Cleaning Parts

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lmw94002
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Cleaning Parts

Post by lmw94002 »

Anyone use something like a case tumbler to clean parts? Like a small one used for bullet casings.

I was looking at the idea originally for cleaning up metal parts but also started wondering if it'd work on the plastic parts. I understand it could be very media dependent too, so any info on what you may have used for that would be awesome too.
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Re: Cleaning Parts

Post by jwscab »

two things I ever use and it's really not that much effort.

dish detergent-pretty straightforward-aluminum mostly, as the stuff below can cause irregular shadowing. then polish or scorthbrite to remove oxidation.

SimpleGreen cleaner-soak the parts and soft tooth brush and the parts will be as clean as they could ever be. straight undiluted, the dirt becomes a film that just washed off. oh, also run a pipe cleaner through the pin holes. I have this tiny 1/8" brush i run through all the screw and pin holes.

A tumbler is risky as it will take sharp edges and detail out of the parts, you would have to find a super gentle media.

for rusty hardware, I use this stuff that is essentially phosphoric acid, it's called krudkutter and there are a bunch of equivalent products out there. drop them in and swish around. keep an eye on them because if you leave too long they will corrode to nothing. removes rust and replaces with iron phosphate that you can coat in oil or wax for rust prevention.

there are a few guys that run an ultrasonic cleaner and some solution though....maybe someone will chime in with more experience with those methods.

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Re: Cleaning Parts

Post by lmw94002 »

For rust, I have used the apple cider vinegar.

For the Tumbler, I've seen people use rice and walnut shell media to clean/polish the brass surface. Wasn't sure how the plastic or fiberglass type pieces would hold up under that type of media.

I wonder if simple green would work in an ultrasonic cleaner?
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Re: Cleaning Parts

Post by ROH73 »

Simple Green works very well in an ultrasonic cleaner. I usually dilute quite a bit (1 part Simple Green to 4 parts water); you really don't need much cleaning solution as the the vibrations do most of the work. The bases in the Simple Green just act as a degreaser. Diluted Purple Power, Castrol Superclean, etc. also work great. I get the best results with the heat on. Here's the cleaner I have: http://www.harborfreight.com/25-liter-ultrasonic-cleaner-63256.html.

On the tumbler note, we tumble machined delrin, nylon, pps, PEEK and polypropylene parts at work with a low abrasion media (polished stone). It works well, but it doesn't clean the parts...just removes burrs and gives an overall matte finish.

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Re: Cleaning Parts

Post by mytimac »

I actually did some mediocre videos on this exact topic a while back. I religiously use Flitz. Been using it on my pinball machine parts for over a decade. The bowl works great for some parts and takes a lot less manual labor. I like it because I can go do other stuff. But the hand polish does a single part much quicker and isn't so dependent on how old or good you tumbler media is.

According to Flitz media it is also a plastic polish. So I use it and Novus for plastic polish. You can get Novus at most Harley dealers if you can't find at hardware store. I haven't done plastic in the bowl, only by hand. I should also say I only use Novus 1&2. I don't use 3 at all.

Hand and drill polish video with Flitz
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEgQRxS4-9U
Bowl polishing video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqK7zHLtybI
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Re: Cleaning Parts

Post by lmw94002 »

Nice video. That's awesome to see the results over time.

So I'm probably looking at a heated ultrasonic cleaner and the small tumbler. Looks like I can pick them up online cheap enough and they're generally pretty useful for my mad scientist basement of mystery projects.

I do have some Mother's Aluminum Mag Polish that's awesome for polishing aluminum bits that I've worked with. I will have to try Flitz too now. Do you know if Flitz would remove anodizing from aluminum if I used it? I know Mothers will take off titanium and aluminum anodizing.

So far my favorite tool I've picked up are these little sanding sticks...
https://smile.amazon.com/Lumberton-12302-Sanding-Sticks-Finishing/dp/B0039ZCQAK/
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Re: Cleaning Parts

Post by RC10th »

Depends on what your cleaning but I hand polish almost everything the way Dan shows in the video except I use Mothers polish, occasionally Autosol. Mothers has a protective wax which helps protect the part, Autosol does not. Mothers if used too aggressively on chrome will damage it but Autosol will not. Hinge pins aren't so bad but hand polishing 18 ball studs or screw heads is a tedious task.

