Waterless cleaning solutions

Discussion in 'Clock Repair' started by karlmansson, Jun 12, 2018.

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  1. karlmansson

    karlmansson Registered User

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    Hey everybody!

    I posted this over in the watch repair forum but didn't get a reply. The threads I have found on this so far has been in this forum so I'm trying here as well.

    "At the risk of bringing up a very sensitive subject I'd like to discuss waterless cleaning solutions, and more so the home made variety.

    I've previously used water based cleaners with acceptable results. Some parts have required pegging of jewels and hand cleaning of tough residues from the winding works. I've decided to give waterless cleaners a shot, in part to see if I can get better results and in part because I'm starting to work on more and more valuable pieces, sentimentally and monetary-wise. Haven't had any problems with rust so far but you know, belt and suspenders.

    I've ordered a gallon of L&R- non ammoniated solution from Beco Technic in Germany (because that's what they had in stock). Turns out though, that because it is considered dangerous goods the shipping cost of that and a gallon of Extra Fine Rinsing solution is more than twice the cost of the two gallons combined. 100 dollars in shipping from Germany to Sweden.

    Local materials suppliers only supply Elma and Bergeon solutions, with the Bergeon clocking in at 160 dollars plus tax for a 5L jar. And CousinsUK won't even offer shipment of "dangerous goods" abroad.


    So I'm in a bit of a pickle. The price becomes prohibitive. I've ordered this batch but while I'm working that down I'd like to explore making something safe to use. So here goes:

    The safety specs for the L&R solution states that it's based on white spirit, e.g. naptha. I assume that some type of detergent would be added to it. I've seen simple green being mentioned before in these discussions. Would a detergent or soap such as that work or behave as it should in a solutions that contains no water? As some of the L&R solutions are also ammoniated, ammonia would also be a good additive.

    Again, I realize that this discussion is unorthodox. My recent realization about how unavaible decent cleaning solutions are in Sweden, at a reasonable price at least, has made me consider this once again.

    Best regards
    Karl"
     
  2. dad1891

    dad1891 Registered User

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    Naphtha by itself is an excellent cleaning solution, I can't see why you would want to enhance it's action. It's also a lot less expensive than the solutions you mention. The downside of heavy naphtha is that it's flammable, it evaporates relatively quickly and produces fumes that require it's use outdoors.
     
  3. Uhralt

    Uhralt Registered User
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    You won't be able to mix naptha with Simple Green or any other water-based detergent. They won't mix and you would introduce water in your system.

    Uhralt
     
  4. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

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    Use Coleman Lantern Fuel (CLF). It's a good rinse and can be reused many times when filtered through a large coffee filter after every use. Any water will collect at the bottom of the container and can be easily separated. CLF = Naptha + 1% machine oil.
    Precautions as stated by dad.
    Willie X
     
  5. karlmansson

    karlmansson Registered User

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    Thanks for the reply! I guess I would like to add to it because that is what the manufacturers seem to be doing. Ammonia not the least. Many of the proffessional solutions seem like they can be used indoors, even though they are based on naphta.
     
  6. karlmansson

    karlmansson Registered User

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    #6 karlmansson, Jun 12, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
    Thanks for getting back to me! I suspected as much. Are there any additives that might add to the cleaning properties or abilities of solving gummed up oils of naphta?
     
  7. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

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    "Waterless cleaner" is a catchy misnomer. Solvent rinse, or just plain rinse (clockspeak), is what you are speaking of.
    Willie X
     
  8. karlmansson

    karlmansson Registered User

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    You are right, "petroleum based cleaner" or "waterless first bath" are also possible names for what I'm looking for. Nevertheless, the problem is the same. I'm trying to figure out what makes the commercial solutions tick. Apparently it's not all naphta.
     
  9. Uhralt

    Uhralt Registered User
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    One could add more polar solvents like acetone or methylene chloride but need to be cautious because though it would clean better it could also dissolve shellac which is used to set stones in some movements. Naphta alone wouldn't do that.

    Uhralt
     
  10. karlmansson

    karlmansson Registered User

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    #10 karlmansson, Jun 12, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
    Thank you!

    I did find a complete list of ingredients but with the proportions somewhat obscured: http://www.lrultrasonics.com/msds/566 Ultrasonic Non-Ammoniated Watch Cleaning Solution.pdf

    I wonder if something like it would be practically reproducable.

    I'm also curious to know what the difference between Stoddard solvent or "white spirits" and solvent naptha is. I've tried to find equivalents in Sweden but they all point to what would be directly translated as "laquer thinning naphta". It seems to be a name for a whole group of volatile hydrocarbons.

