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My best advice is to look for an old McKenna ultrasonic. These use small stainless steel cups, which require just a few ounces of fluid, and they can often be obtained very reasonably.
Of course, while these machines are great for their ultrasonic qualitits, they're not the "cure all" for cleaning watches. For that, you need a machine that spins as well. In fact, given the choice between just a spinning machine, or just an ultrasonic, you'd be better off with the former.
President, NAWCC Chapter #62
North Little Rock, Arkansas
I just checked eBay, where these show up fairly frequently, and sure enough, there aren't any there at the moment. If you're patient, and keep your eyes open, one will almost certainly show up. These were common machines in the 1950s, and they were very good, but most of the people I know who have operational ones today wouldn't think of getting rid of them.
You might also consider an older Watchmaster Ultrasonic, or even a new L&R. These will probably cost more than a McKenna (and they're not any better, or better suited for the purpose), but they're probably going to be easier to find. Each should probably cost about as much as a relatively cheap railroad watch.
One last suggestion is to try Jack Phillips at Electronic Instrument Service in California. I don't have his number here at the moment, but his name has been mentioned here before (a few times), and by doing a "search" of the old topics, I'm sure you can find it. You can probably also find some useful information about ultrasonic cleaners as well, as this is a subject that comes up from time to time. (You should search this section, but also the "Wristwatches," "Horological Tools," and "Misc." sections.
Again, I hope this helps! If you can find an old McKenna, I guarantee you'll love it (and who knows -- Jack might even have one for sale)!
By the way, I don't know what your current situation is, but have you considered an old L&R Master spinning type machine? These were THE most common cleaning machine from the 1930s through the 1960s, and I guarantee you they are quite readily available.
Some would argue that the ultrasonic machines do a better job (which they do -- a little bit), but the cleaning solution does 95% of the work anyway, and as I mentioned in my earlier post, if you were going to buy a machine that was JUST a spinning type, or JUST an ultrasonic, you'd be better off with the spinner. Of course, the ideal is the combination of the two (an ultrasonic spinner), but those are hard to find, and not very "affordable."
My situation is I'm a beginner watchmaker hobbyist and a (pocket) watch collector. I'm looking for inexpensive cleaner for some of my pocket watches that I got specifically for the purpose of disassembling/cleaning/tuning.
[This message has been edited by buba (edited 02-15-2002).]
If you're just going to clean an occasional watch I would suggest you just clean them by hand. All you will need are some small metal trays, cleaning solution, small brushes, eye loop or magnifyer of some type, and some peg wood. Jim.