Barrel mainspring lubricants and method to apply lubricant

dalesr

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I have taken by time barrel out of my 340-020 movement because the mainspring was broken. I did order a replacement spring from Merritt’s for a $40 barrel. I reviewed the Merritt’s catalog and there are many choices for mainspring lubricants. I am trying to find out if one is better than the other especially with barrel springs. These are the lubricants I found in this catalog on page 194 and not sure what to purchase.

1. #8200 Moebius Special lubricant P-649 $10.95 High quality Mainspring
2. #8300 Moebius grease P-1575 heavier lubricant
3. Keystone Mainspring lubricant P-1735 $7.95 mainspring lubricant
4. Heavy mainspring lubricant P-648 $2.00
5. E.K.N mainspring grease P-855 $5.25

Any advice on what lubricant works best on barrel springs especially on movements 340-020 and A400-000-5510 would be greatly appreciated.

I reviewed Steven Conover’s book on oiling mainsprings which states some repairers like to apply the mainspring grease with a rag and carefully wipe it over all the coils. The other method is to install the spring in the barrel and then apply the oil.

I am not sure which method I should use for barrel springs. However, the method where the spring is installed in the barrel first is less messy. I thought with this approach that I could wipe the grease on top of the mainspring and then between the spring windings.

Which method is practiced most for lubricating barrel mainsprings?
 

LaBounty

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Hey Dale-

I use the Keystone mainspring lube (medium for thick mainsprings and light for thin mainsprings) and have been very happy with its performance.

The mainspring is what supplies power up the train and, if it isn't properly cleaned and lubed, won't deliver a constant force as it should. The mainspring should be cleaned out of the barrel and it is a simple matter to lubricate it at the same time. Merely squirting lubricant on the edge of the mainspring while it is in the barrel won't guarantee the mainspring will be properly cleaned and lubricated.

You should also realize that the Hermle 340-020 movement has plated steels which will cause power problems when the plating starts to flake off due to wear. This translates into a power loss up the train due to added friction which may be too excessive for even a new mainspring to overcome. If your movement is over 10 years old, you may be in for more of a learning experience than you were bargaining for :).

Good luck with it!
 

Willie X

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Feb 9, 2008
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dale,

I use the keystone (medium) mainspring lube also. I like it because it has a high film strength but is also easy to spread around on the spring (assuming everything is warm). The Keystone clock oil is also very good.

The EKN grease is good too: for mainsprings, crutch loops, hammer tails, cams, etc. It is much thicker than the above mentioned Keystone product. When applying to a point, you will have to use a flattened wire or stick.

Most new clock repairers use way to much grease. It probably takes about 3 drops (or dabs) as big as a match head, to do the spring you mention. Use your finger or cloth square, as you mentioned, whatever gives you a thin even film from end to end. It should not squish out when the spring is tightly wound. If it does, be sure to clean off all the excess with soft cloth.

Good luck, Willie X
 

Scottie-TX

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I know this ain'ta ballot but "Keystone medium" here. No, BONG that's not a seer. Medium refers to viscosity, doofus.
 

Dave B

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I use Mobius Regular Mainspring grease on all but the smallest of clock mainsprings. I apply it with a tooth pick, and fold a piece of waxed paper over the spring, and work it from end to end. I then wind the spring tightly in my winder, and wipe any excess that oozes out. As I unwind the spring, I watch it carefully to see if it opens smoothly. If it does not, I inspect the area of sticking, and usually find a dry spot, which I rectify with the waxed paper (I do not usually add any more grease at this stage). I then wind the spring again. I repeat this, until I am satisfied that I have completely coated the spring with an even layer of lube, then either clamp the spring or place it in a barrel, as applicable for the clock on which I am working.

On very small springs, like "bedside" clocks and such, I use either clock oil or Mobius Light grease - usually, though, I reach for the clock oil.
 

harold bain

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I use Slick 50 "One Lube". It is an aerosol spray, that coats the mainspring with a light misting. Wind tight a couple of times in the winder, wipe the excess, and good to go.
Haven't had any mainspring problems since I started using this.
 

