Flaking Seth Thomas dial repair

klokwiz

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Feb 4, 2009
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Hi, As I am sure many of you have encountered a recent purchase has a flakey paint over zinc dial. I have often wondered what to do with these to arrest the flaking and used a number of things with varying degrees of success. I think I have found a good solution one that holds loose paint and protects surface and is totally reversible.

The product is Aquazol which I was introduced to in a reverse glass video in this post, it was being used to adhere loose paint to a reverse glass of the titanic. I used the product on a similar reverse glass repair with mixed results which I will post on a different item. But as an adhesive sealer over paint it has proven to be very useful. The Aquazol is a polymer crystal that is water soluble. the crystals dissolved in water create a clear liquid slightly more dense than water. The mixture is then applied and allowed to dry. It dries to a hard clear surface and can be built up to depth with multiple coats. I have not heard of using this before but decided it was worth a try to save a nice old dial. The Aquazol is noted for its use as a clear medium which will retain is clarity.

The 14 inch ST dial has about a 15% paint loss but about 50% is near ready to flake and will if touched or flexed. The beauty of this material is it flows freely filling in gaps and paint cracks and does not have to be brushed on, this allows it to bond surface without causing more paint loss. I cleaned the surface of dial to remove loose dirt and paint and cleaned a couple of dirt spots. then set dial up off a drop cloth of newspaper with a dinner plate, used paper rolled in cone shape to close winding and center hole to keep material from running thru to back of dial. I then poured the Aquazol mixture on the dial, I picked up and tilted the dial to spread the mixture over dial evenly. after covering the surface by tilting I used a wood dowel to help move the mixture to even out the coating. The dowel is used to just touch the liquid surface and draw it to thin areas. Note: the liquid is thin and will pool if too much is applied and left to dry in thicker pools. So it is best to cover surface with successive thin coats. I used two fairly heavy coats on this and might do 3-4 on a later effort. the mixture dries fairly quickly depending on thickness applied as little as 2 hours and up to about 12.

After the first coat was applied and dry I was able to touch and rub dial with no loss or movement of loose paint. with second coat the dial was even flexed and no paint loss. I tried to show in photos what the surface looks like as much as possible. The finished result can be touched and rubbed with out damage. As I mentioned the process can be reversed, a completely dry coat can be removed by wetting surface and allowing the material to re-dissolve. I would recommend fill in or touch up painting before sealing if that is what you desire, but it could also be done after first coat. please feel free to ask any questions. Joe

clock case front.jpg dial installed bezel open.jpg dial 3 oclock detail.jpg dial 3 oclock view.jpg dial 6 oclock view.jpg dial 9 oclock view.jpg dial 12 oclock view.jpg dial logo view.jpg dial seconds bit detail.jpg poly medium.jpg
 
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T.Cu

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Thanks for sharing that. It is tricky, the whole flaking paint thing, and the flaking paper labels thing is tough too. Always glad to hear of a product new to me.
 

klokwiz

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YW. I think this is a very good solution to a difficult problem. there are a lot of "coatings" that could be applied, but the problem is they will age and darken etc... this material is not supposed to do that. Joe.
 

T.Cu

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Yes, and as they age they have (or develop) an acidity that further ruins everything, or so I have been warned.
I am not big on repairing things that are "ok" but when you will lose more and more of something every time a breeze blows or someone touches it, I tend to want to stabilize it.
Could this stuff be used on a paper label? That was hanging off a wood back board? To sort of stick it back on without darkening it too much?
 

klokwiz

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if you are looking to glue a loose label or paper dial the thing to use is acid free glue. this is available at any good arts and craft or on-line. It will not damage the paper. be careful if paper is thin it will soak thru of too much is applied and may change color of paper from wetting it. this is preferable to modern glues and the old hide glue used to mount labels in OG type clocks. the Aquazol would not make a good adhesive for this purpose it has a very low tack and does not bond well until dry. Joe.
 
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Jim DuBois

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The period clocks do not use hide glue to affix their labels. The labels were mounted with a white paste which is more commonly known as wallpaper paste. It works nicely as made and sold today. It dries leaving the paper with no trace of the glue, unlike many other glues. Including hide glue. It soaks into the paper and leaves it with a darker finish.
 
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klokwiz

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Jim, I stand corrected, the hide glue was an assumption. Is the white glue acid neutral? I was under the assumption that it added to the acidification problem with old clock labels, or was it just the paper and wood backing? Joe
 

Jim DuBois

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Jim, I stand corrected, the hide glue was an assumption. Is the white glue acid neutral? I was under the assumption that it added to the acidification problem with old clock labels, or was it just the paper and wood backing? Joe
I have done a bit of research on clock labels. It is a several page PDF. I would be happy to send you a copy if you want to PM me your email address.
 

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