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Hammer Heads

Ed Schmitt

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A while ago, some of you indicated that one should not put leather hammer heads into a ultrasonic cleaner to clean them. It did something to the leather. What about the plastic hammer heads. Can I put them into a non ammoniated cleaner or would the ultrasonic also cause damage to the plastic type of hammer heads?

Ed Schmitt
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Bruce Alexander

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A while ago, some of you indicated that one should not put leather hammer heads into a ultrasonic cleaner to clean them. It did something to the leather. What about the plastic hammer heads. Can I put them into a non ammoniated cleaner or would the ultrasonic also cause damage to the plastic type of hammer heads?

Ed Schmitt
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If you're using some type of adhesive to hold the plastic in place, I would be concerned about that, but I don't think that a plastic like Delrin (for example) would be affected by ammonia in clock cleaner. You can purchase household ammonia products in "plastic" containers can't you? I'm just hazarding a guess here as I've never really tried it. Perhaps we have some polyvinyl chemists around?
 

harold bain

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Any time I am cleaning a movement, it is disassembled to the point that the hammers have been removed. I never put them in the cleaner.
 

Bruce Alexander

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I agree Harold. That's how I proceed. The heads come off. If they need new inserts I place them and clean up the brass by hand. I suppose I'm just a clock janitor when it comes to dirt and tarnish. :rolleyes:
 

Bogey

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I'm in the same camp as Harold and Bruce with one caveat... The heads come off, and if the leather or other insert is in bad shape (needs replacement) then I take it out, include the hammers in the U-S and then replace the heads.
 

shutterbug

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I don't recall a discussion about avoiding cleaning leather heads. How long ago was it?
 

Bruce Alexander

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I think I'll adopt that approach Bogey. Although I think I can clean the exteriors better by hand, your approach certainly will clean any gunk/glue out of the sockets better (duh). Thanks for sharing.
 

Ed Schmitt

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Thanks everyone for your suggestions. I won't be putting the hammer heads into the ultrasonic cleaner. Thanks again
Ed
 

Bruce Alexander

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Hi Ed,

Actually, now I'm a little curious. Bogey has forced me to re-think my sequence. Normally I replace inserts later in the process. When I do remove them, I end up digging, or drilling them out. Eventually they'll come out. In most cases they do so cleanly and in one piece but I'm always concerned with damaging the brass.

Now I'm wondering if running them through the US would soften the leather and make it much easier to remove. Has anyone tried that approach? Depending upon the condition of the inserts, I imagine that it might introduce some debris into the cleaning solution. Just wondering.
 
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shutterbug

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I've never worried about the leather going into the US, and haven't noticed any adverse reaction after drying. I don't recall a discussion about it, and I wonder what the potential damage is? Same for hard hammers - no issues, no problems. Would someone elaborate?
 

Bruce Alexander

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Okay, I tried running a leather tipped hammer head through the US last night. I dried it under forced warm air and left it out until this morning. I was able to easily remove it with a small screwdriver as it crumbled and fell away. Normally, I really have to work with old tips to get them out of the hammer sockets. I didn't try to remove this one prior to putting it in the US so perhaps it was already hardened and ready to come out. My impression, SB, is that you don't want to soak leather tips for the same reason you wouldn't want to soak your leather shoes (in water, ammonia, soap and whatever else may be in your US solution). It causes the leather to harden and lose flexibility. Also, my concern would be for any possible adhesive used to keep the tips in place. Let's say that the US soak doesn't destroy the "leather tips" or cause them to fall out, if you change their hardness, you'll possibly change the sound of the strike/chime. Also, you don't really know what the inserts are made of. Is what I think. I've never read that anywhere. Anyone else?
 

bangster

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I'm with Harold. I've never found the need to put the hammers into the US. The rest of the assembly Yes, the hammers No.
 

shutterbug

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Agreed - no NEED to. But the question is: Is there a need NOT to? I've never thought much about it. If it causes the leather to harden, it might even be a good thing for newly installed leather. Never lost a plastic hammer. Always assumed they were clamped, not glued.
 

