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Best way to clean braking surface?

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Best way to clean braking surface?

Old 08-06-12, 03:49 PM
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acrowder
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Best way to clean braking surface?

Having a lot of trouble getting brake pad residue/dust off of a rim. The rim is textured with a bunch of small parallel ridges, presumably to increase the surface area - seems to be making it a lot harder to clean, though.

Is there a chemical cleaner made specifically for doing this, or do you guys have some helpful tips? Thanks.
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Old 08-06-12, 04:18 PM
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I have found that a dampened microfiber towel does the job as well as anything. A minute per side,...if they're grubby.
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Old 08-06-12, 04:36 PM
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Main killer of braking surface grip is oily stuff that dissolves in organic solvent (gas/diesel/wd40/alcohol/vinegar/etc) but some of those (diesel/wd40, even gasoline) leave oily residues as well. A clean wipe with isoproplic alcohol (electronics's alcohol) will give you best clean ever (but it cannot move a thick layer of greasy stuff, so first you should clean the heavy stuff with some gasoline/paint thinner and finish off with the mentioned alcohol)

As a retail product, there are brake cleaner sprays, also engine cleaner sprays that do a very nice job (beware not to touch the paint as it may be damaged, also it strips away any lube from chain/cassette. But if you have some acetone (nail polish remover) or electronist's alcohol (isopropilic) it will be squeaky clean without paying the $ on a brake cleaner spray. (paint thinner does fair as well, ethillic alcohol works slow and is not that great and is a pity not to drink it )

You can find brake cleaner spray and engine cleaner spray in most (any) automotive parts store, and even petrol stations. - for a few $ depending on quantity and brand.

Last edited by Asi; 08-06-12 at 04:39 PM.
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Old 08-06-12, 04:53 PM
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Thanks for all the info, that's the kind of tip I was looking for. Stuff is really stuck in there.
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Old 08-06-12, 06:53 PM
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Never use gasoline as a cleaner. Besides its flammability and the potential to generate explosive vapors, it is toxic to breathe and for skin contact. It will also leave behind a varnish-like residue. There are many safe, effective cleaners out there as alternatives.
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Old 08-06-12, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by dsbrantjr View Post
Never use gasoline as a cleaner. Besides its flammability and the potential to generate explosive vapors, it is toxic to breathe and for skin contact. It will also leave behind a varnish-like residue. There are many safe, effective cleaners out there as alternatives.
+1. I won't ever mess with gasoline or aerosol brake cleaners. They are not only unsafe, it is definitely overkill. What works for me is Denatured Alcohol (recommended by an old wrench I knew). Denatured Alcohol works and it leaves no residue.
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Old 08-06-12, 07:51 PM
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Main killer of braking surface grip is oily stuff that dissolves in organic solvent (gas/diesel/wd40/alcohol/vinegar/etc) but some of those (diesel/wd40, even gasoline) leave oily residues as well. A clean wipe with isoproplic alcohol (electronics's alcohol) will give you best clean ever (but it cannot move a thick layer of greasy stuff, so first you should clean the heavy stuff with some gasoline/paint thinner and finish off with the mentioned alcohol)
Interesting.

I had heard to use rubbing alcohol before, so I did. Several times and it just doesn't work on a lot of stuff on the rim. I was trying to clean mine because it was squeaking.

I have an engine cleaner I think I'll try and then rubbing alcohol.
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Old 08-06-12, 08:22 PM
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I use paper towels and automotive brakes parts cleaner but sparingly and in a well ventilated area.
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Old 08-07-12, 03:00 AM
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As for gasoline as a cleaner, depends what you clean. Here is not the best use (as I said it leaves some oily stuff as well) but a chain dipped in gasoline makes wonders.
As for safety it really depends, even nitroglycerine may be safe if treated with care. And for that matter in older days I used to wash my hands with gasoline or paint thinner to get rid of a lot of oil after I worked on cars/engines/etc where some % of my body was literally black - I would advise against touching gasoline or other "heavy stuff" but it's no biggie if you do though.

I'm quite fond of isopropyl alcohol* because it is fast dry, leaves no residue, dissolves both oily and water based stuff, dislodge any dust/gunk, etc. I use it anywhere as a final clean from wiping clean a mirror from the telescope, to just clean some parts that have a lot of clogged dust/oil (chainring bolts, brake calipers, etc).
Acetone** works much like this alcohol, but I like the alcohol better.
Paint thinner also works but it's not so clean, and is not very fast drying.
The only downside of this solvents is that is not that cheap to can give a bath in it, and does not move a lot of the oily stuff. So for cleaning a lot of grease oil like in chains, bearings, cogs, you would use a lot of solvent, so better to start cheap (gasoline/mineral spirits/paint thinner/etc - take your pick)
_______
*-electronist's alcohol, 99% pure alcohol, no mixtures with other stuff found in rubbing alcohol that may even not contain this type of alcohol.

