Cleaning Plate and Cap Jewels

dglore

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Mar 12, 2011
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Hello everyone, I have a rather novice question - plate jewels and cap jewels - do you clean them when servicing a pocket watch or do you simply lightly rub them down with peg wood? Outside of heat I don't know what will damage the shellac that is on them.

Thanks - Dennis
 

doug sinclair

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Aug 27, 2000
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I use commercial watch cleaning solutions and rinses, and both ultrasonic cleaning and centrifugal rinsing, and heat drying in a centrifugal machine. Out of about 500 watches cleaned, maybe I loosen a pallet stone or roller jewel. These are usually the only jewels that are shellacked. As to pegging jewels? If the jewels still appear dirty after being cleaned, I will peg them, then re-clean. Otherwise, it is usually not necessary to peg them. Same with cap jewels, which should IMO be removed prior to cleaning. I suspect cleaning an Accutron is not an issue with you, but the index and pawl jewels on these are very tiny, and they are glued onto tiny springs. With these, special measures must be taken in order to avoid problems.
 
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psfred

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Sep 25, 2009
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As Doug said, commercial cleaning solutions work quite well, and so long as the heat used to dry them is less than 120F, the shellac will not loosen. A pallet stone or roller jewel that is already loose from dead shellac can still fall out, but not because the shellac was dissolved.

Do NOT use alcohol! VM&P naphtha will work fine so long as it does not leave a residue -- rinse with fresh once it's been used.

Do you mean the petrified remains of oil rather than shellac? Plate and cap jewels never have shellac on them, they are either "rubbed" into the plates with a ring of brass (or held in settings that have screws holding them in) or they are pressed into the plate or cap setting. Any yellowish material on them is oxidized oil, and it should be removed. Pallet stones on the fork and the jewel on the roller will have a small amount of shellac, shouldn't be any anywhere else.

Clean again after pegging them out, as Doug mentioned. You don't want to leave a sliver of wood in a jewel hole!

Cap jewels in particular must be perfectly clean -- that tiny mark where the pivot runs must be gone, else you will have a watch that runs fast due to drag when the pivot is touching that spot of dirty, petriifed oil. I find it necessary to use pegwood to get the cap jewels clean much of the time, especially on older movements that were oiled with "natural" oils. Modern oils don't solidify so badly.

Peter
 

dglore

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Mar 12, 2011
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Hi Doug and Peter - thanks so much for the detailed responses! This is exactly the information that I was looking for!

Thanks again,
Dennis
 

Watchfixer

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Jun 11, 2011
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In old days, the cleaning goes like this: dip and brush many items then dry them with sawdust or suitable drying material then all arbors, staff pivots stabbed into soft wood and pivot holes pegged. End stones is rubbed with pegwood, (these days I use paper by sliding the end stone on paper.).
Jewelled lever get extreme care with soft pegwood. Works great and I did on any size even tiniest 18mm dia movements.

This is what I *exactly* did like the old timers did decades ago. I did not own ultrasonic machine back then (25 years ago). I'm still waiting for the seller to refill their order. Seller did totally dumb thing not putting a number of units aside expressly for ebay BIN. Hence long delay on getting one and I scolded the seller even seller apologized. I'm still waiting.

Cheers, Watchfixer
 

darrahg

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My cleaning techniques are similar to Doug's. However, I might add that I do the following: any parts with shellac adhered components are washed three minutes or less and rinsed for less than one minute in warm (never reaching very warm) solution. Occasionally I repeat in a cool to warm solution. I do not clean balances and forks in an ultrasonic. For this I use One Dip.

I always clean jewels, removed if capped, and peg all. I peg capped jewels with caps off.
 

doug sinclair

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For the last 40 years I have cleaned balance wheels with hairsprings, and pallets in exactly the same manner as the rest of the watch- same solutions, same machines, same drying procedures, including heat. As mentioned, maybe 1 in 500 watches cleaned do I have a shellacked stone loosen. One-Dip? I used it once, then the jar sat at the back of my bench (un-used) for years, until it evaporated!
 

EverydayCat

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May 24, 2011
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For the last 40 years I have cleaned balance wheels with hairsprings, and pallets in exactly the same manner as the rest of the watch- same solutions, same machines, same drying procedures, including heat. As mentioned, maybe 1 in 500 watches cleaned do I have a shellacked stone loosen. One-Dip? I used it once, then the jar sat at the back of my bench (un-used) for years, until it evaporated!
I read DARRAHG's reply above and then yours, Doug, and gleaned that 'One-Dip' is a solution (Noun) rather a action (verb). Am I correct? When I first read the first reply I wondered why someone would only dip something one time to clean.
 

ben_hutcherson

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Jul 15, 2009
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Correct, one dip is a commercially available cleaning mixture.

I believe it's perchloroethylene, or some similar volatile halogenated solvent.
 

Watchfixer

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One Dip was perchloroethylene chemical used for dry cleaning.

Zenith developed new "one dip" alternative now.

Cheers, Watchfixer
 

darrahg

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One Dip is highly volitle and it will escape just about anything except the original metal container. I use One Dip to clean then I pour the used portion into another old One Dip container. It can be used more than once if the parts are relatively clean. I soak them in mineral spirits first if the parts to very dirty. Different strokes.............
 

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