Home Forums General Discussion Forum New member getting started with pocket watches

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      Hello to Bob and all; This is my first post on this particular discussion board so I will share a little background. I am a Ford retiree residing in Port Huron, MI who actually started working on watches some 5 decades ago when I was 12yrs old. A local jeweler in Wayne, MI where I grew up took me under his wing for a few months and showed me some very basic things with old large pocket watches, tools and work methods. I didn’t have the patience for watchmaking back then so even though I was greatly fascinated by clocks and watches I drifted away from working on them. With the advent of E-bay you no longer had to be a treasure hunter to find old pocket watches and clocks. I bought several old clocks including a couple of Resch Remember Vienna regulators, a big old 3 train Junghans beehive bracket clock and a 1975 Herschede 9-tube grandfather clock, all on E-bay. Then I bought a couple of old pocket watches, a 1930’s Illinois Bunn and a 50’s Hamilton 992B. As the markets crumbled in 2008 I got interested in buyng a few solid gold cased pocket watches because I saw them as good investments and very interesting to boot. Now I’m getting to the point where some of my other hobbies are becoming less attractive such as hot-rod cars and power boats as they are getting very expensive to own, take up a lot of space and require lots of labor to keep them going. My interest is shifting back to collector pocket watches and the art of watchmaking. My collection has grown from 2 watches in the early 2,000s to 16 of them made by American Waltham, Elgin National, Hampden, Illinois and several Howards (Keystone). Having all of these neat old timepieces is really fun but I feel a bit handicapped with my very amateuerish skills as far as being able to fully maintain them. I view them all as art and view myself as just their current caretaker as most of them were around for a half century before I was and with any luck they will be around long after I’m gone. I want to be able to restore these watches and clocks and become proficient as their caretaker to keep them healthy, authentic and most important learn how to not harm them in any way.

      I downloaded Bob’s watchmaking videos and have been watching those with great interest and have been acquiring some tools. So far I have bought almost all of the tools Bob mentioned in his videos and a few others. I am still looking for a reasonable deal on a K & D Inverto 18R staking set and a good table type demagnetizer.

      One of the tools I did buy is a nicely restored L & R Master watch cleaning machine. It brings me to my first questions. It has solution jars for 3 solutions and it has a dryer bay.

      First question is does anyone on the forum have a set of directions for this machine they would be willing to scan a copy of and send to me?

      Second, what solutions should I buy as L & R and other mfrs list quite a few solutions.

      Last question is what are reasonable cycle times in each solution?

      Any other tips on how to get the best out of this machine highly appreciated, thanks in advance.

      Finally I just joined the NAWCC and the big news there is the announcement of the closing of the degree programs at least at their school of horology in PA which is very sad news.



        Hi Dave,
        I am not going to be much use in answering your questions but I do know from experience the L&R waterless solutions work very well on clock movements. A guy that was teaching me used them and the results were very good. I am more of a clock fanatic but if ever I can comment with some useful info i will. wecome to the board (doing Bob’s job for him as he is lounging around in Mexico somewhere sipping cocktails no doubt :) ). There are some watch experts on here so hopefuly they will stop being shy and post a response soon :)

        Bob Tascione

          Hi Dave and Welcome to the forum and back to the watch repair world!
          Arutha caught me again. Guilty as charged! We’re getting unusually high surf here right now so have been sitting out on the patio watching the waves most of the day! Beautiful here today.

          It sounds like you’re building a beautiful collection of clocks and watches. Hope to see you up here often.
          Your mechanical cleaner will serve you well for repairing pocket watches.

          I’ve always leaned towards L&R solutions. For my mechanical machine I usually use L&R Extra Fine watch cleaning solution and their #3 rinse. I say usually since I will often use whatever I have on hand if I run out. This doesn’t mean Extra Fine is the best choice at all. I get set in my ways fairly easily and as a result often fall behind on new improvements that appear on the market. I’ll be trying Zenith products again after my L&R stock runs out as I hear they have really improved and the cost is lower than L&R.

          I believe common running time for each jar is somewhere between 5 to 8 minutes for mechanical movements. That’s about how long I run them. If your machine has an auto reverse that’s great. If it doesn’t but does have a manual reverse then running it in the reverse direction for a couple of minutes is a good idea in all jars.
          After running in a jar I lift the head up above the solution but not clear of the top of the jar and allow the basket to “spin off” the excess solution back into the jar. Your solution and rinses will last a lot longer as this helps keep the next rinse from becoming contaminated with either the cleaning solution or the previous rinse.

          When the final rinse starts to become a little cloudy it can be rotated into the previous rinses position (discarding the first rinse) and a new final rinse added being sure that the jar for the final rinse is very clean before adding the new rinse.

          When the rinse is complete raise the basket and let it spin in the final rinse jar for a minute before moving it to the heating cylinder. Then spin in the heated cylinder for a couple of minutes. That’s about it.

          I don’t have any kind of manual for the different cleaning machines but maybe someone up here has one on hand or even better, a link to a pdf.

          I also heard about NAWCCs plan to close the Watch school yesterday. Interest in their course dropped to point where it just isn’t feasible for them to continue. This is very sad as their course was excellent. I had the opportunity to spend a few days back there back in 1997 and filmed the clock and watch classes in session. Jim Michaels was the school director and watch teacher and Nagle was the clock teacher. Both were excellent instructors. Jim Michaels is a superb watchmaker and nice guy. I believe he has some repair videos and possibly has some written material. The instructors that followed Jim were also top notch watchmakers. So it wasn’t that the course was lacking in quality; just lacking students. From what I hear the NAWCC will be concentrating more on increasing their excellent clock repair mini field courses.

          Well hope this helps Dave and again Welcome!
          Enjoy your watches!

          [email protected]

            Hi Paul and thanks for your reply. I know for sure L&R makes a bunch of different watch cleaning solutions as well, some look like they leave an oil of some type on cleaned surfaces in a final rinse. Looking around on the NAWCC boards today I stumbled upn a scanned copy of the L&R Master Watch Machine user directions, 4pgs, which suggests one of their watch cleaning solutions for the first cycle folloed by 2 cycles in 2 jars in the same rinse solution then to the dryer. They suggest 3 minutes at moderate speed with reversing in each of the cleaning and rinse steps then a spin-dry in the last rinse jare followed by a low speed spin in the dryer for another 3 minutes.

            I also finally bit the bullet and spent big bucks for a K&D Inverto 18R Deluxe Staking Set from Dashto Horological. I suspect that was a better place to buy a staking set because I believe when Tom Mister says VG to XLNT that’s better than some such claim from an E-bay seller.



              That does look like a beautiful staking set, certainly puts mine to shame lol.
              Hope Bobs post was helpful Dave, he does get on here just about everday so you shouldnt ever have too long to wait for an answer. There are other members on here but they can just be a little shy at times.
              Anyway keep us posted on how it goes for you.
              Bye for now :)

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