Research with purple de-greasing solutions

Discussion in 'Clock Repair' started by kinsler33, Jun 7, 2019.

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  1. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    So I decided to experiment with Zep purple cleaning solution, which somehow seemed appealing at the time. It's a ferocious cleaning agent, especially in the ultrasonic machine with heat, but you have never seen an array of colors like those I found on the plates of the test clock I tried. Repeated sessions with my faithful Zep Fast 505 didn't brighten the plates much either. Zep Fast 505 which is a clear solution I use without dilution, brightens brass rather nicely, and I shall stick with it.

    Mark Kinsler
     
  2. Bruce Alexander

    Bruce Alexander Registered User
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    Yes, I've tried the Zep Purple too Mark and you definitely do not want to soak brass in it. I plan to use it as a wash, quick pre-soak (say less than 5 minutes), or put a dilute solution in a spray bottle. I agree that your recommended Zep Fast 505 is good stuff when it's available. I tried the Purple because my local big box (Lowes) stopped stocking the 505.
     
  3. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    I'm not familiar with Zep purple cleaning solution but I use Super Clean from Wal-Mart automotive section which is also purple. I think purple must be an in color right now. These aggressive cleaners are usually rather caustic, that is they have a very high pH. Prolonged exposure will darken brass and sometimes strange color patterns. The issue seems much worse if metals like aluminum or zinc are in with brass parts. I still find Super Clean to be a great cleaner (but not as good as the old formula that contained lie) but I don't heat it or use it in an ultrasonic. I do one plate, or one part, at a time by hand. dip and brush with a tooth brush. Not more than 30 seconds or so exposure before cold water rinse and then into the ultrasonic with Deox-007 for about 10-15 warm. La's Totally Awesome Cleaner LA's Awesome Cleaner - 20 oz from Dollar General is really inexpensive and an amazing grease cutter and much less likely to discolor brass. I think it may also be available at Wal-Mart. Not quite as aggressive as the purple stuff but safer and less expensive. Worth a try. I've never used in in the ultrasonic, perhaps someone has tried and can inform us.

    RC
     
  4. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    Walmart.com lists Zep Fast 505. You should be able to get free shipping to your local Walmart store, where you can pick it up. Zep has inexplicably changed the bottle color from the familiar blue to a rather shocking yellow, so you could get either container; it's the same stuff. $8.85 per gallon.

    https://www.walmart.com/ip/Zep-Commercial-Fast-505-Cleaner-and-Degreaser-128-oz/23795009?wmlspartner=wlpa&selectedSellerId=0&adid=22222222227000000000&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=c&wl3=42423897272&wl4=pla-51320962143&wl5=9014935&wl6=&wl7=&wl8=&wl9=pla&wl10=8175035&wl11:^nline&wl12=23795009&wl13=&veh=sem&gclid=CjwKEAjwue3nBRCCyrqY0c7bw2wSJACSlmGZ-sAdCnK1GYpw2AKw1TqIytXWiut8btvU2yqGFArw6RoCt2Lw_wcB

    The cleaner from Dollar Tree should also be fine. I have a big ultrasonic cleaner and thus like to buy solutions by the gallon.

    M Kinsler
     
  5. Bruce Alexander

    Bruce Alexander Registered User
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    Thanks Mark. I do like to use it as a pre-soak. I'll shop Wal-Mart the next time I'm in the market for some. :thumb:
     
  6. mauleg

    mauleg Registered User
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    #6 mauleg, Jun 8, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2019
    The pendulum on one of my Kundo anniversary clocks decided to change to purple over time for some reason. Zep was not used, only Blitz. No other parts of this clock or those of other clocks or watches have ever done this. I decided to leave it, as it looks really cool:

    DSCN1602.jpg

    So the label was inaccurate? o_O
     
  7. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    Not at all, the label listed lie and warned to use gloves. I used it 50/50 with water. The current stuff I use full strength.

    RC
     
  8. David S

    David S Registered User
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    I think he is playing with the word "lye"

    David
     
  9. Bruce Alexander

    Bruce Alexander Registered User
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    Nice effect on the Anniversary Clock's pendulum though. Not original but it looks as though it could be...
     
