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      Been looking at reviews some say ammonia is corrosive. Looking on you tube video showed vinegar salt mix as best.Would appreciate any thoughts before I start up my 1st ultrasonic tank.

      chris mabbott

        Charlie, you have to keep in mind a few things about certain materials, what you’re trying to remove and the process, in this case, an ultrasonic.

        A USCM removes debris. What (I assume) that you’re trying to accomplish is to restore shine to brass?

        As I tend to believe, most clock plates (Brass) are treated with some form of clear coat protector, so this needs to be removed IF you want to completely shine up the brass.

        IF the brass is dark and tarnished, it means that the clear coat has failed and allowed the atmosphere to effect the brass.

        Brass, silver etc become dark due to a chemical reaction and form tarnish/patina. USCM alone will not remove this substance WITHOUT a product that will react with the tarnish..

        Sorry if i’m stating the obvious, just wanted to say it in case…

        So with vinegar and salt, you are causing a chemical reaction that will be greatly intensified by the particle bombardment of the USCM.
        This can have an adverse effect IF the mixture is the wrong concentration, it can turn your brass black, or cause pitting.
        It depends on the power of your USCM also, and the temp..

        What I suggest, is that you experiment with the mixture BEFORE you place your clock plates inside, just to be safe. If you have some shel casings or scrap parts, test those first

        Also DO NOT place any steel parts (brass gears with steel shafts) in a vinegar/salt mixture, they will turn black.

        Some of the guys here use various products or have made concoctions for their brass items that work safely and effectively. I also recommend performing a search on the site for cleaning solutions. I think Paul (Arutha) posted his mixture for use..

        bernie weishapl

          I quit using ammonia cleaners because it will eat the lacquer finish on the newer movements. It will definitely shine the plates on the older antique movements. If you leave a newer movement in the ammonia solution to long you will be taking a stripper and finish taking of the lacquer off the plates. That can be a real pain because if you want to relacquer the plates you can’t get any in the pivot holes. I definitely would not use a vinegar/salt mixture. Like Chris said you will end up with steel parts that are black. I think that mixture is way worse than using ammonia. At this point I use Zep Industrial Citrus cleaner. I mix it 7 parts water with 1 part cleaner. Before that and it worked pretty well was dawn dishwashing soap and murphys oil soap. It is not that I am opposed to using ammonia it is because I have about a 60/40 mixture of modern to antique. With so many modern movements I got tired of re-lacquering plates. If you don’t re-lacquer the plates tend to discolor with age.

          So after 30 of doing this I have had really excellent luck with the Zep.


            Hi All…Currently I am using 10 oz of 10% ammonia (purchased at ace true value hardware) and one tablespoon Dawn dishwashing liquid added to one gallon of water.

            So far, it has not bothered any laqured plates/parts but I leave it in the cleaning machine for not more than three minutes. Rinse with water then dunk in/out in denatured alcohol to remove water then blowdry.

            I have both ultrasonic and egg beater(L&R 3 jar type machine) and so far works well. Still have to peg out holes but I do not mind as it allows for close examination for bushing replacement.

            Have not tried this on watches, but I bet it would be fine…


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