    The only other additive that is in a larger quantity is oleic acid. I see that different oils have high concentrations of it, and it's an omega-9-fatty acid. Still I suppose getting pure oleic acid would be the best, adding oil to a cleaner seems counterproductive at best.

    I realize of course that even small additions of other chemicals may have a profound effect on the performance of the fluid. The other chemicals appear to be a bit tricky to get a hold of though.

    Thanks again!
    Karl
     
  11. Uhralt

    Uhralt Registered User
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    Stoddard solvent or white spirits are what we call mineral spirits. This is a mixture of higher molecule weight saturated and unsaturated hydrocarbons and less volatile than naphta which is a mixture of lower molecular weight saturated hydrocarbons and more volatile. If you can get the ingredients you could try to mimic the composition when you apply about the middle of the ranges of quantities given in the data sheet. I'm not sure if it will be much more economical, though. Oleic acid by itself is not an oil but a weak acid. The ester of the oleic acid would be an oil.

    Uhralt
     
  12. shutterbug

    shutterbug Super Moderator
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    The main thing is that the parts are water proofed soon after cleaning. I use 99% pure Isopropyl alcohol. Others use naptha or other types of alcohol. The end result is the same: no water left on the parts.
     
  13. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    Everyone who fixed watches through the 1960's used lighter fluid, which is sold today as charcoal lighter fluid, for about 150 years. I have no idea how it would work in an ultrasonic cleaner, or if it's advisable to use it. My sense is that today's water-based degreasers contain detergents that are far more effective than petroleum-based solvents, but if you use these it's important to prevent 'flash rust,' which is the rust you get about two minutes after rinsing off the newly-cleaned parts.

    I've been drying out clock parts in an aluminum pot about the size of a bucket. It sits on the basement floor and I suspend a 250W red heat lamp above it for maybe a half hour. I got some flash rust (at least that's what I think it was) so after I rinsed the parts in 91% isopropyl alcohol and threw them in the bucket I followed them with a squirt of Walmart spray lubricant, which vaporizes in the heat and leaves a barely-detectable oil film on the parts. No more rust.

    M Kinsler
     
  14. claussclocks

    claussclocks Registered User
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    #14 claussclocks, Jun 12, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
    A little petrochemical nomenclature for everyone. There are different names for several solvents that are basically or exactly the same thing.
    There are basically five families of products in the discussion below.

    Aliphatics are: naptha, mineral spirits, lacquer diluent, odorless mineral spirits
    Aromatics are: toluene, xylene, Aromatic 100, Aromatic 150 and many others
    Ketones are: Acetone, MIBK, MEK
    Chlorinated Solvent are: Methylene Chloride, Carbon Tetrachloride, Trichloroethane 111, Trichlorethylene
    Alcohols are: Isopropyl Alcohol, and ethyl alcohol.

    Charcoal lighter fluid/lighter fluid is in the trade called OMS, which stands for Odorless Mineral Spirits. It is the essentially the same product as regular mineral spirits but has been deodorized as part of the refining process. It is the removal of trace aromatic components and traces of sulfur compunds that does most to remove the smell. It cost a little more than regular mineral spirits but works the same.

    Lacquer Diluent is Heptane. Faster drying and more flammable than naptha it is in the same family as naptha.

    Naptha: There are several products that are sold as naptha but the one most of us see is what is sold in Big Box stores and paint stores as VM&P naptha or just naptha. VM&P stands for Varnish makers and painters - naptha. There are many types and grades of napthas but this is the one you would normally get.

    Lacquer Thinner is another animal. This is a name given to any number of blended materials for the thinning and removal of lacquer. Be careful what you use it on. Most Lacquer thinners contain one or more of the following components. The base will be Lacquer Diluent, added to that can be Toluene, acetone, ethyl alcohol Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK), and if the product is designed for use on a particular lacquer product it could contain something added by that manufacturer. It will attack shellac very effectively. Great for de-lacquering clock plates that need to be polished and re-lacquered. Do not use on plastics. There won't be much left of the plastic if you do.

    Methylene Chloride. Non flammable but extremely volatile solvent. It will eat plastic and cause the rusting of steel by attracting moisture over time. Methylene Chloride is currently in the process of being removed from the market due to its association with other family members such as Carbon tetrachloride and Trichloroethane 111. They are suspect as carcinogenic and damaging to the air quality.

    Denatured alcohol is simply ethyl alcohol or ethanol that has had a small percent of Methanol and often MIBK added to prevent anyone drinking it. It can be known by the names, denatured alcohol, denatured ethanol, TECSOL, Anhydrol, and other proprietary titles depending on who is selling it. It is a suitable solvent for shellac.

    Isopropyl alcohol or Isopropanol is a petroleum based alcohol we are all familiar with as rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol has had 30% water added to it. It is interesting to note that most of the Isopropanol refined today comes from natural gas and not oil.