**- pure acetone found in some older nail polish removers, but nowadays is being diluted and mixed with a lot of other stuff. I buy pure acetone from the chemical store 99% pure sold at liter.
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Old 08-07-12, 03:51 AM
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Alcohol usually works fine, but for very greasy rims, I use " Starting Fluid " sprayed on a rag & rubbed in the directions of the grooves. Lightly run pads , too, when finished.
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Old 08-07-12, 04:32 AM
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I would avoid letting any of the above come into contact with your tyres. What have you got on the rims that's so greasy anyway? I usually just use regular bike cleaner (Muc Off, or equivalent) and it works like a charm (and is safe to use on tyres).
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Old 08-14-12, 03:17 PM
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Matt, it's just brake residue. The real issue is the braking surface, which has small grooves in it. I think it probably helps, except that the grooves get full of gunk after a while. My front brake pad is fine, but when applied it just makes a "shhhhh" sound and doesn't work well.

Anyway, it's pretty hard to get in there even with a brush, so I was hoping a chemical would help. I haven't tried yet but I'm probably going to go with isopropyl alcohol.
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Old 08-14-12, 03:55 PM
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Use a Scotchbrite pad or a plastic kitchen scourer and some elbow grease.
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Old 08-14-12, 05:09 PM
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Matt Gaunt
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If it's just brake pad deposit then a toothbrush and some basic bike cleaner will have it off in no time. How big are these grooves we are talking about? Any chance of a photo?
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Old 08-14-12, 07:05 PM
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I simply use glass cleaner & a rag. If it is really bad ( long rain ride or grease / sludge), then I use simple green, followed up by glass cleaner to remove the simple green residue. Works well. Oh, glass cleaner on the brake pads too.
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Old 08-15-12, 05:28 AM
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Those ridges sound like they are trapping more residue than rims with smooth sides. It is unbelievable how greasy they can get in some cities. Throuroughly clean , keep clean, & I always recommend Kool-Stop pads.

Last edited by Esteban32696; 08-15-12 at 02:51 PM.
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Old 08-15-12, 05:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Matt Gaunt View Post
If it's just brake pad deposit then a toothbrush and some basic bike cleaner will have it off in no time. How big are these grooves we are talking about? Any chance of a photo?
If it's the finish I'm thinking of, it's like 5-6 ridges per mm or so.

Never ridden em, but if they don't make for an advantage in the wet they're a dumb idea IMO... only improved wet braking would be worth not having a smooth surface.
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Old 08-15-12, 06:52 AM
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windex? simple green? and a cloth with tooth like an actual old towel or paer towels
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Old 08-15-12, 07:24 AM
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Eagle-One Nevr Dul does a nice job of polishing them up. I just got a used wheel with a bunch of black stuff stuck in the brake tracks, and it even polished that right out (combined with plenty of elbow grease).
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Old 08-15-12, 07:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
Use a Scotchbrite pad or a plastic kitchen scourer and some elbow grease.
This. But make sure the clean off all the elbow grease when done.
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Old 08-15-12, 08:05 AM
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Don't use Windex or anything with ammonia, eats metal over time.
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Old 08-15-12, 08:09 AM
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Maybe a bit of cream cleanser from under the sink if you're feeling wimpy
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Old 08-15-12, 08:18 AM
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Scotchbrite or fine grit sandpaper followed by rubbing alcohol has always done the trick for me.
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Old 08-15-12, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
Use a Scotchbrite pad or a plastic kitchen scourer and some elbow grease.
Yep. Here in the shop, we've tried dozens of methods. Alcohol and scubby pads (we cut 'em into 1"x1" squares) have yet to fail.

Don't forget to take a file or emery cloth to the pads, and use a pick to remove embedded bits of metal.
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Old 08-15-12, 10:35 AM
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Is there a set of brake pads to use that will not leave the dark residue behind? My rims are black except for the braking surface.....which are now almost black themselves. I was going to buy a set of clear pads, but the LBS guy told me the squeak alot. I tried rubbing alcohol w/-w/o a scour pad and even chrome polish.
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