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  1. #1
    cs1
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    Ultrasonic cleaner advice

    I was looking at Ultrasonic cleaners. There are so many choices. Any of you use one? What's a good brand and size for bike parts or general cleaning? The jewelery versions are cheap but look a little small.


    Tim
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  2. #2
    370H-SSV-0773H linux_author's Avatar
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    how about:

    just kidding! seriously though, i'm not sure i'd want to clean parts *that* much... is there a reason?
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    Quote Originally Posted by cs1 View Post
    I was looking at Ultrasonic cleaners. There are so many choices. Any of you use one? What's a good brand and size for bike parts or general cleaning? The jewelery versions are cheap but look a little small.


    Tim
    The jewelry manufacturing sized ultrasonic cleaners with a timer and heater are what you should be looking at with prices starting around $250 -$1000+ depending on size. L&R is a common brand that dentists use also. Mine is a German made machine and the 3 qt. model cost me around $500 but I use it for cleaning jewelry and the occasional small, bike, car or *** part.

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    Sometimes knows stuff. rmfnla's Avatar
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    My Ultrasonic cleaner advice is don't bother.
    Today, I believe my jurisdiction ends here...

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    A dishwasher (when nobody like a wife or girlfriend is looking) is great parts washer. Spray liberally with citrus cleaner first.
    Il faut de l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace

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    i was going to say the same than San rensho Well nobody uses the dish washer at home so i have it all for myself and bike parts

  7. #7
    cs1
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    Quote Originally Posted by San Rensho View Post
    A dishwasher (when nobody like a wife or girlfriend is looking) is great parts washer. Spray liberally with citrus cleaner first.
    While it's not a bad idea, I think my wife would have a heart attack it I did.

    I've seen some smaller jewelery models on ebay for reasonable money. Problem is that I don't know which brand is really any good. I like messing around with older bikes. So, I'm looking for an economical way to clean parts.

    Tim
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    The small Chinese-made ultrasound machines that are advertised for cleaning jewelry and the like are probably not going to have a large enough well to allow full immersion of bike parts like cassettes and derailleurs, and certainly nothing bigger. They are made for home use for cleaning small jewelry pieces. The transducers are likely to be of the quality that would fit with the price and size of the unit, you'd be getting what you paid for.

    A lab-grade benchtop unit is most likely going to be best for what you are describing, one with at least a 3 liter capacity. You might want to get one that has a bath heater included and order a platform for the bottom of the tank to sit your parts above the tank bottom where the debris will be settling. These are pretty standard accessories. The type of timer you choose, mechanical or digital, is up to you. Mechanical timersare usually a little cheaper.

    Look at units by Branson (AKA Emerson, Bransonic 2550 is what I have) or Mettler.

  9. #9
    surly old man jgedwa's Avatar
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    May I ask a stupid question? How do these things work? Using sound waves to shake stuff loose?
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    Sir Fallalot wroomwroomoops's Avatar
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    The problem with bikeparts is that the dirt you want to clean is often composed of very thin metal shawing/dust, mixed various kinds of oil or grease. When that stuff is splattered around in the dishwasher, part of it will find its way to dishes, pans, glasses and utensils and eventually, in your body. It may take many years for any effect to be evident, but at least I wouldn't want to expose my family to those metals.

    Quote Originally Posted by jgedwa View Post
    May I ask a stupid question? How do these things work? Using sound waves to shake stuff loose?
    Not a stupid question. And the answer is yes, pretty much.

  11. #11
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    The way ultrasonic cleaners work is a transducer creates very high frequency vibrations or ultrasonic waves that cause very small bubbles to form and then break in the cleaning solution (cavitation). The size of the bubbles is porportional to the frequency of the transducer. As the bubbles break, they deliver quite a bit of energy to the surface of the item being cleaned that loosens dirt, contamination, etc. They used to be used extensively in the electronics business but are less so used now, the energy can damage some miniature elctronic components and thinly plated surfaces.

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    Senior Member Iowegian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgedwa View Post
    May I ask a stupid question? How do these things work? Using sound waves to shake stuff loose?
    I think the mechanism is that the sound waves cause tiny localized 'hot spots' in the water when multiple sound waves interact by interference, ie intersect in the right way. This causes cavitation (a bubble) in the water and when the bubble collapses, it does so with great force. The force from the bubble collapse is what 'cleans' the part. These bubbles are really, really small, but there are a lot of them and the energy in them is very localised and therefore quite high.

    edit - what he said!

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    I suggest that you try a degreaser, such as "Simple Green", and ask yourself whether you really need anything more effective. With a degreaser, you might even have some success in cleaning parts while there are on the bike.

