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eHam Forums => Boat Anchors => Topic started by: K3STX on December 26, 2012, 05:24:42 AM



Title: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: K3STX on December 26, 2012, 05:24:42 AM
NOTE: This is a re-post from the CW Forum, but this one might be more appropriate.

I just got a 1963 Vibroplex Champion but and it looks like it has been through a fire! SEEMS LIKE soot, but it does not wipe off at all and even with gentle soap/water/toothbrush still looks like black goo.Any ideas on what to do? What would be BAD to do, what would be OK? I can try to post pix later.

Another thought is it might be soot if it were used in a coal railyard/train depot. There is an extra hole drilled in the base, obviously to attach to a desk. The top of the (chrome-plated?) cable lugnuts came shiny with my fingernail "chipping off" the crud, as did the dit contact. But the rest of the dit contact assembly is REALLY hard to get the stuff off, oxidation eating away nickel plating? If it were a FIRE the finger pieces would be toast; they are OK.

NOTE: After an overnight soak in soapy water I can chip off a bit of the black crud with my fingernail, but obviously not water soluble. I am thinking of an overnight soak in automobile carb cleaner.

This was my (cheap) Christmas present to myself, made in my birth year 1963. I gotta fix this Champion.

Paul


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: N4NYY on December 26, 2012, 05:31:32 AM
Krud Kutter from Lowes or Home Depot.

Spray on and let soak for 2-3 min. Then rinse with water. Repeat is necessary. This stuff is amazing, safe, non-toxic, etc.


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: W9GB on December 26, 2012, 05:58:01 AM
For the metal parts, chrome cleaners at your local automotive store.
A good buffing wheel and proper low grit polish (jeweler's rouge) can perform great restoration of metal finishes.
  Your quality motorcycle or car detailers know these methods.


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: K3STX on December 26, 2012, 06:13:07 AM
I will try some Krud Kutter.
I tried Goof-Off, it did nothing.
I tried De-Solv-it, it did nothing.

And we are FAR from chrome!! Not even close to the Maas point yet.

paul

ps I am not too interested in "environmentally friendly". I am into harsh chemicals if they will do the job.


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: AC5UP on December 26, 2012, 06:37:21 AM
If the black crud is oil or tar based the short path to dissolving it would be with a petroleum or mineral based solvent... Mineral spirits, lacquer thinner, or even a squirt of WD-40 will tell you if that's the ticket. Regardless of what you try, be patient and give it time to work. With any polished finish it's usually better to go slow than to risk permanently damaging the surface.

BTW:  Brasso works exceptionally well on nickel and other metals and is gentle enough to polish Plexiglas. Once you get it clean, get it shiny.


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: N4NYY on December 26, 2012, 06:37:29 AM
I have used Krud Kutter on chrome, painted surfaces, and all other surfaces.


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: KB4QAA on December 26, 2012, 09:43:22 AM
I would suggest Flitz or Simi-Chrome

I haven't used Brasso since it was reformulated.  I understand they removed the ammonia and petroleum and substituted alcohol in the US version.  I've seen complaints that it doesn't work nearly as well now.


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: KE3WD on December 26, 2012, 10:45:08 AM
If the good KrudKutter brand doesn't melt it, I've had success resorting to "Formula 409" along with time and a toothbrush, resurrecting some audiophile gear from smoke damage. 


73


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: G3RZP on December 26, 2012, 02:24:01 PM
Is it a 'de Lux' all chrome model, or a 'normal' with a crinkle painted base? If the latter, repainting may be a better answer.


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: AC5UP on December 26, 2012, 02:48:46 PM
...so for the hell of it I do a web search on metal polishes. Haven't shopped them for a while and maybe I need to catch up.

Observations:

1)  Flits had better be good... Found a two pound can of the paste version on Amazon for $37.55. (http://www.bing.com/shopping/flitz-ca-03518-32oz-metal-polish/p/7D1EA5B22BBBA4C45012?q=metal+polish&lpq=metal%20polish&FORM=HURE) Call me cheap, but to me the price seems steep...

2)  Maas is apparently well regarded in the aircraft industry as this web site claims. (http://www.metalbrite.net/page/1017618) I also see that Maas for guns can restore the accuracy in old firearms. Who Knew that a shiny gun shoots straighter? Will wonders never cease............  ::)

3)  Mothers waxes and polishes. What more do you need to know? (http://mothers.com/01_mothers/01_mothers_01_history.html)


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: KE3WD on December 26, 2012, 03:58:51 PM
Yo, AC5UP --  Using it on the BORE of a very dirty or even mildly corroded rifle or rifled barrel handgun, may indeed improve accuracy. 


