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Just got an ultrasonic cleaner

Old 08-18-20, 11:56 AM
  #1  
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Just got an ultrasonic cleaner

Big steel box, think it's 15L and 400 watts with a heater.

Here are before and after shots, solution was water plus dish detergent (?50ml?) for 15 mins, then I put some (?same?) TSP in.

Before:





After - it didn't get all the dirt out of the very inside, but I'm pretty happy with hit-the-button-and-walk-away; another 10-15 mins would get that stuff I bet:





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Old 08-18-20, 12:01 PM
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Use mine all the time it does a great job of loosening dirt and grease
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Old 08-18-20, 12:38 PM
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I seem to have to brush the big, stuck chunks off before dipping it in.
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Old 08-18-20, 02:17 PM
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Funny timing because just yesterday I tossed my Harbor Freight ultrasonic cleaner while we were cleaning out a storage area. That thing was a massive waste of time and money. I could get anything cleaner in less time compared to dropping it into the ultrasonic cleaner.

Yours clearly works WAY better.
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Old 08-18-20, 02:21 PM
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I have a harbor Freight ultrasonic. It is not very good but it does loosen things up a bit to make it easier. Stuff sticks to aluminum a lot more than steel.
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Old 08-18-20, 03:06 PM
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I use my HF cleaner quite a bit. It doesn’t necessarily get anything cleaner than elbow grease but it does make it easier and gets inside the tight spots. I find it very effective for cleaning chains followed by a light brush up with a mild scrubbing pad.
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Old 08-18-20, 03:10 PM
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Ultrasonic for chains is the best use.
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Old 08-18-20, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by jiangshi View Post
Ultrasonic for chains is the best use.
Definitely. Just used mine for that purpose a couple of days ago.
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Old 08-18-20, 03:56 PM
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My experience is that they vary quite a bit. We have a Branson at work that I use for chain cleaning that works well. The other thing is that you can't expect to remove big clods of dirt with an ultrasonic cleaner. It really is for small particles. It is great for carburetors too.
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Old 08-18-20, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by jiangshi View Post
Ultrasonic for chains is the best use.
Would that be to extend the life of the chain in general?
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Old 08-18-20, 05:27 PM
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I use mine for cleaning carbs. I've had the HF one for over 5 years. They are designed to clean little particles like varnished gas - or dirt and debris in jewelry.

couple of tips:
* caulk where the bowl meets the case - or water might drip down into the electronics.
* use a ziplock bag inside of the bowl of water - keeps the bowl much cleaner. Just replace the nasty bag.

Caulk here


Ultrasonic waves pass right thru the bag. I store mine full of water. Bag is just water with a shot of Simple Green to break the water tension.
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Old 08-18-20, 05:39 PM
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suggest not neglect and forget a part, especially a chain in simple green solution... it does work, but I am wary of the stuff.
Have seen others ruin chains with it.
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Old 08-18-20, 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by nicovlogg View Post
Would that be to extend the life of the chain in general?
Not necessarily, but it cleans it.
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Old 08-18-20, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by repechage View Post
suggest not neglect and forget a part, especially a chain in simple green solution... it does work, but I am wary of the stuff.
Have seen others ruin chains with it.
Cleaning solutions can wreak havoc on vintage bike parts. Chains are pretty durable, vintage Campy derailleurs, not so much.
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Old 08-18-20, 06:14 PM
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I also use a ziplock bag with just Dawn and water.
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Old 08-21-20, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by jiangshi View Post
Cleaning solutions can wreak havoc on vintage bike parts. Chains are pretty durable, vintage Campy derailleurs, not so much.
In the mid 80's a customer of the shop came in with a sparkling clean chain that had cracks radiating from the pins... he needed a new chain.
He did not end up as the only one who learned a Simple Green lesson.
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Old 08-21-20, 02:39 PM
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I worry about the tolerances between mating parts growing when using my (Harbor Freight) ultrasonic cleaner; and it doesn't seem to be a miracle cleaner, either.