    I hope this is helpful to anyone reading it and not put everyone to sleep.

    I should also insert a disclaimer. These are the names and products available and sold under these names in the United States. It is possible there are variations in names and formulations of some things in Europe.
     
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  15. bangster

    bangster Super Moderator
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    We thank clauss for all the info. I disagree on certain points of terminology...but so what?
     
  16. Time After Time

    Time After Time Registered User
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    There are Ultrasonic Cleaners which are specifically rated for use with flammable/combustible liquids. Of course if your machine is not rated as such, follow the directions.
    I've found lowly Kerosene to be a really good cleaner/degreaser. But then you need something to get it off of your parts which won't become a fire hazard. I use small amounts with an old toothbrush on stubborn dried greasy dirt which I sometimes find packed into pinions or various nooks and crannies. It hasn't failed me yet.
     
  17. karlmansson

    karlmansson Registered User

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    Thank you for the clarifications! A lot of these Products appear to be grouped into more or less defined Groups in Sweden. The one I was referring to earlier is VM&P. I understand that the cleaners sold commercially would normally have long hydrocarbon chains. In your experience, would VM&P be heavier or lighter than other types of naphta? Like solvent naphta for instance?
     
  18. karlmansson

    karlmansson Registered User

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    My intention was not to use it in an US but in an Elma Super Elite. Kerosene might be something to look into! I'm a Little bit concerned with evaporation residue though.
     
  19. karlmansson

    karlmansson Registered User

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    I'm looking for a method that leaves the parts chemically Clean, spraying with lubricant is not an option. My cleaner has a heated drying compartment that has prevented flash rust so far.
     
  20. RAF7

    RAF7 Registered User
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    After bath in Elma 1:9 they advise to use Suprol (suprol spezial or pro, Im not sure whats the difference but it seems to be same product) as a rinse solution which repeals all water from watch parts and prevent any flash rust. Im using this combination and so far no rust at all. Suporl also separates water that can be collected to clean rinse solution for next use. Problem with ordering cleaning solutions marked as dangerous or flammable is that they only deliver this by land (cheapest solution, and sometimes the only one they provide). Suprol is also permitted to use with heat chambers which Elma machines have.
     
  21. karlmansson

    karlmansson Registered User

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    Elma 9:1 is what I have been using so far. I was hoping to avoid water at all this time around. I've been using isopropanol as a rinse as it's hygroscopic and displaces water very well. The instructions on my, albeit dated, Super Elite says to use distilled water as a rinse. So long as the parts are dried for long enough I Think that would be fine also. But as I stated Before, belt and suspenders in this case.

    Just a note on the flash rust: if I'm not mistaken flash rust is the result of condensation of air humidity after cool parts from rapidly evaporating rinses come into Contact with room temp air. So you would still get flash rust on parts cleaned without water if you don't heat them during drying.
     
  22. claussclocks

    claussclocks Registered User
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    This was not meant to be gospel and there are different interpretations and names some vary by region and I can be off on a few terms. Let me know what term seemed off and I will be sure I am not leading some astray. After all, I thought I was wrong once last year, but I was mistaken.
     
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  23. RAF7

    RAF7 Registered User
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    Im pretty sure that Ive seen recommendation form Elma to use 1:9 in first bath for cleaning, distilled water to remove remainings of 1:9 in 2nd bath and 3rd bath with Suprol which will deal with water. I have the same problems with ordering anything else apart of Elma 1:9, Im using Boley and they dont have much choice. I have Elma Super Automat with heating still working, so no issues with rust. I didnt wanted to experiment with other solution mostly due to fumes, that plus heating is not good combination :) and I dont want to clean my watches with fire extinguisher and a helmet :)
     
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  24. claussclocks

    claussclocks Registered User
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    Kerosene is a great cleaner for dried and greasy parts. But as you said you have to clean it off with something or it will never go away.
     
  25. Time After Time

    Time After Time Registered User
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    Yep. I only use it when my standard clock cleaning solution has failed to get the job done. If it can't remove the dirt, dried oil, grease etc., it can remove a thin, dirty film of Kerosene. I don't think I'd try it on watches though. If for no other reason than I don't work on watches. Dem parts is way too small! :eek::D
     
  26. claussclocks

    claussclocks Registered User
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    #26 claussclocks, Jun 13, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018
    I agree. My fat fingers would probably end up breaking more parts than I fixed:mad:. If you look in the "General Clock Discussion area and look for a title "Bad Kieninger Cleaning" you will see pictures of a before and after on a movement I got in that someone had cleaned with a can of aerosol engine cleaner. Quite a mess.:)
     

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