Ultrasonic cleaners

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by OscarC, Aug 8, 2007.

  1. OscarC

    OscarC New Member

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    So I want to switch to using an ultrasonic cleaner to clean my chain and sprockets on both my road bike and mountian bike. I did a search and found "mentions" of ultrasonic cleaners but no real detail. I would like to hear from those who currently use an ultrasonic cleaner for this pupose. Specifically:

    How well does it clean (can i eat off of it when cleaned)?
    What liquid capacity is best?
    How many watts and hertz is needed?
    Model recommedations?
    And thing special to look out for?
     
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  2. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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    I have only used u-sonic cleaners to clean both wet and dried technical ink from the tech pens used in my plotter and hand-held pens. I use two brands of u-sonic cleaners. Both do a really good job on tough ink and neither has a large enough chamber to get a chain into.

    Years ago, a friend of mine used an u-sonic cleaner on his chain and it did a very good job. Remember that you must clean up the u-sonic cleaning machine after use...a job thats similar to cleaning up a plastic chain cleaning device.

    I would imagine that a commercial parts washer would do an equivalent job to an u-sonic cleaner when it comes to getting the crap out from under the rollers.

    The somewhat 'not meant to be removed often' factor designed into the Campy chains has me using a Park Tool cleaner.
     
  3. JohnO

    JohnO New Member

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    I bought a small commercial ultrasonic cleaner on ebay for $60. Originally bought it for another hobby - restoring antique steam models - but found that it works great for cleaning chains.

    Fill it with soapy water. Toss in the chain. Let it sit for a couple of hours. The water and the chain will get fairly hot. Take the chain out, and rinse it off. It will sparkle like new. Then give it a thorough lubrication - the cleaner will strip out the old lube as well as the dirt.

    Now, if you were cleaning a MTB chain, look in the cleaner and be amazed at the piles of crud left behind. Road chains don't get nearly as filthy, I give mine a cleaning at the start of the season.

    You could do the same with a cassette, though I've never felt the need. Be aware that the cleaner can strip off plating if left in long enough, so you may not want to clean a plated cassette.
     
  4. pistole

    pistole New Member

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    - interesting stuff.


    .
     
  5. Bubble

    Bubble New Member

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  6. OscarC

    OscarC New Member

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    I tried but, there is a problem with the site. I kept getting a "new user creation" error when I tried registering. Can you tell me what is supposed to be there?

    thanks.
     
  7. kdelong

    kdelong Well-Known Member

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    Ultrasonic cleaners are a little bit overkill for a chain, but the way they work is amazing. First of all, you can add just about any cleaning agent, but I would only use soapy water for a chain. What happens is the water is heated to a point where vapor bubbles begin to form. The ultrasonic transducers produce sound waves that collapse the vapor bubbles, creating a temporary localized vacuum that actually "sucks" the grime off of the chain. The soap just loosens the grime so that a more thourough job is done. I wouldn't eat off of it though.
     
  8. Lama

    Lama New Member

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    I use the u/sonic cleaner on my roadie every 1000kms.

    i also have access to an industrial degreaser using tricloroethelene (read - highly carcenogenic if handled incorrectly hence not domestically available).

    First of all i will dump chain/cassette in triclo to rid the heavy grime, then dump the chain/cassette in u/sonic cleaner with a solution of straight acetone for a few hours.

    it really does work a treat.... though it does leave a very fine film of grime i have noticed. but the chain is increadibly clean, so much so that the links rattle when you shake it.

    i reckon this method would have to be one of the best ways to clean a chain.
     
  9. JohnO

    JohnO New Member

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    Here's the collection:

    http://johno.myiglou.com/steamgeneral.html

    For road bikes, the ultrasonic cleaner is probably overkill. The MTB chain, on the other hand... you should see what gets left behind after a couple of hours in the cleaner.
     
  10. JohnO

    JohnO New Member

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    Branford Bike sells a removable link for Campy 10 chains. It's one of the first things I bought when I built up my bike using a Chorus group. I wasn't sure how durable it would be (very thin), so I bought an extra. Four years later, that extra is still in the package.
     
  11. kdelong

    kdelong Well-Known Member

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    Very nice collection JohnO!
     
  12. sogood

    sogood New Member

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    Here's the question. Is ultrasonic cleaning of chains worthwhile? Is there appreciable benefit compared with regular routines such as shaking in a coke bottle or one of those on-bike chain cleaner?
     
  13. kdelong

    kdelong Well-Known Member

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    To be honest, I don't think that an ultrasonic cleaner does much better inside the chain. It will work wonders on the external surfaces but I can't imagine that it does much more than shaking in a coke bottle for the interior bearing surfaces. I cannot imagine that many vapor bubbles form in the internal bearing surfaces. Using the same cleaning solution, I believe that soaking a chain in a coke bottle would be as efficient as soaking it in an ultrasonic cleaner as far as the internal surfaces are concerned. I may be wrong, but that is the way that I see it at this time (I sound like a politician on the campaign trail!:confused: )
     
  14. vascdoc

    vascdoc New Member

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    I rather doubt any real advantage. I clean my chain occasionally on the bike with a tooth brush with adequate results. However, I seriously doubt I am getting more mileage off the chain as a result of a deep clean. I suspect that applying a lub and wiping the chain is just as well. Although there is something to the look of a nice clean chain ....
     
  15. sogood

    sogood New Member

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    I agree. And don't forget a sparkling clean cassette. :cool:
     
  16. tafi

    tafi Member

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    If the cleaner works the way you say it does then why wouldn't the cavitation occur on interior surfaces just as it does on exterior ones? After all, the process is supposed to be microscopic and your cleaning solution should be all the way through the rollers etc.
    I'd like to give an ultrasonic cleaner a try but my supervisor only ever uses water in the one I have my eye on and often uses it to clean his coffee percolator!

    The problem with degreasing as normal (in a parts washer) is that only the exterior grime can be removed. The dirt in the rollers doesn't get shifted out and, when you relube, within minutes your drive train is black again.
     
  17. pistole

    pistole New Member

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    - why does my coffee taste like chain lube ?

    :)
     
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