Ultrasonic Rinse Procedure Questions
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  1. #1
    Member ExpiredWatchdog's Avatar
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    Ultrasonic Rinse Procedure Questions

    All:
    Last night I received a copy of the Bulova Watchmaster WT manual and it led me to some questions about rinse procedures. The standard recipe I've seen and read about involves a first rinse cup, followed by a second rinse cup. When the first rinse cup gets dirty, you toss it, the second cup becomes the first cup and you refill the second cup with clean solution. I suppose "dirty" is subjective and is probably detected by the color.

    The Watchmaster manual has two versions, a three cup rinse and a two cup rinse. The three cup rinse is similar to the above procedure, except the first rinse is a dip-only rinse and you discard the rinse solution from the dip rinse with each basket cleaned. Once discarded, you place rinse two into the dip rinse, rinse three becomes rinse two and rinse three gets a clean fill.

    The other version is a two rinse cycle similar to the standard recipe, except they recommend you discard all solutions with each basket.

    Each of these seems to be a little overkill, in light of the standard recipe and because I'm not cleaning six watches at once.

    What are your thoughts on this? I have three ultrasonic cups and the spare cup, so I can do a three rinse version, but hate to expend six ounces of rinse on a single watch if it's not necessary. I'm thinking it's safe to rinse six watches before cycling the solutions.

    Also, when discarding, I was thinking about putting the waste solutions into an open paint can and just letting it evaporate. Years ago I handled ESH for a company and the county ARB suggested that as the best way to discard small amounts of solvent.

    Another thought is to light the BBQ with it, at least the rinse.
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  2. #2
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    Re: Ultrasonic Rinse Procedure Questions

    I received my Ultrasonic machine back in December. I'm a hobbyist as well, and I use the two rinse method, which I read about on another forum. It has worked for me so far, and because I'm only working on one watch at a time i still have yet to swap around the rinses. Although I will say, based on color, they are about due. I agree, when supplies are limited (I sprung for the L&R Ultrasonic cleaner and rinse), expensive, and you're not re-cooping the cost through a business, then you have to make some choices. I've been very please with the results and even though it may not be the absolute BEST practice, it's getting the job done as I need it. If I were charging money for anything, I would make different choices, but for now I'm happy with the way things are getting cleaned. I do the same kind prioritizing for oils as well.

    Cheers

  3. #3
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    Re: Ultrasonic Rinse Procedure Questions

    If you want to be squeaky clean, dicard all solutions after each cleaning. (I know of no professional watchmaker who does this).
    Otherwise, the choice is going to be a function of how contaminated your projects are to begin with. Your solutions might only clean 1 really nasty 18 size pocket watch...or ten modern swiss movements which are undergoing regular periodic maintenance.
    Solutions will last longer if you pre-clean the really nasty parts...like mainsprings, barrels and arbors that are loaded up with moly/graphite lubricants.
    Most modern cleaning equipment uses 3 rinses. I like LR112 (clean) followed by LR121 (2x rinse) followed by ZenithDrizebrite x 1 rinse. Color in the first rinse is an indication, but when you see the first sign of solids precipitating in the 1st rinse, you should have changed already! Another clue is when plates/bridges have a film on them after a cycle.
    When changing #1 rinse, cleaning solution is discarded, #2 rinse to #1 and every other cycle I discard the Drizebrite.
    Some folks try to filter to add to longevity. This will not remove dissolved oils from solution and will result poor cleaning...even if the solution "looks" better. These solutions dissolve oils and waxes...once the solvent is loaded with solute...it must be discarded or go back through a refining process.
    Discarding via evaporation adds VOCs to the environment...which are still pollutants. Complete incineration is probably the least environmentally innocuous...noting that one must adhere to personal safety and local regulatory concerns depending upon the jurisdiction in which you work.
    Barring the "discard with each use" model, there is no one size fits all protocol...judgement comes into play...which is a function of education and experience.
    If you are using a Watchmaster, be certain to demagnetize your work.
    Regards, BG
    mousekar75 and maillchort like this.

