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  1. #1
    David M.
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    Default ultrasonic cleaner question

    I'm a novice in the world of clock repair, and am realizing a great deal of satisfaction in the cleaning and repair of mainly tambour style 8-day mantel clocks. I'm considering buying an ultrasonic cleaner, but am unsure about the correct size for my needs. Could anyone offer advice on what size cleaner would be best for 8-day movements?

    Thanks
    David

  2. #2

    Default ultrasonic cleaner question (RE: David M.)

    David --buy the largest ultrasonic you can afford-this wonderful hobby will pull you in deeper and deeper --so you will appreciate having the ability to clean larger movements as time goes by. JACK

  3. #3
    Registered User doug sinclair's Avatar
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    Default ultrasonic cleaner question (RE: David M.)

    David,

    I agree with Jack and Phil. Several years ago, I had a small 2 litre size for watches, and a larger 4 litre size for clocks. How I got by with that, I do not know. One day, a friend phoned me and told me he had been garage saling. He found a three gallon ultrasonic, new in the box for $ 90.00 (Cdn.)! He bought it because he needed an ultrasonic to clean his wife's jewellery. He had a proposition. He would swap it even up for my small one!!!!! I needed less than a second to make up my mind!

    At one stage in the cleaning process, before dis-assembly, I clean clocks all together. I can fit three average mantel movements in there, and the big three-weight movements fit with lots of room to spare. In fact, I think I could get TWO of them in there.

    A small one will hold you back.

    Doug S.

  4. #4
    Bob Vasquez
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    Default ultrasonic cleaner question (RE: David M.)

    David, I agree with all. Been repairing 23 yrs go at least 11 qts. You won't be sorry. They last forever. The person who taught me clock repair had a Bulava ultrasonic. At that time it was 20 yrs old and it still works. The one I have is 16 yrs old and works great. At the clock shop that I work at, the owner finally discarded his 30 yr old ultrasonic and bought a new one. Bob V.

  5. #5
    David M.
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    Default ultrasonic cleaner question (RE: David M.)

    Jack, Phil, Doug, and Bob

    Thank you all for the advice. I just can't believe how expensive these things are, but it sounds like they're built to last. I'll either go for the 6 or 11 qt. One more question....how important is it to buy the optional heater?

    Cheers
    David

  6. #6

    Default ultrasonic cleaner question (RE: David M.)

    David, I agree, get the largest you can afford, you'll never regret it. I like a heater, it helps in the cleaning.

    Larry Pearson, FNAWCC #35863
    Larry Pearson, FNAWCC* #35863

  7. #7
    Registered User doug sinclair's Avatar
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    Default ultrasonic cleaner question (RE: David M.)

    David,

    One word of caution on the heated units. The element is usually on the SIDE of these. They must be used with a full tank or the unit will overheat and that means trouble. My smaller machine has the heater and I never use it!

    Doug S.

  8. #8
    Bob Vasquez
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    Default ultrasonic cleaner question (RE: David M.)

    David, you don't need a heater. The ultrasonic action itself creates heat. I have at times have used my ultrasonic so much that you can see steam rising because the solution got so hot. Bob V.

  9. #9

    Default ultrasonic cleaner question (RE: David M.)

    Hi David I bought a Quantrex 280H (heater) five years ago and it has done me a good job. With the larger movements i.e. grandfather clocks I have to remove the basket and usually have to turn the movement to get all the surfaces. It would be nice not to have to do that, but no big deal. With the chemicals I use ( L&R 677 cleaner followed by clock lube rinse), the heater is not necessary.
    I may get in trouble over this, but I don't like ammoniated type cleaners. They do a great job of cleaning, but if you don't get every micron of the cleaner off the movement, it turns green over time.
    Good luck and remember bigger is better! Bob

  10. #10
    David M.
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    Default ultrasonic cleaner question (RE: David M.)

    Thanks to all of you for your comments!
    I believe I'll skip the heater. Bob, I don't use ammoniated cleaners either. I believe it's too stressful on the metals, especially after reading the thread about ammonia on the message board.

    David

  11. #11
    David M.
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    Default ultrasonic cleaner question (RE: David M.)

    Well - I'm now the happy owner of a Quantrex 280! Now that I'm ready to begin, a few more questions come to mind....

    Is it safe to use mineral spirits in an ultrasonic cleaner? The L&R manual claims that flammable cleaners should not be used. Is there really a risk of fire, or is L&R just trying to convince you to buy only their cleaning products?

    I'll probably be using the cleaner once or twice a week - should the tank be drained after each use, or can the cleaner remain in the tank?

    The instructions say not to touch the inside of the main cleaning pan, but they don't say why. Is this because of oil from your fingers? How do you properly clean/wipe sediments from the cleaning pan?


