Cleaning old movement

Discussion in 'Clock Repair' started by Withoutink, Feb 18, 2014.

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  1. Withoutink

    Withoutink Registered User

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    Hi All,

    I recently bought a 1890's school house regulator and the movement is pretty gross. I am not wanting to attempt to take the whole movement apart as I am a newbie to clocks. I read a few threads about dips... I wanted to be sure I have this correct before I screw something up.

    Since the clock movement is pretty grimy, I bought some Naphtha from Lowes. From what I understand I can use this (outside, with gloves etc)... To soak the brass mechanism and it should eat up all the funky greasy, grimy bits.

    After that, I should rinse the movement in hot water.

    Then a quick soak in Denatured alcohol should remove any water from the movement.

    Lastly, I will need to reoil the pivots etc...

    Couple questions:

    1. Am I missing any steps?
    2. Do I need to take a toothbrush to the movement while soaking in the Naphtha? Or will it do its thing all on it's own?
    3. How long can I soak the brass movement in the Naphtha?
    4. How long in the denatured alcohol?
    5. Mainspring re-oiling.... This bit I have no clue as how or what to do.... can someone help me out with this?

    Thanks guys!
     
  2. doug sinclair

    doug sinclair Registered User

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    I would not have confidence that naphtha would remove the badly congealed crud. Naphtha is used as a rinse, not as a cleaner. But even if you were to start out with a clock cleaning solution, soaking alone is not an effective way of removing congealed crud. If you will show a picture of the movement of the clock, we might be able to guide you through a process where you can take it to pieces, and do it right. I will warn you that you might find yourself buying a tool or two before you start, depending on how well equipped you are. Like a lot of things in life, the more you put into something, the more you will get out of it.
     
  3. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    I'm sure you know by now that the correct way to clean a clock involves taking it apart. But I also suspect that almost everyone has to try the dunk and swish method at least once to prove that it is not the way to go. So to answer your question, skip the water rinse all together. Naphtha is like gasoline and a bit dangerous. For a soak I would use kerosene which is safer. Soak over night or longer, brush away what crud you can and if possible remove the verge and allow the wheels to turn in solution. Rinse in clean kerosene, and final rinse in the naphtha if like, then oil. It won't be completely clean but cleaner. That means that the dirt left behind will still accelerate wear but not as much as if you did nothing.

    Water will ill be trapped in places where you don't want it and cause rust so don't use water or water base cleaners unless you take the movement completely apart. Now may be the time to get a few basic clock repair books and learn how to service a clock like this one. Sounds like a fairly easy one to service.
     
  4. Patch

    Patch Registered User

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    Without taking the movement apart, this would be a better method. The only thing, that I would change is this. Add an ounce or two of the naptha, with regular mineral spirits. Let it soak in the rinse, for about 10-15minutes. Then, hit it with a blow dryer, on a cool setting. The naptha that is made these days, might have a little water in it. It's not like the naptha of, 20/30 yrs. ago. Make sure, that you dry the area's where steel screws, posts, and pivot holes real well. If you have a small metal file box, you can rig up a drying oven just by knocking a hole, in the bottom of one of the walls, to fit the nozzle, of the dryer.
     
  5. scott64a

    scott64a Registered User

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    To answer your first question:
    Yes, you are missing a step... the part where you take it apart to properly clean it.

    If there is gunk stuck in a bushing, or ANYWHERE that swishing won't reach, (and it will be,) you risk doing damage to this old movement once you oil it and run it, post dip.

    Let down the springs.
    Take good pictures as you take it apart and clean each piece well. Use pegwood to clean out the bushings, and inspect them closely with a loupe or magnifier as you do so to make sure there isn't ovalling.
    Clean and inspect each pivot making sure they're round and smooth and truly free of gunk.

    Clean the springs with kerosene or mineral spirits, wipe them dry and rub mainspring oil on them with your fingers.


    Put it all back together for a dry fit and make sure all pivots rotate freely and don't have too much end shake.

    Practice taking the works apart and putting them back together for many dry fittings until you feel good about doing it, (it takes time and patience,).

