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Cleaning mechanical parts

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16 replies to this topic

#1 JogiBear

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Posted 09 July 2018 - 03:18 PM

Hi there fellow amateurs,

I'm so excited. I managed to buy an old Soviet TAL-1 Mizar from a nice old man who unfortunately due to his physical condition hasn't been able to take it out under the skies for a couple of years. The instrument stood in his workshop and therefore collected a lot of dust, spider webs and general dirt. The optics remained clean, fortunately. No signs of rust, either.

Now my question is simple and maybe a bit silly at the same time, what sort of equipment and chemicals should I use to thoroughly clean the stand and the mechanics? I.e. could I just use a toothbrush and soapy water?

Things I absolutely want to avoid:
a) to damage the paint
b) cause rust to appear later

Thank you for your kind replies!

#2 apfever

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Posted 09 July 2018 - 04:53 PM

Toothbrush and soapy water sounds good. That is good for general grime and some grease goop, but it may not touch the thicker older oil/grease deposits. Some grease is very resistant to soap and water. You don't want to use a harsh solvent like gas. I use diesel fuel in my solvent tank for complete disassemblies.
You can use spray solvent like WD40 for gummy spots on an assembled units. I chase WD40 with another protective coat product since some think the WD40 can strip the items too dry and attract rust later. I often use an ACE brand silicone spray for gummy spots, but most spray lubes have the same general cleaning characteristics and are paint friendly but test them to be sure.
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#3 Ulmer Spatz

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Posted 09 July 2018 - 05:39 PM

I found this TAL-1 Restoration Project page and thought some of it it could be useful to you. I don't know if all TAL-1s are also Mizars, so some of the details may not apply to your scope. It also occurred to me that this may be more, much more, than you really wanted to know.  :-)  

 

http://www.astro-bab...Restoration.htm

 

A note of caution: the author apparently used a degreasing agent which attacked the paint. He was OK with that, but I know you wouldn't be.


Edited by Ulmer Spatz, 09 July 2018 - 06:35 PM.


#4 macdonjh

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Posted 09 July 2018 - 06:54 PM

I've always used simple mineral spirits to degrease mount parts.  The paint thinner doesn't stay in contact with the painted parts long enough, in my experience, to damage fully cured paint.


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#5 MiguelStrongEye

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Posted 09 July 2018 - 08:36 PM

Mineral spirits on the gunk.

Dawn for the rest.

windex sparingly for the final wipe.

 

cover the optics to avoid spatter and fumes.

 

No magic.

gentle brushes, q-tips and lint free wipes.

use the least aggressive cleaner that works.



#6 Kasmos

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Posted 10 July 2018 - 03:06 AM

waytogo.gif Mineral spirits.

I've never had it hurt original factory paint.

On painted stuff I usually follow that by diluted Simple Green, or Awesome.

Never use alcohol on a badge/label as it will remove the ink.

While it's fine for some metal parts, I would never scrub anything that has shinny paint with a toothbrush.

For degreasing scrubbing I sometimes cut cheap china bristle brushes shorter to stiffen them.



#7 roscoe

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Posted 10 July 2018 - 06:50 AM

The other half of the toothbrush team, toothpaste, works well as a really mild cleaner and polish for metal parts.  One of my other hobbies is restoring vintage kerosene lamps, and toothpaste is wonderful for cleaning the grime off the burners and giving them a nice shine.I've used it on shiny paint, and it might 'satinize' it just a tad, but I'd have to really do a test to tell for sure.  A toothbrush and soap or window cleaner is wonderful for cleaning old crinkle finishes.

 

Mineral spirits is my go-to cleaner for mount innards, though...I've never had it dissolve anything that wasn't essentially powder anyhow.

 

Simple green works well, too.  Straight up, it's a really good degreaser,  I recently rebuilt a vintage garden tractor, and I sprayed it with simple, left it to soak in overnight, and garden-hosed it in the morning, and let the sun dry the rig all day, it took 90% of the greasy grime of the ages off the machine.  It does take loose paint off some that way, though, and cleans metal thoroughly enough that it will surface rust some.


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#8 DMala

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Posted 10 July 2018 - 08:27 AM

I do not know, I have been cleaning for years grimy metal parts for my old gun collection and for telescopes, and I never found old dirt that did not resist to simple WD40, maybe with some moderate effort. Not talking about oxydation/corrosion. Followup with a good rust preventative on bare metal (I use Corrosion X, WD40 is no good for that) and save yourself from obnoxious fumes from solvents. On telescope painted parts, some moderate amount of household surface cleaner followed by automotive polishing compound restores a like new look, where preserved under the dirt.


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#9 nashvillebill

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Posted 10 July 2018 - 08:41 AM

WD40 can work pretty well, but for the price of one can of WD you can buy a whole gallon of mineral spirits (well almost).

 

Simple Green can work well sometimes,  BUT it can destroy shiny anodized aluminum finishes and it did not cut through some of the old glue grease.  Did well on ordinary grime though.

