying a refurbished one and putting in some of the time I've spent on this one in overtime instead!

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It's coming along nicely.  For the basket holder assembly, I'd see about shimming between the screw and the bushing on the new Elma holder.  Shimming will ensure that the new basket holder is true.  It would be nice if you can find someone with a lathe to make a custom part.  That way you could secure the holder using the supplied set screw.  If you eventually end up using the screw to secure the part, then you should probably use Loctite to secure the bolt; not too strong, something like Loctite Blue.

Correct, the bulb isn't working because the circuit is not complete.  When you get the new element and hook it up, the bulb should work. What happened with the heating element?  Was it shorted out because of the rust?

Edited by robmack

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I made a small plastic shim for it. I stuck my dremel in a vice, put the bit of plastic in and filed it as it spun, so a makeshift lathe I guess! Seems to have worked. I hadn't thought of the locktite, so thanks for that. I have a bottle or two of varying strengths on my tool table.

The old heating plate was just a rusty mess, and I couldn't live with putting it back in after everything else was cleaned up. Despite my best efforts with rust removers and a wire brush, I couldn't get it cleaned off. Also, the sheared bolt was stuck fast, so I wouldn't have had any way to fix it to the housing again, and I didn't want to have it rattle around inside. I'm told that with the modern cleaning fluids, heat isn't so important for drying, but I want to have the machine in restored condition, not cobbled together, so I decided to replace it.

The last thing that I want to look at is the control panel. The paint and writing on it is pretty worn and illegible. It's a standard metal plate sign. Any ideas on what can be done to bring these back up to spec? One approach I was thinking of was doing it out on photoshop, printing it on photo paper, gluing it on and clear coating it. I don't think that's a great solution though. I'd prefer to get the original restored if I can, but I don't even know where to start on that one.

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Talk with a local vinyl sign maker to see if they can reproduce the lettering.  You'll probably need high resolution scans or photos for them to create the reproduction lettering.  Then, you would refinish the panel and apply the lettering.  The OEM lettering is normally created using padprinting techniques and you can research whether there is a local firm who can do that type of work, if you want an authentic restoration. 

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Next project is a slight modification to allow it take a modern Elma basket holder. The outside screw thread of the motor shaft is too wide for the Elma holder, but there is conveniently an interior screw shaft that was used to hold a spring:IMG_2758.thumb.JPG.493642074e20f5fb4a9e67f56d80836a.JPG

IMG_2760.thumb.JPG.60a72e8075ba3973fe490f0afda346d6.JPG

Now, the issue I foresee here is getting the bracket centred so that it spins on its axis, rather than offset to one side. The screw thread on the motor shaft is an Imperial 2BA - had to be specially ordered. The screw shaft is narrower than the Elma bracket's hole, though. There's a retaining pin that I can use to hold it in place (I'll add some locking washers also), but the trick will be getting everything centred. I'm thinking of a shim of some sort, but bits for this screw diameter seem to be hard to come by. The original Brenray basket holder, the new Elma bracket, and the screw:

 

I don't know if I completely understand. It is not possible to take the entire basket holder off and then have created an adapter from xx to 8mm. (elma) ... ?

Is it the thread to the old spring that is  2BA approx. 4, 7 mm. Or is it the thread on the motor shaft?

Edited by maclerche

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I don't know if I completely understand. It is not possible to take the entire basket holder off and then have created an adapter from xx to 8mm. (elma) ... ?

Is it the thread to the old spring that is  2BA approx. 4, 7 mm. Or is it the thread on the motor shaft?

I can take that old basket bracket off - the old spring thread is in the  interior of the motor shaft. I left it on as there are 'propellors' on the top that I thought might be needed to agitate the cleaning fluid. If they aren't, I can take that old plate off. I don't know what more I'd need in terms of an adaptor for the Elma basket, but the way I've done it in the photo seems to work. I'm always open to a better way of doing it though!

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 I can take that old plate off. I don't know what more I'd need in terms of an adaptor for the Elma basket, but the way I've done it in the photo seems to work. I'm always open to a better way of doing it though!

Okay now I understand. If you remove the basket frame bracket what do you get then? An engine shaft xx mm. or a thread?

I believe that the spring in elma holder is propeller also, but I'm not sure.

The solution you have come up with is probably not completely crazy since it only requires a bushing from the screw diameter to the 8 mm. that "elma" require.  Brass should be fine enough for this!

 

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The motor shaft has a screw thread on the outside also. I can't remember exactly what size it was, but it was 9.5 mm or something like that - another imperial size. It was too big to fit into the Elma basket's opening.

