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  1. #1

    Default cleaning clock movements

    Hi all,

    I normally dismantle all clock movements and clean them properly even if they look clean! Tonight for the first time I tried to clean a movement by not dismantling it using my special cleaning fluid (like white spirit but much better) using artists brushes which i have been trimmed such that the bristles are stubby. I used plenty of cleaning solution on all the pivots and worked it well into the pivots both on the front and back plates and as much as i could on the inside of the plates as well. I took care and attention when i did this. I also cleaned the gears etc As I said the movement was very clean hence my decision to use the cleaning solution. The movement having stood for over 7 years did not work before i did this...

    Anyway, having cleaned it very thoroughly with the solution i then blow dried it with an hairdryer for at least 20 minutes to ensure that all the solution had evaporated. I then tested the movement out with no oil... immediately it started to work albeit slowly. I then put a tiny spot of oil on the flys and the hammers went at speed. I was very pleased at this stage! I then decided to oil the whole mechanism and refit it back inside the clock case... i hung on the weights etc and with the chime bar in position I then decided to test it out properly.

    To my amazement the hammers were ridiculously slow and showed no signs of gaining speed whatsoever!!!! I couldn't believe it as the hammers were going at a really fast rate when i had just oiled the fly wheels??!

    What has happened here?? Can anyone comment on why this has happened as it is a mystery?

    One thing that i would like to add is that my friend always services clocks using the cleaning solution and paint brush method! He's done this for years now. However he sometimes notices that when he's cleaned a movement the mechanism is actually slower than it was before!!! Just thought i'd add that...

    The movement that i have just cleaned is Hermle 461-053H/94cm and there is hardly any wear on the plates (no elongations).

    Any advice on the above would be great - i think that i will dismantle the movement and do it properly now... just wasted 3 hours trying to clean it for nothing!

    Cheers,

    Simon :-)

  2. #2
    Registered User svenedin's Avatar
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    Default Re: cleaning clock movements (RE: NEWOSA65)

    I don't think anyone would agree that your method is a satisfactory way to service a clock movement. I believe that "dunking" whole movements into a bucket of paraffin (kerosene) used to be quite common in the days when people refused to pay for a proper job and demanded to have their clock going again. It isn't at all recommended. Your cleaning solution probably does dissolve old sticky oil and shifts dirt into suspension and then this is deposited again into pivot holes and places you can't access without full disassembly. That abrasive mess will then happily wear away your pivots and pivot holes.

    As to what happened to you tonight. I suppose you must have put some power on the movement with your finger to test it? Presumably that was more force than was supplied by the weights when back in the case. In addition, perhaps the movement wasn't totally dry when you tested it and now it is, and gummed up again.

  3. #3

    Default Re: cleaning clock movements (RE: NEWOSA65)

    Simon, looks like you learned a valuable lesson – As important as cleaning the movement is, inspecting the condition of the pivots just cannot be done properly without disassembly. And there is no way to know how much crap is still in the pivot holes. There are lots of people who have done things the wrong way for years and will continue to do so. There is no way to know for sure just what caused the behavior that you experienced without taking the movement apart. If you used oil that was too heavy or used too much, the viscosity of the oil can slow the operation of some mechanisms. There may also have been “issues” with this movement other than needing cleaning that prevented it from operating properly before you attempted a cleaning. It is impossible to clean some things without removing them and your "cleaning solution" may have washed out what liquid lubricant was there, then the application of heat would make the sludge that is left behind even less effective as a lubricant than it was before your attempt to clean it. If it was as clean as you said it was, why didn’t you just oil it without giving it a bath?

    Now you didn’t say what exactly your secret cleaning brew was, but if it contained acetone or lacquer thinner, and your movement’s plates were lacquered, the solvent may have dissolved some of the lacquer and deposited in the pivots and elsewhere.

    That's my $0.03 worth!

    RC

  4. #4

    Default Re: cleaning clock movements (RE: svenedin)

    Thank you for your reply. It worked fine when i had cleaned it and just oiled the flys. The hammers were operating very quickly. This was just with the weights fitted, i applied no extra downward force? When i olied the entire mechanism it was useless - the hammers barely moved and eventually stopped working altogether? Simon

  5. #5

    Default Re: cleaning clock movements (RE: NEWOSA65)

    Quote Originally Posted by NEWOSA65 View Post
    Thank you for your reply. It worked fine when i had cleaned it and just oiled the flys. The hammers were operating very quickly. This was just with the weights fitted, i applied no extra downward force? When i olied the entire mechanism it was useless - the hammers barely moved and eventually stopped working altogether? Simon
    Generally the hammers are NOT oiled. Oil in the hammer pivots will make them sluggish even if they are clean.

    RC

  6. #6

    Default Re: cleaning clock movements (RE: NEWOSA65)

    Thanks for info RC. I guess i should have just oiled it without attempting to clean it but in the past when i have done this the odd mechanism had unfortunately decided to slow in chime rate (say after 3 weeks) hence my worries in doing that. Also the mechanism had not gone for years and i thought that cleaning it would have been a good move. Sadly not eh?! I think that i will discontinue using cleaning solution in the future as i have had the odd problem before after using this method to service some of my clock movements. I just thought it would have saved me messing around dismantling it and all the hassle of retiming it etc afterwards?! Yep i have learnt the hard way i guess esp having wasted best part of 3 hours this evening! Never mind, i love tinkering about with the movements, just wish i knew as much about them as you guy do. Thanks very much for taking the time to reply though, very much appreciated

  7. #7
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    Default Re: cleaning clock movements (RE: NEWOSA65)

    Don't discontinue using your magic potion for cleaning, if you think it works. However, use it on a disassembled movement. How can you hope to see a pivot problem or a bad bushing without proper inspection - disassembled? Further, if your potion dislodged some contaminants, the dirt may have been still present in hidden places. Blowing with a hair dryer just dried it where it was. Definitely not recommending cleaning without disassembly, but I do recommend that after cleaning, if you are going to blow dry, use pressurized air, and still be prepared to get more gunk out by pegging the bushing holes with a toothpick or a pointed stick. It's become imbedded by friction between steel (pivot) and brass (bushing) under pressure from springs or weights.

