Graphite Powder or Synthetic Oil for Barreled Mainspring??

Discussion in 'Clock Repair' started by BLKBEARD, Feb 14, 2018.

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  1. BLKBEARD

    BLKBEARD Registered User
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    I'm servicing a French Clock with smallish Barreled Mainsprings. When I opened the Timeside Barrel I found it full of Dry Graphite.

    The dry graphite seems to have worked very well in this clock. I'm wondering if I should order graphite & return it to what seems to have worked well in the past, or use synthetic oil as I usually do?

    Most of my repairs have been on American Clocks, and this is the first I've encountered which was lubed with Graphite.

    My brain is sayin............If it aint broke don't fix it...........stay with graphite.

    But there are repairers on this board far more experienced than me. Pictured is the strikeside barrel prior to dis-assembly.

    BOULLE CLOCK 4 008.JPG french clock movement 111717 009.JPG
     
  2. shutterbug

    shutterbug Super Moderator
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    Graphite works, but it's very messy and not much better than other options. I'd avoid it.
     
  3. bangster

    bangster Super Moderator
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    Victor Talking Machine Company recommended a mixture of Vaseline and graphite for their phonograph mainsprings.

    I'm just sayin'...
     
  4. shutterbug

    shutterbug Super Moderator
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    Gosh, that was LONG ago, bangster!
     
  5. Willys_1

    Willys_1 Registered User
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    I would avoid it. There is no way it will stay contained in the spring barrels. It will stick to other areas on the movement that have oil, and clump up. It will ruin the cleaning fluid in your ultrasonic cleaner, so clean the parts thoroughly before putting in the ultrasonic.
     
  6. Willys_1

    Willys_1 Registered User
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    I've worked on several Victrolas. They are terrible! The grease is thick, nasty and gets everywhere. I've worked on old truck axles that weren't that bad.
     
  7. shimmystep

    shimmystep Registered User
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    I'd avoid the graphite. French movement springs are not very powerful, being around 0.30mm thick, so a light lubricant is best. Personally I use a Moebius semi liquid grease 8200 on them, and find this suits these very well. A very fine coating.
     
  8. Ravens_Time

    Ravens_Time Registered User
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    Nice clock BB! I started working on Victrolas before I fell into clocks. Good thing clocks are a lot smaller. I have 3 Victrolas and too many clocks to count. I have a tube of dry graphite on my bench and always thought it might come in handy one day. Any sign of it coming out of the barrel and contaminating the movement?
     
  9. BLKBEARD

    BLKBEARD Registered User
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    Whoever put in the Graphite put a small piece of scotch tape over the notch in the barrel cap where you pry off the cap.
    This seems to have kept the Graphite well contained and I didn't see any leakage.
     
  10. Ravens_Time

    Ravens_Time Registered User
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    Interesting. I bow before the experts but seems like it might have a use. Let us know what you decide.

    Pat
     
  11. shutterbug

    shutterbug Super Moderator
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    Use it in your car door locks. It doesn't freeze :D
     
  12. harold bain

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    I've never used the hole in the barrel cap to pry it off, just don't want to risk deforming either the cap or the barrel. Hitting the end of the arbor with something relatively soft (I use a rubber hammer) works much better.
     
  13. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

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    #13 Willie X, Feb 14, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
    Keystone light MS lube, or any good clock oil, is good on French springs, or any other light weight clock springs. I haven't seen where graphite is any benefit. As everyone else has mentioned, it's just to messey.

    Good graphite should be so fine that it feels like talcum powder when rubbed between your fingers.

    Willie X
     
  14. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    PB has a graphite spray that looks interesting, but I've never fully recovered from my own Victrola spring adventure and thus loathe graphite.
     
  15. dad1891

    dad1891 Registered User

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    I had a customer that bought a clock that had been sprayed with some sort of graphite lube instead of WD-40. What a nightmare.

    On the bright side, the graphite settled to the bottom of my cleaner fairly quickly.
     
  16. BLKBEARD

    BLKBEARD Registered User
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    I went with the Powdered Graphite.
    That's what was in it, and seemed to have worked well. The worst comments concerning Graphite seemed to be that its messy. My main business is heating repair, graphite doesn't compare to some of the messes I'm used to. (Messy is a subjective term)
    The movement is in nice condition, whoever serviced it last did a nice job. No idea who or when that was, as my client inherited the clock. It came to me with a broken suspension spring, and a broken bell arm. likely it was transported with the pendulum attached.

