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Jon

Watch cleaning machine not cleaning well

Question

 

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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All these fluids and fancy machines! I use Naphtha, two brushes, an ultrasonic final rinse with Naphtha and Acetone for balances and escape. I do peg out to be sure of clean jewel holes etc. This basic method  has never let me down although I am no expert but just a jobber. Just saying.

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34 minutes ago, ecodec said:

All these fluids and fancy machines! I use Naphtha, two brushes, an ultrasonic final rinse with Naphtha and Acetone for balances and escape. I do peg out to be sure of clean jewel holes etc. This basic method  has never let me down although I am no expert but just a jobber. Just saying.

It's a good way to do it. I was using naphtha (lighter fluid) and IPA as a rinse with an ultrasonic but wanted to find something more efficient. The initial outlay of £200 for watch cleaning machine and £100 on solutions is a good investment that will pay for itself pretty quickly. 15 to 30 minutes to clean a watch by machine is the selling point for me. Doing it by hand is a good discipline to have and you definitely get to know what is clean and what is dirty that way

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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?

Platform escapement parts and the better small clocks like looping and swiza all nicely cleaned.

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I've got my Elma cleaning machine today and when taking off the old plug I noticed it was wired in a weird way. Has anyone come across this. The blue and black are going to neutral. The red goes to earth and the white wire attaches to the fuse, indicating live. I'm feeling a bit nervous about connecting that red to earth, even though it came from there. 

Any thoughts?

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BTW.. I tried the machine before taking off the plug and it spins a dream, so I will probably wire it back that way.

I'll wait to see if anyone else has an idea over this wiring

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Just wired it back the same way as I found it, which is something I haven't come across before. I could pull it apart and rewire it, but I'm loathed to do that having spent so long re-wiring the last cleaning machine and wasting a lot of time getting it to work properly.

Surely someone has one of these machines, which I'm guessing is wired in exactly the same way. I would really appreciate if someone took the plug off theirs and confirm I'm not about to burn the house down. Thanks...

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I was thinking... This is German and old, so I came across some old German wiring, which is quite amazing.

Red = Earth

White = Neutral

Black = Live

Enigma solved, apart from I still have a black and blue going into the Live in the plug, so the blue German wiring must denote Live as well?

German wiring.jpg

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41 minutes ago, JohnR725 said:

I have a link that should help with the confusion of what color goes with.

 

https://www.allaboutcircuits.com/textbook/reference/chpt-2/wiring-color-codes-infographic/

Thanks John, but it doesn't show the 'old' German wiring, with white being Live. I'm not sure when this wiring pre-dates, but if you look at the last pic I posted of 'old' German wiring being connected to present day EU wiring in which we all know. This old German wiring has Red as Earth.

It's a very helpful PDF to have, so many thanks for that. I'm sure it will come in handy in the future.

Edited by Jon

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FWIW, and realizing this is an older thread, I too have issues with my L&R cleaners leaving residue on parts after cleaning. Sometimes it seems like they went in cleaner than they came out. And even if the cleaner left something on the parts I'd expect that the rinse would cut through whatever it was and rinse it off, but it did not.

Once the cleaner has sat in the jars for a week or more, it leaves a sticky brown substance on the jar and the metal parts within. This can be after only cleaning one movement. I often end up emptying the solutions and cleaning this residue with denatured alcohol before refilling. It leaves the same sticky film on the SS containers on my WatchMaster ultrasonic.

I'm pretty sure that the cleaner and rinse were the same as the OP's. They were the solvent based, non-ammoniated versions. I used them in both an old L&R mechanical cleaner and a WatchMaster ultrasonic and got the same disappointing results. It seemed like I'd clean one watch, get decent results, and all subsequent cleanings this was not so. None of the watches were visibly over-oiled or super grimy.  I'll likely be trying an ammoniated Zenith solution next time I order cleaners and hope for the best. Cheers.

Edited by MrRoundel
Typo

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@MrRoundel that residue you are seeing I have observed if the oil-based L&R solutions get contaminated, especially with water or soapy water. 
 

There was a discussion here a while back about a similar issue. 

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On 7/14/2020 at 4:10 PM, MrRoundel said:

FWIW, and realizing this is an older thread, I too have issues with my L&R cleaners leaving residue on parts after cleaning. Sometimes it seems like they went in cleaner than they came out. And even if the cleaner left something on the parts I'd expect that the rinse would cut through whatever it was and rinse it off, but it did not.

Once the cleaner has sat in the jars for a week or more, it leaves a sticky brown substance on the jar and the metal parts within. This can be after only cleaning one movement. I often end up emptying the solutions and cleaning this residue with denatured alcohol before refilling. It leaves the same sticky film on the SS containers on my WatchMaster ultrasonic.