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    Junior Member youngman's Avatar
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    I have had an ultrasonic cleaner that is all stainless steel with a fairly large well capable of doing the size parts that I deem fit for submersed cleaning and I really like the results that I have had using it. Here is a link for the same basic type I have and they are not very expensive but work quite nicely.
    http://cgi.ebay.com/Industrial-ULTRA...QcmdZViewItem:)

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    Senior Member Nessism's Avatar
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    Get some Simple Green, mineral spirits, or what ever, and an old tooth brush. If you use a solvent like mineral spirits, dump them into a soda bottle for reuse later - the chunks will settle to the bottom allowing you to pour the clean solvent off the top for reuse.

    Ultrasonic cleaners are for laboratory environments where ultra clean parts are necessary. I've heard of Ti framebuilders using them to prep the tubes just prior to welding but even that is overkill from what I hear.
    Becareful buying/selling bike parts on-line. I learned the hard way. :(

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    I bought a $40 ultra sonic jewelry cleaner from the Sportsman's Guide (I think). I can clean chains, cogs (you'll want to break the casette down anyway) and derailleurs in it. The ultrasound seems to scrub the chain while I do something else, and a good rinsing in hot water finishes the job. My buddy the full time bike wrench, felt that it would be good if I wanted to do a perfect job, but I find that it is still effective at doing a GOOD job more quickly. I recall Bed Bath & Beyond was advertising one some time back.

  17. #17
    coffeeeeee p4nh4ndle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rmfnla View Post
    My Ultrasonic cleaner advice is don't bother.
    yeah. second that.
    i went on a long ride once when i was still very much a beginner. another guy kept yakking about how he had done this or that to his rig. one of the things he had done was ultrasonically clean his chain.

    four miles into the woods his chain broke, twice.
    that's all i'll say about the ultrasonic cleaning of bike parts.

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    It probably wasn't due to cleaning but more likely improper chain connection.

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    coffeeeeee p4nh4ndle's Avatar
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    i know that. but it makes a humorous and persuasive anecdotal argument against ultrasonic cleaning. thanks captain bringdown.

  20. #20
    Bike Junkie roccobike's Avatar
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    I have one of those larger ultrasonic cleaning units, for jewelery, found on ebay. They sell for about $60. I've had it for about 2 years and it's been very reliable. If you are looking to clean a chain or derailer from your well maintained bike that is simply dirty from riding, these units are great. If you're looking to clean a chain or derailer from a 20 year old bike that has been sitting for 18 years and the dirt and grime are dried/caked on, well the ultrasound is not as effective. I do use it to clean old chains/parts, it will take off most of the crud, but not all of it. But it removes enough grime so that over 95% of the parts I clean do not require further hand cleaning. As for using plain water in the ultrasound, bike parts aren't the same as jewelery that has nothing but sweat stains. I use a 50/50 Simple Green/Water mix to effect cleaning. There are some real advantages to the Ultrasonic cleaner. One is, I never procrastinate about cleaning a part. The hard part is taking it off and putting back on the bike. The rest is just pushing a couple of buttons. It gets into crevices (sp) that I can't get to. They're great for cleaning the gunk out of ball bearing rings/holders as are usually found in older bottom brackets and you don't have to remove the bearings! So are they perfect? No, Would I replace mine if it broke? In an instant. YMMV.
    Sorry about the length of the link below, but it should take you to the ebay link to see the unit I'm referring to.
    http://cgi.ebay.com/NEW-PRO-LARGE-DI...QQcmdZViewItem
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  21. #21
    one less horse cryptid01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by p4nh4ndle View Post
    i know that. but it makes a humorous and persuasive anecdotal argument against ultrasonic cleaning. thanks captain bringdown.
    I found it to be neither. You're welcome.

    youngman, your link's not working for me...

  22. #22
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    I suppose that if one left the part in the machine too long

    the cavitation might start to work on the parent metal.

    eg the chain.

    Regards,
    J T

  23. #23
    Sometimes knows stuff. rmfnla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by p4nh4ndle View Post
    i know that. but it makes a humorous and persuasive anecdotal argument against ultrasonic cleaning. thanks captain bringdown.
    Today, I believe my jurisdiction ends here...

  24. #24
    Senior Member Chris_in_Miami's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J T CUNNINGHAM View Post
    I suppose that if one left the part in the machine too long

    the cavitation might start to work on the parent metal.

    eg the chain.

    Regards,
    J T
    I think it would take a very long time for that type of damage to occur. I once noticed some clearcoat hazing on an aluminum part that was left in the soup too long, but it was probably caused by the degreaser...
    Last edited by Chris_in_Miami; 01-07-08 at 11:26 AM. Reason: crap spelling

  25. #25
    Junior Member youngman's Avatar
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    youngman, your link's not working for me...[/QUOTE]

    Sorry, here is a working link that lists the type of unit that I have had for the past year and have had a lot of success with it.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/Industrial-ULTRA...QQcmdZViewItem

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