L and r auto magic varimatic cleaner

Discussion in 'Watch Repair' started by secondhandtony1224, Feb 16, 2016.

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  1. secondhandtony1224

    secondhandtony1224 Registered User

    Apr 21, 2013
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    I need some help. I recently acquired a varimatic or cleaner it has a problem. I can't find any info on this unit. Does anyone have this or know where to get info on it. I found the manual but after three days I still am stumped.
     
  2. karlmansson

    karlmansson Registered User

    Apr 20, 2013
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    #2 karlmansson, Feb 17, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2016
    Telling us what the problem is might help.
     
  3. jnash

    jnash Registered User

    Mar 22, 2012
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    my thoughts exactly!
     
  4. Harvey Mintz

    Harvey Mintz Registered User
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    Varimatics are very interesting machines, and I've been using one I "rebuilt" (the electric and the hydraulic portions, not the mechanicals) for a long time. I even have a couple of "spares" that I want to fix up and sell.

    However, karlmansson and jnash are exactly correct - without a description of the problem you're experiencing, there's no real way anyone can help you.
     
  5. oilseed

    oilseed Registered User

    Sep 27, 2009
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  6. secondhandtony1224

    secondhandtony1224 Registered User

    Apr 21, 2013
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    I received the unit on eBay. I must say I was told it didn't work but boy was this thing neglected. Still it turned on.lol so here's what I found what I did and what I fixed also what remains a mistary to me. First it would not cycle after going over it I found the timer was not getting any power, I traced every single wire and went over the diagram still I could not understand why the timer wasn't working so I added in and powered a separate switch to it and now it works. Second I found that the top unit was not going up very well, I found it was completely out of hyd. Fluid. So I went over that and bleed it several times and have managed to get it to rise and lower properly. I also soldered some lose wiring. I also found the fan wasn't moving fast enough. I took it apart and found a dirty somewhat damaged lower bearing. I drilled the bearing out injected Greece into it worked it in and resealed it. Then the table was out of sync. So I fixed that everything is going great except one thing I spent 4 nights going over it but can not fix it. And that is the reason for me to reach out to you guys my help. For some reason the fan goes up and down perfectly except for the fact that it doesn't lower itself low enough into the wash jars. It will cycle down sit for a sec than raise all the way up to its top Mark right above the line on the main shaft and stay there and run its cycle. Everything is working perfectly if it only sat down in the jar and washed at the correct height. So that's my problem. I wanted to explain what I did in case I did something wrong. Can anyone help me? I have put almost 40 hours into this unit and love it however if the basket doesn't sit in the solution it's useless. Help please I have been staring at this thing for hours. Thank you everyone. For listening.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Thanks Bill.
     
  7. oilseed

    oilseed Registered User

    Sep 27, 2009
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    thanks for the detailed info.
    ok, sounds like you've done a lot of work.

    On the cycling/sync issue, one of the main failures is with the brass/bronze gear (that is locked to the eccentric plate which pushes on the
    rocker arm to drive the hydraulic piston.)
    anyway, that large brass gear has a 'pin' pressed into it' hub (very bottom) which goes through the main shaft (the one that drives the Index-arm to rotate the table.) this PIN can (and will) shear off (as a safety device) if something stops the table from rotating. (that motor has a huge amount of torque and will
    rip everything apart if you try to stop it. so, hence the 'shear pin'.) if the pin does shear, then your synchronization is off.
    so it's critical to check that. not easy to do. if you need more details, PM me.

    for the lowering the head motor/bracket into the jars... this 'may be' a couple of things.
    inside the inner column (take off the head assembly, then remove the outer column. what remains is the vertical inner column).
    there is a solid ROD (piston) that goes up and down (since you bled the unit, you know what I'm talking about).
    at the top of this inner column is a CUP washer (seal) to keep the hydraulic fluid from gushing out under pressure.
    if this 'seal' has aged,(has become stiff), it 'may' keep the piston rod from retracting (even with the head assembly weight to gravity assist.)

    the other possibility, the piston rod, inside the inner vertical column, has a SPRING attached at the bottom (which is also connected
    to the bottom of the piston post. this spring 'pulls' back the ROD, when hydraulic fluid is 'relieved'.
    if the spring has broken or come disconnected, then that will cause your head not to lower completely.
    fixing that, is a pain. again, PM me and I'll walk you through it. you'll need to get a new cup seal (I have a part number).

