Mainspring lube; do you use something different for 400 day vs. 7 day?

Discussion in '400-Day & Atmos' started by Chris, Jul 18, 2012.

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  1. Chris

    Chris Registered User
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    I was wondering if anyone uses a different lubricant on 400 day clocks than on normal 7 day clocks. I normally use either Keystone or Superlube on both types, but I have a couple of 400 day clocks that have run well for several months, but have now started stalling out. I let them down and rewound them, but one continues to stall. Ideas?
     
  2. doug sinclair

    doug sinclair Registered User

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    You don't tell us if you removed the springs from the barrels with a mainspring winder, cleaned and rinsed and dried the springs, and re-inserted the springs with a mainspring winder. If you did, then I suspect your problem could be elsewhere. If you didn't, your problems cold well be dirty, gummy springs, not problems caused by the lubricants you use. I suspect I'll take a lot of flak on this, but I use ordinary chassis lube (automotive grease) on 400-day mainsprings. And I have so for thousands of these clocks that I have serviced over decades.
     
  3. MartinM

    MartinM Registered User

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    No flak from me. I use Automotive engine assembly lube with moly graphite. Some say it has strange interactions with brass. I've never seen any.
    Lots of shops use clock oil; but, that is a bad call. Just use it on one of those ribbed Korean 30-day mainsprings and try to get the clock to run. That, and the green glue it turns into, over time are enough to make me never go that route.
     
  4. John Hubby

    John Hubby Senior Administrator Emeritus
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    #4 John Hubby, Jul 19, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2012
    You can use most any non-synthetic clock lube, grease, whatever on 8-day clocks and they will perform well for several years but "will" encounter the problems described later. However, if you use modern synthetics you will get up to 20 years with no problems when the one with "conventional" lube will have long ago had to be cleaned and re-lubed.

    For 400-Day clocks, the situation is even more critical due to the very slow unwinding of the mainspring, which lends itself to polymerization of petroleum based lubes over a few years (or less) and the mainsprings will exhibit what I call "stiction", with the coils sticking together with enough surface tension to either lock them in place and stop the clock (that's what appears to be happening with Chris' clock) or to result in sudden release (and possible train damage) which you can hear. You will also "feel" this when you are winding the clock.

    I have absolute proof that synthetics are the hands-down choice for 400-Day clocks. My test case includes two clocks, the first a Shatz made in 1960 that was given to my parents as a wedding anniversary present, and the other a Nisshindo 400-Day made in 1963 that was purchased new by one of my cousins who was stationed in Japan.

    The Schatz had major lube failure by 1972 (my dad kept faithful records of its operation) and had to be completely serviced before it would run again. Unfortunately the clock repairman used conventional lubes, and the clock failed again in 1980 (related to me by my Dad). I was given the clock by my Mom when Dad passed away in August 1982, but it sat on the shelf until 1986. By that time I had about six years experience with 400-Day clocks and had heard that Bill Ellison (previous Horolovar owner) said to use synthetic lubes and it would run for much longer. I did that in a complete service and guess what? The clock is still running today (26 years later) without changing the lube on the mainspring (Mobil synthetic). I used Etsyntha 5 on the pivots, and they still have oil present although it is somewhat dark, and the clock is running to time. I plan to service it next month in memory of my Dad's passing in 1982, this time I'll use Slick 50 One Lube for the mainspring and Etsyntha 857 for the pivots.

    Just for info I conducted run tests on three 30-Day torsion clocks of the same make and model back in the mid-90's using Slick 50 HP, Mobil 1, and Moebius mainspring oil/grease on the mainsprings. The results are reported in This Thread. Etsyntha 5 was used on the pivots on all three clocks to minimize variables. In three consecutive two-set tests with switching the lube on each mainspring from one to the other (after thorough cleaning of the mainsprings and relube), the Slick 50 was by far the best giving run times 23% longer than the Moebius, Mobil 1 was 16% longer. Following that and until One Lube was introduced I have used the Slick 50/Etsyntha combination on all clocks (not just 400-Day) and have had no clock lube failures of any kind since then. Even better, I've MANY of my own 400-Day clocks that have not been serviced in 10 years+ with no issues, I've given up checking them since I found the mainsprings looking just like they did when I serviced them 10+ years earlier. Finally, I started testing One Lube a little over a year ago and it appears to be as good as the "old" Slick 50 HP which is no longer manufactured so I'm moving to that now.