    Put it all back together and add a very small amount of oil to each bushing.

    Level it, wind it and run it.


    If you don't have worn out bushings, it'll likely run well.


    I can't advise you to just dunk and swish with a clean conscience. It's not the right way to clean a clock's movement, especially one that is as old as yours and as filthy.

    No shortcuts.
     
    lpbp likes this.
  6. Randy Beckett

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    #6 Randy Beckett, Feb 18, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2014
    Before you do anything else generously oil the pivots with Liquid wrench, let it run a week, then flush the pivots out as good as you can with a spray can of contact cleaner, carburetor cleaner, or brake cleaner. That will clean the actual wear points of the movement about as good as you can without taking it apart. Doing this process twice in succession wil help more, but as stated, no replacement for disassembly.

    For cosmetic cleaning after this, You can take an old crock pot, add 2 tablespoons of Murphys oil soap, 1/4 cup Realemon lemon juice, 1 cup household ammonia, and the rest hot tap water for a total 1 gallon mixture. Put the crock pot on high and put the movement in and cover. Let the movement "cook" for about an hour. Remove the movement and immediately and thoroughly spray off the still hot movement with hot water from a sink sprayer. Place the movement in a low heat(180 degree) oven for an hour then turn off the oven and open the door and let the movement cool naturally. Skip this entire step if the movement has barrel springs.

    The crock pot method is a good alternative to an ultrasonic for a parts cleaner after you get advanced enough to disassembly.

    Strongly suggest you find an old junker movement to practice disassembly and reassembly on. If you lived close I would give you one and I think most here would do the same. Good luck.
     
  7. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    With all due respect, I would skip this method all together if the movement is not completely disassembled because it is a water based solution and will be impossible to properly dry the movement before pivots and hidden parts begin the rusting process. Lemon juice is acidic and will react directly with the caustic ammonia, probably reducing the effectiveness of both. At the very least the parts should be rinsed in alcohol to absorb the reaming water, or a petroleum product like Xylene and mineral spirits or naphtha to displace remaining water after a hot water rinse. When parts of dissimilar metals are immersed in ionic solutions (solutions that contain acids or bases or caustics) for any length of time there is always a possibility of an adverse electrolytic reaction. Never immerse a movement that has zinc or aluminum parts in a solution like this without monitoring very closely.

    Not to ignite a previous heated debate, but anyone just beginning to learn how to clean a clock should search for and read the several threads on ammoniated cleaners and stress crack corrosion. There is a lot of disagreement, but one would do well to research the topic and make an informed decision.

    As for using various automotive spray solvents, most are effective to some extent but proceed with caution if the movement has any plastic parts or if the plates have been lacquered. These of course will not be needed if the movement is disassembled and cleaned properly.
     
  8. doug sinclair

    doug sinclair Registered User

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    AND unless you want to precipitate divorce proceedings, an old junker crock pot!
     
  9. lpbp

    lpbp Registered User
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    I would never suggest trying to clean a movement without taking apart. But the part about skipping this step if the movement has barrel springs, should read that you can never clean a movement with barrel springs without taking it apart. I have had too many clocks come in for repair, with barrels that are green inside, with the unmistakable smell of cleaner, usually broken, even shattered in pieces.
     
  10. doug sinclair

    doug sinclair Registered User

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    I wonder if the OP has lost interest in the process. No replies, and no picture of the movement as requested.
     
  11. Withoutink

    Withoutink Registered User

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    Thanks for the replies everyone. I will look them over after work, and reply as best I can. I will also post some photos.
     
  12. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

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    I would call what you want to do an initial rinse. Just clean it up the best you can with the naphtha and brushes, forget the water and alcohol. This will allow you to access what you have there. I agree with others, not a good idea to put that baby back in operation without taking it apart.

    On the up side, this is a beautiful movement to learn how on.

    Willie X
     
  13. emhitch

    emhitch Registered User
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    I fully agree with everyone else who has recommended for you to completely disassemble the movement and thoroughly clean each component appropriately. In the event you do a complete disassembly, please make sure you know how to let down the mainsprings before you disassemble the movement. Even a small amount of power left in these mainsprings can cause severe damage to both you and the movement. There are plenty of threads on our MB here discussing proper mainspring handling. Yes, this recommendation is a result of a very bad personal experience.
     
