This is weird

Discussion in 'Watch Repair' started by Rob P., Dec 8, 2019.

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  1. Rob P.

    Rob P. Registered User

    Dec 19, 2011
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    I cleaned the Mod 1888 Waltham in the same cleaner I always use - Zenith Formula 67. Never had a problem before but I have a new small ultrasonic cleaner. This is what the top plate looked like when I took it out of the bath.

    Frosted plate.jpg

    You can see where the barrel bridge covered the plate during use, but it wasn't on there when I cleaned it. The main plate shows the same "frosted" appearance but the barrel bridge does not. Nor do any of the other parts. It actually feels frosted or bead blasted yet the surface should be smooth and shiny.

    Waltham 1888 apart.jpg

    That's what it looked like before cleaning. You can see that even before cleaning the plate looks like someone etched it or something at some point. I don't think the factory would do that and if they did it'd be uniform over everything.

    Strange. I have no idea what could have caused it during the time when it was an orphan kicking around in someone's box of junk movements.
     
  2. Bila

    Bila Registered User
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    #2 Bila, Dec 8, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2019
    That does not look good Rob, I have seen a lot of Forum Users over the years talking about these commercial cleaners with both good & bad comments. Dad nor I have been a lover of any of the so-called cleaning products, we have seen way to many plate surfaces damaged both in gilt and nickel (and there will be probably a heap of responses to the contrary, but it is not in our experience). Dad has experimented with old plates from non viable parts watches using his own home made cleaner from basic household items, I have attached a photo (for comparison) of one of his watches (this is how they should finish up in our opinion if the gilding/plating is in good condition) that was cleaned with this concoction and a basic ultrasonics machine (be aware that not all ingrained fingermarks and the like will be able to be removed totally no matter what cleaner you use, unless of course you totally strip a plate which ruins the watch). Also, please be aware that not all gilding/plating were equal between the watch Manufacturers in quality or thickness, this also will very results if you are not careful with the strength of cleaner and the cleaning times (not one size fits all):)

    Gilt Plate Cleaning.jpg
     
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  3. Rob P.

    Rob P. Registered User

    Dec 19, 2011
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    I did read somewhere a couple of years ago that ultrasonic cleaners can cause problems with finishes, both nickel and gold. However in this case the "damage" is only in the area not covered by the barrel bridge. Which was NOT on the plate at the time of the cleaning. Were this the fault of the machine or the cleaning agent, the frosting would be uniform over the whole plate. It's not.

    Which leads me to believe that the cleaning wasn't the root cause. It may have aggravated it, but it didn't cause it in the first place. The barrel bridge doesn't show the frosted appearance either and they were both in the bath together. Which again, leads me to suspect a different cause than the solution or the machine. Bolstering that is the fact that this is my usual cleaner and none (as in zero) of my prior movements with the same jugs of solution over the years has shown this effect. The Elgin I cleaned last week with this same solution and machine sparkles like it's newly plated.

    Not being a chemist, I would suspect some sort of acidic environment, while the movement was stored out of a case, is what caused the damage to the surface finish. Yet the steel parts aren't corroded at all. What would corrode gold but not steel at the same time? Other than that I have no idea how this was caused.
     
  4. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

    Dec 2, 2016
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    Cavitation is the word. It is caused by being in the ultrasonic and it is also caused by the condition of the solution as well as the mixing of metals in the solution. What appears to be staining is in part a chemical reaction exacerbated by heat, probably too long in the solution or too long on the ultrasonic timer.

    It is never a good idea to put steel and gold into the same ultrasonic solution. Did you know that you can put containers of different solutions into an existing ultrasonic solution and the parts in each container will not be contaminated.
     
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  5. karlmansson

    karlmansson Registered User

    Apr 20, 2013
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    It does look a bit like the plating was damaged even Before you put it into the cleaner. I've had a discussion about this effect from different cleaning fluids Before with anohter user and we came to the conclusion that the ultrasonic was to blame. If the plating is compromised in any way, the cavitation will lift it right off. If you have a plating that is starting to look a Little worse for wear, agitation Machines are the safer option.

    Regards
    Karl
     
  6. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Jan 7, 2011
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    Hi Rob,

    I think that's the answer to this problem; the plating had been somehow badly compromised, possibly by being over-cooked in a US, before you ever started to work on it.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  7. Rob P.

    Rob P. Registered User

    Dec 19, 2011
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    I rarely pull the jewels out of the plate before cleaning as I don't wish to disturb them or mix them up. So, the only steel present in the bath were the jewel screws and I've never had any issue like this before.

    The cleaning duration in the USonic was 2 minutes so it wasn't in there very long. However, the new machine appears to be more "robust" than the old one and there is a LOT more cleaning action and bubbles going on in there now. I will keep an eye on things to be sure that I don't do whatever was done to this one by leaving in the machine too long.

    Although, after thinking on this for the morning, it's possible that this movement is a victim of Dunkin Swish who "overcooked" the movement prior to passing it on. It was sold as "cleaned and running" but the lower balance hole jewel is shattered and there's no possible way this movement could have been "running". The amount of crud on the cap jewels proves it wasn't even "cleaned".

    It'll go into rotation as one of my beater watches once the new lower hole jewel arrives and I can reassemble it. I'm just bummed about the damage because A; It's a 17 Jewel from a mixed run where most were only 15 jewels and, B; If I ever pass it on to anyone, they'll assume I caused it.
     
  8. Rick Hufnagel

    Rick Hufnagel Just Rick!
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    Oct 25, 2018
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    Rob, I have a G.M. Wheeler that suffered the same fate, and while I had it apart it was obvious someone completely soaked it in oil to try and get it to run. I blame the oil. Maybe wd40, or sae30 for all I know, haha. Plates came out just like yours.
     
  9. Tim Fitzgerald

    Tim Fitzgerald Registered User
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    Jan 2, 2016
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    I'm with Erin , I use my own concoction . I know it will raise some eyebrows. It works better than the brand names. ( I have tried them all and not impressed) :)
     
  10. Hogshair

    Hogshair Registered User

    Sep 6, 2014
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    Hi Rob, Rick I think may have the answer as I had the same problem with a rather nice Bulova . Caked in WD40 and although I thought I'd got most of it off when it came out of the Usonic it had the same stains as yours. When will folks learn that WD40 is a Water Dispersant and not a majic wand for oiling anything! And just a thought, I use a very mild cleaning (non-ammoniated) fluid (Jewel Clean) made by Quadralene. And I don't use the heater either, takes a little longer but never had issues apart from that one Bulova.

    Cheers
    Hogs.
     
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  11. oyster

    oyster Registered User

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    Sure seems like a bad combination of ultrasonic and chemicals messing up the plating on that plate.

    I guess sometimes nothing will happen but every now and then something like this can result especially because of the chemicals used.

    We have to take into account the fact that this isn't a 2-3 years old part but a VERY old part and extreme care has to be taken.

    A lesson should be learned from all this, it happens in this hobby/profession.
     

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