    Bill
     
  8. secondhandtony1224

    secondhandtony1224 Registered User

    Apr 21, 2013
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    Bill awesome amount of info and I do understand all you said I also downloaded and printed out the manuals you have posted. That is a amazing piece of information. I have gone over all you have stated. All the gears are good, the o ring is intact although I feel is old and would like to purchase a new one from you we will work out the details. I took off the indexing arm removed the keyway and also as the instructions say I removed the vertical pin ran the machine and the tray is lining up correctly. Still the arm doesn't stay in the correct position. I also have been watching the hydraulic arm this arm is collapsing the piston and driving the arm up to the height that is causing the problems. I am totally baffled by the fact that it is doing this. I also don't know other than the mechanical functions driving the shaft up and down if there is a switch also controlling this function. I don't see one and have gone over the schematic several times checking all the switches and their functions. This machine has been completely out of fluid. I have bleed it and it seems to be out of air in the hydraulic system. The inner shaft does have the spring on it and it is in fine shape. The unit does retract the inner shaft holding the basket in the correct position for a est of 5 seconds as the table begins to move it retracts the inner shaft parking it up at its highest position. The unit sits in that position until it's ready to cycle again , the table turns to its next destination the basket then drops sits for a few seconds raises again and remains at that height until the timer moves it forward. And that is my problem. It has me totally baffled.
     
  9. oilseed

    oilseed Registered User

    Sep 27, 2009
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    Secondhandtony1227, I left you a PM (Private message) with my phone number, give me a call and we can discuss further.

    Bill
     
  10. secondhandtony1224

    secondhandtony1224 Registered User

    Apr 21, 2013
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    Thanks Bill I figured it out the machine is working nicely now thanks so much for help. What it was is under the indexing arm there's a plate after observing it several times I noticed that if I moved that plate back half inch or so that the inner shaft slightly began to drop a little. Doing this several times led to the inner shaft adventually colasping at the proper time and height . Wow that was awesome to see happen lol. Thanks for you book reference and help. I have been moving along now for years and have begun to get into watches as much as clocks but I am unfamiliar with all the different types of watches and info needed to repair these properly. My grandfather taught me many years ago and I have much of his equipment. I sure do wish there was a school to go to. Thank again bill.
     
  11. Betzel

    Betzel Registered User

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    Hello,

    First post here, as I just found this thread, and it looks like there is some L&R V-M expertise here. If I should have started a new thread, I can do that.

    I bought a Varimatic model C (S/N 89105) a few weeks ago. It's stamped "43" into the base (assembler's mark?) and the timer motor said 1968 on the back, so it's old. It was in pretty good shape from dis and re-use, and all worked correctly, but it was all dried out, and needed some love to keep going. I wanted to use it for a while, as I love old stuff, and was an electrical hazard. Even after properly lubricating the motor it runs hot, and seems to "just be like that" so I am mindful to operate it intermittently, as intended.

    So, after gathering/reading all the data I could, I "serviced" it with the usual mechanical breakdown, removal of old gum/varnish rust removal, polish and re-lubrication, and I even replaced the ball bearings, which were rusty. I serviced the OEM roller bearings in the motor head though, as I can't find replacements anywhere. I even made a jig to hold the main piston in place while it was apart, as I'm not much with hydraulics and feared air and any movement beyond the normal range. All the mechanicals and electricals are fine (after replacing all the cracked insulation wires, even into the motor coils) now. But, in tipping it here and there, the main column almost clears the scribed line, but not quite. It drops back down OK, but just is a little early, perhaps as it does not rise enough. Shear (bottom) & woodruff (top) pins are OK. But, it did clear the line before. So, hoping this is "it just a needs a bleed" to get rid of some air, I will make a bleeder cup out of plastic, if I can or an aluminum/stainless funnel and fashion a brass hollow fitting which I will have to tap to 1/4-28, attaching the other end to the funnel. Never done any of this before, but I'm in too far now to stop :)