    Back to the Nisshindo that was bought by my cousin. He gave me that clock in 1990 after it had run for 27 years without being serviced. He had broken the suspension spring in a house move and said if I could fix it I could have it. I serviced the clock but found out I could not open the mainspring barrel as it was crimped shut. However, the winding seemed smooth so I left it be but did clean and lube the movement using Etsyntha 5 on the pivots. I found out in 1997 from Bill Ellison that the Nisshindo's were designed so the mainspring barrel can't be opened; this was intentional since they used a synthetic oil at the factory and had concluded it never needed changing. Long story short that clock is still running nicely today with the original sealed barrel after 49 years and only one service of the pivots 22 years ago.

    Long story short: Synthetics are the bomb, regardless of type of clock but ESSENTIAL for long term operation of 400-Day clocks.
     
  5. Chris

    Chris Registered User
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    Regarding the mainsprings, I removed them completely, cleaned them down with acetone as well as the inside of the barrels. I used either Superlube or Keystone mainspring oil, but I'm wondering if I should switch over to a "thicker" medium such as grease which is apt to have more sticking power. I was wondering if perhaps the use of oil could be the fault. Since the mainsprings uncoil at a much slower rate than 7 day clocks, is the oil creeping down and creating dry spots? That was my thought.
     
  6. harold bain

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    More sticking power=problems. You certainly don't want the leaves of the spring sticking together.
    See John Hubby's post for advice on what to use.
    Give Slick 50 One Lube a try. You'll never want to use anything else.
     
  7. Walesey

    Walesey Registered User

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    You make a VERY convincing argument John. Thanks for all that information.

    regards

    Walesey
     
  8. Len Lataille

    Len Lataille Registered User
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    On mainsprings I use nano oil, 10 wt, wiped on with a rag so there is just a thin film of oil. Too much of any lubricant and the coils will stick.
     
  9. lirenrui

    lirenrui Registered User

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    Hi, everyone,

    nano oil VS Slick 50, which is better ?

    I want to listen to everybody's opinions.


    Regards


    lirenrui
    2012.7.30
     
  10. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    Nano oil is too new to really be able to say what the long range effectiveness will be. Slick 50 has been tested extensively over many years and has been proven. Given time, Nano oil may prove itself superior .... but it's going to take years :)
     
  11. Len Lataille

    Len Lataille Registered User
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    It's been more than three years since I first tried nano oil. I started with mainsprings only in 400 day clocks. All 400 day clocks and 1000 day clocks have run well over their durations.

    Once it proved to be effective, for me at least, in the 400 days on mainsprings, I then started using it elsewhere in all clocks.

    Have not had a problem thus far.

    As for testing as long as Slick 50, I wont be around that long to care.

    As long as the clocks run well with no harm during my lifetime, I will be satisfied.

    BTW, someone has to start using these (or any) lubricant at some point in time, if there is ever going to be a satisfactory conclusion. Denying possible advantages simply because the product is untested, proves nothing.
     
  12. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    I think there are a lot of nano users out there. I haven't thought to try it on mainsprings, but use it as a pivot oil and like it so far :) I certainly can't think of a reason it wouldn't work on mainsprings .... but I have a lot of Slick 50 to use up first :D
     
  13. Chris

    Chris Registered User
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    I'm a bit frustrated here; I cannot find Slick 50 One Lube anywhere (not at Pep Boys, Autozone, Lowe's, etc.). WHERE CAN I FIND IT:???: I looked it up online and appears to be a spray lube; is that correct? I'm still finding that several are stalling after service. I was wondering if I should do some pivot hole smoothing; the pivots look fine as do the holes.
     
  14. harold bain

    harold bain Registered User
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    Try Ace Hardware, Chris.
     
  15. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    If you are having issues with several clocks, I'd be doubtful that it is mainspring related (assuming of course that the mainsprings were properly cleaned and lubed). Just about any lubrication on the mainspring would get you running, I think. Where the Slick 50 or Nano oil applications are most useful are in long running clocks using very little power - like 400 day clocks. Most of us use them on all clocks, but I'm thinking your real problem lies elsewhere.....probably pivots (not polished or bent during assembly) or pivot holes.
     
  16. watchin

    watchin Registered User

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    If you decide that you need to rework the pivot holes be cautious that they stay round. You will need the right tools for this. I would attempt to clean the pivot holes better before enlarging them. Often the laquer that was sprayed on the plates to protect the surface of the brass can be found gumming up the pivot holes.
    There are many reasons a clock will stop. Being out of beat is probably the main one. If it is actually "stalling" as you say then it could be too much friction in the drive train sapping the clock of power to run properly.
    Disassemble, clean scrupulously, reassemble carefully and then put it in beat. It should run for many years.
    Above all, have fun doing it.
     