 

Acetone can can handle a lot of cleaning needs but it doesn't seem as effective as mineral spirits on the ancient glue grease. I have also tried the modern brake cleaner but it did not seem to cut the old grease effectively, plus it's expensive. Maybe I will try some naphtha one day or xylene. 



#10 JogiBear

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Posted 10 July 2018 - 09:11 AM

Thank you so much. I live in the EU so some specific brands mentioned are not available here but the general advice given is priceless. Going to upload a before/after photo once I'm finished.

#11 Kasmos

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Posted 10 July 2018 - 01:31 PM

Automotive brake cleaner will ruin paint and is fairly toxic.

That said, It's mostly acetone (with additives), which is much cheaper. 



#12 macdonjh

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Posted 10 July 2018 - 02:57 PM

Automotive brake cleaner will ruin paint and is fairly toxic.

That said, It's mostly acetone (with additives), which is much cheaper. 

I had to use brake cleaner to rid some bearings of dried-out soap the original owner's grease left behind.  With no oil in the grease left for the mineral spirits to work on, the soap wouldn't budge.  Brake cleaner cut through it easily, though.  The bearings were clean and rolled well afterward.  Nasty stuff, though, that brake cleaner.



#13 roscoe

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Posted 10 July 2018 - 03:18 PM

Yeah, brake cleaner, and its cousin carb cleaner are absolutely outdoor sprays!

 

You can buy carb cleaner in gallon cans - that have a cute little basket in the can, that you soak stuff in, way better than sprays, but I suspect it'd totally remove paint if you left stuff in there for hours.  I bet a couple of days would clear up any bearing no matter how gucky it was, though.... and with bearings, spin them around every 15 mins or whatever, that helps to break up the guck.

 

For really aged scope tubes - needs to be smooth/shiny paint - as Dmala says, auto polishing compound (and rubbing compound first if it's really aged) followed by paste wax makes old tubes good as new.  Go easy on the rubbing compound, though, you can scrub right through the paint if you try hard enough.....


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#14 DMala

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Posted 12 July 2018 - 09:00 AM

WD40 can work pretty well, but for the price of one can of WD you can buy a whole gallon of mineral spirits (well almost).

 

(..)

I thought about posting this reply for a couple days, and I just decided to go ahead.

 

As a recently diagnosed metastatic lung cancer patient, not even 60 and not smoker, I would encourage everyone to be prudent with fumes and other possible risk factors. I will never know what caused my cancer, but the only prolonged exposure to risk factors I know of, are several years for frequent cleaning of old collectible firearms with  smelly solvents.  Maybe 1/2h 2-3 times a week, not an occupational exposure. Then I remember that suddenly at one point I just could not take it anymore and switched to WD40 only or detergent cleaners more of a "soapy" type . Maybe it made no difference, but if I could go back I would not take any chance. 



#15 nashvillebill

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Posted 12 July 2018 - 10:56 AM

I thought about posting this reply for a couple days, and I just decided to go ahead.

 

As a recently diagnosed metastatic lung cancer patient, not even 60 and not smoker, I would encourage everyone to be prudent with fumes and other possible risk factors. I will never know what caused my cancer, but the only prolonged exposure to risk factors I know of, are several years for frequent cleaning of old collectible firearms with  smelly solvents.  Maybe 1/2h 2-3 times a week, not an occupational exposure. Then I remember that suddenly at one point I just could not take it anymore and switched to WD40 only or detergent cleaners more of a "soapy" type . Maybe it made no difference, but if I could go back I would not take any chance. 

Actually you've brought up a great point, all of the solvents mentioned so far (with the exception of plain old soap and water) can put off some pretty nasty fumes and should be used cautiously in a well-ventilated area.  Simple Green takes my breath away if I inadvertently get a whiff of it.

 

I'm surprised oven cleaner sprays are still plentiful, nothing like getting a good lung full of lye fumes!!


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#16 davidmcgo

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Posted 12 July 2018 - 11:19 AM

I find GooGone Citrus Gel works fantastic for degreasing parts and hasn't affected paint on anything I've used it on yet.

 

Odor is pleasant so I can get away working on stuff in the house, which is a plus.

 

Dave


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#17 bremms

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Posted 12 July 2018 - 11:36 AM

I do not know, I have been cleaning for years grimy metal parts for my old gun collection and for telescopes, and I never found old dirt that did not resist to simple WD40, maybe with some moderate effort. Not talking about oxydation/corrosion. Followup with a good rust preventative on bare metal (I use Corrosion X, WD40 is no good for that) and save yourself from obnoxious fumes from solvents. On telescope painted parts, some moderate amount of household surface cleaner followed by automotive polishing compound restores a like new look, where preserved under the dirt.

WD40 is basically kerosene and light oil. Little bit of other stuff, but not much. Yes, it is good for gunk removal.  Diluted Simple green and some tooth brushes are a good choice.


Edited by bremms, 12 July 2018 - 11:38 AM.

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