    The manual says something about a ball bearing in the funnel (used to keep the fluid from running out on funnel removal?) So, that makes sense for extraction. But the dipstick is not wet, so it's low, and I would like to replace the fluid, as I believe all fluids are hygroscopic, and the oil in it may be original or old. So my newbie questions for anyone who can guide:

    1) Should I buy a bottle of L&R fluid on the internet, and 2) is 8 oz enough to replace the fluid in the machine (reservoir/column) or will I need 2? If that is silly, 3) does anyone here know which type of fluid to buy commercially, and where I might get it? 4) If one or more of the seals died during the work, does anyone know where can I get a set of new ones? I would probably replace all of them, and I think L&R Ultrasonics is different than L&R Mfg. and no longer cares about these machine, but maybe I'm wrong?

    Also wonder if anyone has done a you tube video of seal replacement / bleeding these things? It's too heavy to ship to the only two places left in the world, as mentioned above, for repairs, and I believe I can do it all, if I am slow and meticulous, and can get seals/parts somewhere. Thanks in advance if you can help, and sorry for the long post.
     
  12. Betzel

    Betzel Registered User

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    #12 Betzel, Jan 5, 2018
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 6, 2018
    The following has come to light since my last post (above):

    The Coleman Lantern Number 0 filter funnel (legacy item available on eBay for ~$10) is 100% sturdy, and it has a center that is ~1/4" ID. And, 1/4" aluminum tubing "4NRY4" is 1/4 OD and available at Grainger and other engineering locations. The one can be forced and fused to the other with electronic/pipe-fitters solder (or glue if you must) for short money to make a replacement L&R "Bleeder Cup," which had a fairly long neck. Threads can easily be cut with a die of 1/4-28 to fit the Vari-Matic center column internal threads. We need some length to push it down during the bleeding operation, so I think about a 1" neck does this pretty well, but maybe 3/4 is OK as I have not done this yet. With a marble or ball bearing, the cup can subsequently be removed with a full load of bubbly hydraulic oil without soiling yourself or the V-M too much. I'm new to all this and just trying to help; I have not yet tried all of it, but I am encouraged. Your Vari-Matic can perhaps be saved! Hail the green beast!

    So, my old Mercedes-Benz 220D (115-110) manual (circa 1972) correctly describes all hydraulic fluid as hygroscopic, which means it absorbs humidity and water. Oddly, the manual also defines a fatal dose, but that's how they roll. This is why riding the brakes downhill causes the infused water to boil, and brakes to blow and fail catastrophically, and maybe cause a death like Princess Grace, so it's a good idea to replenish these fluids periodically (e.g.every 2 years). The V-M may be OK with longer intervals, as its not a car in Monaco, especially in dry climates, but I'm replacing all the fluid in mine to avoid the scene of a dead princess, but I'm a maintenance freak. For those not wanting to use automotive brake or automatic transmission fluid, which could damage rubber V-M components, it has been suggested that the oil used for hydraulic jacks (e.g. Gunk, Liquid Wrench and other reputable brands) might be fully compatible with the expensive L&R 8 oz. fluid sold by a few remaining retailers. I have not tried, nor am I endorsing this, but it seems a plausible and possible solution.

    For a hydraulic seal kit, (the U cup column, primary & secondary piston & hex nut seals) give Richard Wong a shot. He's at Electronic Instrument Service in San Rafael, CA. He seems to have the parts and know-how to tend to these units, and he specializes in the ultrasonic part of the repair repair business for L&R legacy units. He's a solid resource as of Jan, 2018.

    Good luck folks...
     
  13. Betzel

    Betzel Registered User

    Dec 1, 2010
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    OK. So, I just got finished replacing the hydraulic fluid and bleeding out the air I accidentally introduced when I did my Vari-matic mechanical overhaul. This is not an easy thing to do, so I'm passing on what I've learned, mostly the hard way, hoping you don't have to repeat my learning/mistakes.

