my dad died from repairing watches.. Question..

Smudgy

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May 20, 2003
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L&R is still around, it is a company that sells a range of cleaning fliuds. It would be difficult to know which chemicals he was using based solely on the company name. There has also been a change in chemicals that watchmakers use in response to finding the hazards involved with some of them. As far as contracting cancer I would think that the radium would be a more significant concern. If you use the 'Find' feature at the top of the page and plug in 'radium' you will find a number of discussions on the topic.

And yes, the box of tools you have would definitely be worth more than $20 (the lathe alone sould break that mark with no trouble). You can't sell the items on this message board due to the regulations, but I'm sure a number of people on this board would be interested in them (including myself). If you wanted to sell them yourself you could go through E-Bay or message boards like Web Horology. Other possibilities would be Dash-To, join the NAWCC and sell through the E-Mart, or send me a private message. Or one more option would be to take up the hobby yourself, since it sounds like you are all set-up for it anyways. If you do decide to take it up yourself this message board is a great source of information.
 

Jon Hansen

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It is interesting that your dad's doctor's blamed his prostate cancer on watch cleaning chemicals. Does anyone know if watchmakers are more subject to protate cancer then men in other occupations? A lot has been written about the women who painted dials with radium paint. Many of them died horrible deaths due to poisoning from the radioactive paint. Do watch cleaning chemicals come with any warning labels about their possible dangers? Jon
 

doug sinclair

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Billy,

I doubt if you father's oncologist would have attributed the cancer to cleaning solutions. Aside from radiation, there seems to be a lot of discussion about what actually can cause cancer. I have been told that professions such as watch repairing that involve a lot of sitting can cause prostate problems Cancer? I don't know. But when you consider the major existence of prostate problems among men, probably 1/10 of 1% of whom are watchmakers, I peronally doubt it would have caused his problem. Lung cancer? Maybe!
 

frankb

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Feb 21, 2005
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B- Carbon Tetrachloride or 'Carbon Tet' was a popular cleaner/solvent banned in 1970- primarily for causing liver cancer. It was even sold for household spot cleaning.

It's very likely that this is a cleaner that your Dad would have used. It was probably available from sources other than L&R.

It may not have been the cause of your Dad's prostate cancer but it was a banned cancer-causing product. There may be others.

My Dad (not a watchmaker) died from lung cancer at age 50 when I was a young boy. As an adult I also tried to ascertain a cause.

I don't know your objective but make sure you get both the PBA test AND digital exam annually.

Frank
 

RL

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I think we can readily conclude--prostate cancer would not have cleaning fluids as an etiology.
As someone has mentioned (especially with older cleaning solutions) respiratory problems etc.--perhaps. Carcinoma of the prostate gland--no!
 

bchaps

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Dec 16, 2001
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Like you Billy, my father was also a jeweler from 1946 to 1958 and I recall in addition to L&R solutions in tin cans, he had some other awful smelling concoctions used to clean clocks. Certainly many of his "home brewed" cleaning solutions would be banned today. But, one of the most interesting aspects of watch/clock repair today is the volume of information we can access. I know my dad didn't have or couldn't afford the vast library of repair books available to us. When he had a problematic clock to repair, there was no message board to seek help. He just had to figure it out...and I think that explains some of the bodgered clock repairs we see today. Billy, I recommend you consider keeping your father's tools. I wanted nothing to do with watches and clocks until I was "downsized" at 52 and gratefully was able to train under my father's watchful eye for several weeks before he passed away. And now I restore two clocks a week with a three month backlog. Whoda thunk!!!

Bill
 

RL

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Billy,
I think Bill's (bchaps) advise is something worth considering. I have known several people whose father, grandfather etc. was a watchmaker and they still have their tools. Most do not have an interest in watch or clock repair but they would never part with the tools. They will be handed down for generations to come. And as Bill said--never know where your interests will lead to.

After all this--if you still think you want to sell them then try to get a knowledgable person to help with pricing. I'm sure there are some on this board that would be willing to help and/or purchase the tools.
 

Smudgy

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I've been told that running alcohol in an ultrasonic is ill advised. I don't know the truth of it, but it makes some sense.
 

GD1

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A few years ago I attended the estate auction of an elderly man from Southern Illinois who was a watch and clock repairman. Among his effects was a can marked cyanide which I was told by an older auction attendee was once used as a jewelery cleaning agent. An interesting story told by this same man was that "years ago", as he put it, there was an older gentlemen who worked on watches and clocks in the same area who had poured cyanide into a glass to use for cleaning. His wife called to him to take care of some household chore and he forgot about it. Later when he returned to work he carried a glass of water to his workbench which he sat down. While concentrating on a job he had in front of him, he picked up a glass to take a drink and you can guess the rest. THe older man who related this gave me the man's name, etc. but at the time it didn't register. I do recall that it happened during the 1930-40 era.
 

neighmond

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Well, I guess the statute of limitations is up now...I can tell this one.

