ultrasonic cleaning

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by TRX, Apr 29, 2021.

  1. TRX

    TRX Member

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    I have an ultrasonic cleaner I'd like to use for guns and parts. Some older threads recommended filling the tank with Ed's Red, which would certainly work well, but I'd like to be able to use the cleaner for other things, many of which wouldn't survive Ed's Red.

    The usual ultrasonic cleaning solutions seem to be water-based; plain old dishwashing liquid is often suggested as useful for gun cleaning.

    Autoloaders are mostly easy to field strip. Revolvers... I don't have any problem with removing the side plate and grips, but how do I get the water out after cleaning? Air drying isn't practical in the humidity where I live. Dry shop air, blown on a metal surface, will condense moisture onto metal parts from the surrounding air.

    Is just hosing the innards out with WD-40 before using gun lube OK?
     
  2. BillTell

    BillTell Member

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    My wife has a small ultrasonic jewelry cleaner. I usually take a disposable plastic food container to fit my parts, put in about a quart of Hoppe's #9, and just sit it on top of the cleaner. I will let it go for up to an hour, the vibrations take all but the most stubborn of dirt and particles off. I'll take them out, spritz with BC Gun Scrubber, then back in the Hoppe's if necessary. For my stuff, it works great. Anything left over can be scrubbed with a toothbrush or similar.
     
  3. loneviking

    loneviking Member

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    I use Simple Green Pro HD, which is formulated to be safe for metal. After cleaning I put the parts in a warm oven, which is around 110 degrees and leave them in there for an hour. That should be long enough to dry everything.
     
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  4. ApacheCoTodd

    ApacheCoTodd member

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    I have an unfair advantage living in Arizona and also never buying or building an ultrasonic without on-board heating.

    When heated, in distilled water, the items flash-dry quite nicely. At least here and most of the year.

    On additives, again, heating is a big issue.

    I love Simple Green but trust me on this.... You do NOT want to heat it. PineSol is a favorite of mine for gun-bits and carburetors but a very little goes a very long way.

    Dawn Dish soap is my favorite dish soap as it degreases wonderfully and rinses easily.

    Anymore, I run two US cleaners. One for additives and another for a final rinse.

    Does your cleaner heat? It must be noted that a heated cleaner and certain additives can essentially *refinish* a gun or components when you don't want it too. Be sure to test and internets-search for results when using additives in general and when heated in particular.

    One interesting example is when I thought: "Hmmm, vinegar is a cool cleaner, I'll try some in my heated US cleaner!" Ended up *parkerizing* a pocket knife. Came out supremely cool looking but it could just as easily ruined a collectible piece too.


    Todd.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2021
  5. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Member

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    A good and safe method of drying after cleaning is to shake-blow out what you can then use a hair dryer to warm it up.
    NOTE: Hair dryer and warm, not torch, oven, or heat gun and HOT.

    After using a water based cleaner, all you really need to do is swish it around in a sink of hot water and hold it under the faucet.
    Running it to rinse in the ultrasonic is rather wasted time since a flush will do as good a job.

    You can dry with the hair dryer, or spray in a moisture displacing spray. WD-40 works but there are several newer products used to dry components that leaves a rust preventing coating.
    There are any number sold, including Hoppe's MDL, LPS and others.

    The big advantage of the ultrasonic cleaner is that you don't have to disassemble to get something clean.
    I was a watchmaker-gunsmith and it was routine to not do a 100% disassembly of a fine watch since the cleaner gets into even the tiniest areas.
    You risked doing damage disassembling some assemblies and the cleaner did as good a job with them as-is.
    A gun is HUGE compared to a watch so no sideplate removal is needed.

    There are any number of liquids you can use from hot water and Dawn or one of the strong grease cutting cleaners, cheap paint thinner, etc.
    Just be careful to test whatever you use, some of the cleaners like Purple Power, Greased Lightning, and some forms of Simply Green will EAT aluminum, and do it fast in a cleaner.
    The reloader companies who sell ultrasonic cleaners also sell gun-specific cleaning solutions and these are safe.
    Note that even plain water will eventually remove painted sight highlights and safety markings, and solvent type solutions can remove them instantly.