  14. bangster

    bangster Moderator
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    (Sigh) Here comes bangster, fixing to get in trouble again.

    It IS possible to do a fairly decent cleaning job on an intact movement. It won't be as thorough as a disassembly and cleaning, but it's a whale of a lot better than no cleaning at all.

    If you want to try it, the most thorough method of intact cleaning I've seen is the one given by Bill Stuntz a while back. It's enshrined in the Helpful Hints & Tricks thread...but to save you the trouble of searching for it Click Here. It should take you to post #268.

    Now I duck and run for cover.
     
  15. Randy Beckett

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    RC, Doug, and Larry,

    I do share the same concerns as you with appearing to recommend a cleaning or repair procedure that I myself consider less than best or ideal. However, I do try to be understanding to a new persons skill and confidence level and try to give them an alternative solution to their problem that is within their level that will result in a improvement over what they have now, in the hopes that they will remain interested and will advance in their skills. I can tell by reading your posts that you try to do the same.

    After rereading the thread I realized I completely missed about the second half of RC's post #3, about the kerosene bath. Sounds like good advice and I probably wouldn't have posted anything other than the liquid wrench and contact cleaner recommendation if I had seen it.


    I don't do that many clocks and the crock pot(yes, junk store crock pot) method is what I use for cleaning parts, along with a little scrubbing. It works very well for me. Never had an indication of rust trying to form. It appears the Murphys soap leaves a protective film of some kind on everything because water beads up when rinsed, but a rinse in alcohol to displace any possible remaining water from hidden places is good advice also. However, the addition of the lemon juice is a new addition to the "Potion" which I have only used a couple of times. It seemed to brighten the brass more than without it, but because of RC's concerns about the chemical reaction with the ammonia, I think it probably best to not risk using it since it was only there for possible cosmetic improvement.

    And yes, never try to clean a barrel spring movement with the barrels in it, if the barrels aren't designed to be removed without disassembly, don't try to clean it without taking it apart.
     
  16. shutterbug

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    I can only think of one clock in my experience that only needed cleaned, and it was electric. Cleaning won't fix anything. To do that, you have to take it apart.
    However, a dunk-n-swish might gain you a little more run time. Eventually, the clock will have to be disassembled and repaired. Why not now? It sounds and looks a lot more scary than it is :)
     
  17. hookster

    hookster Registered User
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    Good advice Larry. Water based cleaners will stay inside the barrel causing rust and solvent based ones will stay in the barrel and unevenly dissolve whatever lubricant is inside. Many barreled movements have barrels that can be removed without splitting the plates, allowing for an external cleaning of the rest of the movement, although, as others have stated, not the ideal way to go. Also, even in these types of movements, one should always remove the springs from the barrels, clean and inspect them, and oil them before putting them back in the barrel. Antique shops are the worst ones for 'dunk and swish' as they only care that the clock will run for a few months following the sale, after which the unsuspecting buyer will be on this Forum asking why it stopped all of a sudden.
     
  18. bangster

    bangster Moderator
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    Bill Stuntz is a far cry from dunk-and-swish. Check him out. Seriously.
     
  19. Withoutink

    Withoutink Registered User

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  20. Withoutink

    Withoutink Registered User

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    So to follow up on most of the replies. First off. Thank you. Thank you very much. Y'all don't know me, but have showed me some kindness, so I want you to know I appreciate it. As far as my abilities, I am a tech guy, but not super mechanical. However, I have restored a vintage espresso machine, and a pachinko machine... The pachinko was super scary. And in all honest this clock freaks me out a bit too, but I think that pachinko was much more complicated.

    Next, supposedly this clock is pretty old. Or so I am told, and I hate thinking I might break something that has made it this far. So, I question my ability a bit. I worry a bit more etc...

    Anyway, I totally get it, that a complete break down and cleaning is best. Period. I realize that I can pay someone a couple $100 to have them break down the clock and do the cleaning for me. But there is a thrill in knowing I might be able to do it myself. So, the way I look at this is... Training wheels. Making this as "fisher price" as I can while I start to learn about clocks.