When I was nineteen I worked in an old jewelry store, that had been in the same place since 1896. The clocks and watches had always been repaired in a mezzanine "loft" over the back 15 feet of the store, with great glass windows looking into the store and into the alley. There was a long, built-in counter of sorts between the alley windows, where lived the cleaning machines and such; the lower cupboards of this bench were an absolute repository for whatever didn't have any other place to be. One day John B. determined that as long as I was there and could crawl back into the cupboards (he was in his 90's then) they should be cleaned out, by hook or by crook. The day came, and he sent me home to put old clothes on, and we undertook the task. The bottem two shelves had many old glass jars and cans of unspeakable poison, and every sort of vile concoction, very little of which was labled. I would hand the old gent a bottle or can, he would shake it,open it if could, and sniff it. If it was deemed usable it stayed out, if not it was thrown into a large metal oil barrel borrowed for the purpose. The containers that wouldn't open were thrown in without further cerimony. By the time we were done that barrel was about full of rusted cans, bottles, broken glass and about a foot and a half of the nastiest, putrifacated, maledictious slop I believe the world ever saw, or will see.

John B. was a good man, a fine man, and a credit to his brethren man, but like all mortals was not without shortcoming. His was thusly: sometimes he faild to ponder the consiquences of his actions. What I'm getting at, is this: his major shortsight this time was the small fact that the barrel had to go up the stairs tipped at an angle, because of the bend at the base of the star; once filled it sure couldn't lay on its side, and upright there wasn't a snowball's chance in perdition of man or diety getting it down the steps without disaster.

Once this minor error came to light, he further discovered that neither of us could lift it, and called upon some nephew of his that was on the fire department in a neighboring county to come and get rid of it. The nephew was a younger man (older than me but younger than my folks)and he took one look at all this ordainance and blew up in a big way. He proceeded to lay down the law to his uncle, and told him he ought to have his fool head examined, and that all he deserved was to blow up or melt into a smoking blob if he hadn't anymore brains than that, and that he ought to get fined and put in jail and all kinds of other nasty things besides.

He called some gentlemen from his profession, and they came in proper attire for a party if that ilk, and the three made that barrel vanish, altough to this moment I don't pretend to know how they got it out, or where or what became of it-for all I know it is still in a concrete bunker someplace in Illinois.

AWTTWS

Chaz
 

doug sinclair

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All,

Neighmond's post has given me pause for thought. My late father who was a watch repair person for 56 years, used trichloroethylene exclusively for cleaning and rinsing watches and clocks for the last 20 years of his life. I have just read some information on trichloroethylene and what prolonged exposure has been known to do to the human body, and I have been wondering if it may just have had something to do with his demise 30 years ago! We were asked if we wanted an autopsy, but I declined. It's not that I use trichloroethylene, but it would be important to know, now that I think of it. Too late now. His problem wasn't cancer, but he had both heart and lung problems, and based on what I have read, trichloroethylene might just have contributed to both of them! In another thread, the topic of this stuff came up. One respondent indicated that he used 45 gallon drums of the stuff in the printing business and didn't have a problem. I wonder though if long term exposure, even to small quamtities, might just have serious consequences. I suppose this could be a factor with any chemical used in our industry that is considered fairly safe?
 

neighmond

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It always surprised me that John B. died of natural causes...he was born in the days of arsenic in black paper, cyanide to clean gilted watches, Carbon tetrichloride, trichlorethelene, and benzine and lord alone knows what else. All those nasty chemicals gave him opportunity to tempt fate in oh-so-many creative ways, and still he never managed to cash in early.

He was 96.
 

John Webb

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I ran across this old thread looking for something else and found it very entertaining. As a young man, I worked for an electric motor overhaul shop where we used Xylene in pressure sprayers to clean parts, without respirators, and ah! the aroma of burnt varnish and who knows what else vaporizing in the burn-out oven. Later, I worked 11 years as an aircraft technician where we used trichloroethylene in aerosol cans, among many other deadly chemicals, for cleaning intricate parts, again with no breathing protection, and I never thought twice about starting an airplane and taking it for a test flight after these repairs were complete. I'm probably lucky that I am here today to tell about it. It's no wonder that I ask so many dumb questions about clocks, is it?

John
 

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