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  1. #1
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    Taking apart bike: how to thoroughly clean components?

    I am taking apart my bike and I want to really clean each component out. I heard that it is not wise to completely soak/submerge it in water. So should I simply just clean it with degreaser only and then re-grease?

  2. #2
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    I'm in the middle of the same process. I basically use WD-40 and a towel, or nylon scouring pad, or in some cases 0000 steel wool on chrome plated parts (although most advise against using steel wool on chrome; brass wool is better). Then, if they are painted parts, clean them with detergent and water, then I wax them. Mechanical metal parts like bearings and stuff, repack them in fresh grease before assembling.
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    Senior Member johnknappcc's Avatar
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    Lasers, big ones . . . should do the trick.

    Actually, cleaned up mine one part at a time. +1 on the super fine steel wool, brake cleaner (I had some left over from my last disc brake install - on my car) on the cranks. A tiny bit of water & mild dish soap on the frame, and a good degreaser (I got some purple stuff at AutoZone) on the derailleurs and bottom bracket internals, etc. The bike in question is the link in my sig. I think it came out pretty well.

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    water does a pretty piss poor job of removing oily dirt road grime unless it's pressure blasted.
    ever tried to mix oil with water? same thing.
    you need to add an emulsifier to get water to remove any sort of oil, be it dish detergent, citrus or simple green.

    use a degreasing fluid.
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    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
    I'm in the middle of the same process. I basically use WD-40 and a towel, or nylon scouring pad, or in some cases 0000 steel wool on chrome plated parts (although most advise against using steel wool on chrome; brass wool is better).
    +1 on using WD-40 to clean/degrease the components. And a nylon scouring-pad. That should take off the vast majority of grease/grime. If you want ot get really fancy, you could buff the components that are (or should be/were) shiny with a good metal-polish. Such as the German perennial - Simichrome. I'd try to stay away from abrasives if at all possible. Such as steel wool. Brass wool is much kinder - but can still scratch.

    Be sure all is dry before you re-assemble. And grease threads and oil all pivots.
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    Banned Omni.Potent's Avatar
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    I have this parts washer filled with mineral spirits.
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    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Omni.Potent View Post
    I have this parts washer filled with mineral spirits.
    I don't know if that is a sparkless unit or not. I'd find out if it's rated for flammable solvents before proceeding. Or you could start quite the fire.
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    Banned Omni.Potent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Panthers007 View Post
    I don't know if that is a sparkless unit or not. I'd find out if it's rated for flammable solvents before proceeding. Or you could start quite the fire.
    I've been cleaning parts with this kind of set up for decades. I was in the automotive repair business for 25 years and this was the kind of set up I, and just about every shop in the country has. If there was that much of a danger they wouldn't be in use.

    Most of the time you will hear people in the trade call the cleaning solution "Varsol". In reality it was nothing more than mineral spirits. Varsol was a trade name for it from Texaco I think.

    Mineral spirits makes an excellent grease and grime cutter, and believe it or not, easily rinses away with water.


    Oh, and I forgot to mention: This type of parts washers have pumps designed for flammable solvents and the lid is spring loaded with a heat sensitive retainer. If a fire were to start, the retainer would melt and slam the lid shut snuffing out a fire.
    Last edited by Omni.Potent; 05-13-09 at 07:24 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
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    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    Then I would surmise it is a sparkless-motor.
    How do you keep an idiot in suspense?

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    Senior Member Shimagnolo's Avatar
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    50/50 mix of water and Simple Green and an old toothbrush, then rinse with water and dry.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
    I basically use WD-40 and a towel, or nylon scouring pad,......
    Basically, as a cleaner WD-40 is just a convenient but very expensive form of kerosene or mineral spirits. You can buy a gallon of either for much less and they will do every bit as good a job.

    I buy kerosene by the gallon at gas stations that sell it and use a "lawnmower can" to store it. I have a cut down 5-gallon plastic pail I use as my wash basin and a stiff bristle 1" paint brush to scrub the parts.

    Cheap and effective. I decant the dirt and combine the used kerosene with my used motor oil for disposal at oil recycling places.

  12. #12
    surly old man jgedwa's Avatar
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    Go nuts. Get it as clean as you wish.

    But, be smart about any bearing surfaces: hubs, headsets, BB, perhaps jockey wheels. If you are replacing or repacking them, then clean them whistle clean as well. But if you are not, then do not blast them with water. Or let degreaser get into them; especially WD-40.

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    Senior Member jet sanchEz's Avatar
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    There is a car-wash about 3 blocks from me that has a high-powered rinse that is $2 for 2 minutes. I got my very neglected (not neglected by me but by it's previous owner) Battaglin incredibly clean for $4----the rear cog was really gunked up and is now spotless. I just carried a little chain lube with me and a couple of paper towels to rinse off the chain and I was good to go in about 5 minutes.

