Ultra sonic cleaner

Mike clocky

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I am seriously thinking of buying one of these to aid cleaning clock movements. The only thing stopping me is the cost of the cleaning fluid they recommend. Is there any domestic cleaner I could use which would do a reasonable job. As long as its safe , which means petrol is out. I did try leaving my movement soaking in white spirit overnight once, this was a disaster as it took me forever to remove the white marks it left on the brass. Soapy water removed some of the tarnish , but any other liquid I could try.
Cheers Mike
 

JTD

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Sep 27, 2005
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You can make your own fluid to use in an ultra-sonic cleaner. There are many, many, recipes on this site which you can find with the search icon (little magnifying glass at the top of the page). Usually based on liquid soap, acetone, (distilled) water, ammonia.

But unless you are going to work on a lot of movements, I wonder if it is really worth buying an ultrasonic machine? They are quite expensive and you need one big enough to take the larger plates. Before they were invented, clock makers managed for very many years without them. If you make (or buy) some clock cleaning fluid, it works very well without the ultra-sonic, especially if you warm it up a little.

Just my thought - others may have other opinions.

JTD
 

Willie X

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Feb 9, 2008
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It nearly always takes hand work to do a good job. The solution just helps take away the krud that happens to be soluble. Encrusted krud usually won't go anywhere. I hand clean all plates but sometimes use an ultrasonic for very dirty wheels and pinions, lantern pinions especially.

I recently cleaned a very dirty 400-Day clock. After a run in the ultrasonic cleaner for the 'between the plate' parts every tooth had to be pegged to make a good job. I eventually had to double clean all the pivot holes too.

Point being, an ultrasonic can be a big help but overall a small production shop, or hobbyist, doesn't really need one. Pretty much, same as JDT.

Willie X
 

bikerclockguy

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I’ve had similar experiences with mine. Any caked grime has to be scrubbed off. I was actually beginning to think it was a waste of time to bother with it, and then someone convinced me to try the Deox 007 solution. I had tried several commercial US cleaning solutions and a few homemade concoctions as well, but none of them impressed me. The Deox really does the job though, and as Willy said, it gets down inside the lantern pinions and little rift places you couldn’t otherwise get to.
 

Chris.K

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Distilled water and "Simple Green" in a 60-40 mixture respectively does a good job and can be poured down a drain after several uses, plus the price is nice.
 

Eclectic Oddities

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What is your definition of "safe"? I make it myself.

1 cup ammonia
2 cups of denatured alcohol
4 tsp oxalic acid (wood bleach)
1/2 cup dish soap
1/2 cup of murphy's oil soap
1 cup of water

Through rinse of all parts in water

Denatured alcohol bath for a few min

Immediately dry in a modified food dehydrator @ 120 deg F.

Seems to work rather well. Parts appear new when they come out. I believe I may have found this recipe within these forums.
 
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JTD

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Murphy's oil soap is an American product unknown in UK, where the OP is situated.. What is it made of? How does it differ from dish soap?

I would't use IPA in the mix, I would rather use acetone instead - but there are so many variations of this recipe that it is really just a matter of preference.

JTD
 

lpbp

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Distilled water and "Simple Green" in a 60-40 mixture respectively does a good job and can be poured down a drain after several uses, plus the price is nice.

You are poring cleaned off grease, oil and whatever down the drain, my local plant would not appreciate it, they want nothing but what comes out of the washing machine, dishwasher, and nothing but toilet paper and human waist, no wipes etc.. They provide containers for cooking oil and grease, find a better way to dispose of your fluid.
 

Eclectic Oddities

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Murphy's oil soap is an American product unknown in UK, where the OP is situated.. What is it made of? How does it differ from dish soap?

I would't use IPA in the mix, I would rather use acetone instead - but there are so many variations of this recipe that it is really just a matter of preference.

JTD

The Murphys soap can be substituted with any kind of dish soap. I did not have a lot of dish soap on hand so I substituted on my last batch.

It is a oil based soap with potassium hydroxide (lye). Nothing special I do not believe.
 

Kevin W.

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I use Deox 007 made by polychem, not expensive. I stopped using any home made cleaners years ago. And cant stand the smell of ammonia in my home either. Polychem deox oo7 is eco friendly and does a great job.
 

Simon Holt

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I'm in the UK. I get great results by using a heavy duty de-greaser from Screwfix (No Nonsense Heavy Duty Degreaser 5Ltr - Screwfix).

Rinse well, blow off with compressed air if you gave a compressor and dry quickly (I use a hot-air paint-stripper gun) to prevent flash-rust. If the brass isn't as shiny as you'd like, a few wipes with 0000 steel wool works wonders.

