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Recommend a good tool for cleaning a cassette?

Old 02-16-22, 05:43 PM
  #1  
bikerbobbbb
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Recommend a good tool for cleaning a cassette?

I finally started recreating my second rear wheel. The hub cracked on the 2016 one I built. I'm taking spokes off the broken hub and rim and adding them to a new hub and new rim (new rim that was going to be the second front wheel).

So I took the cassette off. I figured I'd clean it off with a brush and soap and water. Then I remember the cassette was actually silver. I thought cassettes came apart into each individual cog wheel but this one is just a cap cover on the end, smallest cog, and then the rest are one piece. That makes it more difficult to clean. I ended up using ear cleaners on it, including cracking them in half to use the stick to pull out muck from inside the cassette cogs.

Is there any kind of tool or special brush that can more easily clean a cassette? While I was cleaning it I was thinking it's not that big of a deal to pop the cassette off to clean it like that. It was black and had the black "road clay" that builds up on all that.

For cleaning, you're supposed to use mineral oil or some solvent to really clean parts like that good, right? That might be a future project. Soap and water and a lot of scrubbing got it 90% clean, with an hour spent on that.
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Old 02-16-22, 05:46 PM
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straw brush
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Old 02-16-22, 05:50 PM
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Steve B.
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I take the wheel off the bike, spray the cassette with a degreaser, let sit a bit, then use the edge of old tee shirts to get between the cogs. Rags work as well.
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Old 02-16-22, 05:51 PM
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mineral spirits get recommended around here for cleaning. nylon brushes are good to scrub with. and, it'd be swell if you had an air compressor. those make short work of blowing all the crud off at the start and the finish
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Old 02-16-22, 05:53 PM
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I wax chains so I never have to do this, but the best way is probably to soak in mineral spirits, and clean it with a stiff toothbrush. The fast way is to use camp stove fuel, which is less ecologically sound, and it is probably best not to smoke too heavily while directly engaged in the process.
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Old 02-16-22, 06:50 PM
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Fat yarn from a yardage or hobby store to floss it while on the bike. Hold some like when flossing teeth and rock it back and forth between the cogs. The ratcheting of the hub holds and turns the cassette to a new section to clean. You can even wet the floss with your favorite cleaner (I like full strength Simple Green) then follow up with a dry flossing.
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Old 02-16-22, 06:58 PM
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Here's an idea... Put the cassette into a plastic wide mouth jar. Fill the jar at least half way up with ATF used or old. Strap the jar to your left leg then go out for a ride. Ha!

OK... Not laughing? Well...
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Old 02-16-22, 07:35 PM
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I've seen some folks use pieces of cardboard of the right thickness. Someone once gave me a narrow brush with a serrated end specifically made for the purpose, but I'd never buy one. I also sometimes use an Allen key of the right thickness for the cassette, if that's nearer at hand. Then brush, cleaner, and rag to finish.

I used to use a bowl of gasoline and a small paintbrush, and somehow I survived that along with many other things I used to do.
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Old 02-16-22, 08:36 PM
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I use Kerosene and Harbor Freight 1" chip brushes.
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Old 02-16-22, 08:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark View Post
I wax chains so I never have to do this, but the best way is probably to soak in mineral spirits, and clean it with a stiff toothbrush. The fast way is to use camp stove fuel, which is less ecologically sound, and it is probably best not to smoke too heavily while directly engaged in the process.
Doesn't your dirty wax stick to the cogs ?
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Old 02-16-22, 08:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark View Post
...the best way is probably to soak in mineral spirits, and clean it with a stiff toothbrush.
The bristles of a toothbrush are really too short to work well. There are brushes like THIS one, made by Park Tools. Pedros and Muc-Off are a couple other brands that come to mind; there are others, I'm sure. The end opposite the brush has a tool for digging crud out from between the cogs.
There is a lesser-known but readily-available (and cheaper!) alternative: a Denture Brush. The bristles aren't as long as the ones on the dedicated cog brushes, but they are better than those on a toothbrush. I have found these useful for other de-gunking purposes as well.
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Old 02-16-22, 08:54 PM
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Originally Posted by holytrousers View Post
Doesn't your dirty wax stick to the cogs ?
Don't want to derail this thread, but very briefly, no. It sticks to the chain, and flakes off, but the flakes don't re-adhere to any appreciable extent.
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Old 02-17-22, 12:42 AM
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Paper towels and WD-40.
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Old 02-17-22, 12:47 AM
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Dollar store kitchen brush.
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Old 02-17-22, 04:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark View Post
I wax chains so I never have to do this, but the best way is probably to soak in mineral spirits, and clean it with a stiff toothbrush. The fast way is to use camp stove fuel, which is less ecologically sound, and it is probably best not to smoke too heavily while directly engaged in the process.
Please do not use gasoline (camp stove fuel) as anything but a fuel. It is highly flammable, creates explosive vapors which will travel a long way to an ignition source, is toxic by inhalation and skin absorption and is likely carcinogenic. There are better, safer cleaning solvents.

