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UltraSonic Cleaner, NOT WORKING ??? HELP !!!

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by eric.cartman, May 15, 2007.

  1. eric.cartman

    eric.cartman Well-Known Member

    So I got my sonic cleaner yesterday. I'm not sure if it's working or not :uhoh:

    I filled it up with Mineral Spirits, places my Ruger SP101 in it, turned it on. I could see bubbles, as if the solution was boiling. It picked up some dirt, BUT:

    1) the burning around the cylinder rings is still there.
    2) thick carbon/powder deposit is still there.

    I also tried my 1911, really dirty, for about 30 - 45 minutes. It got SOME of the dirt off, but a lot of carbon/burned powder deposit is still there.

    Is that the expected result?
    Am I using a wrong solvent (Mineral Spirits)?
    My cleaner makes a loud noise when it runs, is that normal?
    How can I verify it even works? I could see boubles forming around cracks/dirt, is that good?

    What am i doing wrong?
    I thought the gun should be sparkling clean. It wasn't.

    I have the SharperTek Clenaer: http://www.sharpertek.com/sharpertek-ultrasonic-cleaner-model-sh150-6l.html
  2. CJ

    CJ Well-Known Member

    To test your cleaner:
    • Cut a small rectangle of aluminum foil (maybe 1"x3")
    • Fill the cleaner with water
    • Turn it on
    • Dip half the foil rectangle into the water for a little bit (maybe 15-30 seconds, or until you see results)
    • Pull out the aluminum foil. It should have dimples (and possible small holes) through it.

    For more info, google "ultrasonic foil test" without the quotes.
  3. deadin

    deadin Well-Known Member

    I've got a feeling that you are using the wrong solution.
    You might give SharperTek tech support a call and ask them what you should use and what results you should expect.
  4. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Well-Known Member

    The cleaner is working if you see tiny bubbles and the surface is roiled.
    The cleaner will make a buzzing sound and the solution will get warm after 20 to 30 minutes or so.

    Ultrasonics work by forming and "exploding" microscopic bubbles. It's the "explosion" of the bubbles that blast the dirt off.

    Understand that the rings on the cylinder are fused on by temperatures of several thousand degrees.
    This is very difficult for any cleaning method to remove, even ultrasonics.
    You can help the cleaner by running parts for 15 minutes or so, pulling them out and scrubbing with a brass "toothbrush" or even a standard toothbrush.

    Paint thinner and mineral spirits are good cleaner and de-greasers, but may not be up to removing burned on carbon.
    There are several things you can do:

    If the gun is stainless steel, use a "Lead-Away" type cloth to remove the carbon from the front face of the cylinder.
    DO NOT use on a blued gun.....it'll strip the bluing right of.

    Second, look for an automotive carbon remover liquid. Just make SURE it won't harm gun parts. I'd use this as a pre-dip before running the parts in the cleaner.

    Ultrasonics WILL totally clean the parts of ordinary fouling and lubes and any other dirt or crud.
    Ultrasonics will not remove heavy carbon or copper bore fouling or leading ON IT'S OWN.
    If you use a solvent that normally attacks these types of fouling, it'll work in ultrasonic baths.

    My recommendation is to first try running the parts for a while, pull them out and brush, then run longer.

    Ultrasonics work really good, but there is no free lunch. For the most part, when dealing with burned on carbon or bore leading and copper fouling you still have to help it along by at least some hand cleaning.
  5. eric.cartman

    eric.cartman Well-Known Member

    The foil test passes :) I could see dents and holes after 20 seconds in the cleaner.

    So what now? Better cleaning solution?
  6. Schutzen

    Schutzen Well-Known Member

    It has been a while since I used an ultrasonic cleaner, but we used 10 weight motor oil as a solvent. Start the cleaner and its heaters, bring the oil temperature up to 140 degrees F and start the cleaning process. It always worked fine for us.
  7. foob

    foob Well-Known Member

    I've heard others use mpro7 before, maybe they can comment on it.
  8. Snarlingiron

