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    Rory formerly worked as Curator of Horology at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, where his role included day-to-day management of research and digitization projects, writing, public speaking, conservation, convening conferences, exhibition work, and development of acquisition/disposal and collection care policies. In addition, he has worked as a horological specialist at Bonhams in London, where he cataloged and handled many rare timepieces and built important relationships with collectors, buyers, and sellers. Most recently, Rory has used his talents to share his love of horology at the university level by teaching horological theory, history, and the practical repair and making of clocks and watches at Birmingham City University.

    Rory is a British citizen and currently resides in the UK. Pre-COVID-19, Rory and his wife, Kaai, visited HQ in Columbia, Pennsylvania, where they met with staff, spent time in the Museum and Library & Research Center, and toured the area. Rory and Kaai will be relocating to the area as soon as the immigration challenges and travel restrictions due to COVID-19 permit.

    Some of you may already be familiar with Rory as he is also a well-known author and lecturer. His recent publications include the book Harrison Decoded: Towards a Perfect Pendulum Clock, which he edited with Jonathan Betts, and the article “George Graham and the Orrery” in the journal Nuncius.

    Until Rory’s relocation to the United States is complete, he will be working closely with an on-boarding team assembled by the NAWCC Board of Directors to introduce him to the opportunities and challenges before us and to ensure a smooth transition. Rory will be participating in strategic and financial planning immediately, which will allow him to hit the ground running when he arrives in Columbia

    You can read more about Rory McEvoy and this exciting announcement in the upcoming March/April issue of the Watch & Clock Bulletin.

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Post cleaning treatment opinions

TimS

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I'm slowly working up to my first full disassembly for cleaning (an ST 89 movement). I have the mainsprings let down into clamps.

I don't have an ultrasonic cleaner and intend to clean the workings by hand. I do have an ultrasonic toothbrush with a head I was about done with, so that may be repurposed :)

I was wondering what people think of post-cleaning options for protection (e.g. Polychem's Polytect on Timesavers). If I do a thorough job cleaning a garden tool before storing it for the winter, I'll put something on it to fill the open pores. So if I'm brushing clock parts with soapy water and following up with a bath and alcohol cleanse it seems like a dunk in something like this makes sense. Another part of me says to get it as "clean and natural" as I can and just oil the pivots, partly because I normally don't put anything on a finished piece of brass. But then again I haven't worked with brass gears much.

I'm leaning toward oiling the iron parts after I clean and just leaving the brass alone at that point - not using the protection dunk. Opinions and voices from experience would be appreciated.
 
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Dick Feldman

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Your 89 movement is old enough that the primary problem is probably wear causing increased friction and low power.
All of the gyrations with cleaning, oiling and adjusting will likely not make it go.
You would be well served to study the solutions for wear.
A dirty movement in good shape will run
Oiling is not a curative measure.
If oiling makes a movement run, the repair will be short lived.
Adjusting a worn movement to solve wear problems will generally also be a short lived repair.
Your local library has books written by experts about clock repair.
JMHO
Dick
 

Vernon

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I have some Polychem rinse but I haven't used it much to form an opinion. After washing make sure that all of the cleaner is rinsed off well before dunking the parts into the rubbing alcohol (other alcohols are flammable and care should be taken). You should immediately dry the parts well. I put my parts into a towel lined metal bowl and use a blow dryer but there are other methods.

I agree with Dick that you should check for wear once the cleaning is complete.
 

Bruce Alexander

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I'm slowly working up to my first full disassembly for cleaning (an ST 89 movement)
I'm sorry but it's not quite clear to me. Are you going to disassemble this movement for a proper cleaning?
 

SuffolkM

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It's pretty easy to get a movement absolutely gleaming with all the different clock cleaning solutions out there, but you will soon see that the shine fades and indeed any finger marks or oil on the movement will begin to become apparent rather quickly (in a week or two). After a month, the movement will look decidedly less impressive once again. The care and attention that goes into mending a clock endures far longer than the bright gold aesthetic. I'd rather the clock keeps running so I tend to lavish my efforts on the "working", rather than the "looking".

Using brass cleaners and metal polishes to make plates shiny will gum up the pivot holes, which is just adding to your work on the cleaning. If plates are not lacquered, wear some nitrile gloves or finger tips and see how well you do keeping oil and muck out of the rebuild process. You can keep the plates looking good for longer if you never handle them with your fingers. It takes a sort of special focus on clean/dry handling to keep the brass pristine and you absolutely must be sparse with the oiling of the pivot holes (over-oiling is needless anyway).