And what's the problem with using it for chain cleaning mentioned in a couple posts above: wearing the chain out, or is is a specific issue with Simple Green detergency, some chemical thing?

The ziplock bag tip is very interesting, though.
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Old 08-21-20, 06:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Charles Wahl View Post
I worry about the tolerances between mating parts growing when using my (Harbor Freight) ultrasonic cleaner; and it doesn't seem to be a miracle cleaner, either.


And what's the problem with using it for chain cleaning mentioned in a couple posts above: wearing the chain out, or is is a specific issue with Simple Green detergency, some chemical thing?


The ziplock bag tip is very interesting, though.

I recently bought a 6.5L ultrasonic cleaner, mainly for ultra-cleaning chains so I could switch all my bikes over to hot wax. I follow Josh Poertner's suggested process, as described in his Silca Velo videos on Youtube. He talks about the problem with Simple Green (the original green stuff) and other caustic cleaners causing hydrogen embrittlement and potential cracking. However, Simple Green Pro HD (the purple colored stuff) is claimed to be safe on metals.


It's a fairly lengthy process to get a chain clean enough for hot waxing, but it only has to be done once. I do 5 chains at a time. I've also used the ultrasonic cleaner on derailleurs and it works quite well.


I had been using mineral spirits (paint thinner) and brushes for 40 years and I'm sick and tired of dealing with it.
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Old 01-12-21, 05:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Duke7777 View Post
I recently bought a 6.5L ultrasonic cleaner, mainly for ultra-cleaning chains so I could switch all my bikes over to hot wax. I follow Josh Poertner's suggested process, as described in his Silca Velo videos on Youtube. He talks about the problem with Simple Green (the original green stuff) and other caustic cleaners causing hydrogen embrittlement and potential cracking. However, Simple Green Pro HD (the purple colored stuff) is claimed to be safe on metals.


It's a fairly lengthy process to get a chain clean enough for hot waxing, but it only has to be done once. I do 5 chains at a time. I've also used the ultrasonic cleaner on derailleurs and it works quite well.


I had been using mineral spirits (paint thinner) and brushes for 40 years and I'm sick and tired of dealing with it.
I am planning to get an ultrasonic cleaner like the HF one mainly for this purpose. How are you liking yours so far?

A little background on my case. I have so far prepared only 4-5 chains for waxing but the last one really brought me to the point of disgust. Here is what I do:

1. Ran the chain from park tool scrubber hoping that it would take out the major part of the crud/grime and I can soak the chain in D-lemonene.

2. 1 didn't do much. Took the chain out, laid on a single layer in a plastic container, poured a bit of d-limonene again, waited for 10 minutes then with soapy water shaked and rinsed it who knows how many times until the water ran clear.

3. I ran the chain through a rag and again on a different container laid it flat (so that I can use as little solvent to submerge it), submerged it in degreaser once more and waited for an hour.

4. After an hour again a huge amount of gunk came out. This is the final straw. I am tired of this ...t (sorry for the language). Again with mild soap and lots of shakes in a ziplock bag finally the chain looked good.

5. Soaked it in IPA, after an hour it stayed somewhat clear so I decided to proceed to wax.


The problem is if I skip anyone of these steps, except 1, which I am realizing that doesn't do much to get rid of the dirt inside the rollers, it will be a mess. Whether too much gunk will come during the alcohol rinse or the wax will get dirty and/or it will not stick to the chain properly hence chain will get noisy after a short time.

I also want to save degreasers since I am using pure d-limonene and %99 IPA which are both very expensive(they work very well though). In an apartment using toxic chemicals like mineral spirits are not an option for me.

- Do you think I can use a small amount of solvent mixed with water in a ziplock in an ultrasonic cleaner to clean the chain effectively? I was also thinking of cleaning stuff like brake levers, spindles, some cogs etc I am hoping that it works for those too.

