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Cleaning old bike parts: any tips?

Old 05-15-15, 08:03 AM
  #1  
realsteel
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Cleaning old bike parts: any tips?

No doubt this question has been asked before, but what do you use for cleaning bike parts?

I use a strong detergent, water and a toothbrush; followed by a soak in WD40; remove any rust spots with a stainless steel rotary brush; repeat if needed and then oil, grease and wax.

This takes a lot of effort, so I'm thinking of investing in a second-hand ultrasonic bath. Any other suggestions? High-pressure water, soda-blasting, the dishwasher (when the wife is out)...

Here's today's parts cleaning: Campagnolo shifters and cable guides and Record brakes soaking in WD40:

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Old 05-15-15, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by realsteel View Post
No doubt this question has been asked before, but what do you use for cleaning bike parts?

I use a strong detergent, water and a toothbrush; followed by a soak in WD40; remove any rust spots with a stainless steel rotary brush; repeat if needed and then oil, grease and wax.

This takes a lot of effort, so I'm thinking of investing in a second-hand ultrasonic bath. Any other suggestions? High-pressure water, soda-blasting, the dishwasher (when the wife is out)...

Here's today's parts cleaning: Campagnolo shifters and cable guides and Record brakes soaking in WD40:

Well, I can't offer any advice since I'll be going through this process myself for the first time. But I'll definitely be following this thread. What's the purpose of the WD-40 soak? I understand some folks do a soak in paint thinner to help cut grease. And how do you apply the wax? Just a thin coat by hand, or do you apply some heat to even it out?
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Old 05-15-15, 08:41 AM
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This stuff:

Toxic as hell probably, but man does it work wonders on decades-old grunge. I think it works by drying out any petroleum base and leaving the residue easy to wipe off. I started using this when I began working at a local shop, it's like magic.
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Old 05-15-15, 08:50 AM
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I've found a 30 minute soak in very hot water and copious amount of dawn dish soap takes off a lot of the grunge.
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Old 05-15-15, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Mainah View Post
Well, I can't offer any advice since I'll be going through this process myself for the first time. But I'll definitely be following this thread. What's the purpose of the WD-40 soak? I understand some folks do a soak in paint thinner to help cut grease. And how do you apply the wax? Just a thin coat by hand, or do you apply some heat to even it out?
I apply the high definition wax in the picture in a thin coat, let it dry and then polish. It's basically carnauba wax in a solvent; when the solvent evaporates it leaves the hard wax coating behind.

The WD40 dissolves old oil and grease quite well. The fumes give me a headache at times, so I seal the parts and WD40 in a plastic box and leave overnight.

poprad: I'll take a look into Clean Stream - thanks!
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Old 05-15-15, 09:00 AM
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Many of us use the Harbor Freight 2 qt ultrasonic washer. About $70, but often there is a 20% Coupon discount available, making it a hard to beat item. I use about a tablespoon of Dawn per bath. 2 cycles of 8 minutes works wonders.

You will need to scrape/wipe the crud off of the RD idler and jockey wheels as well as the hardened bb cups grease by hand, but the Dawn works well, cheap, and softens your hands as well!
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Old 05-15-15, 10:04 AM
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I use a Steam Cleaner the small handheld ones that are for kitchens or bathrooms. its got a good jet and with the steam it melts away alot of grease and the bicycle sludge as i call it. follow by a bath in hot soapy dish soap and another round of steam cleaning it works pretty good.

I learned the hardway to not use a soak in simple green it discolors the metal or maybe its discoloring the clear coat on alot of parts but either way they do get discolored.

thats my $.02
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Old 05-15-15, 10:04 AM
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A WD-40 soak does nothing that an odorless mineral spirit soak can do at a fraction of the cost. And you can re-use the mineral spirits: pour into a container and let the particulate matter settle out. You can then decant clean mineral spirits off the top and repeat indefinitely (eventually evaporation and spillage will reduce the volume, which you can replenish from your container of clean mineral spirits).

N.B. be sure to use petroleum distillate mineral spirits, not so-called "green" paint thinner products.

