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    david carlson

      I have taken apart my first watch and am ready to clean it after watching the videos. I don’t want to invest right now into a jug of cleaning solution, until I find out if I have the patience and ability to put a watch back together. (easy to take it apart, ha)

      I have been searching on the forum as to what I can use. I read somewhere that somebody used Naptha, but then I read on here that it can cause problems with the shellac. So I will avoid that.

      What can I use that is readily available, and I don’t need to buy a bunch of it? If things work out then I am going to buy myself and ultrasound cleaner and a jug of solution.


        Hello SISU,
        Is it possible that you are confusing Naptha with Alcohol?
        I do not work on watches yet but have used Naptha to clean two French clock plateforms and have not had problems with shellac melting or any damage to the shellac and see overall good results. I think though that alcohol will melt shellac.

        Best, Phil


          Hi SISU, for watch cleaning I use two liquids if I am not using my cleaning machines, those are Naptha, and One Dip, these liquids will not clean the parts like a ultra sonic, but they will clean the oil and grease off, so you soak them in these for short periods of time (pick up a tea strainer to hold the parts in so you do not have to pick each part out individually).

          david carlson

            Thanks for the replies.

            bernie weishapl

              I use Zep Industrial citrus cleaner 7 to 1, rinse with hot water, and then in denatured alcohol except for parts with shellac which I blow dry.

              dave booth

                Before I got my L&R cleaning machine, I was cleaning watches by hand. I used baby food jars for my cleaning solutions. I numbered the jars (and lids) with fingernail polish, to keep them separate. Number one is filled with Naptha; numbers two and three are filled with denatured alcohol. I bought a few acid brushes at my local plumbing supply store, and cut the bristles on two of them so that they are about 1/4 inch long, to make stiff scrub brushes. I numbered those too, to correspond with the Naptha and first alcohol rinse.

                In use, I swish the part in naptha, then scrub it with the naptha brush. Following that, I wipe it as best as I can with an cotton tee shirt that hangs on the end of my bench. Then I swish it around in the first alcohol rinse, and give it another good scrub with the alcohol brush. After that, I use a bit of pegwood (or pith wood, as applicable) to clean holes, arbors, etc. Then the part goes into the second alcohol rinse, and a box of sawdust for drying. After that, I do not touch the part with my bare fingers, and I take care not to breathe on it. I also am a firm believer in Rodico as a means of removing the odd bit of dust, or inadvertent fingerprint.

                Incidentally, fingernail polish is your friend: buy a jar of the brightest red and the brightest yellow you can find. Red is for painting the handles of tools used on steel, and for things like numbering the baby food jars; yellow is for the handles of tools used on brass, copper, and aluminum. I also use red fingernail polish in place of loctite. (Red is better than yellow, because it can be easily seen by some later repairman coming along behind you, thus warning him to soak the part in acetone before trying to remove it.)

                david carlson

                  Thanks for that info. I think I might give that system I try.

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