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Author Topic: Is there such a thing as a GOOD contact cleaner and lubricant?  (Read 7700 times)
W0BTU
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« on: June 15, 2011, 07:46:05 PM »

I need a "contact cleaner" for the silver-plated rotary switches for my Collins S/Line (32S-3 and 75S-3).  I've researched this subject extensively, but I'm thoroughly confused as to what to try this time.

After being stored for 10 years, I hooked them up last night, only to find that the rotary switches in both the transmitter and receiver BADLY need cleaning.

Again.  Angry

I've probably done this to those units 4 times in the past. Every time they sit idle for a few years, same thing, a major hours-long disassembly, cleaning, and re-assembly is required. Rotating the switches --even when wet with alcohol-- helps very little. Believe me, a manual cleaning is required. Again.

The other times I've done this to these units, I used denatured alcohol and cotton swabs. This time, I'm thinking that perhaps applying a contact cleaner that leaves a residue (yes, I know, sparingly to each contact, with a toothpick) might help prevent this in the future. (I probably won't do this to the pi-network switch.) Just like oiling a piece of steel keeps it from rusting by keeping moist air away from the bare steel, oil/grease on the silver should prevent corrosion.

I have read back through quite a few threads about contact cleaners, and I have yet to see a post that makes me feel comfortable with any type of fluid that leaves a residue. But I have seen contacts in similar rotary switches in older equipment that were obviously coated with some kind of grease, that never gave me any problem. Even with much less use than my S/Line.


There's GOT to be some kind of grease or oil that will do the job.

And maybe suitable grease or oil residue that will protect it is not the same as the contact cleaner required to remove the corrosion.

And if the cleaner makes the corrosion disappear, that's a bonus, because cotton swabs and alcohol will ONLY clean ONE side of the rotary contact!  Tarn-X will clean the corrosion off both sides of the rotary contacts, but I'm scared to use it. I don't know how I would clean it out of an assembled radio, and I've had bad experiences with it (long story, but the silver plating was worse off years later).

Any experienced people here have any suggestions? TIA.
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K4JSR
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« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2011, 09:29:57 PM »

Caig Laboratories DeOxIt.   Caig makes a number of products for the
commercial market.  Boat Anchor lovers swear by the stuff.  I've used it
for years since the EPA made them quit selling Camolin.(SP?)
Google Caig Laboratories for their website and on line catalog.
73,
Cal  K4JSR  CET
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W0BTU
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« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2011, 09:52:44 PM »

Thanks, Cal. But in my research today, I've just read multiple arguments over which DeOxIt product is best for my application. Caig makes a lot of different products under that name, and I am at a loss to determine which one. Nobody seems to agree. And until I figure out the answer, my Collins S/Line is going to just sit there. I'm sick of having to clean those rotary switches every few years, after a period of inactivity. There has GOT to be a solution to this. (Maybe.)

(Yes, I know, the solution is to use the radios more. :-)


Thanks for the Caig info. I Googled them, and this looks interesting: http://store.caig.com/s.nl/ctype.KB/it.I/id.409/KB.218/.f  But what worries me is that it says "Since the CaiKleen TNX is water based, you must remove it completely, as directed."

That might be easy if you can hold the switch in your hand. But have you ever seen the underside of a Collins S/Line with the shield cans removed? It's a long series of ganged rotary switch wafers that are surrounded with other components. How do you wash the TNX off all those switch wafers that are "buried" inside a radio like that?

EDIT: After looking at their product line, I don't even see CaiKleen TNX as a product they sell anymore. (See http://store.caig.com/s.nl/sc.2/category.195/.f)
 No wonder so many hams bicker over which DeOxIT product to use. This is very frustrating.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2011, 10:51:48 PM by W0BTU » Logged

AC6IJ
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« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2011, 12:02:23 AM »

I have always used the eraser on a pencil, works great.
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W0BTU
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« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2011, 12:05:21 AM »

Thanks, but there's just no room for a pencil eraser. Even if there was, you could only access ONE side of the rotary contact.

No wonder Icom, Yaesu, etc. dropped rotary switches and went to PIN diodes.

BTW, I should have said something like "protectant" or "oxidation shield" instead of "lubricant" in the title of this post.

And if you don't mind, I also asked about this at
http://forums.qrz.com/showthread.php?300635-Contact-cleaner. :-)
« Last Edit: June 16, 2011, 01:12:04 AM by W0BTU » Logged

AC5UP
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« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2011, 01:37:40 AM »

I have a hunch you'll never find a clean & lube that meets the two needs you're looking for... Cleaning action plus permanent protection against future oxidation.

Why am I thinking this? Cleaners are easy to come by. Oils & greases too. But... A good cleaner like denatured alcohol applied properly leaves no residue so the switches can start re-oxidizing as soon as you're finished. Any oil applied after cleaning can slow the re-oxidation but will not prevent it, even if the label has the word 'miracle' on it. WD-40 evaporates in a few weeks, light machine oil (3 in 1) in a year or so, and if it were mine I might consider a very, very light application of a Molybdenum or Lithium grease knowing full well that will try to harden into a goo if I apply too much.

You've seen dried out Lubriplate in old switch detents? Same deal, and I don't think you want that up in the contacts.

