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Jon

Watch cleaning machine not cleaning well

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Hi,

 

This is the first time posting on here and hope someone can help?

I have recently bought a National electric watch cleaning machine on eBay. I rewired it and bought L & R Extra Fine Watch Cleaning Solution and Rinse No. 3 in a three jar set up.

The problem I have is the watch parts don't come out clean. I put the basket in each jar for 12 mins and then dry over a really low heat hair dryer I rigged up in the watch cleaning machine, instead of the ceramic heating element. The fluid is half an inch above the basket when submerged and the metal wave breaks in the jar help the fluid not foam up. Technically everything is perfect. I have even put the watch parts in different parts of the basket to make sure it wasn't the way I was loading the parts into it. I originally put all the parts into wash and rinse without precleaning or pegging out in any way, to see if the solutions would clean the parts without having to pre-clean. They don't even look like they have been cleaned. Although the brass wheels like a lot shinier. Admittedly these are watches from the 60's that are filthy. It seems a long way to do it if I have to pre-clean all gunky watch parts, like pith and pegging the leaves etc. Is that usual practice?

I have added some pictures. I have recently sanded the machine down, ready for a respray, that's why the aluminium sign is not attached. The pic of the two jars are: The big jar is the first clean jar, which turned this green colour after my first wash. I think it was the dirty baskets, which I thoroughly cleaned after. (hindsight is a great tool!) The little jar is the colour it is when fresh. The two rinse jars are still colourless.

If I have quite clean parts can I put them straight through the watch cleaning machine, or should I pre-clean them as well? I understand that pegging the jewels is always a good idea, as it can increase amplitude by as much as another 20 degrees.

It feels as though I'm doing something wrong, as I'm expecting this process to be easier and quicker than my lighter fluid, IPA and sonic cleaner. Can anyone shed some light on this please? It would be much appreciated

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The colour of the fluid looks wrong. The rinse is clear and the cleaner a very light brownish colour NOT green. Was there contamination in the cleaning jar. The only other issue I can think of is if the jars are not spinning at the correct speed. 

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I have a similar machine and it does the job but what’s well accepted as far as I can tell, is that there has to be an ultrasonic component to the cleaning process. Spinning is all fine and good but adding the US is huge. Of course, that brings the cost of a washing machine way up.

Hopefully rectifying your solution situation will give you better results.

Cheers!




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I have a national watch cleaning machine similar to the one you have the basket set up looks very different to the one I have attached to mine, on mine there is a fan like part that the basket attaches to this churns up cleaning fluids as it spins ensuring good agitation of the fluid.

The brass basket holder you have looks very corroded i would be inclined to think the brass is reacting to the cleaning fluid causing discolouring of the fluid maybe re chroming would help with this.

Does the rheostat speed control function correctly this machine would date from the 1950's so it could be worn and not spinning fast enough.

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The colour of that cleaner is wrong, new cleaner should be colourless. The jars do not spin because it is not automatic (clockboy is having a senior moment) I get them too. L & R are probably the best you can buy. Do not buy ultra-sonic fluid because your machine in not of that type. 12 minutes in each jar is fine. Not sure, about your heating chamber and the time you have it spinning in there. If you raise the basket, each time and spin off that will help when switching jars and the heating to dry.  I think it’s down to the cleaning solution.   

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The cleaning fluid was colourless. It changed to green the first time around, which makes me think the baskets were a lot dirtier than I first thought. I think the shaft was probably changed, that's why there is another basket arrangement.

I think that green colour might well be the brass reaction maybe, although I'm surprised at this happening as brass wheels are being cleaned.

Does anyone put dirty parts straight in without pre-cleaning and gets a good result with this type of machine without the ultrasonics?

That's what I really need to know, as then I need to look at my process rather than the fluids etc.

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7 minutes ago, Jon said:

Does anyone put dirty parts straight in without pre-cleaning and gets a good result with this type of machine without the ultrasonics?

Yes there is no reason why this machine should not be able to clean parts provided it is running correctly .

