• Important Executive Director Announcement from the NAWCC

    The NAWCC Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Mr. Rory McEvoy has been named Executive Director of the NAWCC. Rory is an internationally renowned horological scholar and comes to the NAWCC with strong credentials that solidly align with our education, fundraising, and membership growth objectives. He has a postgraduate degree in the conservation and restoration of antique clocks from West Dean College, and throughout his career, he has had the opportunity to handle some of the world’s most important horological artifacts, including longitude timekeepers by Harrison, Kendall, and Mudge.

    Rory formerly worked as Curator of Horology at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, where his role included day-to-day management of research and digitization projects, writing, public speaking, conservation, convening conferences, exhibition work, and development of acquisition/disposal and collection care policies. In addition, he has worked as a horological specialist at Bonhams in London, where he cataloged and handled many rare timepieces and built important relationships with collectors, buyers, and sellers. Most recently, Rory has used his talents to share his love of horology at the university level by teaching horological theory, history, and the practical repair and making of clocks and watches at Birmingham City University.

    Rory is a British citizen and currently resides in the UK. Pre-COVID-19, Rory and his wife, Kaai, visited HQ in Columbia, Pennsylvania, where they met with staff, spent time in the Museum and Library & Research Center, and toured the area. Rory and Kaai will be relocating to the area as soon as the immigration challenges and travel restrictions due to COVID-19 permit.

    Some of you may already be familiar with Rory as he is also a well-known author and lecturer. His recent publications include the book Harrison Decoded: Towards a Perfect Pendulum Clock, which he edited with Jonathan Betts, and the article “George Graham and the Orrery” in the journal Nuncius.

    Until Rory’s relocation to the United States is complete, he will be working closely with an on-boarding team assembled by the NAWCC Board of Directors to introduce him to the opportunities and challenges before us and to ensure a smooth transition. Rory will be participating in strategic and financial planning immediately, which will allow him to hit the ground running when he arrives in Columbia

    You can read more about Rory McEvoy and this exciting announcement in the upcoming March/April issue of the Watch & Clock Bulletin.

    Please join the entire Board and staff in welcoming Rory to the NAWCC community.

Cleaning movement with kerosene

Watchie Logan

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I thought I read a post before of using kerosene as a rinse after cleaning with traditional water based cleaners like Historic Timekeepers. Kerosene is an oil based solvent.
 

Willie X

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You can use the kerosene alone to clean your clock. It doesn't neessarily need to be a multi step process in most cases. I would recommend paint thinner or mineral spirits instead. Unless you just love the smell of the ole kero. :) Willie X
 
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Watchie Logan

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You can use the kerosene alone to clean your clock. It doesn't neessarily need to be a multi step process in most cases. I would recommend paint thinner or mineral spirits instead. Unless you just love the smell of the ole kero. :) Willie X
Thanks, I was just thinking that the benefit of an oil based solvent would be good.
 

wow

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Thanks, I was just thinking that the benefit of an oil based solvent would be good.
I have found several old clocks with medicine bottles inside which, I’m told, were used to hold a kerosene soaked piece of cotton and was left there to keep the clock lubricated. The thing I don’t like about it is that it attracts dust. The whole movement becomes gummed up after years of kerosene.
 

DeanT

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I use shellite to rinse. Not sure what the name of it is other countries but its a light hydrocarbon and evaporates.
 

roughbarked

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X55 solvent

Solvent X55


  • Solvent X55 Petroleum Hydrocarbons 100%
  • Other names: Shellite Solvent

Shellite cleaner is a clear flammable liquid hydrocarbon. Shellite evaporates quickly leaving little to no residue behind. Shellite is also known as Solvent X55. The flashpoint of is <0°C making it highly flammable, with a boiling range of 50-135°C. The product is characterised as fast drying, low residue as a contact cleaner, and is a relatively weak solvent so it will be unlikely to affect the surface of most materials.


Shellite bunnings work very much the same to the Sydney Solvents Shellite.


Industrial & DIY Uses:


  • Fast drying solvent means that when using it as a degreaser the product flashes off quickly for a nice finish.
  • Solvent X55 is a versatile product and has a high solvency level of greases, oils and surfaces prior to painting.
  • Used to clean surfaces before painting.
  • General workshop cleaner to remove contaminants from workshop floors and walls.
  • Removes oil, grease and brake fluid.
  • Not recommended to be used for cleaning gummed up carburettors.
  • More commonly it is used for adhesives, cleaning of auto-transmissions and pre-cleaner prior to spray-painting.
 
