Dirty Clock Face - clean it?

HotCzech46

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I have a Waterbury clock that I just completed the cleaning and restoration of the movement and have fixed a few dings in the wooden case (it looks really good with no refinishing required). However, the clock face itself is dirty, worn, and actually looks like the thin brass overlay is rusting in spots. Picture is attached. I also took a picture of the back to show the thin overlay wrapping around the edge. I have seen many, many comments here about just leaving it alone, and I have no intention on trying to restore it to its original condition. I just want to clean it but am reluctant to touch it with anything without some guidance. The face is obviously paper. Use mild soap on it, or don't touch it? Just leave the rust spots alone or do I need to clean them, or treat them with something?
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Tim Orr

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Good afternoon, Czech!

No soap, radio! (Sorry, old joke!) I wouldn’t put anything wet on a paper dial. You risk wrecking the dial or dissolving the ink!

There used to be some stuff sold for drafting that seemed like it was tiny crumbs of erasers. You shook it onto the paper like pepper, then lightly brushed it off after a few minutes. Mixed results, but never saw it do any harm.

Best regards!

Tim Orr
 

HotCzech46

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Thanks, Tim. I know the stuff you're talking about. Don't think that will do much good. This is 100 year old grime. It is all around the winding arbors so just dirty hands over the years. I'll probably just leave it alone. I don't mind patinas, that come with age, but sure wish there was just a way to get the grime off. Not worth risking ruining the numerals, however.
David
 

Tim Orr

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Good afternoon, David!

Seems like I've heard similar for dusting paper dials with oatmeal (or maybe grits). You might be able to absorb some of the greasy stuff.

I don't like anything with water. You can get warping and wrinkling, even if the dial is well glued down. If it was glued with hide glue, you might be able to remove it from the dial pan and replace it with a repro dial that you've "aged" a bit. You can also "age" some replacement grommets and put them in place. Or, if you can get the old grommets off without damage, you might be able to run them through the ultrasonic to clean them up a bit and re-use them.

Good luck!

Best regards!

Tim
 

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