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 Post subject: Cleaning Potentiometers
PostPosted: Nov Wed 12, 2008 4:30 am 
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Location: Indian Land, SC, USA, 29707
Does anyone know what the best kind of cleaning/lube spray is best to use for potentiometers such as the bass and treble controls on HH Scott 1960 vintage tube amplifiers? I see in the post about the Scott 399 WD-40 is mentioned, and is what I was about to use on mine, but I would like to know if cleaning with it could potentially ruin or shorten the life of the controls. Let me know what you guys think. If you recommend anything that is not a run-of-the-mill store item, let me know if it is possible to be shipped from a remote online supplier. Thanks.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Nov Wed 12, 2008 5:19 am 
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i like radio shack's control/contact cleaner & lubricant. it's about $10 a can. just put the straw on the nozzle and shoot it down the shaft...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Nov Wed 12, 2008 5:28 am 
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A lot of techs seem to get very opinionated about contact cleaners but after 30+ years of working on audio gear, I think it's much ado about nothing. I usually use Deoxit for general pot restoration, but most any lubricated contact cleaner seems to work fine and work about the same.

I know that some guys use WD-40 but somehow that stuff seems a little harsh to me, plus it smells funky. :)

I also avoid Cramolin. Many others use it but I have seen it develop a nasty green film after a few years.

But you will get different opinions...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Nov Wed 12, 2008 5:51 am 
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Older pots are usually better made than more recent ones.

DeOxIt is wonderful stuff, however if the control is really scratchy it may sometimes be necessary to first clean it with something slightly stronger and then apply the DeOxIt after the first cleaner dries.

I have never ruined a vintage control with WD-40 but would advise caution when using, if you want to try it only apply a tiny amount.

Just about any brand name control cleaner will do the job.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Nov Wed 12, 2008 8:54 am 
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The problem is most contact cleaners have a lubricant inside. that "oil" just collects more dirt over time. so the pot gets scratchy again quicker! Finding cleaners that leaves no residue is pretty hard to do. I found a product called Crystal clean i think, that when ever i can find it. i buy a case. works well and leaves little to no residue behind.


Zc

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Nov Wed 12, 2008 12:08 pm 
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Location: Berkley, Michigan
When I worked for ABL Electronic Service in the early '80s, we repaired only high end audio equipment. Our prices insured that.

We were required to use a 3-step technique to clean controls. First the pot was flooded with contact cleaner without a lubricant. The control was exercised from end to end while flushing out all debris.

Spray contact cleaner is cold and causes condensation. The control was warmed and dried with a hand held dryer to evaporate any condensation from the contact cleaner. The shaft was not moved at this point as not to scratch the dry carbon element.

Finally just a sprits of Channel Master Shield was sprayed into the control and worked in by again exercising the pot from end to end while the control was still warm. Oily contact cleaner bleeding all over the chassis and circuit boards was considered unprofessional and sloppy.

WD-40 is cutting oil. It is not a quality lubricant designed for carbon film potentiometers or turntable motor bearings.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Nov Wed 12, 2008 2:40 pm 
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Doug VanCleave wrote:
WD-40 is cutting oil. It is not a quality lubricant designed for carbon film potentiometers or turntable motor bearings.


Someone once told me that WD = Water Displacement and that i was developed for the military to remove water from electrical contacts, distributor caps etc.

Have NO idea if there is even an inkling of truth to that. But i have used it many a time when out 4-wheeling to get the water out from a distributor cap. a little spray of that in the cap, snap her back on and fire it up! works every time!


Zc

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Nov Wed 12, 2008 5:18 pm 
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Zero Cool wrote:
The problem is most contact cleaners have a lubricant inside. that "oil" just collects more dirt over time. so the pot gets scratchy again quicker! Finding cleaners that leaves no residue is pretty hard to do. I found a product called Crystal clean i think, that when ever i can find it. i buy a case. works well and leaves little to no residue behind.


Zc


A pot without lubricant will actually wear out faster from the wiper rubbing directly on the dry carbon track. Most all controls came pre lubricated from the manufacture with a type of grease. The grease is what gives them their smooth damped feel. I've used Teflon grease with good success, but it requires opening up the control, possibly causing more damage than good. JMO

Kevin


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Nov Wed 12, 2008 6:33 pm 
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I have used Radio Shack and other brands of cleaner for all of the jobs that have noisy controls. I actually was the one that posted about using WD-40. It was said many times here on this forum that it was the best thing to use. I have not used it so I can't talk from experience. Leigh was very clear about using WD-40 to flush controls.