I don't have access to any heavier machining tools, so fabricating metal parts with threads isn't a good option for me, although getting an adaptor made with 2BA on one side and 8mm on the other would probably be the best solution.

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      The original chrome plating had worn away on the top knurled nut, but not to fear! I busted out my little Caswell "Plug N Plate" kit and used "copy chrome" (real chrome plating is dangerous and pretty toxic apparently, but I can't see much of a difference between old chrome plate and Caswell's 'copy chrome' - looks about the same).
      The biggest unknown was if I could find replacement punches / bushes and yep! I just ordered them from perrinwatchparts.com... they were super expensive. I definitely overpaid for these, but again, oh well. I just wanted the tool to be complete. 
      So ta da! I now have a Platax tool. I'm going to break out one of my many Bulova movements with a broken staff and experiment with using this tool on the poor thing.
      I don't know the I really needed this tool, per se. I have a nutcracker - type roller remover which works pretty well (I might have broken a few staffs by squeezing a little too much, but those staffs were broken anyway), and I have the little K & D balance remover tools for my staking set. I don't see how the Platax tool would be so so much better than the K & D tool, and I'd imagine any objections or concerns about the K & D tool widening the hole in the balance by using force instead of cutting out the old staff would also apply to the Platax tool, no? It also uses force to drive out the old staff while keeping the balance arms pinned. So maybe I didn't strictly need this, but when it popped up on eBay I couldn't resist, because I want to be able to follow along with what Mark does as closely as possible... and I'm still so new at doing this. 
      So, now I have a Platax tool, a complete 'inverto' K & D staking set (got for under $100, go eBay!), and just picked up a Seitz Jeweling tool (ouch, that was too expensive).
      I am now wondering what other real watchmaker specific tools you need to have to be able to deal with most, if certainly not all, the issues you find on vintage watch movements ???
      I mean, I'm not going to buy an old mechanical watch washer and put it in my one bedroom apartment in manhattan, not going to happen (at least, not if I don't want my husband to divorce me  ). So I make do with a tiny, cheap Chinese made ultrasonic machine. And obviously, I'm not going to buy a lathe either, for similar reasons (space constraints, expense, plus wouldn't know how to even begin to use it)... but I'm wondering if I've covered almost everything else?
      In terms of being able to make watch parts, yeah, that's the holy grail. Living in manhattan comes with many advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantages are obviously space constraints and expense of living. But the advantages are there are lots and lots of resources. In fact, there are a few "Maker Spaces" in the city, which are co-ops you can join and you can use their tools, like CNC mills, CNC lathes, 3D printers, 3D scanners etc etc... you can join these co ops for not much money, and they teach you how to use the tools.... I know that the consensus so far is that 3D printing watch parts won't work, because the machines are not accurate enough on such a small scale. But the CNC lathes? The CNC mills? Could they do micro-machining, in theory? It's something to think about. I think I'll create another thread about that sometime. Maybe I can pick up some good tips. 
      Anyway, hooray for overpriced watch tools! They are so much fun!
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    • As you said I would't worry too much about what Seiko indicates when it contrasts with professional's best practices. Beside the aforementioned pallet pivots they show to oil one spring finger that contacts plastic, but not another that does the same? Better to spend time in other ways.
    • I have looked at an old Lorsa that I'm servicing and the springs are of rectangular section. In the calendar works one is  0.20 x 0.40mm, another 0.15 x 0.30mm, and the click one should be like the latter, but (thanks heaven) it's in place already so I can't check. I think the rectangular section helps in fitting and keeping the spring  in place - we all know how terrible these thingies can be. I would also be interested in finding a source for proper wire.
    • For the first time my Cousins UK packages came affixed with a CN22 Customs Form , even if nothing has changed so far and will not change until at least Oct 31st. Of course there no Customs processing in my EU country for items from the UK, but this has the undesirable effect of showing the value in the package. I asked their always responsive support and the reply was that they carriers are saying that the form is now necessary. BTW I found that at least in my country the shipping method has to do with the time it takes to clear customs. For example EMS clears in one or two days from arrival, same for  Priority from the US. Courier clearance is also very fast but I recommend against using them as long is possible because they will charge nice fees for service on top of whatever VAT is due. They can also re-asses the declared value based on weight and other parameters.
    • Ha sorry! From a discussion a while back on a machinists forum there was mention of California Fine Wire and Mount Joy Wire. I just checked Mount Joy and they have it down to .004" (.10mm) and finer on request; no idea what their minimum order is though.
    • You must of read my post as soon as I posted it, as I realised and edited it only seconds after I posted it, clearly just before you quoted me as its correct in your quote. :-)
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