  17. etmb61

    etmb61 Registered User
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    All this oil talk got me to wondering, so I picked up a can of One lube today.

    It turns out Slick 50 One lube is 70% CAS 64742-65-0, which is just highly refined parafin mineral oil, and 30% n-Heptane, which is a highly volitile hydrocarbon. n-Heptane is one of the base components for gasoline. One lube contains no Teflon or other enhancements.

    But anyway, you spray it on, the n-Heptane displaces any moisture and enables the mineral oil to penetrate then evaporates. Over time the mineral oil will oxidize, just like our favorite WD-40.

    Most Slick 50 products use mineral oil as the base.

    Mobil 1, however, is synthetic oil. It doesn't breakdown and outgas other toxic substances like refined oils, and I won't oxidize at ambient temperatures. It should last forever on a mainspring.

    I think I'll keep the One lube for my garage door.
     
  18. MartinM

    MartinM Registered User

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    #18 MartinM, Aug 7, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2012

    Tribology is an interesting topic. For those looking for a 'Teflon' answer, I believe that Teflon is really just a basic polymer with molybdenum filler added.


    Edit:
    Actually, I guess the product I'm thinking of is 'Nylatron' (Moly-infused, Nylon) or Vespel.
    PTFE does stand alone as a pure polymer.
     
  19. shutterbug

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    Maybe. Test it out and let us know in a few years. The Slick 50 has been rigorously tested in clock mainsprings and has passed the test of time. One Lube has at least 5 years or so of successful spring lubing history. No oxidation to date. Mobil 1 sounds promicing :)
     
  20. John Hubby

    John Hubby Senior Administrator Emeritus
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    Eric, could you post the source information regarding One Lube composition? I've done a major search and the only specifics I've found including the MSDS is <30% heptane and 1-5% CO2, also "some" mineral oil per the CAS spec you mention. It also contains "hydrocarbon propellant" which is usually butane but no quantity specified. Finally, some literature states it contains PTFE (or derivatives thereof) but not any specific percentage. Long story short, so far haven't been able to put together a complete composition but there is more there than what you have stated.

    FWIW, one piece of info I did find is that Slick 50 engine treatment no longer contains PTFE, so if you still have some of the old Slick 50 HP (synthetic oil) with PTFE use it sparingly as you won't be able to replace it. It took me 15 years to use the first quart and I still have two left. Maybe my great grandkids will be able to use it on their clocks. :whistle:
     
  21. etmb61

    etmb61 Registered User
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    John,

    Here is the USA MSDS I've obtained, go to the "right to know" info on page 7.

    I've also found an MSDS for Canada that lists the mineral oil on page 1.

    Eric
     

    Attached Files:

  22. etmb61

    etmb61 Registered User
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    I'll just have to go pick some up! I was using Keystone oil on all of mine, but I seem to have missplaced it.
     
  23. harold bain

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    Eric, I've been using One Lube for quite a while, probably more than 10 years, and have never had a mainspring problem (other than breaking) with any clocks I have serviced. The main criteria for mainspring lube is having something that doesn't change to a sticky mess with time. You can feel when winding a clock if the leaves are sticking. Mainsprings would likely work just fine with no lube, except for the problem of oxidation.
     
  24. John Hubby

    John Hubby Senior Administrator Emeritus
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    Thanks, Eric. That's the same one I looked at. Problem is that the MSDS requirements don't require listing of inert/non-reactive contents such as PTFE, also you can't arrive at a complete composition by difference. It seems to me the hydrocarbon propellant should also be listed there but it isn't. So, still searching for a complete composition statement.

    I agree with your concern about the use of petroleum distillate mineral oil as the main lube. While it is an aliphatic long-chain hydrocarbon that would not ordinarliy polymerize at ambient temperatures (gum formation unlikely) I do have a concern about long-term oxidation to form sludge. I'm testing the performance of the One-Lube and so far have nothing negative to report but it will take a 10-year plus multiple blind test to see if there are long-term problems. Hope I live that long, so far have only used it for two years and only on half the clocks I service.

    Really long term if a replacement for the old Slick 50 HP with PTFE hasn't come around, I would strongly recommend going with a full-synthetic oil such as Mobil 1. Those lubes will be with us as long as there are combustion or jet engines around. FWIW, Mobil 1 has been tested now for more than 20 years with no adverse reports. The first usage on 400-Day clocks I am aware of was by Bill Ellison, the former owner of Horolovar, who was also an automotive mechanical engineer for GM who worked in lube testing and applications among other things. I believe he started using it around 1990.
     