Bruce Alexander

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Not much control over how hard the new leather becomes. More likely the question would concern old leather going in. If the insert(s) are in decent shape, with adequate material and some resilience I think it would just be safer to leave them out of the cleaning solution altogether. If the leather I tested last night was any indication, it wouldn't be holding up to 150+ strikes a day for very long. Besides, you never really know what they're made of and what's holding them in...if they are antiques anyway.

Your experience is different then, SB? You've cleaned your own clock hammers this way and haven't noticed any adverse affect(s) on the durability of the inserts or the quality of the strike?
 

shutterbug

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Your experience is different then, SB? You've cleaned your own clock hammers this way and haven't noticed any adverse affect(s) on the durability of the inserts or the quality of the strike?
Yeah, that's what I'm saying, Bruce :) But I'm willing to be convinced if I'm wrong.
 

Jay Fortner

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The plastic tips on modern clocks pull right out. The heads with folded leather are threaded and the leather screws out. And of course on staked heads the leather must be dug out then the crimp opened with a tapered punch and then the head recrimped to hold the new leather. If you find the need to wash hammer heads chances are the leather is shot and needs to be replaced. In either case don't leave the plastic tips or leathers in. Cleaning solution gets trapped behind the plastic and absorbed into the leather creating corrosion later on. A tip for hardening new leather is to touch a flame to it for a few seconds..
 

Bruce Alexander

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Perhaps this is just one of those "Common Wisdom" issues. One way to investigate possible effects would be to work on a quarterly chime clock. Soak several of the hammer heads in your cleaning solution and leave the others out. Then compare physical properties. The only thing being that your results may not apply to other circumstances so again, I would tend to think it safer to simply avoid soaking your chime/strike heads in your cleaning solution.

S.B., not to put you on the spot but I was trying to find previous discussions on this topic and found something you had posted about four-five years ago. You stated the following:
Well, maybe, wt. A solution that will do what you want is going to have something that it would be best not to soak your hands in. Bang suggested a pre-clean with brake cleaner fluid. You could also do a cleaning dip in gasoline, followed by a rinse in a soap and water solution. The important thing is cleaning the old oil and gunk out of the pivot holes and off the wheels. You could do that without any dangerous or flammable materials, but it would take a lot longer than most professional clock smiths would want to invest. Try a few things that you think might work and see what results you get. Also remember that anything that is not metal will not react well to chemicals of any kind. Be careful of plastic parts, leather hammers, self correcting pallet assemblies, rubber, etc.
Soure: https://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php...uid-Any-suggestions&highlight=leather+ammonia

Could you elaborate? Has your thinking changed based upon your experience? Have you found that your cleaning solution is inert to leather, plastic etc.? If so, what type of cleaning solution are you now using?

Bruce

P.S. Unless you're trying to remove the inserts, in which case the cleaning solution may help. At least it did in the one case I tried.
 
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David S

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I tend to agree with Jay. Regarding the type of cleaning solution. It is one thing to consider virgin cleaning solution, but what about all the dissolved stuff in solution after it has been used a lot? Sounds like a big unknown with who knows what could happen. I just leave them out of solution.
 

shutterbug

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S.B., not to put you on the spot but I was trying to find previous discussions on this topic and found something you had posted about four-five years ago. You stated the following:
Well, that is embarrassing. But at my age I can't remember what I said last week, let alone a few years ago. :D I will have a look and see how the leather holds up in my solution though.
 

Bruce Alexander

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Well, that is embarrassing. But at my age I can't remember what I said last week, let alone a few years ago. :D I will have a look and see how the leather holds up in my solution though.
All that proves is that you've been a valuable contributor to the board for quite a few years. Experience is always the best teacher. Please let us know if you find anything pro or con in regards to the "common wisdom" approach. Thanks! ;)
 

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