    People have thrown around words, I already do not know.. Verge, Arbor, Pegwood, etc... so baby steps. I am more than willing to learn, and honestly if there was someone nearby, I would buy pizza, beer, scotch etc... to sit down and have them physically walk me through this. I would call that a fabulous time. I love learning about stuff like this. I just have to ease into it all.

    Note I don't have any special tools just standard household stuff, and not an extensive collection at that... so I am sure I will need to buy a few things.

    For now I will do the Bill Stuntz method, or at very minimum a kerosene soak and scrub.

    In the above images... How bad does the movement look to you?
    What tools does it look like I will need?
    I just ordered nye clock oil and a drip oiler, do i need mainspring oil, or is there some household variant I can use instead?

    Take a little time, teach me, I promise I am worth it.
     
  21. Withoutink

    Withoutink Registered User

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    Also, I am willing to buy a few good clock repair books on amazon.com. what books stand out as good beginner books?
     
  22. scott64a

    scott64a Registered User

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    You seem like a smart guy.

    You don't seem like the kind of guy who would use some "mechanic in a bottle" type stuff for your car, and hell... you've even tackled a PACHINKO MACHINE! That's pretty awesome.

    Honestly, I was scared on my first one, as I'm sure most of these guys were too.

    Follow the instructions found in those books an you won't go wrong. Well, you may go wrong, but as long as you don't force things, you won't break anything.
    Get a let-down tool at least, and let the springs down first. Someone on here described wound springs as "an anaconda with a switchblade". Sounds apt.

    I wish I was still living in Lawrenceville, GA; I'd offer to get together for a little clock fun.

    Alas, I'm all the way up in MA.


    I'm sure you can do it right if you just take pics. Lots of them.


    Not so hard once you let the springs down... and cleaning them by hand is easy and cheap. Kerosene and a toothbrush!

    :)
     
  23. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    A quick look at the pictures does not show me anything major but its easy to miss something. The crutch wire is bent a funny shape and and been soldered together which look odd but probably ran that way. Now you could have badly scored or rough pivots or a number of hidden defects that can only be seen if you take the clock apart, which is another benefit of disassembly.....inspection.

    As for books, I like Steven Conover's Clock Repair Basics as a starter. There are other good ones as well. I have no idea what a pachinko machine is, but I'm sure you must have some transferable skills. Conover's book will show you the tools you might need. You will soon discover that there are a lot of different opinions about the best way to do things and what tools are required. What you buy depends to some extent on how many clocks you plan to service. Sometimes the person with the least skill benefits most from the best tools. I would say that some type of spring winder would rank high on the list along with at least the basic tools to install bushings.
     
  24. bangster

    bangster Moderator
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    #24 bangster, Feb 18, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2014
    Ezzackly the approach both Stuntz and I agree on.

    If you don't want to find a solder-sucker, sharpen a toothpick and dig around the pivots to dislodge crud.
    Pegwood is sticks used for pegging out pivot holes. Round toothpicks work well.
    Go to the Repair Hints forum and check out Clock Terminology.

    We're here to help. Stick with it.
     
  25. harold bain

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    #25 harold bain, Feb 18, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2014
    Best beginners books I have found is Phillip Balcomb's The Clock Repair Primer, and it's companion book The Clock Repair First Reader. Your clock is Japanese, probably turn of the century, early 1900's. It's a copy of a typical American time and strike movement. For some reason, I thought you had a time only clock, which would have been a better choice for your first tear down.
     
  26. Randy Beckett

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    Your movement looks pretty good as best I can tell as well and not too grungy as old movements go. I think I would run it a week with the solvent in the pivots, flush them out with contact cleaner, oil it and expect it to run fine until you feel you are ready to tear it down. Nothing wrong with the Japanese movements of this period. About equal quality as the American ones, IMO.

    Maybe the best teacher for you now is this movement you have in your hand. As previously said, you seem like a smart, mechanical minded guy. Put the minute hand on it and slowly turn it around observing what happens as it goes into the strike mode. You might not yet know what to call each part, but it won't take long to see what each lever does and why it does it.
    You might consider mounting the movement to a board so you can hang it up and watch it run for a while.

