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  1. #16
    Registered user. roughbarked's Avatar
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    Default Re: Waltham Aircraft Clock (By: dad1891)

    Quote Originally Posted by dad1891 View Post
    I usually try to be nice....but sometimes.

    1. "It has mostly deteriorated." The half life of radium is 1600 years, so if there is radium on the hands and face, the activity has deteriorated less than 5%

    2. "The amount of radum is negligible" I'm glad that you know how much radium it contains......I don't.

    3. I avoid messing with it, so I don't have a lot of personal experience, but I have heard many times that the pigments and binders in the paint can deteriorate over time, causing the paint to flake off. If a little flakes off on your workbench and you don't notice, you drag it around on your tools, arms and hands, it's a gift that keeps on giving.

    I still remember an auto shop teacher I had back in the 70's that flatly said that breathing asbestos doesn't hurt you at all.
    Semantics is one thing. You can pick the words and play with them but the science is another tale.

    Lies about asbestos are deplorable same as lies about anything. However, it has been found that all humans have asbestos particles in their lungs at times. The people who have suffered from exposure to asbestos are those who regularly worked in unprotected conditions with asbestos and even those who lived with asbestos workers. The knowledge of this has exposed the fact that asbestos was and still is everywhere in our environment and that certain practices may expose you to dangerous quantities, even around your home DIY efforts.

    There are people who bring home old railway sleepers and cut them up for firewood to burn in their house. Trains dropped a lot of asbestos from brake linings. Same thing as the dust seen on every ledge on city buildings. A lot of this is asbestos from the brake linings of cars.

    https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/phs/phs.asp?id=28&tid=4

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19263869
    Last edited by roughbarked; 02-15-2017 at 11:42 PM.

  2. #17
    Registered user. roughbarked's Avatar
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    Default Re: Waltham Aircraft Clock (By: Tinker Dwight)

    Quote Originally Posted by Tinker Dwight View Post
    I guess because it isn't glowing he thinks it is because the radium has deteriorated.
    Of course, that is wrong thinking.
    Any way, you don't need to spend 275 USD. You can use one of those cheap detectors that looks like a
    earphone plug for a smart phone. They aren't particularly good but will easily show you a radium dial
    is active.
    Even opening a clock that has been sealed needs caution. Radium creates radon gas that decays
    to other things that are like dust particles that have half lives in the hundreds of
    years as I recall. These are especially bad as they are biologically active. Opening one up should
    be done out doors with a dust protective breathing mask.
    Tinker Dwight
    Yes. Always err on the side of caution.
    It is a very good first rule in everything.

  3. #18

    Default Re: Waltham Aircraft Clock (By: roughbarked)

    I agree, the risk from radium dials is low but those links are not entirely accurate either. Alpha particles don't accumulate anywhere, they are the nuclei of Helium and will manage to pick up a couple of electrons along the way and become a stable helium atom.

    Radium, however, is treated by the body as calcium which it will use in the bones. There the radium will continue to decay producing alpha particles which can cause far more damage from within as their low penetrating power is no longer an issue.

    It's very much a numbers game and I saw tinker explain that in a previous thread better than I've ever seen it explained before as it really comes down to probabilities. Everything is relative and you need to keep all of this in perspective. Radiation is a fact of life, we are all being affected by it, in the air we breathe, the food we eat, it varies according to where we live and what we do. (A cornish airline pilot is going to be far worse off than me)

    The risk from radium paint is low but treat it with respect, risks are cumulative, just because you are more at risk from smoking doesn't reduce the risk from anything else.
    Nick, lots to learn, late starter.

  4. #19
    Registered user. roughbarked's Avatar
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    Default Re: Waltham Aircraft Clock (By: novicetimekeeper)

    all true.

    But given that, If the risks were really real, I'd have noticed it between the almost 70 years of watchmaking usage of items that contain Radium that I've been party to for 55 of those years. I've been in personal contact with the shop the parts of the shop, the people who handled the watches or the dust on the bench, the floor, the air.