Which brings us back to what's a reasonable expectation: Caig De-Oxit is a good contact conditioner that's supposed to have some permanence. It's also expensive but I've had good luck applying it with a thin wire like a new 1/4 watt resistor. Dip the end of the wire into the liquid deep enough to pull out a droplet then transfer that to the contact surfaces. Exercise the switch until the contacts are wetted all the way 'round and call it done. I can guarantee you'll be doing this again in a few years, but at least DeOxit stores well and a small bottle like I have goes a long way when you're applying droplets.

Another product I've had good luck with is CRC 2-26... http://www.crcindustries.com/auto/content/prod_detail.aspx?PN=02005&S=Y

You can find CRC 2-26 at big-box handy guy stores or any auto parts place and I think of it as the pro version of WD-40. Excellent cleaner & penetrating oil, leaves a light residue that's good for maybe six months or better, and like any other spray product can be mis-used. Consider spraying into the cap then transferring the liquid as described above. It's good stuff, and I'm surprised to find it has a loyal following among the model train buffs as a track cleaner. Restores the shine on brass while promoting a more reliable contact with the wheels....
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W0BTU
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« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2011, 02:05:22 AM »

I have a hunch you'll never find a clean & lube that meets the two needs you're looking for... Cleaning action plus permanent protection against future oxidation.

Oh, I have no doubt that you're right, Nelson. At the very least, this is probably going to take two different chemicals. That is, if I can ever find them.

Quote
... CRC 2-26 ... leaves a light residue that's good for maybe six months or better...

Thanks. But even my alcohol cleanings lasted longer than six months. :-)

I think DeOxIT might very well have what I need. But after spending a lot of time on their site, I don't see what it is. They need to present their info better there. I see products for volume controls, and for gold contacts, but little or nothing for silver contacts. The one reference to "silver" I found only by a complicated Google search; and the product they (Caig) recommended for silver is not even for sale any more!!!!  Angry

Lots of people recommend "DeOxIT". But which ones of all the "DeOxIT" products they offer?! They have dozens of products for many different applications, and nothing I saw on their site jumped out at me as being what I needed.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2011, 02:11:00 AM by W0BTU » Logged

K8AC
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« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2011, 04:53:47 AM »

Everyone I know uses this: Caig DeoxIT DP-5.  The part number is DP5S-6.  It comes in a 5 oz "non-pressurized pump spray" which isn't a useful means of applying the material to the contacts, but I just pump some onto a Q-tip, smooth cloth, or very fine artist's brush depending on the size and location of the surface being treated.  One can should last a lifetime.  I probably purchased mine at the Caig booth at the Dayton Hamvention several years ago and I believe they still have a booth there every year. 

73, K8AC
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AC5UP
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« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2011, 05:04:09 AM »

...nothing I saw on their site jumped out at me as being what I needed.

As mentioned by K8AC the pump spray is convenient, and I've been nursing a little bottle of Pro Gold for years. Here's the current version:

http://store.caig.com/s.nl/it.A/id.1560/.f?sc=2&category=292

The brush in the cap is a new feature and as long as you can reach the switch contact it's handy. If not, small screwdriver or resistor to carry a droplet.

BTW: When I mentioned the CRC 2-26 leaving a light residue good for six months or better, that's how long it takes before the surface film evaporates. The cleaning itself lasts much longer.
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N4NYY
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« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2011, 05:51:08 AM »

I also recommend deoxit.
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SWMAN
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« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2011, 06:21:56 AM »

 First I spray with CRC 'QD' contact cleaner. It leaves no residue at all and evaporates very fast. Them I spray the menitoned CRC 2-26 and it will leave a slight film that lasts a long time. Maybe even years. Home Depot has both items. I think that it will work for you. 73 Jim. W5JJG
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KC8OYE
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« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2011, 08:39:57 PM »

why not clean them, then add a very generous smearing of DiElectric Grease like what is used on automotive ignition systems?

when I assembled my whip to the magmount on my car I packed the cavity with dielectric and it's done an awesome job of keeping the weather out, and preventing corrosion.. and as far as I can tell, no problems with the RF either.

had the antenna there for 6 years with no problems until the coax was ripped right out of the base when my car was demolished by a drunk driver..
took the antenna off, the grease was starting to dry out a bit.. cleaned it out, packed it with clean grease put it on the new mount...

it should work well for your switches too.
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KB4QAA
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« Reply #12 on: June 16, 2011, 10:29:41 PM »

Caig Deoxit 5   is the stuff to use..

Last I knew Radio Shack had a mini two-pack.  A little bit goes a long ways
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K9KJM
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« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2011, 10:37:31 PM »

Caig DeOxit IS a good product. 

But if you really want a product that enhances contacts, Get some Stabilant 22A

Expensive, But worth every penny:


http://ralaudio.com/stabilant-22-contact-enhancer-m-2.html

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W0BTU
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« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2011, 02:41:31 AM »

why not clean them, then add a very generous smearing of DiElectric Grease like what is used on automotive ignition systems? it should work well for your switches too.

No, No, NO! NEVER do that!

Been there, done that, and never again.

I had the same thoughts as you "it should work well for your switches too.", and I tried it on a silver-plated rotary switch on a piece of industrial machinery the last place I worked. The switch actually failed FASTER with the silicone dielectric compound than it did without. Silicone dielectric grease does NOT have lubricating qualities.

I wish I had taken a photo of that switch! The silicone dielectric grease was no longer clear (well, translucent), but silver! The silver plating had become thoroughly mixed with the grease,  actually making the grease conductive!

I do appreciate your thoughtfulness, though. :-)
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