I do on occasion pre clean parts that are extremely dirty, i.e parts that have oil that has gone gummy on the plates but other than that these machines are simple but effective at cleaning.

I cannot comment on the solutions you are using but I have been using Quadralene clock watch and instrument cleaner and rinse it has worked very well for me.

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7 minutes ago, wls1971 said:

Yes there is no reason why this machine should not be able to clean parts provided it is running correctly .

I do on occasion pre clean parts that are extremely dirty, i.e parts that have oil that has gone gummy on the plates but other than that these machines are simple but effective at cleaning.

I cannot comment on the solutions you are using but I have been using Quadralene clock watch and instrument cleaner and rinse it has worked very well for me.

Thanks for letting me know that it can work well... It feels a though I'm pushing rocks uphill!

Thanks for all the replies. I'm going to change the rheostat, although I did rewire everything before even turning it on... It was 1960's wiring after all! I've got a variable voltage controller, which doesn't fry the motor, as it takes into account other factors than just dropping voltage.

I've attached a pic of the old rheostat wiring and the voltage regulator. I'm going to have to change that basket. That brass is not helping at all. If I can up the speed without it shaking itself to death, change the cleaning fluid and change the basket, then I reckon it was worth the investment and it surely has to be quicker than hand cleaning/ultrasonically cleaning with lighter fluid/IPA.

I'll keep you up to date how it's going and the next results I have after the alterations. The basket assemblies are incredibly expensive, so I'll keep my eyes open on eBay.

Thanks everyone! Really friendly bunch of guys!

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Welcome to WRT        :)                                                                         My watch cleaning machine works perfectly every time. That's because it's me. Part of the "fun, challenge,learning " comes with doing it by hand. But that's just me.

If I had a business where I had a bunch in the " Q " I would want a machine.

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3 hours ago, jguitron said:

I have a similar machine and it does the job but what’s well accepted as far as I can tell, is that there has to be an ultrasonic component to the cleaning process. Spinning is all fine and good but adding the US is huge. Of course, that brings the cost of a washing machine way up.

Hopefully rectifying your solution situation will give you better results.

Cheers!




Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

That is not correct although I always thought it was indeed the case. I have a L&R Vari-matic that is broken. This machine has three jars + ultrasonic. Not being able to fix it I purchased new JANTA cleaning machine (made in India) which is a copy of a Elma. This machine has no ultrasonic. I thought it would not clean as well as the L&R BUT it cleans really, really  well. It is not solidly built as the L&R our Elma but for a keen amateur such as myself only servicing a couple of watches a week it is perfect for my needs anyway.

 

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2 hours ago, oldhippy said:

 

The colour of that cleaner is wrong, new cleaner should be colourless. The jars do not spin because it is not automatic (clockboy is having a senior moment) I get them too. L & R are probably the best you can buy. Do not buy ultra-sonic fluid because your machine in not of that type. 12 minutes in each jar is fine. Not sure, about your heating chamber and the time you have it spinning in there. If you raise the basket, each time and spin off that will help when switching jars and the heating to dry.  I think it’s down to the cleaning solution.   

Senior moment indeed. I meant the baskets.:D

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That is not correct although I always thought it was indeed the case. I have a L&R Vari-matic that is broken. This machine has three jars + ultrasonic. Not being able to fix it I purchased new JANTA cleaning machine (made in India) which is a copy of a Elma. This machine has no ultrasonic. I thought it would not clean as well as the L&R BUT it cleans really, really  well. It is not solidly built as the L&R our Elma but for a keen amateur such as myself only servicing a couple of watches a week it is perfect for my needs anyway.
 
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Exactly the one I got!

I love it. It does the work well on 90% of the parts. I do notice a difference when I go to class and they use the fully automated $15,000 one with ultrasonic heads. Of course, having that quality makes it easy to dismiss anything else without US.

But don’t get me wrong. I love my machine and I think it can deliver great results.