Having said that, I use heavy knitting yarn dampened in a safe solvent, "shoeshine" style, to clean the crud from between cassette cogs.
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Old 02-17-22, 04:56 AM
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I used to put the cassette into the ultrasonic for 30 minutes with water, simple green, and dawn dish detergent. It comes out clean as a whistle. Now, I very rarely have to clean the cassette because I wax my chain.
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Old 02-17-22, 07:50 AM
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I used to do the toothbrush method, but it is too small. Now I take an old paintbrush, put degreaser on it, grab bristles with one hand an inch or so from the tips, and pedal bike backwards with brush on cassette gears. You can do 4-5 cogs at a time this way, much faster. Holding the bristles you can get them just right, more stiff so they will clean better than if you did not grip the bristles. If you bend the bristles before grabbing you can shape the ends to the cassette profile to get even better contact.
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Old 02-17-22, 08:18 AM
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Pipe cleaners do a decent job.
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Old 02-17-22, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
I take the wheel off the bike, spray the cassette with a degreaser, let sit a bit, then use the edge of old tee shirts to get between the cogs. Rags work as well.
Yep, its kind of like flossing. I dont even take the cassette off the wheel I just the wheel between my gut and the workbench and use the edge of an old t- shirt the way you described
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Old 02-17-22, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
I've seen some folks use pieces of cardboard of the right thickness.
That's what I do once I found the right thickness and sturdiness to cover 8 to 11 speed. I table saw up dozens 3"x5" at a time. I ride mostly on well swept bike lanes, periodically toothbrush sandwich the chain, cardboard the cassette and chainrings and with my OMS/bar oil mix getting great chain life and a clean bike.
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Old 02-17-22, 09:38 AM
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You don't really believe it's silver do you?
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Old 02-17-22, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by dsbrantjr View Post
Please do not use gasoline (camp stove fuel) as anything but a fuel.
Please read the first 10 words you quoted.

From the context of the remainder, it should also be clear that I am not endorsing the practice.
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Old 02-17-22, 10:23 AM
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Here's what I use for all my cleaning needs: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
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Old 02-17-22, 12:24 PM
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In the past I've used rags, brushes, etc. to try and get between the gears but a few years ago I started using the thick cords or stings off of a floor mop head. They can be off a clean, used mop head or pick up a cheep one at your local hardware or cleaning supply store. They are thick enough that the clean well between most sizes of cassette. You use one at a time and discard when dirty. One mop head will last most of us a very long time. I am still on my first one and I clean upwards of 20 cassettes a year.

Of course you still need to soak or spray the dirty cassette with you choice of cleaner or solvent before cleaning them up with the mop cords.
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Old 02-17-22, 12:36 PM
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dsbrantjr ....see his comment above for some common sense, he nailed it !

Kitchen brush from dollar store ....might cost 1.25 now .... ( Biden-era price increase, thanks Joe ! )

Harbor freight parts cleaning brush / chip brush
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