    OH&S wasn't really ever applied seriously. Yes we did keep getting better vacuum filters on the polishing buffs and the like but nobody ever wore a dust mask. I recall as a first year apprentice my dad told me that if I was handling acids I needed acid resistant aprons and stuff. But no. I was told about the radium girls in my first year but I was also told that it wasn't an issue to worry about since I wasn't going to be painting radium on dials.

    My master has a wry sense of humour. If I tried to bring anything about my rights up he'd say something along the lines of. "it wasn't so long ago that I was allowed to tie you to the leg of the bench overnight".
    Last edited by roughbarked; 02-16-2017 at 02:08 AM.

  5. #20

    Default Re: Waltham Aircraft Clock (By: roughbarked)

    The risks are real, but they are risks, not certainties. Rutherford spent ages firing alpha particles at gold leaf, it isn't very often one comes back at you. Everything is made up mostly of nothing us included.
    Nick, lots to learn, late starter.

  6. #21
    Registered user. roughbarked's Avatar
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    Default Re: Waltham Aircraft Clock (By: novicetimekeeper)

    Quote Originally Posted by novicetimekeeper View Post
    The risks are real, but they are risks, not certainties. Rutherford spent ages firing alpha particles at gold leaf, it isn't very often one comes back at you. Everything is made up mostly of nothing us included.
    The explantion is acceptable.

  7. #22

    Default Re: Waltham Aircraft Clock (By: roughbarked)

    In addition to an interest in clocks I also restore vintage radio gear and radium is one of the many potential risks that must be managed and risk management doesn't just mean risk avoidance. Radium paint was used to paint meter markings, indicator lines on knobs, and in a few cases panel markings. Knobs and panel markings are the worst since they were unprotected providing a good probability of flaking and inhalation and/or ingestion. By the 1980s the concern over this small risk was high enough that military gear with radium painted knobs and/or meters had these parts removed before being sold into the surplus market making it difficult to find equipment with the original indicators and knobs. Many types of voltage regulator tubes were also "doped" with small amounts of radioactive material to ensure reliable ionization when the tube was cold, prior to that some equipment used a light bulb to excite the tube. These tubes have a small radiation warning symbol that often causes people to panic but like the radium paint as long as you don't breath or lick the residue from a broken tube it is safe. Some large transmitting tubes, particularly from around the WWII era, have treated glass around the seals (to resist heat) that is radioactive. Other risks include heavy metal poisoning from cadmium plated chassis (not a good idea to grind or sand these chassis), lead poisoning from solder, exposure to high voltage and the ensuing high current which is actually what kills, and simply having a radio that may weigh upwards of several hundred pounds fall on you. More recent concerns are exposure to RF energy fields.

    What all of these have in common is they are risks that are easily managed but if not managed they can certainly harm you and others. I like keeping my old radio gear as factory original as possible but I do make minor reversible changes when necessary to protect the health of the owner and the equipment. Radioactive knob markings are coated with clear lacquer to seal it in place. A piece of gear that didn't come with a fuse gets one added in an easily reversible method. Exposed high voltage gets managed, for example one transmitter I have brings 1,600 volts out from the main plate supply to exposed terminals on the back and it got a cover for those terminals. Mercury vapor rectifiers are pretty to watch in action but they are one flashover away from taking out irreplaceable power supply parts and although rare the sudden change in pressure that occurs with ionization can crack the glass envelope and breathing mercury vapor isn't good. I replace these pretty old rectifiers with proper plug in solid state replacements.

    I spent a number of years doing risk management consulting and pretty much any human activity involves some risk but reasonable people don't simply avoid and run scared from anything involving risk. Proper practices allow us to enjoy activities without excessive risk. I retired last year and my retirement gift to myself was a new Corvette Z06 and part of risk management with it is knowing that the accelerator isn't an on/off switch. With 650HP and 650 pound feet of torque instantly going to full throttle on the street will create interesting results, especially if the electronic nannies are turned off. And if this stupid behavior doesn't result in an immediate crash it will result in felony level speed in around 4 seconds. But driven properly and in the proper place the car is tremendous fun and is sufficiently docile to be driven normally.