It was also discussed many times here on the forum that DeOxIt is for contacts, not controls.

I used to use DeOxIt on controls but stopped for two reasons:

First, it is very expensive.

Second, it is not a contact being cleaned, it is a control (potentiometer).

So, what I use is control cleaner and exercise the control for potentiometers and DeOxIt for silver plated and other switch contacts. I also use DeOxIt for tube sockets. I drizzle a little on the tube socket and some on a pipe cleaner. Exercise the pipe cleaner in and out of the tube socket contacts and use the same pipe cleaner to wipe the tube pins.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Nov Wed 12, 2008 11:45 pm 
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Don, I was not aware of this before but I looked at a can to check, and you are absolutely right. It is meant for connectors, not controls.

It does contain a lubricant though and I woinder what really, is the significant difference between Deoxit and other products that are designed for cleaning pots. (Maybe I'll call call to Caig, to see what they say.)

I happen to be able to get Caig products at wholesale prices, so the cost is fairly reasonable for me.

Anyway, though I've had really good results using Deoxit on pots, Don's comments are causing me to rethink this a bit! More later...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Nov Thu 13, 2008 12:21 am 
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Thanks for all the great responses here. Right now I have this stuff called Zep Elec. which was given to me by my uncle, which he got from his job, which is a furnace/oil burner supply business. This is contact cleaner, and not control cleaner, and I think is why I have found when using it on some old radio controls, it helped but not that great, and as was mentioned in this thread, that some "scratchiness" in the control could come back later on, fairly quickly. I do not want to risk using the wrong cleaner on my awesome sounding, recapped Scott 299 vintage stereo amp. I also have a Heathkit model AA-151 that I have working great, except that the volume pots are scratchy at the low volume end of the controls, which can be annoying. If the control is "worked" a few times, and as the unit heats up, the scratchiness in the control goes away, but then when powering it up cold later, it can be quite scratchy again. On the Scott, the volume control works great, but the bass and treble controls are a little scratchy as you turn them. They are not really noisy or scratchy sounding, but the bass and/or treble will jump up and down as you turn the control.
I'll have to see if my local Radio Shack has a control cleaner. I think I bought a tuner cleaner or a contact cleaner from them a while back, which of course, did not work well on controls.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Nov Thu 13, 2008 12:53 am 
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Like Don mentions, I 'd be worried that DeOxit could remove some of the carbon element in the control.

Also keep in mind that some of these generic contact cleaners may not be compatible with the plastic parts on some controls. I recently had a real bad experience spraying a contact cleaner into a plastic housed switch on my Tektronix scope. No more switch worky :?

Kevin


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Nov Thu 13, 2008 2:52 am 
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This is what I use, I can buy it locally but it is worth ordering. I find it the best for pots and switches. I have used just about everything over the years. It's called Jiffy Bath http://www.gcelectronics.com/order/SubC ... 044-48.pdf


Last edited by Lou deGonzague on Nov Sun 30, 2008 3:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Nov Thu 13, 2008 3:54 am 
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Location: Ellington CT
Years ago, when I was a bench tech at for a large retail audio company, we used gallons of Chemtronics "Trol-Aid", but it is no longer available for some reason, maybe CFC's. Now I use "ECG" brand stuff that the only remaining parts jobber in the Hartford, CT area stocks. Does a decent job, but I do miss "Trol-Aid".
Anyone ever destroy a pot using a bad cleaner? Bogen amps with aluminum shafts were particularly vulnerable.
Kevin

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Nov Thu 13, 2008 4:17 am 
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Today I phoned Caig and went over some of these questions with a very knowledgeable lady in their tech support department.

She told me that for carbon track pots and faders, they recommend their D110S-2 100% solution Deoxidizer. She explained that Deoxit D5 is a weaker solution whose composition includes two or three less ingredients and that it is not harmful to carbon pots, but probably less effective than the D110S-2. Both contain a lubricant, but neither contain any solvents.

The D110S-2 is actually a little cheaper than Deoxit D5.

She also said that for plastic conductive pots and faders, their Fader Lubricant is recommended.