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D.th.munroe

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Our equivalent is basically naphtha.

I read another reason for the cup, swab or bottle of kerosene in an old furniture book, they said it was disagreeable to pests and would keep away the common woodworm or furniture beetle, along with a walnut or nut gall to keep spiders out.
Dan
 

DeanT

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Mar 22, 2009
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X55 solvent

Solvent X55


  • Solvent X55 Petroleum Hydrocarbons 100%
  • Other names: Shellite Solvent

Shellite cleaner is a clear flammable liquid hydrocarbon. Shellite evaporates quickly leaving little to no residue behind. Shellite is also known as Solvent X55. The flashpoint of is <0°C making it highly flammable, with a boiling range of 50-135°C. The product is characterised as fast drying, low residue as a contact cleaner, and is a relatively weak solvent so it will be unlikely to affect the surface of most materials.


Shellite bunnings work very much the same to the Sydney Solvents Shellite.


Industrial & DIY Uses:


  • Fast drying solvent means that when using it as a degreaser the product flashes off quickly for a nice finish.
  • Solvent X55 is a versatile product and has a high solvency level of greases, oils and surfaces prior to painting.
  • Used to clean surfaces before painting.
  • General workshop cleaner to remove contaminants from workshop floors and walls.
  • Removes oil, grease and brake fluid.
  • Not recommended to be used for cleaning gummed up carburettors.
  • More commonly it is used for adhesives, cleaning of auto-transmissions and pre-cleaner prior to spray-painting.
Thanks roughbarked that's the stuff! And Naptha as d.th.munroe indicated.
 

T.Cu

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I read another reason for the cup, swab or bottle of kerosene in an old furniture book, they said it was disagreeable to pests and would keep away the common woodworm or furniture beetle, along with a walnut or nut gall to keep spiders out.

Dan, That's great! Love the old info..
 

Schatznut

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Aw gee, here we go talking about religion again. Maybe I'm a heretic, but I always start with mineral spirits - cuts the crud, congealed oil, tobaccco smoke and all kinds of other gunk. From there on, it's down to your ritualistic holy cleaning fluids.
 

Bruce Alexander

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Small quantities of Kerosene and an old toothbrush always works wonders on "stuff" that my clock cleaner doesn't get completely off. Usually followed by a wipe down with a paper towel. If I'm working on my clock and for whatever reason I'm not going to clean/overhaul it right away, I'll apply small amounts of Kerosene to the pivots and draw (or blow) it away before adding fresh oil. Basically an oil change.
 

R. Croswell

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Real K1 kerosene works pretty well, some of the stuff sold in gallon cans at hardware stores as kerosene for lamps doesn't seen to work as well. Petroleum solvents, kerosene included, all pose some degree of fire risk. The ones that evaporate fastest - gasoline, naphtha, and the like pose the greater danger of a flash fire. Kerosene does not produce a lot of vapor at room temperature but also evaporates slowly so the smell persists longer. Fumes from petroleum solvents likely pose some health risk.

I don't know if anyone else has seen this, I on several occasions I cleaned a movement or parts with mineral spirits and all seemed well, but a few days later I found green corrosion on some brass parts. Perhaps I didn't get them completely clean.

In my opinion, the main reason to use a petroleum solvents is that they do not promote rust.

RC
 

Mike Phelan

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I tend to use IPA - not sure what you call it in USA. If the movement is really dirty I use Horolene (qv).

On movements that were originally polished, like French roulants, I use Brasso on a brush (don't bother polishing it) followed by a wash in IPA then a brisk brush with a chalk block (from material dealers).

A couple of my clocks from a couple of decades ago still look polished!
 

MuseChaser

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I like an IPA on a hot afternoon. Cool, not ice-cold. Other than that I prefer a porter or stout. Never though of using an IPA to clean a clock, though.

Glen
I like an IPA... particularly the hazy versions (Singlecutt's "Softly Spoken Magic Spells" is my current favorite) while I'm cleaning clocks. It's better than a snifter of cheap booze because, if you're drinking a very hazy looking, hoppy-smelling IPA, you can't get confused and accidently sip your cleaning fluid. Don't ask how I know that.

