Good dry lube for metronome

D.th.munroe

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Feb 15, 2018
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I rarely work on newer stuff like this but doing this as a favour.
Just wondering if anyone knows of a good dry lube for Wittner metronome mainsprings? or should I just use a normal synthetic?
They are plastic barrels and labeled "use no oil" but the lifetime lube has failed and is quite sticky.
Thanks
Dan
 

MuseChaser

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As a musician, my favorite metronome of all time is the Franz electric. None of the purely mechanical metronomes were ever precise/even enough to be worth using for anyone other than a beginning musician with a severely hampered sense of "time." Even then, the almost always lopsided nature of the beat of the mechanicals created future bad habits. One drummer I used to work with (emphasis on "used to") probaby practiced with a Wittner.....sigh...

I know that doesn't answer your question....but, unlike almost ANY old mechanical clock, I view incinerating a mechanical metronome to be a mercy killing....if there is such a thing....
 
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glenhead

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"Plastic barrels" is the kicker here. Petroleum-based oils will deteriorate most plastics over time because most plastics are made from petroleum extracts.

(If you know this, my apologies. This might help someone in the future.) It sounds like the "lifetime lube" has either evaporated or gotten dirty, possibly both. You'll need to pull the springs and clean them well. For cleaning I'd start with something benign like Simple Green (please, let's not spasm into a war over cleaning solutions here) and if that didn't work try mineral spirits or kerosene, followed by Simple Green. I follow the Simple Green with a good rinse in hot water and a swish in denatured alcohol, then a trip to the hair dryer.

Here's a link to a good write-up on lubricant compatibility:
Lubricant/plastic interaction

As you can see in that link, silicone lubricants are pretty much safe for any hard plastic. So is PAO - otherwise known as pure-synthetic engine oil. Polyglycols - that means any of the Moebius "Synt" series - have potential compatibility issues, so the 9000 Quartz Oil (which works well on the plastic/nylon parts in a quartz watch) might be iffy. If I were doing this metronome I'd probably go with the usual synthetic engine oil that I use on mainsprings. (I use 50W Lucas motorcycle oil, simply because I had most of a quart in the garage. I wish I could remember why I bought the quart in the first place. Overhauling the engine in my daughter's Volvo, maybe?) As with any mainspring you want only an almost-invisible haze of lubricant on the spring. I use a scrap from an old flannel shirt, barely dampen it with the lubricant, and wipe it along the length of the spring. If you see any lubricant on the spring, wipe it off. You really want minimal lubrication to cut down on dust collection.

Hope this helps.

Glen
 
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D.th.munroe

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Lol, I can't say I'm a musician but I did play guitar (and repair/build them) and fully agree with you muse, bad timing always bothered me. Actually a drummer moved in next door to me a while ago and he must have used one of these ;) I did offer her my seiko one, but I am assuming it is for children, it looks like a cartoon penguin with a bow tie on the pendulum.

Thanks Glen, I have pulled and cleaned the mainspring already. I'm sure it was a ptfe type lube that was on it.
All the Teflon lubes I have are based with mineral oil and don't seem to dry very well or leave enough ptfe after drying. Experimenting with those in clock mainsprings, it seems none were very good for those, except one which is no longer available.
Dan
 
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D.th.munroe

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Well, I'm trying super lube with ptfe on the spring and plastic escape wheel, and 859 on the pivots (steel and brass so it should be ok)
I used the android clock tuner app to set the rate and beat error.(it had no problem hearing that beat ;))
I had to add weight to one side of the upper pendulum weight to slow it down to the beat scale and get it more "in beat" I still had to bend pendulum rod a bit and got it as close as I could.
I can still hear it drift in the beat, but it is 10 times better than it was.
So hopefully we'll see how long that lube works for the spring.
I did also find all parts for these are available from Wittner.
Dan
 

pbClocks

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I would expect the plastic barrel mainsprings to run dry. Perhaps someone oiled it and that's why it's failed. I would have cleaned the old gunk off the spring and put it back in the barrel dry. I have a plastic barrel parts movement I might disassemble and see if the factory did indeed run these springs dry.
Putting these Wittners in beat is tricky to get correct at both the fast and slow settings. Much easier to do on Seth Thomas and Paquet metronomes. I've been doing metronome overhauls for 20 years. Many experienced musicians have been very pleased with the beat symmetry and calibration of my work, but I generally prefer the non-Wittner ones. Mainly because plastic is not designed to hold up under the stress mainsprings put on it. Wittner instructions even say to not leave the spring wound for long periods of time.
 

D.th.munroe

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Thanks pbClocks
I did try the spring dry after cleaning but it didn't work very well.
I was told by a German friend that they were dipped at the mainspring factory(haller-jauch) in basically the same stuff new watch mainsprings are treated with, whatever that may be.
Can I ask if there is a specific procedure you use to adjust these? Like start a 40bpm or 200?

I started at 40 btw this one was way out in the beginning, it was so far out of beat that it wouldn't stay running at 40bpm.
At 120 it was showing 7345 bph insteadof 7200, so I adjusted that with the weight and bending and got it to 40 and an even tick there and went to 120 then 200 and all was in beat and within a few beats an hour.
Dan
 
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pbClocks

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Dan,
Sounds about right if it worked for you, but I use a more complicated procedure. One of these days I should write a NAWCC article, but right now am dealing with too many things now.
 
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