Experiments in clock parts rinsing

kinsler33

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I have tried several methods to prevent flash rust on newly-cleaned clock parts and most have either failed or rendered the parts (or the occasional whole movement) unacceptably greasy.

Spraying and/or dipping in 93% (or whatever it is) isopropyl alcohol seemed to help, but not always; rust sometimes appeared. Lubricants like Walmart's WD-40 clone sprayed into the air stream of the hair dryer prevented rust but left a mess. An attempt to use a vinegar spray to neutralize the alkalinity of my Zep Fast 505 degreaser was a disaster. The high heat from an industrial heat gun was okay, but there was still a bit of rust, and my heat-lamp-hung-in-a-discarded-pasta-pot drying oven was similarly okay but not consistent.

So I looked at the $25.00/gallon clock rinses in the Timesavers catalog.

Now, if these were made by someone real like DuPont or Permatex it would be a reasonable bet that they couldn't be easily duplicated by the home clock repairman. But they're not, and I wondered what might be in them if, as advertised, they rinsed everything off thoroughly leaving only an invisible rust-resisting coating.

I decided that it had to be some sort of a water-miscible oil, the sort of thing you'd find in cutting/cooling fluid for machining steel. One variety of said miscible oil is likely found in automobile water-pump lubricant, which prevents rust in cooling systems and lubricates the seals in your water pump.

Water pump lube isn't commonly sold these days because it's included in anti-freeze. But you can still get it from an old-line auto parts store: https://www.napaonline.com/en/p/ZRXZXC04.

For five bucks I thought I'd try. Yesterday I did an intact cleaning on a small cuckoo movement. These things love to rust, and this clock already had some rust on its bellows actuating wires and the end of the minute arbor.

So I boiled the poor thing in the ultrasonic for about a half hour, rinsed it off under the water faucet, and immersed it in a solution of maybe a pint of water-pump lube (a whitish liquid) mixed with about a half-gallon of water.

Then, as is my custom, I let the rinsewater-immersed movement (including the water pump lube) in its plastic container sit in the ultrasonic cleaner for a five-minute run. Pulled it out, dried it a bit by wrapping it in a towel and shaking it, and put it under the heat lamp for a half hour.

The result was water spots on the brass (I should have used distilled water here in mineral-rich central Ohio) but no rust at all except for the rust that had been on the end of the minute arbor.

I shall try making up a solution of the same strength but with distilled water for the next bundle of clock parts.
 

lpbp

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I only use Isopropyl alcohol, then dry in a commercial heated blower. You can make your own, find an old-fashioned bread box and a hair dryer with hose, cut hole in side of box insert hose, it also helps to have a cake rake in bottom to rest parts on, never had a problem.
 

kinsler33

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Thank you. Others have suggested popcorn poppers. I don't know why my isopropyl alcohol baths haven't been effective: I've tried both spraying and dipping, and while these work most of the time, results are not consistent, and rust-prevention is a critical step.
 

Uhralt

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An attempt to use a vinegar spray to neutralize the alkalinity of my Zep Fast 505 degreaser was a disaster.
I think that spraying vinegar on the clock parts is overdoing it. You only need to neutralize a very small amount of alkaline residue. When I use vinegar (or lemon juice) I put about one tablespoon of vinegar in a bowl with about 1 liter of hot water. It is best to use water that had boiled for a while to remove the oxygen from it. I just put the parts into the very slightly acidic water (pH between 6 and 7), remove them, dry with a towel (I wipe plates to prevent stains) and put them in the kitchen stove at 170 degrees Fahrenheit. My oven is a convection oven so I put the fan on.

Uhralt
 

R. Croswell

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Personally, I think you are on the wrong track with spraying anything on the clock parts after rinsing. I've noticed that steel parts from some clocks want to flash rust more than others, but I believe the solution is getting the water away from the steel parts and the parts dry as quick as possible. I find that doing a small number of parts at a time and individually blotting and blowing with compressed air and into 180 F drying oven with pass through air flow works OK most of the time. Heat speeds up the oxidation reaction so just putting wet parts in a hot oven can exacerbate the problem. Lately I've been trying rinsing with cold water. A mixture of xeylene and mineral spirits has been recommended as a way to displace water, probably works but there is a fire hazard and the stuff has an awful smell. Alcohol absorbs water, but the quickly becomes diluted and can release some of the water as it evaporates and also is somewhat of a fire hazard.

I have two suggestions; for your tests use something like common (uncoated) steel nails so each test is done on exactly the same material, and include some of the commercial clock rinses that are sold for this purpose.

I look forward to seeing the results.