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I don't suppose you can do a before and after for us of a watch? In other words show us why it's not clean afterwords.

watch cleaning fluids are made up of a variety of chemicals to do a variety of things. Ideally they take all the bad stuff and put it in the solution than with each progressive rinsing they reduce the concentration of that solution on the plates and we end up with a bright shiny clean watch. The Ammonium Hydroxide found in the solution takes off the tarnish makes the plates look shiny but it has a problem? Once you go beyond bright and shiny it starts to etched the plates. if the solution is hot then it's going to start etching much faster. Personally I think 12 minutes is too long.  try five minutes and see if the solution turns blue or green like it's doing now and see how things look.

I've attached the material safety sheets see you can see the chemicals in your cleaning fluid. I would really like to see a material safety sheets from 20 or 30 years ago as I don't think the cleaners today are quite as aggressive that cleaning than they once were.

then if you're cleaning old watches pocket watches for instance the lubricants tend to harden up really hard. They're not just going to wash off in the cleaning machine they have to be mechanically removed with peg wood.

 

http://www.lrultrasonics.com/msds/Extra Fine Watch Cleaning Solution.pdf

etched basket.JPG

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5 hours ago, TimFitz said:

Welcome to WRT        :)                                                                         My watch cleaning machine works perfectly every time. That's because it's me. Part of the "fun, challenge,learning " comes with doing it by hand. But that's just me.

If I had a business where I had a bunch in the " Q " I would want a machine.

Just like me. I brush, peg out and then U/S clean in Naphtha Fast.  Balances and scape I use Acetone then Naphtha for final rinse. Works well for me. Mike.

 

 

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Cleaning fluid can be easily contaminated, as you have guessed looks like yours might have been. As others have said the fluid goes yellow/brown with normal use. Personally I peg out before and after cleaning just to be sure. All watch parts go in the cleaning machine, case parts in the ultrasonic. I find the machine alone does a much better job than the ultrasonic alone used to do. I also keep a spare jar of used cleaning fluid to preclean dirty movements in before going in the machine - the dirtier parts are, the quicker the cleaning fluid is used up.

I use the cleanliness of the parts coming out to judge when the fluid needs replacing, not a set amount of watches cleaned but whatever you do it does need replacing regularly. If I remember correctly the jars on your machine are particularly big so unfortunately go through a lot of fluid. As John said about 5 minutes should be enough for cleaning cycle. Also don't try and get it to spin too fast during cleaning. On my machine I have the speed for cleaning set just below the speed at which foam would start to form.

Stephen

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On 8/19/2018 at 9:24 AM, chadders1966 said:

Cleaning fluid can be easily contaminated, as you have guessed looks like yours might have been. As others have said the fluid goes yellow/brown with normal use. Personally I peg out before and after cleaning just to be sure. All watch parts go in the cleaning machine, case parts in the ultrasonic. I find the machine alone does a much better job than the ultrasonic alone used to do. I also keep a spare jar of used cleaning fluid to preclean dirty movements in before going in the machine - the dirtier parts are, the quicker the cleaning fluid is used up.

I use the cleanliness of the parts coming out to judge when the fluid needs replacing, not a set amount of watches cleaned but whatever you do it does need replacing regularly. If I remember correctly the jars on your machine are particularly big so unfortunately go through a lot of fluid. As John said about 5 minutes should be enough for cleaning cycle. Also don't try and get it to spin too fast during cleaning. On my machine I have the speed for cleaning set just below the speed at which foam would start to form.

Stephen

Does anyone use 'Extra Fine Watch Cleaning Solution' from L&R? 

I've changed the basket and placed the plate in on its own and it still comes out with a film of muck on it. I made sure that I kept the speed down to avoid any bubbles, but not so slow. I did change the cleaning solution and this one has turned a yellowy colour.

This is getting infuriating now. I don't know what I'm doing wrong, apart from trying changing the cleaning solution. But that's an expensive experiment.

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I have used it for a few years now with great results. Have you tried cleaning a different watch. Thinking it might be something already impregnated onto the watch. The fluid still looks to be the wrong colour. When fresh it is a very light brown colour. Also noticed how fast your basket is turning seems a bit fast. 