  10. mauleg

    mauleg Registered User
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    You are correct, sir.

    It took about a month for the color to fully develop; I consider it part of the clock's history at this stage.
     
  11. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    I got some of that purple color on the plates of the clock I tested with the Zep Purple, and lots of other colors besides. I think the colors may be due to transparent layers of some weird copper-zinc oxide..

    Brass can tarnish/corrode in the strangest ways under the best of circumstances. I was always fascinated with the zinc crystals visible in some well-used brass door handles or push plates. Seems that the zinc is selectively corroded by everyone's sweaty palms, and a visible grain structure develops.

    And the city water distributed in the area of Pittsburgh where Natalie's mother lived would, without ceremony, extract the zinc right out of the brass faucet washer screws, leaving behind a sort of red copper glob that you'd have to dig out before replacing the screw with one of stainless steel. Dunno why the faucets didn't crumble, too.

    I've learned a lot about metallurgy since I've been fixing clocks.

    M Kinsler
     
  12. Bruce Alexander

    Bruce Alexander Registered User
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    Yeah. Looks good to me. It might even attract my attention if we both happened to be in the market at the same time. :coolsign:

    I''m glad that Mark has reported this possible affect on brass though. Could you imagine this happening to an entire Crystal Regulator movement? Perhaps not so cool...:(
     
  13. bangster

    bangster Moderator
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    How did you get it to do dat?
     
  14. mauleg

    mauleg Registered User
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    I wish I knew; the color developed on its own; I'd speculate that it was a combination of a preexisting unknown coating or polish, ultrasonic cleaning with Blitz and the environment.
     
  15. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    I know that steel can be colored just about any color with suitable heat and chemical treatment, but I don't know a thing about brass coloration. You ought to be able to get diffraction colors (think oil slicks or or rainbows) in brass, but I don't think I've ever seen blued brass. Then again, copper oxides can be bright blue or bright green, and all the metals in that neighborhood of the periodic table make some seriously colorful compounds, like chromium, iron, manganese, copper, cadmium, nickel, cobalt, and I think titanium. And brass is alloyed with all kinds of metals that they ought to list on the clock's ingredients label but never do.

    M Kinsler
     
  16. Bruce Alexander

    Bruce Alexander Registered User
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    So, soaking your brass movements and parts in Zep Purple is a real "crap shoot" o_O and should be completely avoided. Good for folks to know. Thanks for sharing Mark.
     
  17. MartinM

    MartinM Registered User

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    "Purple Power" (Another of the purple degreasers you can get at Walmart) will do this to brass, if you leave the lead balls in the pendulum and let it soak for a day. It will get darker with time, as well. I've not got that particular shade, but it does make for a very even yet shiny patina. And if it goes wrong, it polishes off fairly easily.
    Just keep it far away from aluminum. I see, on TV that there is an improved version that's supposed to be easier on aluminum. Haven't tried it, yet.
     
  18. Allan Wolff

    Allan Wolff Moderator
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  19. Bruce Alexander

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    #19 Bruce Alexander, Jun 11, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2019
    When all else fails read the directions, eh? I think that you can use it, properly diluted, as a degreaser on brass (apply, brush, rinse) for short exposures. I just don't recommend that you use it as a long pre-soak, or an ultrasonic bath. As RC stated, the main ingredient seems to be Lye. Personally, I still prefer Kerosene but I don't use it as a soak either. As far as removing any 'patina' that results from use on brass, perhaps you can just polish it off but you're removing metal when you polish.
     
  20. Bruce Alexander

    Bruce Alexander Registered User
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    Seems to works well on steel mainsprings.
    Doesn't promote flash rust.

    Perhaps float a container of it in your Ultrasonic?

    Below is a photo of a relatively clean mainspring (on top) compared to a matched (from the same movement) untreated mainspring.
    The spring was wiped with a dry paper towel before soaking and very little contamination was removed.
    The top spring was soaked in a fresh solution of 24 ounces of Zep Purple in 64 ounces of water. Spring was soaked for 10 minutes at room temperature and wiped dry with a paper towel which is visible in the photo.