    I was tempted to just repair the broken parts, and not break it down & do a full servicing. But I know it hasn't run for at least 10 years. This is the movement from the French Boulle Clock.
     
  17. Time After Time

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    You had several good options. One thing is certain, although it may escape the barrel, it won't gum up over time.
     
  18. shimmystep

    shimmystep Registered User
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    I would be 100% sure that graphite was not put in this at manufacture. Just personally I would have avoided it! :)
    It is not as mobile like oil, and is not protective against corrosion.
     
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  19. BLKBEARD

    BLKBEARD Registered User
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    You can also be 100% sure that synthetic oil wasn't put in at the time of manufacture
     
  20. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

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    I've seen several Chelsea clocks that I'm pretty sure came with graphite in the barrels. No hole in their barrel covers though.
    Willie X
     
  21. shimmystep

    shimmystep Registered User
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    #21 shimmystep, Feb 19, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2018
    Of course, not sure I understand your point? they would have used oil or grease, which will stick to the springs, graphite is not a good choice of lubricant fr coil springs due to its poor performance in sticking to the surface, being displaced easily and having poor corrosive protection for the steel.
     
  22. harold bain

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    He obviously decided not to remove the springs to clean them, or the graphite would have been gone.
     
  23. BLKBEARD

    BLKBEARD Registered User
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    I did dis-assemble the springs, clean the springs, barrels, & caps in the ultrasonic cleaner. I then re-installed the springs & put in fresh graphite powder. By clamping my Ollie Baker spring winder vertically in the vise I was able to partially wind the springs & dispense the powder fairly evenly. I then wound & unwound the springs several times until the powder had all fallen between the coils.

    I fail to see why anyone would comment saying that I obviously didn't clean the springs? Post #1 shows the strike-side spring barrel assembly yet to be dis-assembled, with the pile of graphite dumped out of the time-side barrel sitting on the bench next to it.
     
  24. harold bain

    harold bain Registered User
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    Sorry, I didn't think anyone would purposely use more graphite on a clock mainspring. Apparently I was wrong :whistle:
     
  25. Time After Time

    Time After Time Registered User
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    It's hard to argue with something that apparently worked in the past. Like most of the other suggestions you received, I would have gone with Keystone Lube precisely because it seems to have worked well for me in the past but it wasn't my call. Is this your clock BB?
     
  26. shimmystep

    shimmystep Registered User
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    I think that illustrates one of the problems with graphite BB, it has very poor adhesive qualities, which makes it slippery of course but doesn't stick to steel well at all without a carrier, an example of which is graphite grease.
     
  27. BLKBEARD

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    The clock belongs to one of my heating service customers who I visit at least once per year.
    The graphite seemed to have been very effective in this particular clock.
    Should a problem arise down the road, I can always swap out the Graphite for conventional oil. Time will tell.

    Lubrication threads on this forum always seem to evoke more battles than the Civil War !
     
  28. Time After Time

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    The Battle of Graphite Springs? Oh man, it was a bloody mess! :chuckling:

    There's no question in my mind that you take pride in a job well done BB.
    Maybe you'll revisit this thread down the road a way if you have the time and inclination to do so.
    Without any service history to go on, we never really know just how long things have been the way we find them.

    Regards,
    Bruce
     
  29. Berry Greene

    Berry Greene Registered User
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    No mention of moly? Surly thaere's a downside to that?
    It's wonderful & slippy with molecules like slates. In a light oil carrier it would fight stiction.
    So would Slick 50. Is that Teflon? I'm sure some people use it for mainsprings.
    Your comments please Gentlemen
    Rgds BerryG
     
  30. shutterbug

    shutterbug Super Moderator
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    Seems to me that you had already decided what you were going to do before starting the thread, BB. Of course opinions are going to vary.
     
  31. Berry Greene

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    Well I expect that if someone had said "all wrong - you can't do that" - BB would have rowed back on it. It seemed to me that graphite lubrication of mainsprings ought not to be a lifetime goal. I've got some powder somewhere. I used it in locks for a while. It comes back out on the key!
    It's not so sticky - when left as a powder - and doesn't attract dirt & dust - so I was told. It IS dirt & dust in itself! It doesn't just get ON your skin, it gets UNDER your skin - forever! Like a tattoo. Use it only if you're stuck in Outer Mongolia fixing mainsprings as it is better than nothing. However, I doubt the merits of knowing what time it is out there anyway!
    Rgds, BerryG
     

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