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  5. #4
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    Re: Ultrasonic Rinse Procedure Questions

    One thing not mentioned yet is the volume of cleaner used. Pro machines use pretty large jars, way larger than anything most of us would have at home. Well, except maybe peanut butter jars from CostCo. Also, do you have a way to spin off the solution after each step in the cycle?

    Way back when, I was using jelly jars, maybe 8 oz. I think the L&R Master I use takes about a quart/jar, so that's 4x the volume, plus I spin off the fluid between steps.

    Also, I concur in recommending hand cleaning of old, long-unused movements before they go into the machine. Or when you get one of those watches where the last guy believed there's no such thing as too much oil.
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  6. #5
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    Re: Ultrasonic Rinse Procedure Questions

    Thanks all for your answers. I was a little surprised when the local ARB suggested that we evaporate the solvents, and that was at a company. It was in Nevada and almost 25 years ago, so it might not have been the best idea even then.

    Fortunately, the Watchmaster takes six ounces at the most, so discarding the solution only costs about $2 a shot. I could spin the basket with each move, but it only spins, blows and heats, no choice between them. They do emphasize removing the basket from the last rinse with the ultrasonic enabled. I suppose that removes some solution that would otherwise remain. Hopefully I'll find the time to give it a whirl this weekend and see how it goes.
    Accuracy is only skin deep but ugliness goes to the soul.
    I only use fake Bergeon tools for working on fake Rolexes.
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  7. #6
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    Re: Ultrasonic Rinse Procedure Questions

    I tried it out on two movements this weekend. First observation; the action is way more pronounced with solvent (L&R 111, 121) than water and it heats the solvent much faster. Five minutes is all I dared but was completely satisfactory.

    I opted for the three rinse method, but I'll hold off cycling rinses until I've cleaned four more movements. So far I see no sediment or discoloration but I only cleaned a quartz and a junk drawer movement. The quartz was very clean from the start and I doubt the junk drawer movement ever saw any oil (and not much use).

    I didn't spin the basket between solutions, only after the final rinse. I spun/dried it for five minutes and breeze became warmer than I would have guessed, but not so hot that you couldn't hold your hand in it for a while anyway. Didn't think to play a thermometer over it though one was just a few feet away (in retrospect, well next time).

    Things got real clean, like carburetor parts out of the carb cleaner, rinsed and dried, or dishes in a well working dishwasher with drying solution. The only thing that bothered me was a chunky or two on a couple wheels but I believe they came from the containers I put things in afterward, either the little cake trays (or so my wife calls them) or a polyethylene snap container I use to demagnetize things in. I'll have to do a better job of pre-cleaning the containers. The chunkies blew away easily, but unnerved me, both in where they came from and blowing on those tiny parts with a world of infinity hovering just a couple feet away (my workspace is just the kitchen table for now, surrounded by dark and deeply grained hardwood flooring).

    Thanks again all for the advice, now onto assembly and lubrication.
    Benjamin Barrera likes this.
    Accuracy is only skin deep but ugliness goes to the soul.
    I only use fake Bergeon tools for working on fake Rolexes.
    Friends don't let friends own Seiko.

  8. #7
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    Re: Ultrasonic Rinse Procedure Questions

    L&R and Zenith can be cold filtered and reused. I use coffee filters in a french press it works like a charm. Pre cleaning with brushes is recommended, esp when there is oil stains, rust, caked dirt, etc. I use zenith products. 1 cleaning two rinses sometimes only 1 rinse depending on the movement and my pre-cleaning. I use 4 oz jars in a half gallon ultrasonic filled with water thats is higher than the level in the jar.

  9. #8
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    Re: Ultrasonic Rinse Procedure Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by thetrenchdude View Post
    L&R and Zenith can be cold filtered and reused. I use coffee filters in a french press it works like a charm. Pre cleaning with brushes is recommended, esp when there is oil stains, rust, caked dirt, etc. I use zenith products. 1 cleaning two rinses sometimes only 1 rinse depending on the movement and my pre-cleaning. I use 4 oz jars in a half gallon ultrasonic filled with water thats is higher than the level in the jar.
    Filtering at any level will not remove solutes (eg dissolved oil and waxes) from the solvents. These will continue to load until the cleaning solution is no longer effective.
    (It was much simpler before those pesky courses in chemistry)...
    Regards, BG

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