Ultrasonic cleaner question

Discussion in 'Clock Repair' started by Ticktocktime100, Apr 13, 2019.

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  1. Ticktocktime100

    Ticktocktime100 Registered User

    Hi all,

    It's been a while since I last posted. After many years of cleaning my clocks by hand, albeit effectively, with a brass brush, I am considering investing in an ultrasonic cleaner. From the relatively basic research I have done so far, I understand that there are a great deal of different models and specifications, so could anyone suggest a model that is efficient and affordable (as I'm an amateur horologist, not a professional)? As an aside, do you regard ultrasonic cleaners as the best solution for clock cleaning, or are there even better options in your opinion?

    Regards.
     
  2. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

    Apr 4, 2006
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    I consider an ultrasonic cleaner a tool to supplement the cleaning process. It ain't magic and it won't eliminate the need to do some hand cleaning. I always disassemble clocks before cleaning in the ultrasonic, so if you are only working on one clock at a time and not trying to clean assembled movements a huge machine is just a waste of money, plus it costs more to fill. I have one from Harbor Freight that I believe they still sell for under $100. It does fine for me. Some larger plates may not fit in and have to be cleaned by hand. If cost isn't an issue, I would say go for something a bit larger and deeper.

    RC
     
  3. claussclocks

    claussclocks Registered User
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    #3 claussclocks, Apr 13, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2019
    One with a heater is good. Buy as large as you think you will need for the clocks you will service. Look at the measurements for large grandfather clock plates like a Keininger KSU, if you expect to work on them. An ultrasonic is not meant to replace fully dis-assembling a clock before cleaning. I am not up on current brands. Mine is a SWEST which I am not sure is even still made. Branson is a name I know. Watch the marts and regionals for good used units. Picked up one in good shape large enough for almost anything for under a $100.

    I also drain mine into a sealed storage container after use.. Keeps some of the solvent and ammonia from evaporating out so fast and keeps odors down in the room where I store it. Just a personal preference.

    An ultra sonic cleaner is a great tool but is not an all to end all. You will still find parts that need hand cleaning and special attention. They are faster and more convenient but not the perfect solution. Quite honestly you can soak and clean with a good brush and get nearly as good and some cases better than an ultrasonic. They do deep clean and speed things up so I do not discourage you getting one just be aware it is not the all to end all.

    One thing I will tell you straight up.. Do not put the self-adjusting verge units from URGOS and others in one nor balance wheel assemblies like those from Hermle. They do not do well.

    DPC
     
  4. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    If you're going to get an US cleaner, you might as well get one big enough to handle the big plates. Mine will do everything in one batch, including the mainsprings. Big time saver.
     
  5. bangster

    bangster Moderator
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    Mine is the same as the one RC describes. Does everything I ask of it.
    Of course, I don't ask it to do humongous GF plates. But those can be cleaned by hand.
     
  6. davefr

    davefr Registered User
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    #6 davefr, Apr 14, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2019
    If you're looking for a budget US cleaner at least spend a few more $'s and avoid the "toy" from HF.

    -The HF cleaner is plastic and can leak at the seam between tank and case
    - It has a very wimpy heater that takes forever to heat, lacks a thermostat and needs to be continually reset after it times out.
    - It has a tiny fan that quickly fails and/or becomes very noisy
    - The basket is plastic and you should never use plastic in an US cleaner because it absorbs the ultrasonic action. It also rests on the bottom where US energy is the weakest.

    For a few bucks more, this one from Ebay is a huge improvement.
    - It comes with a thermostatically controlled 300 watt heater which is pretty reasonable for a 6L tank
    - It has mechanical controls (more reliable then membrane touch pads)
    - It's all stainless steel (same gauge SS as high end Elma units) and includes a drain valve.
    - It includes a stainless steel basket that hangs on the lip of the tank (well elevated from the bottom where US energy is the strongest)
    - The OEM is Beijing Ultrasonics and individual transducers/driver boards can be purchase if you need to.
    - I took one apart and the overall design/quality looks pretty good.
    - It has a 3 transducer design which is 180 watts of continuous US cleaning power. (60 watts/transducer is pretty average even for the high end units)


    My main cleaner is a high end 3.2 gallon Elma unit but I bought this one as a spare and it does a fine job for a little over $100. It's just noisy.

    s-l1600.jpg
     
  7. claussclocks

    claussclocks Registered User
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    There is a used one on ebay going pretty cheap if you just want to test the waters and keep under budget for the moment. Goes off in a day or two
     
  8. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    I've had my HF unit for about 15 years. The tank is stainless and the fan has been quiet and reliable. It is what it is and that is a small unit at a minimal price. I think I paid $49 on sale, so at that price, or even the current price, it is about the cheapest entry level unit available that is adequate. No need for replacement parts, it is basically a throw away. The clear plastic top has developed a few stress cracks and the membrane over the touch buttons cracked so I just put some clear tape over it and all is well. I would be the first to say that a slightly larger unit with a drain, etc. for " a little over $100" would be worth considering.

    RC
     
  9. Ticktocktime100

    Ticktocktime100 Registered User

    Thank you all ever so much for the responses and valuable information! This certainly points me in the right direction. Will keep you posted.
    Regards.
     

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