    Yes, you can make an awesome bleeder cup from the Coleman #0 funnel and 3/4" length (for push-down) of some 1/4" OD aluminum tubing tapping the end to a NF 28 TPI for about 6 threads, sealing the gaps between them with some glue or super-soft solder, but you need a little more than this to do it right. The original bleeder cups have all but disappeared. They had a slightly larger hole drilled into the center of the main tube, looking into the cup from above, and there was a ball bearing in it, retained by beading the aluminum (like, with a graver) the ball travel is about 2-3mm. The ball is unsprung and gravity seated on a negative conical flare on the bottom of this tube/channel to do the following: 1) the ball bearing seats like a valve so you can remove a full cup of bled oil without making an even bigger mess than it already is, and 2) that same valve (sometimes) prevents air from being sucked right back into the center column of the machine you are trying to bleed when the column "drops" in the cycle (or the piston withdraws) which can be very frustrating, as you are constantly re-bleeding the air you just put back in. Big bubbles & PITA. Heed the L&R advice to use grease on the cup nipple threads, as it's another source of more air coming back in. Make sure your cup threads seal really well on the top of the inner column and use grease for the rest. It works. The L&R hydraulic repair manual says to turn the "basket height" adjustment bolt in to force maximum horizontal travel of the piston to bleed it out. This is good advice, assuming your cylinder is clean enough for the additional piston travel required. It worked well for me.

    The kind staff at Electronic Instrument Service in San Rafael sent me an aftermarket bleeder cup when I bought their seal kit, which had all this valve stuff built in. Once mastered, it made the process bearable. Get one, or engineer in the 1-way valve with the retained ball bearing. The green beast still sucks air in on piston withdrawal, but you can diddle with it to minimize that, and eventually after a few cycles you'll get a cup filled with nasty looking oil, which you can dump, and celebrate some progress. Adding more hydraulic fluid to the reservoir (I used liquid wrench brand, but you can use the L&R "caviar" if you prefer) as needed, and continuing (and, don't let the indexing motor get too hot - it does!) gets you there eventually. And (fair warning) if you add oil into the cup from above, depending on the level in the reservoir it will backflow out of the hole for adding fluid and gush all over you, your bench and the floor. Better if you anticipate all this and put a big rag or bib under it to catch the spills. Best to do it all in the shop when folks are not looking!

    Eventually, after bleeding out all the crap oil, and contaminants, and keeping the reservoir level about to the top visibly in the fill tube you get to a point where the cup is half full of fairly clear fluid which is really encouraging. Only at this point does it make sense to stick a fine wire (I like a fine guitar string) under the ball to allow the half-full cup to suck clean oil back in on piston withdrawal and purge air without fluid loss/replacement. L&R suggests the dipstick will work to tickle the ball bearing, but I prefer the guitar string with a finger loop on the end. Eventually, when it (or you) stops spilling hydraulic fluid out the fill spout, and sucks clean oil back in, and the bubbles stop appearing, you are finally there. By this time the indexing motor is warm, but not too hot (?) and you can lift the cup gently and carefully to restore the bushing nut down on the inner column rod to seal the top off, then retighten the locknut made of cheap stamped steel and withdraw the bleeder cup. Adjust the basket height adjustment nut back to proper height and tighten locknut.

    Hope this helps you get your machine running well again.
     
  14. Chris Radek

    Chris Radek Registered User
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    Apr 13, 2014
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    After I replaced the column seal on mine, I filled it with Dot3 synthetic brake fluid, and bled it until all the old fluid cycled out the top. I bled into a glass jar and could see the old dirty fluid floating on top of the new clean fluid, so I am pretty sure all of it came out. I was fully prepared to also replace the bottom seal if it this fluid caused it to fail (L&R warned that it would fail if you didn't buy their exact fluid), but I have not had one bit of trouble with it.

    I also found that although my machine was wired according to the manual, the switch controlling spinoff and drying speed was backwards, giving a low speed spinoff and a teeth-chattering dry cycle. I swapped NC and NO wires on that switch and it works better than it ever has, giving a reasonable fast spinoff and a nice gentle dry. I don't know if this means mine has a switch with terminals in different spots, or if the diagram is wrong. I got it in 99, and it had a lot of use in a small town jewelry store before that. The old owner's many repair notes are in the book that came with it! He replaced switches, the timer motor, and the rheostat a few times.
     