73


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: K3STX on December 26, 2012, 05:08:06 PM
I don't honk you guys understand. Metal POLISH will not do anything yet. I am not down to the metal. This thing looks like the inside of a dirty over. I am even considering (A little) using EZRA-Off oven cleaner on it. This "layer" of "cake" can be chiped off with my (now filthy) fingernail.

Paul


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: AC5UP on December 26, 2012, 05:18:28 PM
...if you end up chipping or scraping it off, you will need to polish out the scratches.

BTW:  Maybe that's why you have eight fingernails and two thumbnails. I wonder if an old credit card would help chip the gunk.

Note to KE3WD:  Since 1903! (http://www.cabelas.com/solvents-lubes-bluing-hoppes-famous-9-8482-solvent.shtml)


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: KE3WD on December 26, 2012, 06:37:53 PM
Hoppes is the old favorite, but it is better at maintenance rather than taking care of the inside of a barrel that has not been maintained.  Sometimes the old family rifle just sat in a closet in humid weather, etc.  Then there's all the old, old rifles that were shot with fouling powders and primers and put away wet.  Takes a bit more than the Hoppes to get that crap outta there. 

The old gunsmiths used to boil out barrels.  I think its still done, but some of today's chemistry offerings seem to work as well, depending on a few factors. 


73


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: K3STX on December 26, 2012, 07:47:03 PM
I don't honk you guys understand. Metal POLISH will not do anything yet. I am not down to the metal. This thing looks like the inside of a dirty over. I am even considering (A little) using EZRA-Off oven cleaner on it. This "layer" of "cake" can be chiped off with my (now filthy) fingernail.

Paul

Wow, talk about typos!

"I don't THINK you guys understand."
"Inside of a dirty OVEN."

And a toothpick is easier than my fingernails, I gotta figure out how to soften this stuff up.

Krud Kutter did nothing (the "regular" concentrated stuff, not the stuff sold "to remove rust"). I only soaked it in the Krud Kutter for 5 minutes, can I soak the parts in this overnight (or will it eat away the nickel?).

Paul


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: N4NYY on December 27, 2012, 05:21:55 AM
I don't honk you guys understand. Metal POLISH will not do anything yet. I am not down to the metal. This thing looks like the inside of a dirty over. I am even considering (A little) using EZRA-Off oven cleaner on it. This "layer" of "cake" can be chiped off with my (now filthy) fingernail.

Paul

Wow, talk about typos!

"I don't THINK you guys understand."
"Inside of a dirty OVEN."

And a toothpick is easier than my fingernails, I gotta figure out how to soften this stuff up.

Krud Kutter did nothing (the "regular" concentrated stuff, not the stuff sold "to remove rust"). I only soaked it in the Krud Kutter for 5 minutes, can I soak the parts in this overnight (or will it eat away the nickel?).

Paul


If Krud Kutter did nothing, I am assuming that soot is burned into the metal. That stuff take off all gunk. Was this thrown into a fireplace?


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: AC5UP on December 27, 2012, 07:06:12 AM
....sure would be ironic if Hoppe's #9 was the magic bullet.

BTW:  If the gunk really does look like the inside of a dirty oven, oven cleaner is worth considering. Maybe as a last resort, but it's still a resort. Plan B might be to chip off enough of the slag to be analyzed, reproduced and patented as a solvent resistant industrial finish.

Lest we forget, Bakelite was originally intended to be an adhesive..........   :P


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: K3STX on December 27, 2012, 07:08:03 AM
i don't know what the hell happened to this thing!! It sort of DOES look like someone threw it in a fire. I completely disassembled it last night. I THOUGH it was the black "crinkle" paint (based on what I saw), turns out it is the battleship grey paint!!! (under the arbor it still clean).

Just this morning, after yesterdays futzing around with all sorts of "solvents" before washing off with water and letting sit overnight, I was able to use a toothpick and "scrape" off some of the stuff!! I don't THINK a toothpick will scrape off plating, but if it does ... ... ... I seem to have little choice. Maybe enough to get me off my butt and learn to re-plate.

I am out $22 for the bug, no biggie. But I have seen some "damaged" bugs in my day, this takes the cake.

paul


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: KE3WD on December 27, 2012, 08:30:32 AM

Krud Kutter did nothing (the "regular" concentrated stuff, not the stuff sold "to remove rust"). I only soaked it in the Krud Kutter for 5 minutes, can I soak the parts in this overnight (or will it eat away the nickel?).