    Snarlingiron Well-Known Member

    I have been using ultrasonic cleaners since they were made out of stone. Well almost. I was raised in a family jewelry business, and have spent the last 40 or so years off and on involved with watch and clock restoration, and a short stint in a gunsmithing business with my brother. I generally agree with the comments of dfariswheel with the exception of the comment that thinners and mineral spirits are good cleaners. They do a pretty good job of breaking down grease and oil, but that is it. They have no detergent or "soap" if you will. I have always used an ammoniated water based solution. This has the benefit that it will slightly attack copper based fouling, and will do an excellent job of cleaning (although it can cause surface erosion if not careful). The removal of the carbon is most likely going to have to be done manually (that means elbow grease). Most folks have a totally unfounded fear of water or water based solutions around guns. As long as you thoroughly dry the gun afterwards, and properly lubricate, it will cause no harm, and will actually do a great job of cleaning. While it is true that the mini implosions that occur on the surface remove the dirt, if you soften up that dirt with hot soapy water, then it will do it faster and better. Upon removal from the cleaning tank, I rinse with plain hot water, followed by a thorough blow off with compressed air at about 60 lb. of pressure. I then place the parts under a heat lamp for a short while to completely remove any moisture, and then lubricate. While I have not tried the heated motor oil, this makes some sense in that it does contain detergents. However, it would seem that the thicker body would reduce the cavitation. If you are really going to get into it, check out L&R's gun cleaning solutions, designed for use with their ultrasonic gun cleaning system. I have used L&R products for many years, and they produce top quality stuff.

    L&R Firearms Cleaning Solution

    Afterthought: I do not ultrasonically clean without complete disassembly. If you are trying to shortcut this step, then you would probably be ill advised to use water based solutions since they will be difficult to remove from an assembled gun. On the other hand IMNTBHO if you are not completely disassembling the gun, no amount of cleaning, ultrasonic or otherwise will ever get it completely clean.

    I have the L&R Q360 with auxilliary heater.
  9. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Well-Known Member

    I'll second L&R cleaning solutions, although I have no experience with the gun products.

    I do know that L&R watch cleaning solution does a nice job, but it's rather expensive.
    The point is, ultrasonics are very good at cleaning parts, but there is no magic system that will allow you to totally clean a gun without at least some manual effort.

    Where ultrasonics really produce is in cleaning hidden areas you can't get to with other methods, and in cleaning components you can't disassemble.

    As above, if you take notice of the necessary elements, water-based cleaners work very well.
    Just be careful what you use. As example, Simply Green will seriously damage aluminum, and as with all solvents, a solvent that will damage something will damage it faster in an ultrasonic cleaner.

    Another pointer is to use a basket or wire hangers to keep parts off the bottom of the tank. Ultrasonics work better on parts suspended in the solution.
  10. eric.cartman

    eric.cartman Well-Known Member

    Where can I buy L&R Firearms Cleaning Solution ???

    Is there a store in S.FL, Ft. Lauderdale reselling this stuff ?
  11. Snarlingiron

    Snarlingiron Well-Known Member

    I doubt you will be able to walk in and buy it anywhere. Why not give L&R a call. If there is a distributor near you they would know, and if not I'm sure they would sell it to you, or refer you to a distributor where you can buy it.

    I took a minute to look at Brownell's.

    Brownell's L&R Stuff

    They have it. Scroll to the bottom of the page. It is $67.00 a gallon, but it is a concentrate that makes 10 gallons of solution.
  12. Plink

    Plink Well-Known Member

    Absolutely. The parts need to be exposed to the vibrations for them to be cleaned. Internals don't get enough agitation unless they're exposed by disassembly.
  13. gezzer

    gezzer Well-Known Member

    I use the NAPA equivalent of simple green in mine cut 50% with water. Works great. Mine has a heater that pre-heats to 130 degrees. I warm it up put in the STRIPPED gun and leave for 15 minutes. I then rinse with hot water and blow dry with the air hose. Then spray with Tri-flow and blow that all over inside etc until just a thin coat is left.
  14. 03Shadowbob

    03Shadowbob Well-Known Member

    I just thought of something

    I wish Blue-job on my chrome pipes and all my chrome doodads on the Harley. I think it may work on the guns also. Not sure though.
  15. chris in va

    chris in va Well-Known Member

    The Honda motorcycle shop near me does the ultrasonic thing on carbs I give them. They always come back utterly spotless. Might try calling a MC shop and ask what they use.

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