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Author Topic: ultrasonic cleaning systems  (Read 1629 times)

Chief45

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ultrasonic cleaning systems
« on: January 13, 2016, 04:50:42 PM »
ok,  our dept armorer is asking for an ultrasonic cleaning system.

I have no personal knowledge of ultrasonic cleaning, never was interested before.

Any hints, tips, tricks,  brands or models to look for, brands or models to stay away from, cleaning solutions, etc ? ? ? ?

inquiring minds need to know.   
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    freeman1685

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    Re: ultrasonic cleaning systems
    « Reply #1 on: January 13, 2016, 09:16:00 PM »
    Jewelry stores us them, to clean gold, and silver.  Show chrome and high quality plating is made using ultrasound. Visit one of your local jewelry dealers.  They can at least introduce you to the process.

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    StevenTing

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    Re: ultrasonic cleaning systems
    « Reply #2 on: January 14, 2016, 01:36:24 AM »
    What is he using it for?  Just cleaning parts?  I normally recommend stainless tumbling media for all brass and things that can take a more aggressive cleaning.  But otherwise I think they're pretty much all the same. 
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    seanp

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    Re: ultrasonic cleaning systems
    « Reply #3 on: January 14, 2016, 03:08:01 AM »
    I have owned and used many ultrasonic cleaners over the years, mainly small jewellery shop models. They are fantastic for cleaning hard to reach spots on gun parts and cleaning them thoroughly.

    The main difference is price. The higher the price, the more power range, and the greater the durability.

    The only 3 tips I have in general:*

    1. Don't let the parts touch the tub, keep them suspended.
    2. Don't leave them in too long.
    3. Change solutions often.

    For a solution, I have always just used a squirt of dish detergent in distilled water, but he may want to consult with the manufacturer if it's gun parts.

    And don't put wood in there or polymer components when the heat is on  ;)

    *edited to add: let me know if more explanation is required.  That's pretty general, I know.
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    Mississippi556

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    Re: ultrasonic cleaning systems
    « Reply #4 on: January 15, 2016, 05:57:35 PM »
    ^ ^ ^ Excellent information.   I've been using a small Hornady ultrasonic cleaner for a couple years now for small firearms parts.  It does come in larger sizes.  Mine has worked fine with no problems.  It has only one power setting, but does have a digital timer that can select several different cycle lengths.  I usually do have to run it through several cycles to clean dirty stuff.   

    I have been spending money for dedicated cleaning solution, one for brass, the other for steel.   I think I'll try using regular dishwashing detergent.  All it takes is a few drops of any of this.  Unless you do a lot of parts, the solution, whatever you use, will last a long time.   Because the solution gets contaminated with dirt, grease and other grime, I change out the solution on my little tank with every new batch of parts, so my volume is, obviously, low.

    While I use mine mostly for cleaning of primer pockets and the inside of rifle and pistol cartridge cases, it works well on all steel, aluminum and brass small parts.  I understand it is not recommended for nickel plating, but I do not know if this is true.  Have not experimented with that. 

    It does NOT polish, very well, though.  If you want the surface polished, throwing the cases or parts in a vibration or roller tumbler with either old fashioned ground corncob, walnut, or the newer stainless pins will get them nice and shiny.
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    coyotesfan97

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    Re: ultrasonic cleaning systems
    « Reply #5 on: January 15, 2016, 06:22:04 PM »
    I think our range guys use simple green or MP7 as the solvent. You just have dry and oil the parts good afterwards.


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    mattitude

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    Re: ultrasonic cleaning systems
    « Reply #6 on: January 15, 2016, 09:14:34 PM »
    I have the RCBS (I believe it's the 2 liter version) and have been using it for about 6 months now for both brass & some gun parts.  I was tired of poking tumbling media out of flash holes/primer pockets & wiping down every single piece of brass to get the dust off of it so I finally broke down and got the RCBS unit as well as a brass & parts dryer.  Keep in mind that the ultrasonic cleaners won't polish, but the cleaning solution does work well enough to restore any luster that was originally there.

    Washing gun parts does have some drawbacks.  Most units are small and are only good for small parts and you can't load them up with a lot of them, so if there are a lot of parts to do then it will take a real long time as the parts will need to go through more than 1 cycle & the solution will need to heat up again between washing the new parts.  Also oiling the parts after they are dry is mandatory as the cleaner is a degreaser, and be sure to lubricate in all crevices otherwise you'll have a corrosion problem.

    About the solutions, my RCBS unit has a petcock that allows to drain the tank without having to physically lifting up & dumping out the unit and it came with a 6' drain hose so what I do is I have a giant Gatorade bottle that I store the used solution in and it has a large mouth on it.  I attach a coffee filter on the end of the hose with a rubber band and stuff it into the mouth of the Gatorade bottle and set the RCBS unit at the top of the stairs and then put the bottle about 4 or so steps below it and then open the petcock.  Gravity keeps the flow up which gets forced through the coffee filter and traps all of the gunk...and there is A LOT of gunk after even 1 cleaning cycle.  The 2L tank will drain in about a minute and all there is left to do is pull the hose out of the bottle with the filter and right into the garbage.
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    seanp

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    Re: ultrasonic cleaning systems
    « Reply #7 on: January 16, 2016, 02:03:46 AM »
    I wouldn't necessarily suggest looking at something like the RCBS for departmental use, as that looks to be intended for home use.

    You will probably want something meant for commercial use.

    A commercial unit will be of more robust appearance, will be more durable,  and more powerful. And of course more expensive.  Think $400-$500 for starters. I would suggest looking at what they stock at Gesswein and Rio Grande.  These are jewelry supply companies and what they carry is of course meant for the jewelry industry, but I have used their machines to clean machine and gun parts quite a bit.  They will give you a good place to start.

    I am not sure what Matt is referring to by "cycles".  I am guessing that this is a programmed or programmable feature of the RCBS?

    Commercial machines have a timer and a temperature control.  Usually two dials. When you turn them on, they stay on in the temperature range you select, all the time.  So after you turn them on and the solution heats up, there is no waiting between batches.

    As an aside, heat plays an important function in this process. The hotter the solution is, the more aggressive the cleaning will be.

    Anyway,  when you start, I would check your peices every few minutes they have been immersed.  An ultrasonic can cause cavitation erosion very quickly on poorly manufactured components and substandard materials.  This is a bad and dangerous thing. So your armorer may want to consult with the manufacturer on this issue, particularly for MIM parts.
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    RetroGrouch

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    Re: ultrasonic cleaning systems
    « Reply #8 on: January 17, 2016, 04:35:39 PM »
    I've heard from people on the silencer forums that the ultrasonic cleaners are erosive on Aluminum.  Don't know firsthand so take it with a grain of salt.
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    Grognard

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    Re: ultrasonic cleaning systems
    « Reply #9 on: January 26, 2016, 01:30:36 AM »
    How are they for cleaning paint off detailed parts and fittings?

    assuming I'm using Simple Green or Pine Sol
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