I find that prior repairers have rarely managed to keep their work pristine, and most clocks look a bit messy with the brass oxidised, oil coming from pivots etc. Maybe when a clock is exiting the workshop fixed, we should just accept that the shine is very temporary - just long enough, in fact, to dazzle the customer before we hand it back!

TLDR; I wouldn't overly fuss about shining clock parts up for aesthetics. :emoji_nerd:
 
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shutterbug

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I'm guessing the main concern is rust? If you live in a very humid environment that is not controlled by heating/air conditioning, and rust is a , constant battle, then some protective action may be necessary. But most clocks do fine in more 'normal' environments and rust is not usually a problem. Just an annoyance to clock repairmen. :)
 

R. Croswell

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I'm slowly working up to my first full disassembly for cleaning (an ST 89 movement). I have the mainsprings let down into clamps.

I don't have an ultrasonic cleaner and intend to clean the workings by hand. I do have an ultrasonic toothbrush with a head I was about done with, so that may be repurposed :)

I was wondering what people think of post-cleaning options for protection.......................
You cannot properly clean a clock movement without disassembling it so I hope you are now at that point. You have the mainsprings let down into clamps. You will need to remove the clamps to clean the springs which is as important as cleaning the rest of the parts. Do you have a spring winder tool? If not, you might want to consider using #16 or #18 tie wire instead of clamps. Clamps can be difficult to remove, wire can just be cut to expanc the springs and with a No. 89 ST there is a way to rewind the springs using the clock's own main wheel.

You didn't mention whether this clock has any running problems but while it is apart is an ideal time to check for pivot hole wear and do any bushing work.

I have one of those sonic tooth brushes, it is not ultrasonic, just a vibrating brush. It won't get dirt out of places that the brush can't reach but sure, go ahead and use it as you would use any other tooth brush to clean parts. I believe that precleaning is more important than post cleaning treatment. If the parts are really greasy and dirty and quick brushing with a more aggressive degreaser will help, follow by your choice of clock cleaning solution - I like Polychem-007 which removes oxidation and makes the brass look bright. If clean is important but bright isn't then Dawn dish detergent, LA's Totally Awesome Cleaner and others are OK. Some household cleaners will darken brass if exposed too long.

We are talking water based cleaners. I find that the best "post-cleaning" is a thorough rinse in clean water, then blow with compressed air and quickly cry with hot air. Distilled water will contain less oxygen and may reduce the chance of any rust formation. Cold water will also reduce the chance of rust formation. I use no other post-cleaning treatment. At one time I used an alcohol dip as was recommended by the makers of Historic Timekeepers cleaner but have found that unnecessary with Polychem-007.

Regarding alcohol, the admonition to use rubbing alcohol (other alcohols are flammable and care should be taken) is questionable. All alcohol is flammable in concentrations above about 50% (the other 50% being water). The alcohol sold in places like Wal-Mart is typically 70% or 90% - both are flammable. The real problem with alcohol rinse is that at concentrations less than 90% it isn't especially good at "drying" the residual moisture, and with each use it becomes more diluted.

I would advise against oiling the cleaned parts which would only attract dust. Do oil the pivots and places that are normally oiled. There are commercial clock rinses that you can try but they are expensive. Some use petroleum based solvent post-rinses but these tend to be flammable and produce unpleasant fumes.

RC
 

howtorepairpendulumclocks

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If you manually wash the parts in mineral spirits using natural bristle brushes and peg out the holes (white spirits, paraffin or a proprietary equivalent such as L&R No3), you have no problem. The movement is not extensively de-greased. oil as normal (pivot holes and working surfaces excluding wheel teeth and pinion leaves) and you are good to go.
 

Bruce Alexander

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If you're going to disassemble and clean I can't add much to the great advice you've already received. I asked if you plan to disassemble the movement because some so-called "Intact Cleaning" methods are better than others.

https://mb.nawcc.org/threads/clock-cleaning-question.168446/post-1360823

...post-cleaning options for protection...
Once you have your movement clean and dry, use latex or nitrile gloves to handle all metal parts. If you don't have gloves, thoroughly wash and dry your hands before handling anything. Keep a clean, dry towel nearby and "dry" your hands frequently.

If the plates are lacquered and the lacquer appears to be in good shape, manually clean the plates with a good soap. Warm cleaners with ammonia tend to strip lacquer if exposed too long.

If the plates have no lacquer, consider applying a coat or two of good paste wax. A Carnuba-based Automobile Wax or
Renaissance Wax are two good choices. This can help to prevent corrosion caused by oils and acids on your hands and it will also slow down fresh tarnish/corrosion.