- For rewaxing the chain, I simply run the chain under boiling water but I realized that sometimes little bits of dust, dirt still stay on the chain and in the long run it contaminates the wax. Do you think cleaning the waxed chain in water in an ultrasonic cleaner will work ?

- Also when I prepare a brand new chain I simply submerge it in d-limonene for 5-8 hours. Since I want to use the minimum amount possible I simply lay the chain flat , 1 layer and put it in a container/ziplock(SRAM's chains come with a perfect size plastic case , you can submerge the chain with little solvent) as small as possible however this may decrease effectiveness and prevents me from shaking it vigorously. I am not sure about the effectiveness about the new chain yet since I have not ridden it yet but I was wondering if I can simply put the submerged chain with its container into the ultrasonic tank to speed up the process?
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Old 01-12-21, 06:01 PM
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Here’s my unit, I think the 3rd or 4th one I’ve owned. Has a heating element, which helps speed matters, and I use Incredible Pink degreaser diluted with water in the tank. For chains, I usually do two 30-minute cycles, then rinse with hot water. That gets of most of the gunk. Then I hang on a nail and saturate with WD-40 to displace any water. Leave overnight, wipe again with a rag, install and apply some chain lube. The roads around here are very briney this time of year, so I’ve needed to do a chain cleaning and relube after several slushy rides.
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Old 01-12-21, 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by oneclick View Post
Big steel box, think it's 15L and 400 watts with a heater.

Here are before and after shots, solution was water plus dish detergent (?50ml?) for 15 mins, then I put some (?same?) TSP in.

Before:





After - it didn't get all the dirt out of the very inside, but I'm pretty happy with hit-the-button-and-walk-away; another 10-15 mins would get that stuff I bet:





I find that 0000 steel wool and a little car polish work well too. You just have to ad a little elbow grease.
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Old 01-12-21, 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by John_E View Post
How are you liking yours so far?
So far I have followed Josh Poertner's cleaning process: shake twice in plastic container with degreaser, rinse in water, clean in ultrasonic, rinse in water, rinse in alcohol). If the solution in the ultrasonic looks dirty after the first 30-40 minutes, I will change the solution and run it again. I also blow compressed air through the links after each rinse, checking for how much dirt comes out each time. So far the chains seem to get very clean, as they bloody well should after this much work.

I should add that, even before I started hot waxing chains, I never let them get very dirty. If I were starting with a very dirty chain, I might either use mineral spirits or just throw it away if it had a fair bit of mileage on it. (you've probably seen it, but Oz Cycle on youtube has some good info on cleaning and hot waxing). Before I started waxing, after each ride or two I would apply ProLink wet lube, then brush and wipe the chain. This was way too much work. Now I essentially never need to clean the drive train on any of my bikes, just re-wax every 300 km or so. They are quiet, smooth and fast. My hands don't get dirty if I have to deal with any drive train issues during a ride. So far I haven't bothered to clean the chains before I re-wax, as they don't look like they need it (I avoid rain). Also, there's probably still a thin film of wax adhering to the internal wearing surfaces, and it might be better not to clean it off. If the wax in my crock pot looks like it's getting dirty, I plan to take out the cold cake of wax and lightly scrape any accumulated grit off the bottom. I might scrape off some of the PTFE, but I can always add a bit more.

Another benefit of this process is the opportunity to check chain elongation. I have a 1x6 board about 6' tall, with a horizontal row of nails near the top. When the chains are super clean and dry, I hang them from the nails and measure the length of 100 links. I've marked lines on the board for zero and 0.5% elongation of 100 links. However, with hot waxing I may never wear out another chain.
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Old 01-12-21, 11:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Duke7777 View Post
So far I have followed Josh Poertner's cleaning process: shake twice in plastic container with degreaser, rinse in water, clean in ultrasonic, rinse in water, rinse in alcohol). If the solution in the ultrasonic looks dirty after the first 30-40 minutes, I will change the solution and run it again. I also blow compressed air through the links after each rinse, checking for how much dirt comes out each time. So far the chains seem to get very clean, as they bloody well should after this much work.

