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  1. #1
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    Bike Tools - Care & Clean Up

    Some one here advocated puchasing quality tools and with good care they will last longer than you will. But what exactly is "good care"? I get a feeling it's going to be like cast iron cookware. As illustrated in this short dramatic skit:

    Experienced One: "What the hell are you doing?"
    Me: "I'm cleaning the frying pan."
    Experienced One: "Idiot, you don't clean cast iron with soap and water!"
    Me: "Uhhh, what do I clean it with?"
    Experienced One: "Jeeze!" (Storms of stage right.)
    Me: "Uhhh, hello?" (Stands there alone motionless, in a bewildered state of mind.)
    Lights fade out.
    Close Curtain.

    So right now I wipe my tools down with a rag soaked with a degreaser (Simple Green) and then rewipe them with rag soaked with WD 40. Is there a better way? I've been working on some old bikes and can't always get off the old dirt, grime and rust so they get on my tools. What do you all do to clean up your tools?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Old Hammer Boy's Avatar
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    Use a tool for what it's intended. I think most tool abuse comes from improper use, ie... prying with, or hammering a screwdriver, cheater bars, stomping on a wrench end or hitting it with a hammer, etc. As to rust, just keep 'em dry or wipe 'em off if they get wet. Store them in a good place and keep things organized. It's that simple... I will admit, I do use a cheater bar from time to time, but I don't blame the tool if it fails.

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    Senior Member Ophidian's Avatar
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    I just rub them with a clean rag when I'm done. If I get DOT fluid on it I clean them with a degreaser.

  4. #4
    Lost in the Black Hills mx_599's Avatar
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    dry rag.

    no reason to do wd40 unless maybe you're in a wet environment. i think the biggest thing for me is to have clean tools...as in no dirt or grit or grease etc on them. which usually isn't a problem because i make sure that whatever it is that they will be used on is clean as possible to begin with. i would say 9 out of 10 times i can do what i need to on the part and/or tool with a dry paper towel or rag. if i do need to use some type of cleaner, it usually isn't anything water based like simple green. in this case, i am more apt to use something like contact cleaner, 3in1 oil, wd40, or sometimes alcohol...

  5. #5
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    I don't clean my tools with any degreaser or apply any oil at all, and I have plenty of tools because I dink around with my classic car!

    So how do I keep them clean you scream? I simply take a rag and wipe off the oil/dirt after every use; the dirt will come off when you wipe it and any oil on the tool will remain on very lighty (you'll barely notice it) and it will protect the tool. But I keep my cars clean so when I work on them I get very little crud on them any ways.

    If you have a tool that is very dirty and you can't get it clean then your method works very well!!!!

  6. #6
    Elitist Troglodyte DMF's Avatar
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    Btw, for those in a bewildered state of mind, you can clean cast iron with soap and water, but then you have to season the pan again. There are various methods of seasoning, but the simplest is to heat it to drive off the water, then oil it, being sure to coat all surfaces, and then wipe it out. You want the oil residue.

    Using soap removes the embedded oil, letting it rust - a terrible thing to do to a beautiful cast iron tool.
    Stupidity got us into this mess - why can't it get us out?

    - Will Rogers

  7. #7
    Senior Member digger's Avatar
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    Cone wrenches are PERFECT for prying the lid off paint cans and a chain whip can open jars with ease. Just make sure you wipe off any paint or strawberry jam.
    Originally posted by Bones_McBones: Wow Digger, wow! You've earned my respect.... I know ashoposo got werked up. You are the gutter pig of Trollheim.

  8. #8
    Senior Member peripatetic's Avatar
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    I wipe my tools down with rags, but since I use gloves a lot, I tend to get thin coats of grease smeared all over them. Not a huge problem, but since they're all in a small toolbox, they then tend to transfer the greasy film from one to another. I've found the problem a little confounding, since my tools tend to get a lot closer to my clothes and assorted other material lying about. They're mediums for grease the way little kids's hands are mediums for germs. I have yet to answer the dilemma in a satisfactory manner.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    I spray a rag with silicone lubricant or WD-40 and wipe my tools with it every time I use them. I keep them in a tool chest and each drawer has bags of desiccant in it. I hate rust. If I liked rust, I'd use Simple Green on them.

  10. #10
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    Simple Green can promote rust steel IF you don't rinse it with clear water and IF you don't treat it with oil as soon as your done cleaning it. Cleaning oil off any steel will allow the steel to rust faster because the oily film that was protecting the metal and now is exposed to the water, air, acids, and minerials that helps steel to oxidize, and this oxidation is known as rust. And if you don't retreat the exposed steel to somesort of oil then it will rust faster then normal. Exactly what happens to cast iron skillets.

    The same thing can happen to aluminum if you clean it with Simple Green! Aluminum is very impervious to what nature will throw at it except acid rain, alklin soil or other metals touching it. These things can cause the aluminum to brake down much the same way as steal & turn into a powder, aluminums way of rusting-actually corrosion.

    For the above reasons is why I haven't used Simple Green for years, but I never mention it here because many of you clean your chains and bikes with the stuff and shot me down for even mentioning that Simple Green could be problematic as the US military discovered. But if you recoat with oil, like you would with a chain, then there shouldn't be a problem.

    I prefer used motor oil, that's why I don't clean my tools after using them other then just wiping them down. Used motor oil has had any acid in the oil originally burnt away thus there is no acid left to pit steel.

    Don't forget that good quality tools are made of chromium steel and are pretty much impervious to rust. I have a few tools that are 50 years old with no rust and some that have a patina which looks like rust but really isn't, not sure what the tools with the patina are made of but whatever it is their tough and have been used a lot since their common size tools (their also heavier then the equivalent modern day tools).

    There also has been some controversy about WD40 was causing metal to rust over time, but the WD40 company has disputed this, and I, as well as others I know, have never witnessed this or heard of it.

  11. #11
    Senior Member acape's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DMF
    Btw, for those in a bewildered state of mind, you can clean cast iron with soap and water, but then you have to season the pan again. There are various methods of seasoning, but the simplest is to heat it to drive off the water, then oil it, being sure to coat all surfaces, and then wipe it out. You want the oil residue.

    Using soap removes the embedded oil, letting it rust - a terrible thing to do to a beautiful cast iron tool.
    But in doing this you lose a lot of the hard work you've put into getting that great buildup of seasoning!

  12. #12
    Elitist Troglodyte DMF's Avatar
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    Absolutely agree! The only time I've soap-cleaned cast iron was when it's allowed to sit too long without use. Then the oil gets rancid. One could probably cook past it, but I wouldn't want to eat the first (or second) product...
    Stupidity got us into this mess - why can't it get us out?

    - Will Rogers

  13. #13
    Senior Member Sci-Fi's Avatar
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    Wiping your tools clean with either paper towels or a shop towel is usually good enough. If you want all traces of grease and oil off, then use a petroleum based solvent. I don't like to use degreaser products because they tend to be acidic and you need to rinse with water thoroughly to remove/neutralize the acid plus may have to use oil/grease afterwards (which defeats the original purpose of cleaning your tools) and another wipe down. Some specialty bike tools come with a coating and a degreaser will remove that coating over time (sometimes immediately if the product is too strong) and promote/accelerate rusting.

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