For their tech info pdf on all this, go to https://system.netsuite.com/core/media/ ... time=70362

I was running low on all that stuff anyway and am about to place an order with the factory. If any of you would like a can or two for wholesale cost plus shipping, PM me and I'll include it in my order to them.

Glad this thread came up. Good info all the way around.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Nov Thu 13, 2008 6:12 am 
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David:

I'd like a can of that D110S-2. I have a large can of some other stuff I use on contacts 9e.g. band switch stacks).

Are you going to the SCARS event in Carlsbad this weekend? We'll come Saturday.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Nov Thu 13, 2008 8:06 am 
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Stephen, I'll put you down for one can. I don't think I'll make it to SCARS as Carlsbad is kind of far, and the wife and I are driving to Colorado next week. Maybe see you at the Burbank meet some time?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Nov Thu 13, 2008 8:34 am 
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David Kulka wrote:
Today I phoned Caig and went over some of these questions with a very knowledgeable lady in their tech support department.

She told me that for carbon track pots and faders, they recommend their D110S-2 100% solution Deoxidizer. She explained that Deoxit D5 is a weaker solution whose composition includes two or three less ingredients and that it is not harmful to carbon pots, but probably less effective than the D110S-2. Both contain a lubricant, but neither contain any solvents.

The D110S-2 is actually a little cheaper than Deoxit D5.

She also said that for plastic conductive pots and faders, their Fader Lubricant is recommended.

For their tech info pdf on all this, go to https://system.netsuite.com/core/media/ ... time=70362

I was running low on all that stuff anyway and am about to place an order with the factory. If any of you would like a can or two for wholesale cost plus shipping, PM me and I'll include it in my order to them.

Glad this thread came up. Good info all the way around.


If the D110S-2 is better all the way around and cheaper, why even bother with Deoxit 5? I'd be interested in a can, does it require any hazmat shipping? How big of can are we talking? I'd better pm you about this.

Kevin


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 Post subject: Re: Cleaning Potentiometers
PostPosted: Nov Sun 30, 2008 2:34 am 
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Location: Toms River, NJ USA
DaveD wrote:
Does anyone know what the best kind of cleaning/lube spray is best to use for potentiometers

I worked for a few years as a camera tech. The two Korean techs who taught me all about electronics as they pertain to the metering section of the original Nikon F 35mm, used to clean the contacts and wipe area with Naptha first then smear in some white grease and work it back and forth. Not sure what the grease was, may have been lithium, not sure. The results where dramatic. The meter in the camera "under repair" would not sweep smooth when you adjusted the exposure. It would bounce, sometimes even wildly. After the clean and grease, the meters always smoothed out and could then be adjusted.
I agree with some who said that if you don't first flush all the contaminant out first it will be suspended in the oil after the solvent evaporated but the Detoxit literature I've read acknowledges this and says that anything loosened from the pot will stay in solution and not affect the function.
On real bad cases, if possible, I've de-soldered and removed the noisy pot and opened it up. Usually you bend the tabs on the case and carefully remove all the rotating parts. Once open, cleaning completely before lubricating will be a snap and of course there will be no residual gunk.
The only spay I've used besides straight up fast evaporating electronic solvent is the Radio Shack TV tuner spray. I loved the way it would foam, his and crackle. It sounded like it was busy restoring. Almost without exception it would work well on noisy pots

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 Post subject: Home Brew Pot Cleaner
PostPosted: Dec Mon 01, 2008 6:01 am 
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Location: Toms River, NJ USA
I forgot about this product I came across, from the website:

"CEASE & DESIST" CONTACT CLEANER - My latest find is a super contact cleaner for copper and brass contacts that you can mix at home. It consists of OLEIC ACID mixed with standard Coleman Fuel. Oleic acid is an organic acid found in things like cocoa and olive oil and not considered dangerous. It is used for many things in industry ranging from lubricants to cosmetics to food flavorings.
My recommended mix with the Coleman fuel (naptha) or regular lighter fluid is 5%. You may also add acetone to speed up the drying time. Due to shipping restictions I cannot supply the fuel but I make the oleic acid available for you to make up a one quart supply. Try it, I'm sure you will be surprised.
Image
His website is:
http://www.dialcover.com
The cleaner is here:
http://www.dialcover.com/components.html
I'd be interested to hear if anyone has ever used this or similar

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