Harbor Freight UltraSonic cleaners

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Oct 24, 2005
I got tired of resetting the 480 second (8 minute) timer on this thing as it takes at least 4 cycles to clean a batch of cases, so I searched around the intertubes and found a hack to bypass the timer altogether by adding a switch to that circuit. It involves opening the cleaner case, pic 1, removing the display board and soldering a push on/push off switch into back side of the board pic 2 (and finding a place to mount the switch on the cleaner case pic 3). the cleaner now runs until I turn it off or will run using the timer if you so choose. I don't know how long the unit will run without overheating so I only run it w/o the timer when I'm down there with it. There is a thermocouple connected to the heater element to shut that down so I imagine (until proven otherwise) that all is good.
I'm a mechanical kind of guy and barely was able to get a soldering iron on the pads w/o screwing those up so; take everything I have revealed here for what it cost you to read it. Happy New Year.
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thanks for the post ... i have a harbor freight unit similar to yours but some reason when i disassembled it, the electronic board looks different ... any tip or clue to help find out which two wires should be shorted (or connected to switch)?
thanks for the post ... i have a harbor freight unit similar to yours but some reason when i disassembled it, the electronic board looks different ... any tip or clue to help find out which two wires should be shorted (or connected to switch)?

Sorry Abbas, I'm not much of an electrical guy, I just followed the instructions I got off the internet. You need some smart kid with a volt meter.
Incidentally, I have forgotten and let it run overnight a time or two so now the transducer growls at me at first when I fire it up. Still cleans cases but I recommend an appliance timer at the power source and limit the run-time to an hour or two.
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You tried it on gun parts or just brass?

I clean most all my gun parts in it.

I have a much higher power 4 gallon industrial ultrasonic cleaner in the shop that I have been using for ~20 years. I have cleaned MANY guns in it MANY times and have never had a problem with it. I wouldn't leave an aluminum part in it for an hour with the cleaner on but 5 minutes has never shown any sign of pitting the aluminum. I use this industrial one for everything imaginable. Carbs, fuel injectors, greasy tools, guns, golf clubs, etc. Ultrasonic cleaners do a marvelous job on plastics and rubber. The industrial cleaner will take 50 years of grunge off plastic and make it look like new (67 Ford F100 arm rests and vent covers).

The industrial cleaner takes 30+ minutes to come up to temperature and degass. If I am just cleaning one gun I just use the linked to little cleaner. If I am doing several guns I use the big cleaner. Same with brass... small loads in the small cleaner... big loads in the big cleaner.

In the big cleaner I usually use TSP, Dawn dishwashing liquid and tap water. In the small cleaner I use distilled water, rubbing alcohol and a touch of Dawn. I use the little cleaner daily for eye glasses, cpap, and such. When I clean a gun or brass in the little cleaner I have to change the liquid or we get spots on our eye glasses.

In the small linked to cleaner a disassembeled Desert Eagle L5 (5" light weight aluminum frame) fits entirely in the cleaner basket with a bit of room to spare. There are a couple other models very simular to the one I listed... I paid a couple bucks more for this one to get the metal basket which was definitely worth it.
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I use the Hornady Hot Tub. It's 9 liters, 4 transducers and the heat can be set up too 140 degrees. I can clean 2-4 (full) pistols in it at a time, a rifle upper or lower or a couple thousand casings of brass. Might just be the pics but the ones above look huge... Also there is a 500 free bullet rebate offer on the hornady tank

The one I linked to on amazon above is considerably smaller and less expensive than your Hornday... and most likely considerably less powerful too.

When I look at Ultrasonic cleaners I specifically look at the ultrasonic power... many ultrasonic cleaner descriptions will add the ultrasonic power to the power of the heater and declare that as the cleaning power of the unit which is very misleading.
  • The ultrasonic cleaner has 250W heating power and 240W ultrasonic power
I forget how many watts my big cleaner is but the ultrasonic power supply is 220v and takes a 20amp outlet.
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