I should add that, even before I started hot waxing chains, I never let them get very dirty. If I were starting with a very dirty chain, I might either use mineral spirits or just throw it away if it had a fair bit of mileage on it. (you've probably seen it, but Oz Cycle on youtube has some good info on cleaning and hot waxing). Before I started waxing, after each ride or two I would apply ProLink wet lube, then brush and wipe the chain. This was way too much work. Now I essentially never need to clean the drive train on any of my bikes, just re-wax every 300 km or so. They are quiet, smooth and fast. My hands don't get dirty if I have to deal with any drive train issues during a ride. So far I haven't bothered to clean the chains before I re-wax, as they don't look like they need it (I avoid rain). Also, there's probably still a thin film of wax adhering to the internal wearing surfaces, and it might be better not to clean it off. If the wax in my crock pot looks like it's getting dirty, I plan to take out the cold cake of wax and lightly scrape any accumulated grit off the bottom. I might scrape off some of the PTFE, but I can always add a bit more.

Another benefit of this process is the opportunity to check chain elongation. I have a 1x6 board about 6' tall, with a horizontal row of nails near the top. When the chains are super clean and dry, I hang them from the nails and measure the length of 100 links. I've marked lines on the board for zero and 0.5% elongation of 100 links. However, with hot waxing I may never wear out another chain.
If I get the ultrasonic cleaner I will do as you suggest and first shake a bit then follow up with the cleaner.

Your experience mirrors mine. I never let my chains get too dirty and with lighter lubes which only goes around 50-100 miles I was always cleaning the chain with the park tool chain cleaner before lubing. I also wiped the chains in between to prevent accumulation of dirt. Still when you want to deep clean too much gunk comes out.

Like you, I switched to wax to prolong chain life, keep the drivetrain clean and longer rewaxing intervals and I am also getting around 200 miles between rewaxes, the cassettes stay so clean that I don't even clean them anymore. Yes I use oz cycle's Wax + PTFE formula and so far it is working great.
The problem with trimming the bottom of the solidified wax is as you have mentioned also cutting off the PTFE which settles on the bottom. Unfortunaltely trimming can take out too much of the PTFE so I try to keep the wax clean in the first place.

I have a big thread on chain elongation. Recently I hang a chain which showed %0.5 on a pedro's gauge but found out that it is only 0.1" longer over 57 full links(57") when I hanged it next to a brand new one oh well another story.

How is the noise btw? Would it be too noisy if I put it in the bathroom and close the door ?
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Old 01-12-21, 11:08 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by nlerner View Post


Hereís my unit, I think the 3rd or 4th one Iíve owned. Has a heating element, which helps speed matters, and I use Incredible Pink degreaser diluted with water in the tank. For chains, I usually do two 30-minute cycles, then rinse with hot water. That gets of most of the gunk. Then I hang on a nail and saturate with WD-40 to displace any water. Leave overnight, wipe again with a rag, install and apply some chain lube. The roads around here are very briney this time of year, so Iíve needed to do a chain cleaning and relube after several slushy rides.
I will look into this unit. The one I have in mind is like this one 2.5 liter 160W Ultrasonic cleaner. I thought 160W and 35khz should work , do you think one needs more?
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Old 01-12-21, 11:25 PM
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Originally Posted by John_E View Post
How is the noise btw? Would it be too noisy if I put it in the bathroom and close the door ?
It makes a fairly loud and annoying buzz, but I barely notice it if I put it in the next room. I went with Poertner's advice and got a 6.5 L unit. It does seem unnecessarily large for doing just chains, but the size will probably come in handy from time to time.
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