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I was looking at my bottle of cleaning fluid and I'm using 111 Ultrasonic Watch Cleaning Solution Ammoniated. I'll have to check at work I'm not sure which fluid were using. But it's interesting according to the material safety sheets it is a trade secret the actual quantity of the chemicals but both solutions are identical in chemical makeup just slightly differing quantities of each of the chemicals.

then the cleaning fluid color is it correct? The original gallon that I purchased a very long time ago seem to lost its effectiveness so I purchased another gallon. Even that is at least five years old. So looking at the color of each the original is a very dark translucent yellow more perhaps of a orange color. The newer is a nice crystal clear yellow. 

then rotation speed Omega has a documentation probably just about everything but this one is on cleaning. For spinning speed in the cleaning solution there are two separate times depending upon whether you're using ultrasonic or not. So with ultrasonic 20 revolutions per minute without 200 to 300 revolutions per minute.

I don't suppose you have any other watches to clean? Preferably a watch that's already clean or as an alternative find some clean metal to clean? The example of clean metal would be to find a modern coin made out of one of the nickel alloys although I'm not sure he could probably clean just about any metal coin pick one that shiny and clean and run it through the cleaning machine and see if it's shiny afterwords. Otherwise clean a clean watch.

 

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7 hours ago, oldhippy said:

 

Why have you wired the movement to the basket? The basket is going too fast.

I wired it that way so I could rule out anything getting in the way of the clean/rinse solutions.

Why does the speed make a difference? I thought it was important to keep it just under the speed that bubbles form.

7 hours ago, clockboy said:

I have used it for a few years now with great results. Have you tried cleaning a different watch. Thinking it might be something already impregnated onto the watch. The fluid still looks to be the wrong colour. When fresh it is a very light brown colour. Also noticed how fast your basket is turning seems a bit fast. 

The fluid was a white wine colour, but went this colour after the first wash with the replacement basket that I thoroughly cleaned first. So John, are you saying between 200 to 300 rpm? Can someone tell me what solution they are using and at what speed. I'll try a different watch and a coin tomorrow. Good suggestion it might be something impregnated on that plate. The brass wheels come out shining, although not totally clean. I'm starting to think it's the solution rather than my technique or the machine, but could be wrong.

Thanks for all the help guys... much appreciated!

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I've just bought this on eBay for £200 to start fresh with a completely different setup. It even comes with a spare basket and it looks like that cleaning solution has gone the right colour, unlike mine. I found I was spending so much time and effort in trying to get mine to work, it was costing me too much in wasted hours. The value of this machine far outweighs the price! Just hope it bloody works now.... lol

I'll let you know how it goes. If it fails, I'm going to give up all my worldly possessions and live in a dark cave pondering where it all went wrong...

Benray watch cleaning machine.jpg

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4 hours ago, oldhippy said:

 

There good I had an old one for cleaning clock screws in old cleaning fluid and rinse. I don’t think you will have any problems with that. Not a bad price and it looks in good condition.  

Thanks oldhippy, It was only posted for about half an hour before I snapped it up. There is one thing for trawling the internet in the small hours! Good to hear it worked well for you. Did you try any clock or watch parts in it or only screws? There seems to be a shed load for sale in the States, but they look a bit ropey and have seen better days.

One site I came across on my hunt for a cleaning machine, was this website Stateside: http://www.daveswatchparts.com/index.html which looks promising for other tools, although he does have an interesting looking ultrasonic cleaner. I was going to contact him in a couple weeks or so when my bank balance looks healthier,  about a poising tool and maybe some mainspring winders. The only thing I don't like is getting caught out with import charges. Everything I get from China is always marked as 'gift' which gets around most of that.

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I have used this guy before. Very good indeed but a bit slow with delivery times to the UK. Always worth a visit to see what he has. £200 for an Elma is an absolute  bargain if you are still having issues it is most defiantly not your equipment. It is the fluid or whats already on the watch contaminating the fluid.

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