Clock case cleaning

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  • #48442
    digitaltripper
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    • Topics Started: 17
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    Ok so I tried searching for case cleaning and clock case and the search said it was too common…I did not find any though so I don’t see how common it is…

    Anyway, I have a Seth Thomas mantle clock shown in the pictures. I do not want to give it back looking like it does. I was told that this case finish is called adamantine? I am not sure of the spelling or what adamantine is. I am curious, what would you guys use to clean this case?

    What would you use to polish it after cleaning?

    I have some Howard’s Feed & Wax that I can polish it with after cleaning but I am not sure it would work well on this finish as I normally use that on wood cases like oak.

    Thanks in advance

    Jim



    #52529
    digitaltripper
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 17
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    Ok so surfing the web has given me a bit more information that I thought I’d share. This clock has a date code on the bottom of 6? 981A The 6? is because I can not be sure it is a 6 but it looks like it under magnification. According to research on the following site: http://clockhistory.com/sethThomas/index.html this case dates to January 1896…Very cool!! I used my thin CA(Cyanoacrylates) to fix a cracked bottom plate as shown in the photo. I was a bit sloppy, please learn from my mistake. This was before I knew the age of this case/clock not that that should make a difference because I should always be careful…. I hope I did not detract from whatever value this clock has. This picture does not show the date code as well as I’d like. Anyway, from the same site I learned what adamantine is:

    In the 1860’s, French clocks in slate, onyx or marble cases became popular in the United States. These cases were expensive, so the American clock manufacturers produced similar looking cases made of iron or wood. These clocks have become known to collectors as “Black Mantel Clocks”, and were popular from 1880 to 1931.

    Seth Thomas made clocks in marble cases for a short time, from 1887 to ca. 1895. They also made clocks in iron cases finished in black enamel, from 1892 to ca. 1895. Seth Thomas is well known for their “Adamantine” black mantel clocks, which were made starting in 1882. Adamantine is a celluloid veneer, glued to the wood case. Adamantine veneer was made in black and white, and in colored patterns such as wood grain, onyx and marble.

    Adamantine veneer was developed by the Celluloid Manufacturing Company of New York City, and was covered by U.S. Patent number 232,037, dated September 7, 1880. Seth Thomas Clock Company purchased the right to use the Adamantine veneer in 1881.

    I have also determined that the gold metal trim is held on with tiny wood screws so I am going to remove these pieces so that I may clean the case and these trim pieces easier and do a more thorough job. I think for the initial cleaning, I am going to use Goof Off 2, a water-based, safe on plastics, milder version of Goof Off.

    To Polish the case, I think I read on the NAWCC site several people recommended Flitz polish which is also safe for plastics.

    On a different subject, something that is note worthy however is the fact that T5 had a worn pivot:
    When the clock was together, you could not tell that it was worn this bad. It looked normal and had very little movement. At first glance this was a simple cleaning job. It was only after I disassembled the movement, that I discovered this.

    I repaired this pivot by silver soldering to fill in /enlarge the pivot, then using stones and a lathe, turned the pivot back down shown here: In addition I also re-bushed that side of the plate since it is obvious that something got into the bushing to wear the pivot that much.

    #52530
    arutha
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    • Topics Started: 85
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    I dont think silver soldering is going to be hard enough for that pivot, bear in mind that silver solder is composed of tin and silver – neither as hard wearing as steel. You will find it will wear much faster than using the usual method of drilling the arbor and inserting pivot steel. If this is a customers clock I would be very careful doing things like that, If the pivot does fail in a short space of time and the customer takes it to another clockmaker they will be asking why the pivot was not repaired properly, this could damage your reputation for doing good work. If you dont have the tools to do a job properly you either need to aquire them or send the item out to get it done. There is nothing wrong with a little ingenuity but it has to produce something that is fit for purpose. If you tell the customer you have made a temporary repair then you cover yourself should the worst happen. Please dont take my comments the wrong way, this is in no way personal, I just dont want to see you get into trouble.
    I have not come accross that type of case before and I would be interested to hear what to use to clean it with. Wax should do no harm but I would wait and see what the other members say.
    Paul.

    #52531
    digitaltripper
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 17
    • Total Posts: 102

    @Arutha wrote:

    I dont think silver soldering is going to be hard enough for that pivot, bear in mind that silver solder is composed of tin and silver – neither as hard wearing as steel. You will find it will wear much faster than using the usual method of drilling the arbor and inserting pivot steel. If this is a customers clock I would be very careful doing things like that, If the pivot does fail in a short space of time and the customer takes it to another clockmaker they will be asking why the pivot was not repaired properly, this could damage your reputation for doing good work. If you dont have the tools to do a job properly you either need to aquire them or send the item out to get it done. There is nothing wrong with a little ingenuity but it has to produce something that is fit for purpose. If you tell the customer you have made a temporary repair then you cover yourself should the worst happen. Please dont take my comments the wrong way, this is in no way personal, I just dont want to see you get into trouble.
    I have not come accross that type of case before and I would be interested to hear what to use to clean it with. Wax should do no harm but I would wait and see what the other members say.
    Paul.