Dave B

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HArold, that is certaionly faster than my method. Since I am trying to make a living at this, I am always looking for reliable ways to cut timne. I'm gonna pick some of that up and give it a try. - Can I still offer a one year warrranty on my work to my clients with that, or might I be getting callbacks eleven months from the day I lube the spring with it? Do you have any history of clocks done by your method?
 

harold bain

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Dave, I have been using this method for 7-8 years, on both my own and customers clocks, and haven't had a comeback or failure that I could attribute to the mainspring other than the very odd broken one (it won't prevent this). I have a few American 8 day clocks that run 2 weeks or more before stopping.
If you can't find Slick 50 One Lube, look for Quaker State One Lube (same company, same product).
 

John Hubby

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I have used Slick 50™ SP synthetic for the past 17 years on 400-Day clock mainsprings and have not had a single return or stoppage due to mainspring lube. In that same time have had only one mainspring failure, total clocks serviced approx. 3500.

About two years ago started using Slick 50 One Lube™ on about 1/4 of clocks serviced and to date it appears to be as good as the original. In all cases you need to have the mainspring squeaky clean and then put only a very thin coating on the coils. After lubing I compress three times to full wind and release in the mainspring winder, removing any excess from both sides before installing in the barrel.

Once this is done there is NO stiction, popping, grabbing or other evidence of the mainspring coils not sliding completely smoothly on each other. Especially for a 400-Day clock with its very slow unwinding this is extremely important for consistent operation through the winding cycle.

Several years ago (1997) I did a side-by-side test using three identical model Badische 30-Day torsion clocks, each prepped exactly the same way but using three different lubes: Moebius mainspring grease, Mobil 1, and Slick 50™ SP. Here is what I wrote up about the test:
In runtime, the Moebius ran an average of 43 days. Slick 50 outperformed the Moebius by an average of 23% over a period of six trials (53 days). The Mobil 1 outperformed the Moebius by 16% (50 days). Further, with Slick 50 there is NO "sticking together" of mainspring coils even with clocks that have been running for more than 15 years with this lubricant.

In the test, three clocks were used. Each one was thoroughly cleaned and the mainsprings lubed using one of the three test materials. All clock pivots were lubed with Etsyntha 5, a synthetic clock oil. The pallets were "wetted" with a synthetic watch oil. The clocks were then fully wound, set to running, and the number of days recorded to the point they stopped. After two tests, the clocks were stripped, cleaned, and the mainspring lubricant changed to one of the others, two more run tests were made, then the cycle repeated until all three clocks had made two complete runs with each mainspring lubricant. This assured that any mechanical differences between the three clocks were accounted for. The results were the same in all of the tests, within an error of less than 10% per run.
If anyone wonders, this test series took 11 months to complete. 'Nuff said, I have never looked back but will keep looking for better lubes as and when they become available.
 
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harold bain

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John, it makes me wonder how this would perform as a pivot oil, compared to conventional clock oils.
Having a long documented usage like you have with mainsprings certainly gives Slick 50 a legitimacy as a mainspring lube.
 

Willie X

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John, Harold, et all,

Guess I will get me a can of that Slick 50 One Lube. I've been using Mobil 1 for about 10 years with good results. I know others will disagree but I like to use products that are commonaly available.

Willie X
 

dalesr

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I am going to buy Slick 50 One Lube since it has great results and commonaly available. Thank you all for this feed on lubricating mainsprings. As always, I am getting my best clock education on this forum. :)
 

Dave B

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John, and Harold - I think you have made your point. Perhaps it is time for me to come from the past into the present. While Mobius may have been one of the best lubes available in 1979-80, when I first started in this game, it sounds to me as if synthetics are proving themselves to be superior. So in this particular case, "it's new, therefore it's better" really is true.
 

Mike Phelan

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I don't repair clocks for a living, so maybe my post is not that useful, but I use turret clock oil on small springs and clock grease on the largest ones, then a mixture of the two on things like Napoleons.

Latex gloves are my friends!
 

Mike Phelan

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Probably, but I just use my fingers and clean the excess off when the spring is in the barrel; it will be evenly spread at that point.
 

P3x

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An old time Clockmaker introduced me to Tri-Flow spray lubricant for barrel springs. I've used it on all newer (Hermle type) main spring barrels for over 20 years and never had a problem.
 

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