Cleaning an Atmos Dial

Discussion in 'Reverse Glass and Dial Painting' started by Chris, Aug 19, 2011.

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  1. Chris

    Chris Registered User
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    Nov 4, 2001
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    I have an early Atmos II from the early 50's. It's the gold-plated, not lacquered, finish and it's 100% perfect, except for the dial. The dial does not look nearly as good as the rest. It looks like a silvered dial. Is there any safe way to clean it up?
     
  2. RickB

    RickB Registered User

    May 28, 2010
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    Posting a good picture of the dial will help others offer suggestions on how to clean it.
     
  3. Chris

    Chris Registered User
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    Nov 4, 2001
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    Ok, I can hear everyone cringe when I tell you what I did, but it worked and it looks 100 times better than it did. I removed the dial from the movement and inspected it. It was a reddish-orange color all over the dial. At first I thought it might be original coloring, but there were signs of silver here and there. I first tried gently cleaning it with car wax to see if there was a surface film on it. No luck.

    It was so dark that you really couldn't see the numerals anymore; they matched the background. With nothing to lose, I bit the bullet and submerged it in Simple Green and ammonia!!!:eek::eek::eek: That orange film / lacquer washed completely off and revealed a very great condition silver dial. With the silver revealed and the dial dry, I clear-coated it. Now it looks like a new clock. If the orange was original, it was way too dark now and really detracted. Did I do good or are you ready to kill me??:D
     
  4. Thyme

    Thyme Banned

    Sep 18, 2006
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    The orange caste to it was probably aged lacquer. Lacquer can become yellowed or darkened over time from exposure to UV and other environmental factors. As long as you didn't lose any painted characters, it was the correct solution. However, on silvered dials that have painted numerals and characters, removing aged lacquer is usually a task that is difficult to impossible due to the risk of removing the painted details along with the undesirable lacquer.
     
  5. Chris

    Chris Registered User
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    Thanks for not killing me!! The dial looks great and matches the quality of the rest of the clock.

    I have a Junghans silver dial Westminster bracket that was yellowed as well, so I just did the same thing to it, using a matte finish clearcoat, and boy does it look great! The silver is like new, but not too new, so it matches the rest of the clock. It really gave the clock what it needed; a subtle pop of silver.

    The Junghans, however, was not an inked dial...something like a Sessions or New Haven dial would never survive this caustic mixture, but the pressed dials do just fine.
     
  6. zamboni

    zamboni Registered User

    Jan 18, 2012
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    Chris,
    I am in a similar position to you. I have a Atmos 519 with a dial that is less than perfect.
    Q1. I was curious how much Simple Green to ammonia you used? Or did you dip it in one, and then the other?
    Q2 Did the numbers came off during your procedure
    I want to try your method, but thought it best to get the specifics of what you did before I try it.

    Q3. It is serial number number 43021 and I was wondering if anybody might know when it was made?

    Thank You,
    Paul
     
  7. John Hubby

    John Hubby Principal Administrator
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    Sep 7, 2000
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    Based on the serial number your clock was made about Sept.-Oct. 1952.

    Many of the Atmos II and Caliber 519 dials are found with darkened dials that were originally silver, ranging from pale beige to very dark brown obscuring the numbers. That is lacquer that has been subjected to UV exposure over long periods. Using a mix of Simple Green and household ammonia will remove the lacquer but you need to follow it closely and don't let it stay too long, else the thin silver coating will also disappear.
     

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