    Thank you Paul ! I would NEVER take what you say “the wrong way” !! I really appreciate and value your input as well as the input from all the other members of the forum. I have the lathe, I need to make a flag like Bob shows in the video on pivoting and perhaps practice on an old arbor from an old clock that I have and then re-pivot and do it right!! Yes this is a customers clock, and I think you are right. I ALWAYS want to to the job correctly.

    I just had another thought as well…Imagine the escape wheel pivot breaking…Can you see all of the damage it would do the the clock? Oh man that would be so very bad !!!

    The clock is clamped to my bench and has been running happily for 4 days now. I think I better stop it…

    As for cleaning the case, don’t use goof off 2 !! I put a little on and the case got sticky like it was melting…YIKES !! Fortunately, no damage !! I removed the gold legs and trim and I am simply going to wash those with dawn dish washing liquid soap and water as they appear to be painted. I wiped the case down with a product called “Krud Cutter” and that went great. I am rubbing the case with Flitz and it works great but it is ALLOT of rubbing. It is removing the haze from the sides and leaving a nice shiny black. I will post pictures when it is done.

    If anyone else has any ideas on cleaning etc. please jump in here and let me know !!

    I hope everyone had a great Christmas and I wish you all a healthy, happy, and prospers new year !!

    Jim

    #52532
    jim1228
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 6
    • Total Posts: 75

    Hi Jim,

    I would be very careful using certain cleaning products on this type of clock case. Krud Cutter can be very harsh too, I would avoid using that as well. I would start with using a bowl of warm water with very little mild dish soap and a clean wash cloth. Then dry off any damp areas. Don’t apply any mineral oils or waxes until it is completely dry. I can almost be sure from just the look of the pictures that this is just superficial dirt and should clean easily. I clean most all clock cases with this method (depending on the condition) and had no problems or damage to the finishes. For the groves and tight corners, I will use a soft tooth brush and Qtips. :)

    I wish you well
    Jim

    #52533
    arutha
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 85
    • Total Posts: 1536

    Hi Jim,
    thank you for understanding :)
    I made one of those flags and it works very well. You should find the arbors on that clock are not super hard (not as hard as French clocks!) and as long as you use hardened pivot steel you will not have any problems. I re-pivoted a clock of my own a while back and it is scary when you do it for the first time. Just take your time, dont put too much pressure on the drill as they can snap if not careful which leaves you with an even bigger problem. The first time I started to drill out for a re-pivot I backed it off to check and I was off centre :( . A few adjustments and I got it spot on and drilled it out. Enormous sense of satisfaction when you get it right :)
    Look forward to seeing the cleaned case.
    Paul.

    #52534
    david pierce
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 90
    • Total Posts: 1360

    Tripper,
    You may be able to get some information from the antique furniture restoration industry. When the mechanical movement is removed what remains is essentially a piece of furniture. Also, check out some woodworking supply companies such as Highland Hardware, Rockler, Woodcraft etc.
    david

    #52535
    pkamargo
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 14
    • Total Posts: 62

    For case cleaning I use ‘New Life Furniture Masque’ with amazing results. Give it a try.

    #52536
    Bob Tascione
    Moderator
    • Topics Started: 38
    • Total Posts: 1552

    Hi DigitalTripper,
    Looks like you’ve received lot’s of good advise here already and thought I would add what I have done with these cases in

    the past. I normally stay away from using water based product or mixtures since I don’t want to get any moisture between

    the celluloid laminate and the wood. I don’t know if the moisture would actually be a problem but due to my very limited

    understanding of woods and laminates I just like to play it safe. I used a waterless hand cleaner like ‘Goop?’ to clean the

    surfaces. There are some of these industrial hand cleaners that contain an abrasive and since I’m not sure if that would

    damage the surface I only use a cleaner that doesn’t contain them. This idea of using a hand cleaner was passed on to me

    many moons ago back in the ’70s by another clockmaker (Charlie at Charlies Antique Clocks who used to have a thriving Clock

    restoration biz in Brea, Calif.) and is or at least was fairly common practice for cleaning these cases. After removing all

    hardware and cleaning with the cleaner – can take some elbow grease too – I would then use regular Bee’s wax and polish the

    case. They turned out beautiful! I think you can use regular Carnuba type car waxes too but not certain about that so could

    try it on some inconspicuous place. Not sure about Howards but would be worth a try on a small section to see how it looks

    too. I know that Howards products are Awesome for wood though.

    Hope this helps,
    Bob

    #52537
    digitaltripper
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 17
    • Total Posts: 102

    Thank you all so much for you input!! I love this forum!! OK so I just finished the case and wanted to show off the results however the current lighting is from my bench magnifier so I am getting a lot of reflections. I will take some better photos tomorrow in the natural light from my window that is next to the bench so that I get better photos. These really do not do the case justice:

    And here is one more showing the case and it’s movement:As I said I will get better pictures tomorrow but I think if you compare you can kinda get an idea of what it looks like now. It was allot of work but well worth it!!

    Thank you all again!!

    Jim

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