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Old 05-15-15, 10:09 AM
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Carb Cleaner, Mineral Spirits.
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Old 05-15-15, 10:12 AM
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I used to use an ultrasonic cleaner alone. Then I added a crockpot from Goodwill. An hour+ crockpot dish soap/water soak works well for loosening hardened grease for a manual brushing later. My ultrasonic cleaner has a heater built in and it cleaned well but I found that it didn't do a great job on hardened grease. Even worse, using heat and ultrasonic cleaning simultaneously would remove dyes and lettering from derailleurs and other parts. It can even remove the black color from jockey wheels/pulleys. So, what I do now is do the presoak in the crock pot and use a brush. If that doesn't do the job, and there are remaining small areas that I need to clean that I can't reach (like STI brifters) , I'll use the ultrasonic cleaner with lukewarm water.
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Old 05-15-15, 10:14 AM
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Anything but WD-40 and yes this has been asked a million times before. Just google it
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Old 05-15-15, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by upthywazzoo View Post
It can even remove the black color from jockey wheels/pulleys.
So does this: Simple Green Foaming Degreaser > Accessories > Shop Supplies > Cleaners and Degreaser | Jenson USA

But this works better at degreasing anyway: Motorex Easy Clean Degreaser 250 ml Bikewagon
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Old 05-15-15, 10:24 AM
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Parts washer filled with odorless mineral spirits, a variety of cleaning brushes and an air compressor.
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Old 05-15-15, 10:34 AM
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Have a supply of Q-Tips, tooth brush, a set of those small pipe cleaner type brushes from hardware store. Dawn liquid detergent, Citrus degreaser (sparingly). Ultrasonic cleaner that you don't care about, old rags. Rubber gloves are helpful, but eventually they may come off....your nails will get trashed, so if you're in a profession where looks count....make sure the gloves don't come off or break (solvents do this). Goof Off or Contractor's Solvent works for removing gummy residue like adhesive.

NOTE: If you wash stuff in the dishwasher (yes, I've done it) be sure there is no drying agent liquid stuff (whatever the official name is) in there. It coats the items & can leave cloudy residue that is difficult to remove.
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Old 05-15-15, 11:22 AM
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I'm finding good results with a generic citrus degreaser, fine steel wool, water. Using a nylon bristle (stiff) tile/grout brush. Once I'm ready to reassemble, will use sewing machine or similar oil to lightly lub the moving parts and proper packing grease for the bearings.

It takes time and patience, the reward is worth it.

Jim
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Old 05-15-15, 12:52 PM
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If the job isn't too grimy, I find that using something milder saves mess and trouble, namely furniture polish in a spray can, such as Endust or Pledge. It also leaves a waxy residue which makes subsequent dirt not stick so easily.
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Old 05-15-15, 01:02 PM
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I find that odorless mineral spirits and a dish brush works the best, followed by a fresh water rinse and dry.

The key is not to over-lube, so the parts will stay clean longer!
Also, there is no such thing as truly odorless mineral spirits!
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Old 05-15-15, 01:08 PM
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Mechanical means where possible - paper towels, dish brush, q tips, brass wire wheel on a drill, old rags
chemical means - citrus degreaser, dish soap, hot water
I only ever use wd-40 when the others can't cut it...usually very old dried grease in hubs or freewheel grease. I try not to use anything environmentally detrimental if I can avoid it.
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Old 05-15-15, 05:39 PM
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Since there is already a Grant Peterson thread going: try Rivendell's El Duke degreaser. Almost instantly loosens grease and gunk. Really surprised me. Especially good with a toothbrush for parts that you don't want to take apart or remove from bike. No toxic smell. No aerosol can. I think it is soy based. No joke. Smells a little like lanolin.
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Old 05-15-15, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by upthywazzoo View Post
using heat and ultrasonic cleaning simultaneously would remove dyes and lettering from derailleurs and other parts. It can even remove the black color from jockey wheels/pulleys.
Nonsense. I've been cleaning crud covered parts since the spring of '84. I've probably done complete rebuild on over 2,000 bikes.

Without using harsh chemicals nothing works better than a high heat ultra sonic cleaner and Dawn dish detergent. 3 or 4 cycles is all it takes. On occasion there's heavy stuff that may need chemicals but those are few and far between.

Oven cleaner and anything citrus, including Simple Green is a big no no as they'll all discolor aluminum.
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Old 05-15-15, 05:50 PM
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I generally leave things dirty.
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Old 05-15-15, 06:12 PM
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Cleaning old bike parts: any tips?

Always a rag, at times WD40 or GooGone and a lot of elbow grease.
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Old 05-15-15, 06:18 PM
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That looks like a set of Campy Record brakes in the tub. Be very careful with the alloy caliper arms and degreasers of any sort. They may discolor or stain the anodizing. Warm water, Dawn and a scrub brush is all I would use on those. Rinse well.
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Old 05-15-15, 07:47 PM
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Originally Posted by miamijim View Post
Nonsense. I've been cleaning crud covered parts since the spring of '84.
I'm happy for your continued success. But please don't discredit me for having different experiences than you. I have no intention of spreading disinformation. Ultrasonic cleaners do work. But, without proper care, they can also damage things--as I have.


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Old 05-15-15, 07:48 PM
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I love my ultrasonic cleaner, it was the harbour freight one, picked it up on a trip south of the border. Cleans lots of things really well, I especially like it for derailleurs. If I had a shop I'd definitely spend the money on a good industrial model.
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