RC
 

kinsler33

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Alcohol spraying between rinsing and drying didn't work very well and had a tendency to asphyxiate the personnel.
A brief soak in a container of 91% isopropyl after the rinse was probably more effective but occasionally failed.
Experimentation involving commercial clock rinses cannot be considered at this time due to the inherent limitations of unfunded research.
And I've found that occasional steel nails inadvertently subjected to clock cleaning processes never exhibit flash rust. Go figure.
 

Willie X

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I've never had this problem. Maybe it's your location, or your not using compressed air, as already mentioned. A quick rinse in mineral spirits (or CLF) immediately followed by compressed air has always worked for me. Dry in a sunny window, or with the ole hairdryer and done. Willie X
 

kinsler33

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I'm reluctant to use compressed air because I'm afraid that it'll blow parts to parts unknown. I don't know what CLF is, but mineral spirits (which I purchase at the local supermarket as charcoal-lighting fluid) should completely suppress flash rust by itself, but it's flammable and also worries me. (I worry a lot.)

Oh: does CLF = charcoal lighter fluid? That's what we cleaned everything with in the 1960's. I'm afraid that I'm too enamored of the glorious results achieved by aggressive ultrasound (30 minutes in Zep Fast 505 with heat) to return to mineral spirits, but a fast dip followed by a vacation beneath the heat lamp might be worth considering.

Thank you.
 

wow

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I wash with hot soapy water after the US machine. Then I rinse with hot tap water in the US basket. I immediately dry in the basket with a heat gun (no plastic parts) until all water spots are gone off the plates and pinions are dry. No problem with rust.
 

kinsler33

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Our tap water has lots of minerals because the town wells are drilled into (I think) a limestone layer under our clay soil. And they add either sodium carbonate or sodium hydroxide to raise the ph toward the alkaline, which prevents corrosion of pipes. So the water is fine to drink, but the chemistry might not be friendly to steel made in the Ruhr Valley. Thus I'll try mixing my radiator lube into distilled water.
 

POWERSTROKE

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I just cleaned a movement yesterday with soap and hot water, rinsed and dried with a blow drier. Looks good no rust. Been running for 48 hours too.

 

Willie X

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CLF = Coleman Lantern Fuel. It contains about 1% machine oil. It's much more flammable than mineral spirits but not quite as flammable as gasoline.

Mineral spirits or kerosene is the "mother's milk" of clock repair and compressed air is the "breath of life".
That's what Harod used to say and I always agreed.

Willie X
 

POWERSTROKE

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CLF = Coleman Lantern Fuel. It contains about 1% machine oil. It's much more flammable than mineral spirits but not quite as flammable as gasoline.

Mineral spirits or kerosene is the "mother's milk" of clock repair and compressed air is the "breath of life".
That's what Harod used to say and I always agreed.

Willie X
Can you use berrymans?
 

kinsler33

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I have a friend (not Horolovar's Mr Nimon) who cleans anniversary clock parts in the dishwasher. The regular soap makes an admirable de-greaser. I've never tried it.
 

dad1891

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Mark,

I tried the Zep Fast 505 a couple years ago and had the same problem with flash rust. Washing wheels one at a time (by hand) and immediately blowing them dry with compressed air still resulted in rust on the pivots. The Fast 505 is by far the best degreaser I have seen, but the rust and the fact that it's pH is something like 14 are two major downsides of this product. I recently tried Zep Industrial Degreaser and while it takes a little longer to cut the grease and oil, I have not seen any rust at all.
 

R. Croswell

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I'm reluctant to use compressed air because I'm afraid that it'll blow parts to parts unknown............ .
I have a pressure regulator on my compressed air system set to about 35 psi. Never had a problem with parts sent into orbit. On the subject of compressed air, system should have a water separator / filter and it should be periodically drained.

RC
 

kinsler33

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I didn't know that about Zep Fast 505. At least the clocks get a thorough cleaning. It also works great in a spray bottle for greasy eyeglasses, though I have also put said eyeglasses in the ultrasonic cleaner. Lenscrafters, the optometrist chain, also cleans eyeglasses in an ultrasonic machine, but I think they just use soap.

I was sandblasting my ancient (1964) Econoline van this past fall, having restored its on-board air compressor system. It seemed like I extracted a jar of water out of that thing about every hour. It's a slow and still very incomplete job.

Mostly what I'm trying to do with these rinsing experiments is to reverse-engineer the fancy clock rinse solutions. I'm fairly sure that they're distilled water plus some proportion of radiator anti-rust compound poured therein. Rage against the machine, and all that.
 

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