I'm pretty sure that the cleaner and rinse were the same as the OP's. They were the solvent based, non-ammoniated versions. I used them in both an old L&R mechanical cleaner and a WatchMaster ultrasonic and got the same disappointing results. It seemed like I'd clean one watch, get decent results, and all subsequent cleanings this was not so. None of the watches were visibly over-oiled or super grimy.  I'll likely be trying an ammoniated Zenith solution next time I order cleaners and hope for the best. Cheers.

I sorted my problem of the residue by changing my cleaning fluid and rinse. I now use 'Fine Clean' and 'Fine Rinse' by a company called 'Quadralene' https://quadralene.com/

They don't advertise it and you can't buy it directly from their website, you have to call them. The great thing is you get 5 litre containers, instead of 3.8 litres that L & R sell and it is a lot cheaper. I think it works out about £70 with delivery, whereas L & R fluids will cost over £100 and you get 20% less fluid. No brainer!

It's non ammoniated, but works a dream

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I tried something new with my 70 year old Elma cleaner yesterday. As always, I use Elma Red 1:9 (ammoniated) for about six minutes, then rinse in deionised water for about 2 minutes, and a finally rinse in Suprol Pro (really nasty stuff) for about 2 minutes. However, this time around, as I was just cleaning a mainspring, its barrel, lid, and arbor, I ran the motor as hard as I could. This made the Elma Red look like pink milk, but the result was pretty amazing. I've always run the motor pretty moderately for fear of destroying the hairspring but the results have just been so so, requiring quite a bit of after cleaning. The next time around I will "put the pedal to the metal" and see how it goes :devil:

EDIT: When using water based cleaning solutions (like the ones I describe in the above paragraph), be very careful not to overdo it. The first time I tried my Elma machine I ran it for something like 40 minutes, and the entire movement got stained and even some rust started to develop. It took me a day of manual cleaning and polishing to get everything in acceptable order :(

Edited by VWatchie

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5 hours ago, VWatchie said:

I tried something new with my 70 year old Elma cleaner yesterday. As always, I use Elma Red 1:9 (ammoniated) for about six minutes, then rinse in deionised water for about 2 minutes, and a finally rinse in Suprol Pro (really nasty stuff) for about 2 minutes. However, this time around, as I was just cleaning a mainspring, its barrel, lid, and arbor, I ran the motor as hard as I could. This made the Elma Red look like pink milk, but the result was pretty amazing. I've always run the motor pretty moderately for fear of destroying the hairspring but the results have just been so so, requiring quite a bit of after cleaning. The next time around I will "put the pedal to the metal" and see how it goes :devil:

EDIT: When using water based cleaning solutions (like the ones I describe in the above paragraph), be very careful not to overdo it. The first time I tried my Elma machine I ran it for something like 40 minutes, and the entire movement got stained and even some rust started to develop. It took me a day of manual cleaning and polishing to get everything in acceptable order :(

When you say "pretty moderately" what do you mean by that? Have you got that vortex seen in the video above when you ran it "pretty moderately"? I am assuming Elma would work the same way as a National one? Would it be possible for you to send us a video?  I have Elma 1:9 and Suprol pro too here, but have not got the chance to try it out yet as my National is not in a great shape yet, received a few days ago.

 

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It might be an off topic question, but do you recognize the "things" on the attached picture? I got them with the cleaning machine but I dont think they belong together?

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Edited by luiazazrambo
rotating pics

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On 7/16/2020 at 11:41 PM, luiazazrambo said:

When you say "pretty moderately" what do you mean by that? Have you got that vortex seen in the video above when you ran it "pretty moderately"?

With “pretty moderately” I mean exactly what you see in the video.

On 7/16/2020 at 11:41 PM, luiazazrambo said:

I am assuming Elma would work the same way as a National one?

Yes, exactly the same way!

The next time around I will run the motor to the point that the solution is about to spill over the edge of the glass jar. My only worry is that the hairspring may not survive it. What do you think? What’s your experiences?

Edited by VWatchie

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I have never ever used a watch cleaning machine in my life yet. I have to resurrect my National Watch Cleaning Machine you can see above first. Its going to be slow as I have a very limited time, but I am preparing it slowly. Bought a roll of 2 mm thick cork yesterday for jar lid seal and I am in a hunt for black and white, cloth covered, 3 cores cable. Seems that everybody wants black and white for some reason. I am also going for a holiday/ remote working session so I will be without my precious toys for a month or so! What a nightmare!!! :D

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I have 2 theories why the cleaning machine is not cleaning properly. 

I noticed that L&R Extra Fine contains ammonium hydroxide and propanol. If it becomes contaminated with water, it would react with oil and produce a soap by a process of saponification. The reason for the fluid turning green may also be evidence of the presence of water in the fluid. The gummy residue is soap scum.

My second theory is the rotation of the basket is too fast, and the level of fluid in the jar is not high enough to prevent the fluid inside the basket from being spun out. Hence the centre of the basket is actually running dry.

Perhaps a chemist and physicist can confirm my hypothesis. 

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