In a rare moment of seriousness, I think "IPA" as used in more previous posts refers to "IsoPropyl Alcohol"...the rubbing alcohol variety but in 91% or higher concentration.
 

Raymond Snead

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This is a very interesting discussion. I was taught to use an ammonia concentrate (Zenith Watch & Clock Cleaning Concentrate - #251NA) in an ultrasonic cleaner. A five minute run yields surgically clean parts that I rinse with water and dry with compressed air. Cleaning the DW jewelry while I’m at it yields no complaints about my parts/supplies expenditures. Am I the only person doing this? Should I switch methods?
 

svenedin

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This is a very interesting discussion. I was taught to use an ammonia concentrate (Zenith Watch & Clock Cleaning Concentrate - #251NA) in an ultrasonic cleaner. A five minute run yields surgically clean parts that I rinse with water and dry with compressed air. Cleaning the DW jewelry while I’m at it yields no complaints about my parts/supplies expenditures. Am I the only person doing this? Should I switch methods?
I don't think you need to switch at all if this works well for you. I am also a fan of ammoniated cleaning solutions both for clocks and for watches. The main purpose of all of the different cleaning methods is to shift old oils and greases. That can be achieved with oil-based solvents like petrol, paraffin or white spirit or with water-based solvents containing detergents or detergents and ammonia or with alcohols such as isopropyl alcohol. The are advantages and disadvantages to all of these different approaches so carry on doing what works!
 

shutterbug

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I use a water based cleaner in my US cleaner. Mostly to eliminate any danger of combustion. I have to run it a bit longer, but that's not an issue.
 

Willie X

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My mantra is to try everything and you will eventually adopt a method that suits your needs.
I lean heavily to the mechanical and not to much to cosmetics, clean is clean. Just a good rinse and pegging is much better (IMO) than spending a lot of time with strong chemicals, hot solvents, abrasives, etc. There is a point where "cleaning" becomes counter productive, or even detrimental to the clock. Willie X
 

kinsler33

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I've had good luck with charcoal lighter fluid plus a great deal of care to prevent fire. You can place parts in a polyethylene food container, fill it with charcoal lighter fluid, cap it, and immerse it in the ultrasonic cleaner tank, which is already filled with aqueous cleaner. Put a heavy weight on top to keep the container from floating.

Or you can just soak the parts for a few days. They dry out nicely enough, and you can use a safe electric heat source to speed the process. Odor is minimal at every stage.

Mark Kinsler
 

Bruce Alexander

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immerse it in the ultrasonic cleaner tank, which is already filled with aqueous cleaner.
Hey Mark. Do you still use Zep Fast 505? That's some pretty good stuff in my experience.
 

Schatznut

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I'm still learning and don't want to start a theological war (this becomes almost like religion, it seems). But there is a piece of my cleaning protocol I'm still not satisfied with. I'm looking to accomplish a number of things:

1. Remove old oil or oil-based contamination (I scrub the parts with an old toothbrush in plain old mineral spirits for this and it works well). Of course, the question of how to remove the residual solvent then comes up, but (a) it makes a good rust inhibitor and (b) I deal with it in step (3) below.
2. Remove corrosion on the steel parts. I use Evaporust for this, followed with mechanical methods (wire brushes or fiberglass scratch pens).
3. Remove water-based contamination, mostly dirt and accumulated tobacco smoke residue (I use conventional dish-washing liquid in water and scrub vigorously with an old tooth brush), followed by compressed air and heat to complete the drying.
4. Brighten the brass parts. Here is where I'm still trying to find a formula with which I'm comfortable. I've tried a number of things - ammonia, tumbling parts individually with walnut shell abrasive and a little car polish (this works well but is crazy slow), ammoniated brass polish (messy and difficult to get completely clean). I've got some junk wheels I've practiced on and recently experimented with regular pool acid. I let a couple of really cruddy wheels soak in it for a couple of hours and it worked quite well, also removing some fairly heavy rust on the steel arbors. I neutralized in water and scrubbed and dried as in step (3) above. I have a good medium-power stereo microscope under which I examined the results and could find no damage to the metal. But at the metallic level, since brass is an alloy, the acid likely will selectively remove some of the constituents, most probably any lead alloyed into it to enhance machineability. Since the exposure to the acid was quick and positively stopped, the damage would be slight, so the potential for long-term stress corrosion cracking would be minimized. But still I wonder...