  8. #8

    Default Re: cleaning clock movements (RE: Ed O'Brien)

    My take is this: The movement suffers from at least one ovaled pivot hole, which you didn't find. When you 'cleaned' it, and added a little pressure it worked fine, but when you added the heavy weight the pivot was forced into the worn part of the hole and bogged down.

  9. #9
    Registered user. moe1942's Avatar
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    Default Re: cleaning clock movements (RE: shutterbug)

    The plates could have been misaligned when the movement was mounted. Over agressive tightening on the seat board can do this.

    I have cleaned assembled open spring movements successfully in the US. Wind it up, remove the verge and put in the US.

  10. #10
    Registered user. Tony10Clocks's Avatar
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    Default Re: cleaning clock movements (RE: moe1942)

    Maybe a bent pivot on the fly, Works o.k. with finger pressure but not under normal running conditions
    Too many clocks and not enough time, Tony

  11. #11
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    Default Re: cleaning clock movements (RE: NEWOSA65)

    Quote Originally Posted by NEWOSA65 View Post
    Thank you for your reply. It worked fine when i had cleaned it and just oiled the flys. The hammers were operating very quickly. This was just with the weights fitted, i applied no extra downward force? When i olied the entire mechanism it was useless - the hammers barely moved and eventually stopped working altogether? Simon
    My guess is that when you first cleaned and blew dry it, not all the pivots and holes were completely dry as you thought. So the clock seems to run fine. But after awhile, the cleaning solution tried out and left recidual in the pivot holes. The recidual is sticky and it slow down the movement. You really have to take the movement apart and clean each hole and pivot thoroughly.
    Ming

  12. #12

    Default Re: cleaning clock movements (RE: NEWOSA65)

    Quote Originally Posted by NEWOSA65 View Post
    Hi all,

    I normally dismantle all clock movements and clean them properly even if they look clean! Tonight for the first time I tried to clean a movement by not dismantling it using my special cleaning fluid (like white spirit but much better) using artists brushes which i have been trimmed such that the bristles are stubby. I used plenty of cleaning solution on all the pivots and worked it well into the pivots both on the front and back plates and as much as i could on the inside of the plates as well. I took care and attention when i did this. I also cleaned the gears etc As I said the movement was very clean hence my decision to use the cleaning solution. The movement having stood for over 7 years did not work before i did this...

    Anyway, having cleaned it very thoroughly with the solution i then blow dried it with an hairdryer for at least 20 minutes to ensure that all the solution had evaporated. I then tested the movement out with no oil... immediately it started to work albeit slowly. I then put a tiny spot of oil on the flys and the hammers went at speed. I was very pleased at this stage! I then decided to oil the whole mechanism and refit it back inside the clock case... i hung on the weights etc and with the chime bar in position I then decided to test it out properly.

    To my amazement the hammers were ridiculously slow and showed no signs of gaining speed whatsoever!!!! I couldn't believe it as the hammers were going at a really fast rate when i had just oiled the fly wheels??!

    What has happened here?? Can anyone comment on why this has happened as it is a mystery?

    One thing that i would like to add is that my friend always services clocks using the cleaning solution and paint brush method! He's done this for years now. However he sometimes notices that when he's cleaned a movement the mechanism is actually slower than it was before!!! Just thought i'd add that...

    The movement that i have just cleaned is Hermle 461-053H/94cm and there is hardly any wear on the plates (no elongations).

    Any advice on the above would be great - i think that i will dismantle the movement and do it properly now... just wasted 3 hours trying to clean it for nothing!

    Cheers,

    Simon :-)
    You have some excellent advice posted here, Simon. I'm also wondering what's in your special fluid...that, in combination with not dismantling it and using a hair dryer, could be the culprit. However, I could be wrong as I am not an expert, just a tinkerer. For thorough cleaning and/or repair I do the 'bucket dunk' as was suggested in another post. For quick fixes I prefer to use a fast drying contact cleaner...the same stuff I use on my electronic equipment, instruments and sound gear. That being said, dismantling is always best and provides opportunity for a much closer and thorough parts inspection. Wore parts can be hard to spot so I always have my lighted magnifier visor close by, if not on my head! Good luck and happy fixin'

    Peace,

    T-man

  13. #13
    Registered user. RickB's Avatar
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    Default Re: cleaning clock movements (RE: Clockwork blues)

    Cleaning a clock by dunking it whole is about the same as you taking a bath with your clothes on.

  14. #14
    Registered user.
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    Default Re: cleaning clock movements (RE: RickB)

    Although, I'm not revcommending it. Dunking the clock is
    better than working with the brush and cleaner method he was
    desribing.
    When ducking, gunge has a chance to leave the clock. The
    brush and cleaner method is more likely to push it back into
    the bushing.
    Tinker Dwight

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