Simon
 

R. Croswell

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You are poring cleaned off grease, oil and whatever down the drain, my local plant would not appreciate it, they want nothing but what comes out of the washing machine, dishwasher, and nothing but toilet paper and human waist, no wipes etc.. They provide containers for cooking oil and grease, find a better way to dispose of your fluid.
I was superintendent at the local wastewater treatment plant for a number of years and I thank you for being concerned about what goes down the drain. Since phosphorous was removed from laundry detergent and other household cleaners, these usually do not cause a problem. The amount of grease and oil removed from a clock during cleaning is insignificant compared to the amount of grease that goes down the drain from washing the dinner dishes and pots and pans. Modern treatment plants use mechanical, chemical, and biological means to deal with normal household wastes. it is the sudden influx of large amounts strong industrial chemicals that can cause serious upsets. If you follow the instructions about disposal on the product label, there is no need to be concerned about the small traces of oil removed during clock cleaning. If you a brewing a homemade concoction using industrial strength chemicals all bets are off and you may (or may not) need to use a hazardous waste disposal site. Obviously petro chemicals like kerosene, gasoline, mineral spirits, carb cleaner, etc. may not be poured down the drain.

RC
 

R. Croswell

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I am seriously thinking of buying one of these to aid cleaning clock movements. The only thing stopping me is the cost of the cleaning fluid they recommend. Is there any domestic cleaner I could use which would do a reasonable job. As long as its safe , which means petrol is out. I did try leaving my movement soaking in white spirit overnight once, this was a disaster as it took me forever to remove the white marks it left on the brass. Soapy water removed some of the tarnish , but any other liquid I could try.
Cheers Mike
Deox 007 already mentioned by others, may seem expensive until you realize that when you pay for a gallon, you are really buying 5 to 7 gallons after it is diluted with water to the recommended concentration. I don't fool with home brew concoctions, but if you are looking for an off the shelf alternative, La's Totally Awesome Cleaner, available online and at some of the dollar stores and other places, is dirt cheap, safe, and a decent grease cutter.

An US is no magic wand that eliminates the need for disassembling a movement for cleaning, and there will almost always be a need for at least some hand cleaning.

RC
 

heifetz17

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For the hobbyist Harbor Freight sells a small ultrasonic cleaner at a great price. I used it for years until I finally upgraded to a nice large L&R.

My only complaint about the Harbor Freight unit is that it doesn’t comfortably fit 8 day mainsprings, but it was a great little unit while I was learning and practicing, and didn’t hurt the wallet.

I use a splash of ammonia in my solution to help brighten the brass. I follow that with inspecting all parts and hand cleaning where necessary to ensure everything is ready for reassembly. Here are a couple photos of before and after ultrasonic cleaning and polishing on a little carriage clock case.

F7B5AA63-C768-4373-8FF3-CB9C37F3D339.jpeg 77BBDAE4-6E15-4906-8069-5EC8F6D835A6.jpeg
 

Mike clocky

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Just an update.
I finally purchased a 6 ltr cleaner and tried several different combinations of mixtures for clock parts, ended up with this simple formula. Distilled water, white vinegar, lemon juice and liquid soap.This gave me very good results, especially on brass which comes out a pink colour. A quick wipe with duraglit and its back to clean shiny brass.
Mike
 

R. Croswell

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Just an update.
I finally purchased a 6 ltr cleaner and tried several different combinations of mixtures for clock parts, ended up with this simple formula. Distilled water, white vinegar, lemon juice and liquid soap.This gave me very good results, especially on brass which comes out a pink colour. A quick wipe with duraglit and its back to clean shiny brass.
Mike
That would concern me. "Pink" brass suggests that the zinc has been removed from the brass leaving behind the copper. Vinegar and lemon juice are very acidic. If you have dissimilar metals this could be from an electrolytic reaction. You only want to remove the dirt, oil, and oxidation. You should not do anything that actually eats away the surface of the brass. I would strongly recommend that you discontinue using that concoction and try one of the commercial products that's recommended for clocks.

RC
 

JTD

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Thanks for info, we live and learn.
Mike

I agree with RC - the pink brass is not good. You certainly don't need vinegar and lemon juice, why would you want two acids? Not necessary or good for the brass.

If you really want to make you own solution there are a lot of tried and tested recipes on here. Use one with a little ammonia in it, you'll get a much better result.

Commercial solutions may be somewhat more expensive, but you dilute them (usually 1:7 with water) and you can keep the diluted mixture in an airtight container after use and then use it again. So they don't work out so expensive in the end.

JTD
 
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