  8. #23

    Default Re: Waltham Aircraft Clock (By: roughbarked)

    Well, I think you have convinced me not to bother opening it. I was hoping to confirm what the movement is and perhaps find out the winding issue but can live w/o it. I am no expert. On dial it is marked "AN5743-tia."

    - - - Updated - - -

    Thanks for the information.

  9. #24
    Registered user. roughbarked's Avatar
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    Default Re: Waltham Aircraft Clock (By: JoyF)

    There was no intention to frighten you off. In most, any particles will fall out with the movement when it drops out of the case. Catch it and dispose of it while holding breath and wearing a wetsuit if you wish.

  10. #25

    Default Re: Waltham Aircraft Clock (By: roughbarked)

    Quote Originally Posted by roughbarked View Post
    There was no intention to frighten you off. In most, any particles will fall out with the movement when it drops out of the case. Catch it and dispose of it while holding breath and wearing a wetsuit if you wish.
    The radiation risk from servicing a clock with a Radium dial is difficult to assess but can never be reduced to zero. The main factors I believe are; the duration of exposure, how close one is to the Radium, and whether the material is ingested and/or inhaled.

    Most clock shops (including mine) are not properly equipped to decontaminate a clock having an old radium dial. It is unrealistic to assume that one can "catch it and dispose of it while holding one's breath". One may be able to capture a few of the larger flakes but there may also be 'contaminated dust' and fine particles trapped in oil and additional material sloughing off during the course of the repair and reinstallation of the movement in the case. Just a small breeze can scatter the stuff and it can easily get into cracks in flooring or carpet or be inadvertently inhaled when one takes that big breath after holding. Of course the Radium continues 'radiating' all the while. Then there is the question of disposal. In most places it is illegal to "dispose of" radioactive material by ordinary means.

    I also have "no intention to frighten you off", or to minimizing the risk, but I also believe that it is unrealistic and creating a false sense of security to assume that one can effectively capture and sequester the radioactive debris associated with servicing a clock with a radium dial using ordinary methods while holding one's breath. One either accepts the risks or not and if one accepts the risks one should do whatever one can to minimize the risks and avoid contaminating the surrounding environment.

    RC

  11. #26
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    Default Re: Waltham Aircraft Clock

    Quote Originally Posted by R. Croswell View Post
    The radiation risk from servicing a clock with a Radium dial is difficult to assess but can never be reduced to zero. The main factors I believe are; the duration of exposure, how close one is to the Radium, and whether the material is ingested and/or inhaled.

    Most clock shops (including mine) are not properly equipped to decontaminate a clock having an old radium dial. It is unrealistic to assume that one can "catch it and dispose of it while holding one's breath". One may be able to capture a few of the larger flakes but there may also be 'contaminated dust' and fine particles trapped in oil and additional material sloughing off during the course of the repair and reinstallation of the movement in the case. Just a small breeze can scatter the stuff and it can easily get into cracks in flooring or carpet or be inadvertently inhaled when one takes that big breath after holding. Of course the Radium continues 'radiating' all the while. Then there is the question of disposal. In most places it is illegal to "dispose of" radioactive material by ordinary means.

    I also have "no intention to frighten you off", or to minimizing the risk, but I also believe that it is unrealistic and creating a false sense of security to assume that one can effectively capture and sequester the radioactive debris associated with servicing a clock with a radium dial using ordinary methods while holding one's breath. One either accepts the risks or not and if one accepts the risks one should do whatever one can to minimize the risks and avoid contaminating the surrounding environment.

    RC
    VERY well said, RC.

    I thought this one was dead long ago!
    Last edited by dad1891; 03-18-2017 at 12:03 PM.
    Dave Diel

  12. #27
    Registered User richiec's Avatar
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    Default Re: Waltham Aircraft Clock (By: roughbarked)

    Oh, and about your shop teacher, I breathed asbestos brake fibers from 1968-1999, I am still living and breathing just fine, I was more worried about the chlorinated stuff in the brakleen and the gasoline we used to clean the backing plates.

