Cleaning 1936 Elgin 519 Cleaning & Reassembly Help Please

Tyson Chambers

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Feb 26, 2021
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Hi all,
Firstly, I apologize if this post isn't categorized correctly. I'm happy to change any of the tags or categories for the sake of keeping things tidy. So please just message me and let me know.

This is my first post and first watch outside of playing with 60's-70's Timex movements I'm attempting to bring back to life. I don't have all the tools and bells and whistles but I would like to run some of the parts and pieces of this Elgin through an ultra-sonic cleaner. I understand there are some adhesives to be conscious of that won't hold up going through a cleaning cycle. Is it even a good idea to send it through the cleaner? Is there a temperature I should aim for? Are there pieces I should leave out of that process? I'm a total novice so if you think it might be silly to mention something, trust me, I probably would be happy to hear it. Thank you for any insight and assistance you can provide. I look forward to the feedback. 80102.jpeg
 

Skutt50

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Mar 14, 2008
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Welcome to the forum.

I am no expert on this particular watch but it should be like most other watches from that era.

I would not clean the dial or any painted hands in the ultrasonic. Further (and this is my personal preference) I don't clean the balance or the pallet fork in ultrasonic. I have had some jewels come loose in the past so instead I just soak them in cleaning liquid and move them around a little. I also use what is called OneDip to make sure they are clean.

As a side note: Some old watches have the engraved numbers and fighres in the plates coated with black paint. Your movenet dont have this except possibly for the balance cock. This paint may also be lost in an ultrasonic cleaning cycle but can resonably easy be replaced.
 
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Marv

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Welcome to the club!

Cleaning watch parts can be s little daunting. There are a number of cleaning agents available. You should search the web for more information on cleaning methods. I have L&R Ultrasonic Watch Cleaning Solution and L&R Ultrasonic Watch Rinsing solution. It's a multi-step process, followed by a drying.

Incidentally, the adhesives on the old pocket watches was shellac used to secure the pallet stones. For the pallet and hairspring you can use something like One-Dip, which is safe for the pallet stones. Just don't soak it for an extended time.

Most of these fluids are volatile and need good ventilation. Once the cleaning is done you can reassemble and oil. However, there is no one-stop oil you can use. Ideally, you are going to need several different types of different viscosities. Then you need to apply these oils very sparingly. There are lots of videos and articles on the techniques. Some are good and some are flat out wrong, like one guy that dunked the whole movement into lighter fluid and said (warned would be a better term) that he would be putting the watch up on eBay.

Lastly, you will need good tools to tear down and reassemble the watch. Don't cheap out on screwdrivers. A good pair of tweezers with a fine point will be needed. This assumes there is nothing else wrong with the watch that needs to be replaced or fixed.

All of this will far exceed what you paid for the watch movement and if cash is an issue, you can mitigate some of the cost with more generic cleaners, but I don't think you can or should do that with the oils. The cheaper route would be to take it to an experienced jeweler, but what's the fun in that?
 
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Tyson Chambers

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Feb 26, 2021
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Thank you both for your reply. Both of you are recommending One-Dip for the pallet and hairspring. Between the engraved numbers Skutt50 mentioned and the shellac on the pallet stones Marv mentioned, it sounds like One-Dip is the way to go. My coworker let me borrow his ultra-sonic and a little mason jar with condensed cleaner. It looks like green anti-freeze. I will find out what exactly it is he's given me. He works primarily on early American pocket watches so I'm hoping he's up to speed on the brands mentioned here. Oil is a serious knowledge deficit for me. I will look around here to find a consensus on standard practices. I made a little money changing watch batteries for people around the city during the pandemic using what I could find on Amazon. My battery needed replacing and nobody was doing them. My coworkers suddenly had a bunch and their friends and relatives. All just basic straightforward stuff, but I've got a little money to try to get some proper basic tools and material now. I was told to try to get brass tools as well if I can. Is that what I should be looking for? I'm 33 so the idea of possibly bringing something back to life that's twice my age and to learn something new feels well worth every cent I've paid so far. It might not make people oooo and ahhh over it, but I'm pretty pleased to have found this little Elgin.

I will do the following:

*Use One-Dip for the pallet and hairspring (Possible loss of paint on engravings and because of the shellac securing the pallet stones)

*I need to get up to speed on ultra-sonic cleaning agents and methods

*Research oils, methods, best practices (Don't use lighter fluid)

*Invest in some quality tools (Screwdriver set, fine point tweezers)

*Invest in quality oils
 

Skutt50

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*Use One-Dip for the pallet and hairspring (Possible loss of paint on engravings and because of the shellac securing the pallet stones)
Just to be clear, with engravings I mean the serial number, makers name, regulating "F"s and "S" etc which are found on bridges and cocks......

Those parts I send through the ultrasonic. It is parts with shellac e.g. pallet fork and impulse pin in roller table, that I don't ultrasonic.

(If you were considering dipping the complete balance cock in OneDip, don't! The balance needs to be removed from the balance cock, in order for you to remove the jewels to clean, inspect and oil. On modern movements with shock protection you can leave the balance attached since you easily can remove the balance jewels "from the outside".)
 

Marv

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An old book, but well worth the read by Henry B. Fried...

 

GeneJockey

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Why not use lighter fluid? It's mostly just shorter hydrocarbon chains than the Stoddard Solvent that makes up most watch cleaning solutions. Many, many hobbyists have gotten their start with lighter fluid as a cleaner, and even now, I use it on the bench for last minute clean ups. It's a heck of a lot cheaper than One-Dip and less carcinogenic.

My suggestion is to start cheap. Not bad-cheap, but rather simple-cheap. Use mineral spirits (Stoddard Solvent) and/or lighter fluid (Naphtha), but concentrate on your hand cleaning skills - cleaning and polishing the jewels with pegwood (or toothpicks) sharpened with a razor blade; polising pivots in pithwood. As far as oils go, you can go a long way with just one grease, like KT22 for the keyless works, and one oil for all the pivots. I leave it to others to suggest a nice compromise oil, but make sure it's actual watch oil! Other oils don't stay put!
 

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