Paul

From 5 minutes to overnight is a rather large delta, my friend. 

If 5 minutes didn't work, why not try 10 minutes on a small area, see what that does, if no joy, why not then try 15 mins on a small area, etc. 

And don't overlook what I told you earlier in this thread.  We had to restore a rather large amount of vintage stereo hifi gear that suffered smoke damage. Fortunately, no water damage.  But the typical brushed aluminum and anodized gold aluminum front panels and knobs were darkened with the kind of smoke a burning house makes, burning woods, plastics and who knows what else.  The Krud Kutter proved not to work so well in that case, but ----

"Miracle Formula 409" -- sprayed on rather liberally and left to sit for not longer than it would take for the stuff to evaporate and dry out, followed by the toothbrush action, cleaned them up nicely. 

Worth a shot on your bug, I'd think.  I cannot guarantee results, but then again you cannot guarantee a lack of results without trying it, eh? 


73


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: K3STX on December 27, 2012, 08:39:20 AM
I'll do just what you said! I just thought someone might have already found out (the hard way) that overnight in Krud Kutter will eat away plating.

I think fingernail brush and 409 DID help a little yesterday, but I only let it "sit" for 10 seconds then scrubbed. I will try that today. Nothing to lose!

Actually, what I REALLY want from this bug is the mainspring. I was told Champions mainspring is thinner and can send code more slowly with the stock weight (maybe 16 wpm instead of 25 wpm with the thicker spring on the Lightning). But this one is sending FAST; maybe it is sending fast because of the caked on goop. Bu't I'll get er there. I gotta document this restoration!

paul


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: KE3WD on December 27, 2012, 12:37:38 PM
Been years since my days of using the bugs, moved to Iambic Keyer quite some time ago and won't look back, but one way of making longer or shorter, faster or slower dits I used to do was to experiment with either adding more weight, less weight, and even extensions to hold the existing weight out further, you might also experiment a little with that.  

Heh, had an old Zephyr model vibroplex once that, with a AAA battery hung on the weight with rubberband, would fire dits that sounded like a machine gun at the other end...


73


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: WB6DGN on December 27, 2012, 12:47:17 PM
Have you tried Goo Gone?  I've had good success with it, especially for oil based gunk.
Tom


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: N4NYY on December 27, 2012, 03:25:00 PM
Have you tried Goo Gone?  I've had good success with it, especially for oil based gunk.
Tom

I do not think it's goo. I think it's burnt or charred.


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: K3STX on December 27, 2012, 06:28:09 PM
Was just looking at the pendulum arm: it has a set-screw for adjusting the height of the lever-arm!!!! This was the pendulum arm on the Deluxe's and Presentation's!!!! So the saving grace for this thing (in my mind) was the "thin" mainspring on the Champion, now it is not even a ram Champion!!

Now it kind of makes sense that it was sending 25 wpm with one weight.

Paul


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: K3STX on December 30, 2012, 02:11:24 PM
After overnight soaking inn Goof Off I think I figured ouit what all that black "soot" is all over the metal parts of the key.





It is all the nickel plate.


Boo Hoo.

paul


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: AC5UP on December 30, 2012, 02:30:47 PM
...which means it's time to research the phone number(s) for your local plating shops.

Any city of reasonable size has an industrial plating facility that works with auto body shops and fabricators to make metal things of any age look new & shiny. It's also possible to learn metal plating at home with some web research, and copper plating isn't difficult at all. A few feet of scrap Romex is a good start and a bag of copper sulfate at the local garden center should be easy to come by.

OTOH:  A good paint job can cover a multitude of sins, especially if it's black crinkle.

Now I'm wondering what would happen if you soaked N4NYY in Goof Off.................. ?


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: K3STX on December 30, 2012, 06:54:28 PM
Believe it or not, about a year ago I DID contact two local companies that do plating for another job. I told them the magnitude of the job (small parts) and EACH gave me a quote of OVER $100 !! How insane! So I will just learn to do it myself. I will not use the wand method, I have heard it is not that great. I have wall-warts, NiCl2, and I can jury-rig a couple of electrodes.

But this is part of the fun, right?

paul


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: KE3WD on December 31, 2012, 05:24:46 AM
Believe it or not, about a year ago I DID contact two local companies that do plating for another job. I told them the magnitude of the job (small parts) and EACH gave me a quote of OVER $100 !! How insane! So I will just learn to do it myself. I will not use the wand method, I have heard it is not that great. I have wall-warts, NiCl2, and I can jury-rig a couple of electrodes.