    Zep Purple.jpg
     
  21. Bruce Alexander

    Bruce Alexander Registered User
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    #21 Bruce Alexander, Jun 13, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019
    Lye will attack both copper and zinc, but ammonia can too so...

    Zep Purple does prove to be an excellent cleaner for steel mainsprings.

    I ran another test today on a mainspring freshly removed from a Seth Thomas 124's Chime Train. I floated a container of a strong, but properly diluted Zep Purple solution in my Ultrasonic bath which was heated to somewhere between 100 and 110 degrees F (~38 - 43 degrees C) during a run time of 30 minutes. The spring went in fairly dirty and greasy with globs of old grease clinging to some of the inner coils. It came out absolutely clean. I gloved up and thoroughly rinsed it. I then ran a clean paper towel over the coils to dry them. No manual cleaning was needed and absolutely no dirt or grease of any kind came off on the paper towel. The paper towel absorbed nothing but water. The steel had a very smooth feel to it.

    So, if you have some of this stuff laying around, you might save your regular Clock Cleaning Solution by cleaning your mainsprings in it instead. As you can see from Allan's Lowes Screen Shot, It's not very expensive.

    Heat will make it work faster but you can leave steel springs soaking for extended periods of time at room temperature since rust shouldn't occur under the Alkaline conditions. The purple dye might help to detect small cracks although I don't know that for sure. The spring steel did have a purple hue after cleaning which I didn't see prior to cleaning it. See the attached photos:

    To clean mainsprings I normally use WD-40 on a scouring pad, followed by a dry paper towel wipe down, followed by a wipe down with a mineral spirits soaked paper towel to remove the WD-40, followed by another wipe down with a dry paper towel, followed by an ultrasonic bath in my regular clock cleaning solution to get the innermost coils.

    I'll conduct further tests with Zep Purple on Mainsprings. It seems to be very effective and easy to use in my limited, early testing.


    Before (note inner coils)
    Before.JPG

    Before close up of an outer coil
    Before Closeup.JPG

    After inner coils
    After.JPG

    After close up of an outer coil
    After Closeup.JPG

    Paper towel used to dry after rinse.
    Paper Towel used to Dry Spring.JPG
     
  22. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    Looks impressive. I don't usually put mainsprings in the ultrasonic but may give this stuff a try next time I purchase degreaser. I usually just let springs soak over night in alkaline degreaser.

    RC
     
  23. Bruce Alexander

    Bruce Alexander Registered User
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    Thanks for the input RC. If you've been using alkaline solutions for this in the past, I think I'll try going this route, with or without using the US, in the future. I definitely like it better than the WD-40 method I've been using since 2010!
     
  24. mauleg

    mauleg Registered User
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    Thanks for the info Bruce. Looks a sight easier than scrubbing them with acetone while smoking...
     
  25. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    "Not for use on brass," eh?

    Oh.
     
  26. Bruce Alexander

    Bruce Alexander Registered User
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    Ha! :) Thanks mauleg. It did seem to color the steel purple or deep blue though. I wonder if you can "blue" steel clock hands with it?

    I think that it's helpful to share your experiences with this stuff Mark, so thanks. Folks have reported other cleaners as having unintended/undesirable affects on brass movements. I'm thinking of "Simple Green" See: Movement cleaning mess! so that's another one to avoid.

    I still think that you could use it with caution, but there are obviously safer cleaners for brass. Zep Fast 505 seems to be a very good one, but there are uses for Zep Purple as well as cleaners cited by RC in Post #3

    Regards,

    Bruce[/QUOTE]
     
  27. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    I put the mainsprings in the ultrasonic cleaner with all the parts .... but then my US is big enough to handle everything at once.
     
  28. Bruce Alexander

    Bruce Alexander Registered User
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    A common thread in color changes appears to be the addition of heat, perhaps with extended exposure times.
    Springs can be pretty messy so I don't like to use my regular clock cleaning solution on them. I do like using a pre-soak. I've used old clock cleaning solutions and Zep products for this in the past.
     

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