    Obviously, this isn't exactly where you would take a bike for a tear-down but for a quick and easy spring clean, it works great.

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    Banned Omni.Potent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Panthers007 View Post
    Then I would surmise it is a sparkless-motor.
    If you are referring to a 'brushless' motor, I really don't know. I doubt it is, and I have to ask what difference does it make? If you drive a modern car, the fuel pump in it is a brush/armature style motor with gasoline flowing through it, over the armature and brushes. Actually, gas is the lube and coolant for the motor. There is no risk of fire because carbon still needs oxygen to burn, and there is none within the pump while it's running.
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    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    Any motor, drive, whatever - that is designed to work around flammable/explosive-mixtures is, by proxy, sparkless. At least that's what we call them in scientific applications. Call it whatever you wish. It's any configuration that contains a motor of some form that is considered safe in such practices.
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    Senior Member EatMyA**'s Avatar
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    1. scotchbrite pads. You know those green ones people use to clean dishes? I got this tip from this forum. best advice on cleaning bikes I've come across. I am just sorry I don't remember who I read it from.

    2. rags

    3. butter knife. I wrap it with the rag or scotch pad, for those hard to reach areas like the cassete or spoke nipples

    4. penetrating oil. cleans all the metal parts fine, cleans painted surfaces fine, wipes off easily.

    5. gasoline & motor oil (20/1 mix). For the really messy stuff like chains. I hardly have to use this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Panthers007 View Post
    Any motor, drive, whatever - that is designed to work around flammable/explosive-mixtures is, by proxy, sparkless. At least that's what we call them in scientific applications. Call it whatever you wish. It's any configuration that contains a motor of some form that is considered safe in such practices.
    OK... if you say so.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
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    I'm not sure how much of an issue it is for bikes, but the Simple Green you buy at the store will accellerate corrosion in aluminum. They make a special version for aircraft that is safe.

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    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    Someone won a trip to the Land of Ignore.
    How do you keep an idiot in suspense?

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    Senior Member Johnny Nemo's Avatar
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    A plastic ice cream container full of turps/citrus cleaner, and a toothbrush.

  21. #21
    No Heroes EvoFX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Panthers007 View Post
    +1 on using WD-40 to clean/degrease the components. And a nylon scouring-pad. That should take off the vast majority of grease/grime. If you want ot get really fancy, you could buff the components that are (or should be/were) shiny with a good metal-polish. Such as the German perennial - Simichrome. I'd try to stay away from abrasives if at all possible. Such as steel wool. Brass wool is much kinder - but can still scratch.

    Be sure all is dry before you re-assemble. And grease threads and oil all pivots.
    so wd-40 would work better than getting a greaser and a degrease?

  22. #22
    Pwnerer Wordbiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jet sanchEz View Post
    There is a car-wash about 3 blocks from me that has a high-powered rinse that is $2 for 2 minutes. I got my very neglected (not neglected by me but by it's previous owner) Battaglin incredibly clean for $4----the rear cog was really gunked up and is now spotless. I just carried a little chain lube with me and a couple of paper towels to rinse off the chain and I was good to go in about 5 minutes.

    Obviously, this isn't exactly where you would take a bike for a tear-down but for a quick and easy spring clean, it works great.
    That's a great way to drive water past all the seals on the hubs, BB and headset. The only way I'd recommend that is if you were planning to tear the bike down immediately after.
    Quote Originally Posted by ahsposo View Post
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  23. #23
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wordbiker View Post
    That's a great way to drive water past all the seals on the hubs, BB and headset. The only way I'd recommend that is if you were planning to tear the bike down immediately after.
    Yep. A couple weeks ago a riding buddy showed me the bearings out of his wife's bike's rear hub. The right side bearings were corroded and black, the left side were still shiny. She had been washing the chain and cogs with a spray of Simple Green and a home power-washer. He managed to overhaul the hub before the races were shot.
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  24. #24
    Pwnerer Wordbiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Wills View Post
    Yep. A couple weeks ago a riding buddy showed me the bearings out of his wife's bike's rear hub. The right side bearings were corroded and black, the left side were still shiny. She had been washing the chain and cogs with a spray of Simple Green and a home power-washer. He managed to overhaul the hub before the races were shot.
    Sounds about like how all the bearings looked in my Mt Shasta...

    Apparently I waited a bit too long to tear it down after lakejumping.
    Quote Originally Posted by ahsposo View Post
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  25. #25
    bikegeekmn bikegeekmn's Avatar
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    old gas works pretty good (yes it does have a use)my favorite for parts is carb and choke cleaner it works very quickly and after towel drying the rest evaporates quickly , be sure to have a cigarette burning in your mouth as well -no seriously it is very volital- do'nt use it around water heaters , furnaces or any flame of any kind

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