Cleaning by hand solutions

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  • #48103
    jpewslgl
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    • Topics Started: 12
    • Total Posts: 21

    I have just recently finished watching all of the videos, etc. I now have a Waltham movement that I am breaking down to clean and re-assemble.

    I am planning to use Bob’s 7 step jar cleaning process, but had a question about the first jar. He states to use a commercial watch cleaning solution. I’d rather not order a gallon of solution, since I only have the 1 watch to clean at the moment, and was wondering if there was anything I could use locally. I realize the goal is to clean any dirt, grime, grease, etc of each part so when the watch is re-assembled, there won’t be anything to bind or impede the movement.

    I don’t know if something like carburetor cleaner, or a heavy duty de-greaser would work. Has anyone used other cleaners that weren’t watch specific? I don’t want to be cheap, but I don’t want to buy alot of fluids that I don’t need yet. Hopefully, I’ll start going through alot of cleaner soon!!

    Also, for drying the hairspring, Bob recommended sawdust. Any idea if this is similar to the Chinchilla sand that you get from the pet store? It’s a fine dessicant / drying agent. It would seem to be similar, but I don’t know if I’m not thinking of something that might be an un-intended consequence.

    Thanks for all the help,
    Jimmy

    #50836
    Bob Tascione
    Moderator
    • Topics Started: 38
    • Total Posts: 1559

    Hi Jpewslgl,
    Note: This isn’t a recommendation but just letting you know what I’ve done in the past.
    Many people including myself have used Ronson Lighter fluid which is Naptha which is also Coleman stove fuel for cleaning and rinsing watches. It does work well but can be VERY dangerous due to it’s extremely low flash point. Absolutely no flames in the area and good ventilation is a must! Fortunately only small amounts are needed so that keeps the fumes down a little. Again its use should be approached with great CAUTION.
    One advantage is that it doesn’t dissolve the shellac used to hold the roller or pallet jewels in place as does alcohol and doubles as a cleaner and rinse! Soaking the parts for a while is necessary if the parts are fairly dirty.
    Other cleaners like carburetor etc. might be a bit harsh. I’ve never tried it on watches so don’t know for sure. I also know nothing about the sand you mention so I can’t comment on that.
    Naptha does evaporate quickly so drying is very fast and easy. If the parts are placed under a light bulb they will dry quickly. The parts shouldn’t be allowed to get too hot as the shellac will start getting soft somewhere around 130F and will melt up around 170F. The hairspring will dry quickly if using pure Naptha. I used Naptha many times in the past for cleaning hairsprings, jewels and complete movements. Buying Coleman Camping Fuel was a cheap but effective way to go.
    Again anyone deciding to go this route should be very careful about ventilation, flames and sparks.
    Hope this helps!
    Bob

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jpewslglCleaning by hand solutions