Tarnish on brass is self-limiting and requires no intervention so it doesn't bother some folks. Some prefer a natural "Patina". Conservators definitely do. Tarnish should not be confused with corrosion caused by contaminants though. Etched fingerprints can be fairly deep and difficult to remove and, in my opinion, are a sure sign of carelessness. They'll frequently show up on clock and watch movements. I suppose it's one way to leave your mark.

Good luck and have fun,

Bruce
 
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TimS

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You guys are amazingly generous with your knowledge and experience. Thank you! Let's see if I can cover all the great feedback and questions.

Yes, I am planning to do a full disassembly for cleaning. I haven't done that before, so I'm going slowly. I bought the clock as a learning platform, so I have the luxury of time and no customer other than me really really wanting it to work out and learn to do it "right". Because it had a broken regulator arbor and to gain the benefit of a separate reference I ended up finding a matching "for parts" movement, so now I'm learning twice as fast :)

I'm not going for bright shiny brass. I've shined my share of brightwork and it has it's place, but probably more often I prefer an aged look. I do have gloves to limit the tracks I leave. My main concern was rust. Besides the pivots, it looks like the lantern pinions are iron based. Both are where my clumsy reference to garden tools came from. If you get an old tool really clean and don't put a little coat of something on it, it's going rust - usually right quick. Hopefully the environment a clock lives in will be better than a garage or garden shed, but I wondered if it was similar enough that some sort of post cleaning treatment is a normal step for clock repairers.

As far as the condition of the movements, they're currently filthy, but the trains on both will run for short periods of time. There is an obvious need for at least one new bushing on the original movement that I can feel without even taking it apart. Ironically, the "for parts" movement seems to be in better shape. The multiple suggestions to inspect for other wear after cleaning are well taken. My plan (using that term loosely here) is to disassemble, clean, inspect and just take note of what looks like needs to be done and see if I can reassemble. If I get that far, I'll start over and try to learn the next steps. Probably starting with the most obvious bushing. For now the main guidance I was looking for was whether a cleaning and reassembly with a lack of post-cleaning treatment would be likely to cause damage. I think I'm hearing a collective no. Clean thoroughly, dry quickly. RC's comment of "Do oil the pivots and places that are normally oiled." did leave me wondering if iron-based lantern pinions are places that are normally oiled after cleaning though.
 
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Dan13

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I just took apart my 89 movement today, first time ever to open a movement. I got advice to take lots of detailed pictures as I was going in. It saved me a few times! Try to put the gears back exactly as you found them when you take the plate off. Good luck.
 

R. Croswell

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RC's comment of "Do oil the pivots and places that are normally oiled." did leave me wondering if iron-based lantern pivots are places that are normally oiled after cleaning though.
The pivots (the tip that goes through the plate) gets oil. The trundles (pins ) in the lantern pinion do not get oil, and we generally do not oil the gears (usually called wheels in clock speak).

It is the strike side where you may have an issue. Wheels that have stop pins and cams have to be in stalled so the stop pin is in the right place in relation to the cam, count wheel, and strike hammer. The time side should be piece of cake as long as you note which side of each wheel goes "up".

RC
 
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TimS

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The pivots (the tip that goes through the plate) gets oil. The trundles (pins ) in the lantern pinion do not get oil, and we generally do not oil the gears (usually called wheels in clock speak).

It is the strike side where you may have an issue. Wheels that have stop pins and cams have to be in stalled so the stop pin is in the right place in relation to the cam, count wheel, and strike hammer. The time side should be piece of cake as long as you note which side of each wheel goes "up".

RC
Thanks! Your response also made me realize that I called them lantern pivots instead of pinions in my last sentence, so I went back and fixed that. I did have it right in my first use in the post if that gives me any redemption.

The strike side is broken on the original movement in that one of two hammers is never getting lifted. The "parts" movement works fine, so that should help me sort it out. That's a separate topic, so I'll shelve it until I find out more. Also, both hammers need new leather and I don't know how to best do that yet. To quote the terminator, "I'll be back". Either for those bits or other advice. I'm really grateful for the help here.
 

Kevin W.

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Your parts movement will be a good teaching aid, that you can refer to.
 

Dietofnothing

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I’m not a clock expert, so take this with a grain of salt. But I’m familiar with metal & cleaning. Assuming you are working by hand, someone mentioned mineral spirits - and that will degrease by hand better than any water based cleaner will.

Of course it stinks. But you don’t need to use a lot & don’t have to worry about rust. Also, for the amount you need to use it’s pretty cheap. Probably about $2 worth at most. Works well for me at least.
 

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