  13. #28
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    Default Re: Waltham Aircraft Clock (By: richiec)

    Quote Originally Posted by richiec View Post
    Oh, and about your shop teacher, I breathed asbestos brake fibers from 1968-1999, I am still living and breathing just fine, I was more worried about the chlorinated stuff in the brakleen and the gasoline we used to clean the backing plates.
    Yeah, there is no science behind the laws and regulations surrounding asbestos. Companies are spending millions and millions of dollars on abatement for entertainment. Lawyers and plaintiffs are getting rich off the myth.

    Do you know anyone that has had mesothelioma? I did and she died comparatively young. They never could figure out where or how she was exposed, but the autopsy was conclusive that it was caused by asbestos.

    I guess that my point was a little to obtuse for some. Let me state it more succinctly: I have a big problem with stupid people saying that something is safe when they have no idea what they are talking about. It seems to me that it is appropriate to let people know when there may be some risk in handling something, advise them of the best practices to do it safely and let them make the decision of whether the risk is worth the reward. The ONLY reason that I brought up the radium is that 99% of the general public has no idea that radium was used in some clock dials.

    By the way, there are NO chlorinated solvents in brakleen or gasoline.
    Dave Diel

  14. #29
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    Default Re: Waltham Aircraft Clock (By: dad1891)

    I have just as big a problem with "stupid people" inciting panic and unnecessarily freaking people out "when they have no idea what they are talking about", when the *actual* risks involved in something are lower than day-to-day environmental risks. The "ohmygawd chemicals!!! FLEEE!!!" and "ohmygawd radiation!!! FLEEE!!!" crowd. If we try to warn the general public about everything that can harm them, we end up with a situation like California's Proposition 65, warning everyone that french fries cause cancer and birth defects. It rapidly becomes a joke, and another reason for label makers to charge for ink. The general public is at roughly the same level of risk from a radium clock dial as from a Sonic-Size order of fries. Go ahead, yeah, be obtuse and parse that sentence - it doesn't change the fact. Yes, there's an identifiable risk if you mess with lots and lots of radium paint from clock and watch dials. You're at a far higher risk of being hit by a bus.

    Radium paint CANNOT cause permanent damage unless it is ingested, inhaled, or in near-direct, high-concentration, relatively long-term contact externally. (Like carrying around a vial of it in your pocket, for example.) One microscopic fleck does not a doomsday scenario make. Yes, the effects are cumulative, but in working with timepieces you'd have to do one helluva lot of accumulating for it to cause actual identifiable harm.

    Don't lick the radium paint or paint dust from a timepiece or the inside of the case. Don't scrape off and eat the radium paint or paint dust. Don't scrape it off and snort it. If you want to be really thorough, wash your hands when you're finished messing with the timepiece. (And don't go all high and mighty when someone sarcastically suggests holding your breath and wearing a wetsuit, either. That's really tiresome.)

    If you CHOOSE to steer clear of radium paint altogether, do so from a standpoint of knowledge and an analysis of whether you consider the risk too high. Just be sure to watch out for buses.

    Glen

  15. #30

    Default Re: Waltham Aircraft Clock (By: glenhead)

    I keep all our old radium paint sources for cloud chambers in a jar in our ionising sources store. They aren't used any more because there is a small risk that the paint will be flaking (and I can't access dry ice) but I keep them on the actively in use list because otherwise we have to pay to dispose of them. Every so often the regs change and a window of opportunity opens to dispose of things in a sensible low cost way, we keep our eye on the regs and use them to our advantage when possible.

    The problem is the regulations are produced in the main to deal with industrial scale disposal, I have a few dabs of paint.

    We get caught with unintended consequences with other legislation too, we used to use a small toy steam engine but now it is classified as an industrial pressure vessel and needs an annual boiler certificate so we had to condemn it.
    Nick, lots to learn, late starter.

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