    Last piece of advice........ KEEP YOUR HANDS OUT OF THE CLEANER.
    Bone marrow and ultrasonics don't go well together. This is a cumulative problem but it's best to just not start.
     
  6. BBBBill

    BBBBill Member

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    I used to claim the need to go to the latrine and sneak off down to the cleaning closet to clean my M-16 under the super hot water in the mop sink. Little bit of dishwashing soap purchased at the local shopette, some patches, some clean dry rags, and cleaning rod/brushes took care of the clean. Evaporation of the super hot water, some clean dry rags, and proper oiling took care of the rest. The drill sergeants never did find a gig in my rifle and never caught on to my malfeasance.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2021
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  7. lbs

    lbs Member

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    I use compressed air and then a bath in a second cheap ultrasound with Lymans turbo sonic gun lube.pricey stuff,but it lasts a long time.
    Great for metal and displaces water.
     
  8. ms6852

    ms6852 Member

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    I use the one shot gun cleaning solution from Hornady's. I like to use my toaster oven that I use for powder coating to dry the metal parts, at about 200º for 30 minutes. Than I blast all the metal parts in ballistol as it cleans and lubes as well.
     
  9. Guy48065

    Guy48065 Member

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    You seem to know a thing or two about ultrasonic cleaners so I'll direct my question to you (anyone can answer, tho...)
    I believe you can set a smaller container of parts & solvent IN the regular soapy water bath and the sonic action will go right thru the container like it wasn't there. True?
    If so that would alleviate some of the concern about needing to empty the tank to run a small batch in solvent.

    I thought I'd bring this up because it rarely gets mentioned.
     
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  10. ApacheCoTodd

    ApacheCoTodd member

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    I've had little luck with a separate container other than mesh-wire. Even then, it tends to dissipate the effect somewhat when there's direct contact to the tank edge, bottom or sides.

    Suspending without contact to the tank itself seems to yield the best results. Everything contacting seems to have a direct dampening effect.

    Todd.
     
  11. NuclearMeltdown

    NuclearMeltdown Member

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    That sounds great if you're careful! I'd like to see a photo if it's easy for you to take one and put it on here.
     
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  12. ApacheCoTodd

    ApacheCoTodd member

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    As soon as I come across it again. It was along the lines if not actually, a Boy Scout or Girl Scout knife. Very nice grey-green finish after it came out. Blades and bolsters.

    Todd.
     
  13. Blue68f100

    Blue68f100 Member

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    I found if you use a glass container and there is enough weight to keep it from moving it works. You loose sound transfer on plastic which deadens or kill the US. A lot of has to do with how powerful of US cleaner you have, 2,3,4 transducers to generate the US. Also keep the US unit at it's proper level helps when you using containers.
     
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  14. SGW Gunsmith

    SGW Gunsmith Member

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    I use a rather low-cost ultra sonic cleaning outfit from Harbor Freight, mainly to clean up those tiny parts that adult fingers can't hang onto very well. I use a "green cleaner" called Jungle Jake that I get from the local "farm & barn" store for around $7.00 per gallon and use it full strength. For those small screws, springs and detents, I capture those in one of those metal tea-bag balls with the chain. Sometimes I forget to put it back and then need to make up a story about one of the cats running off with it.
     
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  15. ApacheCoTodd

    ApacheCoTodd member

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    Another great kitchen/U.S. cleaner crossover is straining bags. They work great for suspending small bits in the center of the cleaner and controlling the parts. I have a sense that the microaggitation against one another reaps rewards too.
    They also will flash dry once removed from a heated cleaner and they I spray the whole bottom of the bag with G96 or a like oil.

    Todd.
     
  16. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    Won't a rinse with boiling water flash dry the metal? Or boil it. Either way, once you get the metal to boiling temperature won't the water be dried once you remove it/stop rinsing?
     
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