The vibrating bowl is a good idea for the turn it on and walk away for the heavier stuff. At the machine shop I used to work at we had a deburring tumbler and it worked fantastic at cleaning stuff, no matter what was thrown in everything came out like new.
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Re: Cleaning Parts

Post by mytimac »

I would imagine Anodized parts could be damaged with any kind of rougher polishing since the colorant is in the surface layers of the Aluminum and you will remove a small amount of the metal when polishing. You might end up with fine/small scratches in the surface color.
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Re: Cleaning Parts

Post by RC10th »

Oven cleaner (caustic) is the most popular method of removing anodizing, you have to be careful as if parts are left in too long can turn black.
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Re: Cleaning Parts

Post by lmw94002 »

I use LYE to make the NaOH solution to strip the anodizing on the aluminum stuff. Then I work it over good to clean it up to polish it or re-anodize it. That's where those sanding come in really handy to get into the crevices.
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Re: Cleaning Parts

Post by mytimac »

lmw94002 wrote: Thu Apr 27, 2017 2:59 pm I use LYE to make the NaOH solution to strip the anodizing on the aluminum stuff. Then I work it over good to clean it up to polish it or re-anodize it. That's where those sanding come in really handy to get into the crevices.
Oh I was assuming we wanted to preserve the anodizing, not remove it. :lol:
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Re: Cleaning Parts

Post by lmw94002 »

mytimac wrote: Thu Apr 27, 2017 3:59 pm
lmw94002 wrote: Thu Apr 27, 2017 2:59 pm I use LYE to make the NaOH solution to strip the anodizing on the aluminum stuff. Then I work it over good to clean it up to polish it or re-anodize it. That's where those sanding come in really handy to get into the crevices.
Oh I was assuming we wanted to preserve the anodizing, not remove it. :lol:
Well, remove it yes to clean and polish/re-ano, but also to preserve it post anodizing ... it'd be nice to be able to polish it up after re-anodizing. I've got some good results that would just look awesome if I could shine them up a little.
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Re: Cleaning Parts

Post by Coelacanth »

You can't polish after anodizing, because anodizing isn't a clear-coat. If you want your anodized surface to look as glossy as possible, you need to do the polishing of the raw aluminum BEFORE you take it to be reanodized.

Once it's anodized, I suppose you could spray automotive clearcoat on it (i.e. Rustoleum Crystal Clear) and polish that, but that seems redundant to me. I just use a little car wax on it...wax on, wax off! :wink:
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Re: Cleaning Parts

Post by TRX-1-3 »

Coelacanth wrote: Thu Apr 27, 2017 8:40 pm You can't polish after anodizing, because anodizing isn't a clear-coat. If you want your anodized surface to look as glossy as possible, you need to do the polishing of the raw aluminum BEFORE you take it to be reanodized.

Once it's anodized, I suppose you could spray automotive clearcoat on it (i.e. Rustoleum Crystal Clear) and polish that, but that seems redundant to me. I just use a little car wax on it...wax on, wax off! :wink:
I used car wax on an anodized motor plate once and it left some discolored streaks on it. Go ahead and tell me I did it wrong........but I think it depends on the color of the anodizing and the base luster of the metal or the "porosity of the microsurface". Waxer beware. :wink:
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Re: Cleaning Parts

Post by lmw94002 »

TRX-1-3 wrote: Fri Apr 28, 2017 5:15 am I used car wax on an anodized motor plate once and it left some discolored streaks on it. Go ahead and tell me I did it wrong........but I think it depends on the color of the anodizing and the base luster of the metal or the "porosity of the microsurface". Waxer beware. :wink:
Anodizing is creating an oxide layer on the aluminum. Most metal polish is designed to remove oxidation. I guess I need more of a wax vs. a polish to try to give the finish some shine. I'll have to experiment a little when I have some time.

I know how important surface prep is when anodizing aluminum. Part of the reason of the tumbling was to help clean up the surface of dinged up parts and give a nice matte finish. I could then try to brighten it a bit with some high-grit paper if I wanted before re-anodizing. I'd like to recondition some of the old aluminum nose and motor plates (maybe a chassis) in the future. I know it won't be like a pro-level job, but it'd be a lot better then what they are now...
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