Since I'm doing this strictly as a hobby and on a tight budget, I don't want to use exotic/expensive cleaners, nor do I have the luxury of an ultrasonic cleaner. I'm 3/4 of the way to where I want to be - I just need to zero in on a good way to brighten the brass.

So at the risk of starting a holy war, what advice would you offer me?
 

T.Cu

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Hi, I use both Simple Green for water based stuff and acetone for oil based stuff, if I need to, and one of the rust removers (weak phosphoric acid) like you do. I use 0000 steel wool, an old chisel for the rusty parts of pivots for example so the phosphoric can work faster. Sometimes even like 400 grit sandpaper for really nasty stuff but it's better not to go there. I think the synthetic pads scratch metal more than steel wool, which is strange, how can that be?
I use an ultrasonic bath with Ronell's ammoniated solution. If the pool acid you are using really does selectively leach parts of an alloy, as you mentioned, I would not use it. Even ammonia (a base) has many detractors, as it is thought to possibly either cause or exacerbate existing minute fractures or cracks in brass. I use Brasso metal polish when I just have to brighten some brass a little. Usually I just go with 'clean looking'.
I think you're on the right track though, solvent for the hardened oils, strong water based detergent for the water based stuff, weak acid for the rust. (Don't use muriatic acid, it is fast but dangerous and the fumes will rust every tool in the shop overnight, weird stuff they shouldn't sell to people like me.) Brighteners like metal polishes when needed. Mechanical cleaning with something softer than will easily scratch metal unless you really need it. Have you tried the pegwood sticks? Try 0000 steel wool you might prefer it to the synthetic pads, for one thing acetone etc doesn't melt it. And like I said I think it really works better too.
I am sure I am forgetting something important here. Everyone will have their own methods, some of mine are based on scientific reasons like "I like the smell". I sometimes use alcohol rather than acetone for this reason. :)
 
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T.Cu

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P.S. I have always liked the "soak it in a bucket of kerosene" school of thought for the first step, to soften things up. I was using gasoline, which works faster, but quit for safety reasons.
 

kinsler33

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Hey Mark. Do you still use Zep Fast 505? That's some pretty good stuff in my experience.
I keep the ultrasonic cleaner filled with straight Zep Fast 505 industrial degreaser. 30 minutes of ultrasonicing with the heat on will clean the stuffing out of just about anything. It brightens up the brass (and removes lacquer, unfortunately, if that's an issue) and keeps working even when heavily contaminated like it is at the moment. It de-greases so well that steel parts may exhibit flash rust in a few minutes. And so after I rinse the poor disassembled victim under hot water in the sink I will then shoot it liberally--while still wet--with Walmart spray lubricant, which is pretty much like WD-40. Then I can dry everything off with the heat gun (a hair dryer works, too) without worrying about flash rust on pivots and pinions.

Mark Kinsler
 

Schatznut

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I keep the ultrasonic cleaner filled with straight Zep Fast 505 industrial degreaser. 30 minutes of ultrasonicing with the heat on will clean the stuffing out of just about anything. It brightens up the brass (and removes lacquer, unfortunately, if that's an issue) and keeps working even when heavily contaminated like it is at the moment. It de-greases so well that steel parts may exhibit flash rust in a few minutes. And so after I rinse the poor disassembled victim under hot water in the sink I will then shoot it liberally--while still wet--with Walmart spray lubricant, which is pretty much like WD-40. Then I can dry everything off with the heat gun (a hair dryer works, too) without worrying about flash rust on pivots and pinions.

Mark Kinsler
One carry-over from my professional life is Starrett M1 lubricant. It's a fantastic penetrating oil and stops rust dead in its tracks. It leaves a film on parts when it flashes off that has no greasy feeling. I've used it on measuring instruments and tools for years, and I use it as a preservative on clock parts. Dang it, there's that old religion thing again... But where this one is concerned, I'm a True Believer.
 

kinsler33

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One carry-over from my professional life is Starrett M1 lubricant. It's a fantastic penetrating oil and stops rust dead in its tracks. It leaves a film on parts when it flashes off that has no greasy feeling. I've used it on measuring instruments and tools for years, and I use it as a preservative on clock parts. Dang it, there's that old religion thing again... But where this one is concerned, I'm a True Believer.
Thank you. I shall explore this option.

Mark Kinsler
 
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