    Thanks again
    David (#152234 - Baltimore MD)

  12. #12
    Registered User LaBounty's Avatar
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    Default ultrasonic cleaner question (RE: David M.)

    Hi David-

    I own two Q-280's; one for cleaner and one for rinse. I change the fluids about once a month depending on the condition of the movements that have been run through. A movement with WD-40 kills the cleaner so it must be changed immediately afterward.

    Since you will be using only one ultrasonic you might consider using soapy water as the ultrasonic transfer medium. Fill the tank 2/3 full with water, add a little dish soap, then you can use the stainless accessory pan(s) for your cleaner and rinse. This method will minimize your cleaner/rinse waste and keep you from having to empty the tank when going from cleaner to rinse. The down-side is you effectively reduce the size of your tank down to the size of the stainless steel pan.

    I still use the water soluble ammoniated cleaners but minimize the amount of time the parts are in solution. Unfortunately, there isn't anything on the market to replace it. When the parts come out of the cleaner, I rinse them off with hot water and use an air compressor to blow off the excess. They then go into the rinse which consists of 40% zylene and 60% mineral spirits. This bonds with the water, removing it from the parts. I have a stainless steel screen on the bottom of my ultrasonic rinse tank to keep the parts/movements off of the bottom and out of the muck that precipitates there. Another blowing off with the air compressor and the parts go into a movement dryer, for 10 - 15 minutes, set to a maximum temp of 125 deg. This evaporates the left over rinse solution. I can tell if my solutions are getting old if there is any residue on the parts when they come out of the dryer.

    This process works well for me and I haven't had any problems with fires or damage to the ultrasonic tanks. The only problem I've found is that the rinse solution will make the drain hose hard and brittle over time but that's easily replaceable.

    Hope that helps!


    I noticed Phil posted as I was composing this and I should mention I've never had a problem with my ultrasonic tanks due to my touching the insides while cleaning them out. I just use a clean rag and sometimes fine steel wool to get out the stains. Then I flush with water in the cleaner ultrasonic and rinse solution in the rinse ultrasonic.

    David,
    NAWCC Life Member
    #115111

  13. #13
    Registered User doug sinclair's Avatar
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    Default ultrasonic cleaner question (RE: David M.)

    Phil and others,

    I have used L & R 677 and ultrasonics for 35 years, for cleaning clocks. I also use mineral spirits and ultrasonics for rinse, and have done so for the same amount of time. I use compressed air to dry clocks. In the unlikely event (my opinion) that there IS some risk of using mineral based solutions and ultrasonics for cleaning, I am not recommending that anyone who is afraid of disastrous results, try it. It is not the solution that MIGHT ignite, it is the vapors. These solutions generally have a very low rate of evaporation, even when heated by the ultrasonic action. The "flash point" is uncritical, as well. I shuddered recently, when a clocks list posting mentioned going to the garage to clean clocks in GASOLINE! NO NO NO NO, NOT EVER!!!! NOHOW!!!

    Doug S.

  14. #14
    Registered User doug sinclair's Avatar
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    Default ultrasonic cleaner question (RE: David M.)

    Readers,

    I use ultrasonic machines for watches and clocks. Recently, on the message board, a poster stated that it is necessary to use a suspended wire basket in an ultrasonic for the machine to work properly. I have been doing that for some time, and I have not been happy with the cleanliness of watch bracelets and cases, in particular. Tonite, I tried an experiment. I put in a fresh batch of hot water and household cleaner, put the wire basket back in, and put in an 18-karat yellow gold gent's watch case which has a woven mesh bracelet. I allowed it to clean for about 15 minutes. Then, I took it OUT of the basket, removed the basket, and dropped the watch case and bracelet directly onto the bottom of the tank. You should have seen the crud come out of the bracelet. Henceforth, I will no longer be using the wire basket!

    What do the rest of you who use ultrasonics do?

    Doug S.

  15. #15
    Albert
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    Default ultrasonic cleaner question (RE: David M.)

    To all,

    I agree with Doug. I get good cavitation that way.

    With a Bransonic 72(heated) I have been using L&R's 111 to clean both clocks AND watches. David, I like TALL round stock pots like what restaurants use. Large movements can get fully submerged and then I place them in the cleaning tank double boiler style. Keeps from having to drain this large of a tank and allows for muti-tasking from the same tank.

    You can loose the finish on new movements if you clean for too long with a "fresh" tank, but that is a whole other thread. An old batch works well as a pre-soak along with compressed air to determine where a little brushing will be required. I like the "odorless" mineral spirits for rinsing clocks and appropriate L&R rince for watches.

    Doug, where do you get the zylene to make-up your clock rinse. I would like to give that mix a try. Have you ever been satisfied with the way clock lube rinse leaves the movement
    "rinsed"? Your input would be appreciated.

    Albert Guerrero Jr.
    #106619

    [This message was edited by Albert on July 25, 2003 at 3:39.]

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