But this is part of the fun, right?

paul

Absolutely, Paul. 

Plating Gold, Silver or Nickel is not rocket science. 

The power source needed should be easily within the realm of any radio amateur worth the title, and the rest is darn simple in the way of electrolytes, tank and hookups. 

The Internet is also a good resource, websearch to check out the recipes, methodologies and DIY stuff that others are doing. 

My father was a Dental Surgeon.  His wayward EE son, yours truly, learned to take advantage of the electroplating art in Dad's dental lab, where he and his employee made false teeth, bridges and...  Gold tooth fillings.  Lotta pop's dental gold ended up on the outside of trinkets, connection points for the shack and rebuilding the old rotary TV tuners...  shh.

73


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: G3RZP on December 31, 2012, 06:24:38 AM
All the Vibroplexes I've seen were either a painted base or  a chrome plated base for the deluxe models, not nickel. I have not seen a 'Presentation' which was gold plated. That's certainly what they were advertsing in the 50s and 60s.


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: K3STX on December 31, 2012, 08:39:04 AM
All the Vibroplexes I've seen were either a painted base or  a chrome plated base for the deluxe models, not nickel. I have not seen a 'Presentation' which was gold plated. That's certainly what they were advertsing in the 50s and 60s.

I am not plating the base, I am plating all the parts. From what I understand the parts were nickel plated until about 1939/40, then then went to chrome plating. There are certainly nickel-plated bases even in the 1920s, but I want to plate all the small parts/lever arm. I will nickel plate, that is what I want practice with anyway. I have little interest in post-1940 bugs.

First order of business is to get ALL the old plating off and down to bare metal, any ideas on how best to do this to prepare the parts for plating?

paul


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: AC5UP on December 31, 2012, 09:04:21 AM
You'll probably get better advice from a web search, but if I had to guess the most likely method for removing the old plating will be to sand it out with a fine emory wet / dry or crocus cloth. That should get you down to base metal without too much perspiration. If you have a bench grinder that can be fitted with a cloth buffing wheel that's a good second step. Remember that plating will not fill scratches like paint and anything less than a smooth base surface will show through.

BTW:  It's not unusual to plate copper to steel then nickel or chrome to the copper. Apparently copper bonds nicely to steel and most metals bond well to copper.

If you opt to paint you want a lightly scratched metal surface. Use a sanding primer as the base coat, level it out with 400 or 600 grit wet paper, prime it again if it's less than perfectly smooth, then rough the surface slightly and apply your color coat. Avoid hammertone green. This is the same process used by paint & body shops so it's easy to research on the web.


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: G3RZP on December 31, 2012, 09:43:08 AM
If the plating is nickel, and it's been in a fire, then it could well be one of the nickel sulphides.
My old chemistry text says that is black and practically insoluble in hydrochloric acid, but is slightly soluble in ammonium sulphide solution. You may be able to get some results from a strong solution of ammonia.


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: K3STX on January 04, 2013, 08:26:59 AM
I think I managed to get this 1963 Champion as clean as I can without re-chroming it. Pretty amazing transformation, but still not what I would call a nice key. Something REALLY BAD happened to the key. I am surprised, most of the chrome plate DID survive after all. See it here, click on my "My Morse Code Keys" link at the top of my homepage www.k3stx.com (http://www.k3stx.com)

paul


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: N4NYY on January 04, 2013, 08:40:27 AM
If the plating is nickel, and it's been in a fire, then it could well be one of the nickel sulphides.
My old chemistry text says that is black and practically insoluble in hydrochloric acid, but is slightly soluble in ammonium sulphide solution. You may be able to get some results from a strong solution of ammonia.

Would the heat have compromised more than just the plating?


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: KE3WD on January 04, 2013, 10:19:25 AM
The underlying steel would need around 3500 deg F before that would be an issue...


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: N4NYY on January 04, 2013, 11:06:51 AM
The underlying steel would need around 3500 deg F before that would be an issue...

Is that all it was made of? Are the springs or other parts? Besides we really do not know where the hell the thing got charred.


Title: RE: Cleaning Vibroplex of Coal/Fire soot?
Post by: KE3WD on January 04, 2013, 02:24:35 PM
I've only owned and used maybe 4 or 5 Vibroplex bugs and that was a long while back, but most of the parts were steel on mine.  With either nickel (older models) or chrome plating on the shiny parts.  Mine had spring steel springs. 


73