  25. etmb61

    etmb61 Registered User
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    My limited experience with clocks is that every barrel I've opened has been a sticky smelly mess. I can't figure out how something that stays at room temp and has no extreme operating regime would end up that way. While I can't say what any of them were lubed with, I would think some type of refined petroleum oil. I figured a synthetic would eliminate this.

    I thought about trying a dry film lube too.
     
  26. John Hubby

    John Hubby Senior Administrator Emeritus
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    If a 400-Day clock was manufactured or serviced more than 20 years ago you can bet that some kind of petroleum based grease was used on the mainspring, with one exception. Even though sythetic greases had been developed as early as the mid-1940's they didn't make their way into horological applications until the late 1990's, and they also have their own set of problems. More on both of these points in a minute.

    The petroleum based greases were ALL subject to polymerization (gum formation) and oxidation (sludge formation). Some of them were also slightly acidic so you will find a lot of green crud (copper chloride and copper sulfate reaction products) in many barrels where these greases were used. All it took was for some moisture to get into the barrel through the opening in the barrel cover for a reaction to start. Another problem with greases, even the new synthetic ones, is a problem with surface tension that causes "stiction", or the spring coils sticking together and then suddenly releasing with a snap or pop. This can stop a clock, and if severe enough the sudden release can damage the barrel teeth, pivots, etc.

    Both these problems are enough to recommend complete avoidance of any kind of grease for 400-Day mainsprings. Use synthetic oils!!

    The earliest exception to the use of greases on mainsprings that I know of was the Nisshindo Watch Company of Japan (aka Nisshin Clock Co. Ltd), who chose to use synthetic oils to take advantage of their properties. They used a medium weight synthetic oil on all their mainsprings from initial production in 1962. They were so confident that the mainspring would not need future service that they crimped the barrels closed around the barrel covers, with no slot or other opening. You can't get these apart without substantial damage to the barrel, so it's recommended to not even try. I "have" carefully dismantled one using a hydraulic press just to see what condition the mainspring was in after 40 or more years of service, and found the spring to be quite clean and in excellent condition, the oil somewhat darkened but still clear, and no evidence whatever of deterioration. This evidence only reinforced my conclusions that only synthetic oils should be used for mainspring lubrication.
     
  27. David S

    David S Registered User
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    I believe I remember when was researching Slick 50 in Canada I came across an article that said they had to remove PTFE from the formula and claims since it didn't do any good, and I think they used Teflon which is a trade name. Also Slick 50 is now owned by permatex I think.
     
  28. Neeth

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    I have a question on John Hubby's comments regarding Mobil 1 oil. It sounds like it is a fully synthetic IC engine oil. Is this correct? If it is, what weight oil is recommended, and would it be a single vis oil or multi vis? Any prefered type? The oil I had been using finally went bad and I've spent the last six or eight years trying out various oils without finding one that didn't eventually give some sort of trouble. So far 10w Nano oil from Butterworths seems to work for the movements. For Mainsprings I've always used EKN with good results, and recently tried Keystone. Now I'm hearing a lot about Slick 50, and then Mobil 1. I appreciate the differing viewpoints on M/S lube. I'm just curious about if it was engine oil that the comments regarding Mobil 1 meant.

    Thanks

    Ken W
     
  29. technitype

    technitype Registered User

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    How should the lubricant be applied- and how much should be applied?
     
  30. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

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    Well, Do you have a mainspring winder?

    Is the question that should be asked.
     
  31. technitype

    technitype Registered User

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    Who are you asking?

    I have a mainspring winder that I made.

    IMG_20201001_170958.jpg
     
  32. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

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    Good. Because there are many opinions about mainsprings and their lubrication but to make sure the lubrication is efficient, the mainspring should be removed and in general a mainspring winder is an essential part of this.
     
  33. technitype

    technitype Registered User

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    I asked the same question- and the consensus seems to be that oil is used on 400 day mainsprings instead of grease- because 400 day clock mainsprings unwind very slowly, as opposed to other types of clocks- and grease seems to be too viscous(!)
     
  34. Elliott Wolin

    Elliott Wolin Registered User
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    I read in an NAWCC bulletin that full-synthetic 10W-60 works great. I got a quart for around $14, a multi-lifetime supply.
     
  35. technitype

    technitype Registered User

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    ...that sounds pretty slick!!!

    (get it? get it?)
     
  36. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

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    It is probably the reason nobody makes slick jokes. ;)
     

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