    Another book often recommended is "This Old Clock by David Goodman".

    Not a lot of special tools to take this one down. A let down tool for the mainsprings(which you can make), something to restrain the springs(tie wire or hose clamps) and a mainspring winder for servicing the springs. A simple but useful and inexpensive one made for loop end springs is available from timesavers here http://timesavers.com/i-8948495-loop-end-mainspring-winder.html. However, I would recommend a better winder that can be used for any kind of spring as your first somewhat major investment.
     
  27. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

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    For some reason I was thinking you had a time only American. Looks like you have a Japanese time and strike, probably an 8-Day. Still a decent movement to learn on but a good bit more complicated than a time only.

    Same advice as before, don't use any water.

    Willie X
     
  28. Eyalg

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    #28 Eyalg, Feb 25, 2014
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    TRY WD -40 and leave it over night./
    It will completly remove the grease and shine the plates..
    Do NOT spary directly on the sprins unless it is inside barrels.

    Next, you should oil the pivots . WD 40 does not replace the oiling process.

    Goodluck
     
  29. shutterbug

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    If you use WD-40 as a cleaning agent, be sure to remove all traces of it. Don't leave it on the clock.
     
  30. Kevin W.

    Kevin W. Registered User
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    What are you going to remove the wd 40, if it were me i would avoid it.
     
  31. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    Most petroleum based cleaners will remove it. It's great for removing grease and gunk, but I'm with you on avoiding it altogether :)
     
  32. harold bain

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    I hate to say this, but this post is nothing but bad advice. The further you can put that can of WD 40 from your movement, the better it will be. As for spraying it into barrels, it will cause nothing but problems if not removed. Mineral spirits, or paint thinner is a better option for cleaning.
     
  33. Kevin W.

    Kevin W. Registered User
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    I am with you Harold, best to avoid using the stuff, there are better choices.
     
  34. Randy Beckett

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    I acquired this movement a while ago and partially because of this thread and some others recently that are related I decided to use it to possibly demonstrate the good and bad of "Duncan Swish" in a future thread. These are before and after pictures of the movement cleaned as described in Post#6, with the exceptions of the lemon juice in the solution being omitted, the oven temp increased to 190 degrees, and the oven time increased to 90 minutes. The movement ran 11 days before stopping with the pivots oiled with Liquid Wrench, prior to it's bath.

    Before 1.jpg Before 2.jpg

    After 1.jpg After 2.jpg After 3.jpg After 4.jpg

    The movement has been lightly oiled and is back running now for a second endurance test. At the conclusion of that, it is my intent to disassemble the movement and show what was, or wasn't, missed in this type of cleaning in an effort to educate and help ones like the OP of this thread.

    Although I understand the reasoning behind the statements about avoiding the use of water based cleaning solutions, it has been my experience that on open spring movements of this type, that all traces of moisture can be removed, with no long or short term observations of rust formation been observed. I see individuals putting gas in their cars all the time while smoking cigarettes and I am sure we all agree that this is unsafe and demonstrates poor judgement. So with that thought in mind I cannot recommend a flammable mixture for cleaning to people I don't know and have no idea of their judgement or mental capacity. If it was only a matter of performance, gasoline with a little oil mixed in it would likely do a better job of cleaning and protecting than anything mentioned so far. With all due respect to the expert company of craftsmen and repairman participating in this thread.
     
  35. shutterbug

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    Great idea, Randy. This will document the good and bad aspects of good 'ol Duncan Swish.
     
  36. bangster

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    #36 bangster, Feb 25, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2014
    WT...
    For present reference you might check out this mini pictorial tutorial on disassembling a movement. Yours is quite similar to the one in the article.

    Also, you might want to check out the clock-dictionary link in Post #11.
     
  37. Eyalg

    Eyalg Registered User

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    I use cleaning sovent for metals call SOLVON.

    It is very good cleaner,

    I use ultra sonic bath..Clean for about 30 minutes..
     

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