  15. Chris Radek

    Chris Radek Registered User
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    Because I, um, hadn't gotten my old oil to the recycler yet, I still had the jar of it sitting here, and I also have some hydraulic jack oil. So I squirted some in there! It forms a layer between the Dot3 and the L&R fluid. So Dot3 is densest, hydraulic jack oil is next, then L&R is least dense.

    The jack oil seems a lot more viscous than either of the others. The hydraulic line to the column isn't very big; I'm not sure how easily jack oil will move through it.

    I conclude from this test that either jack oil or synthetic Dot3 will let you bleed all the old oil out. Either replacement is probably fine.

    lr-oil.jpg
     
  16. Betzel

    Betzel Registered User

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    #16 Betzel, Mar 28, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2018
    Very interesting on the various viscosities. Thanks!

    The hydraulic jack oil works fine for me, but I'm in Miami, though the liquid wrench is 10 or 5W, and is approved for use in snow plow systems, so who knows. WRT the various rheostats, and mis-wiring, I think all these older units (mine is '68) could be retrofitted with external power variable resistors to work like the model III, where each of the three speeds is controlled by an external knob. May not be a big deal, but gives you a lot of control. May help more with unbalanced larger baskets for clocks, etc.

    Since these things are built like a WWII tank, if you have a working ultrasonic unit and the hydraulic seals hold out, the coolest hack for even more control is the automated delayed spinoff, as seen on you tube where the indexing motor is paused an additional 0-60 seconds to allow more of the solution to leave the basket during spinoff. I think this improves the cleaning function and saves money on contaminated rinse via longer change frequency. But, I can't figure out how various folks did it other than using an Omron digital timer somehow. Clever... I have some ideas, but don't want to fry mine to tweak it. Who among us can draw that sword from its rock (If you care to)?

     
  17. Chris Radek

    Chris Radek Registered User
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    Mine spins off really fast now that it's set up right. The fluid in the jar starts spinning with it and coming up the sides of the jar, and I think if it went much longer (or any faster) the fluid would contact the basket and make a mess. My fluid is pretty old right now, but the second jar is still fairly clear. I don't think I would enable a longer spinoff even if I could do it by flipping a switch. Are you sure your machine is set up right? Is the spinoff MUCH faster than the dry cycle?

    I think it would be a simple (but not easy) matter to replace the tapped wirewound resistor with several panel-mount wirewound rheostats. But it would be tricky to mount them and also still have the panel removable.

    For a longer spinoff you need to stop the cycling motor for a while at a certain point in the middle of its cycle. If this was a part of the original machine they would have added another cam and a switch to say when, and maybe used a time delay relay. That would be a hard and expensive modification today (unless you have a really good junk box saved from the relay era) so I bet folks are using a microcontroller to do it. Any microcontroller running any solid state relay (or opto22 AC module etc) could do this. Knowing when to trigger your timing routine would be the hard part, since there's no low voltage signal to tap into on the existing switches. You could add a switch somewhere if you wanted to avoid the level changing problem, but then you have a mechanical problem instead.
     
  18. Betzel

    Betzel Registered User

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    #18 Betzel, Apr 25, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2018
    Makes sense. The spinoff should be faster than the dry cycle. According to instructions I found, slider A (orange wire) governs the dry cycle only, Slider B governs speeds in the "low" setting, and the rheostat is for speeds at the high setting. The last two govern both the agitation and spinoff as one; they are not separate. The dry setting is independent and is micro-switched at the cam.

    Mine is configured stock and is the model C. The Vari-Matic III (still saw ads for these new in 1984) has the 3 rheostats on the side that do let you control the speed of each function, but I agree they are pretty good set as-is. With coils and hardware store insulated "spade" terminals, you could do this. I have not started using mine commercially, but the idea of getting all the old fluid out before going into the next cycle (without excessive spinoff speed) is interesting, but not easy to do. I have a used Omron 120VAC timer delay, but have not figured out how to trigger, I'm thinking of one of the unused terminals on one of the micro-switches to send the interrupt signal, but it's not fully baked as an idea. These things still do a good job for short money, and I hope my ultrasonic unit holds up for a while. It's as old as I am :)
     

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