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Old 03-31-2013, 02:11 PM
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Default Ultrasonic gun cleaning

I wasn't sure were to post this but since it falls under maintenance this should be as good a place as any. I talked to the local gunsmith at an indoor range I belong to. They offer ultrasonic gun cleaning services there. I asked him about it because I have considered buying an inexpensive one since I shoot a lot of competition. He recommended trying the larger version Harbor Frieght has. He said he has one for his own personal use and as long as I seal the pan to keep the condensation out it will work just fine. He said he cleans his personal guns with it, a 1911 and a M&P.

So I got an email from Harbor Freight yesterday for 25% off so I couldn't resist picking one up. I got it for 57.99 + tax. I have been researching what cleaner to use. The gunsmith said he uses Greased Lightning mixed with water. I looked at the label on some and it damages aluminum so it's a no go so is purple power and Simple Green. I habe a 617-2 with the aluminum cylinder so I won't take any chance. The gun cleaning solutions are a little pricey for me anyway. I saw on another forum one guy uses dawn dish soap and hot water. I like the idea of that because I would not hesitate to change the fluid frequently because it would be cheap. The gunsmith said he followed the cleaning with a soak in WD 40 to get all the water out. I know I'll get varied answers but what has worked well for you guys?

Since I have it I will probably clean brass as well what cleaner works well for brass. Cheaper is better since I clean a lot of brass. Does anybody dry there brass in the oven at a low temp? I have heard that works well. Thanks for the help.
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Old 03-31-2013, 05:23 PM
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The soap solution is up to you. But the best oil for dewatering is Bluing oil. It's very thin and is made to push water out of the crevices. Wipe, dry and add oil to your lubrication spots. It is pricey but it lasts forever. You can order from Brownells.
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Old 03-31-2013, 06:55 PM
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A dish soap like Dawn mixed with hot water will work well, but it will not remove carbon or copper fouling.
In other words, you still need to clean the bore.

After cleaning, a fast way to finish is to drop the gun in a sink full of hot water to rinse, then blow it out if you have access to compressed air, and/or finish drying with a hair dryer to warm the metal.
Note: hair dryer....not heat gun or torch.

After it's completely dry, spray in a good rust preventing lube. Rem-Oil will do, but is a little too thin. I used to use an airbrush to spray in CLP Breakfree. DO NOT breathe the fumes, you will NOT like it.

If you're careful about flammable fumes, ordinary cheap paint thinner makes a good cleaner and requires no rinse, just drying.

Possibly the ultimate cleaner is Cylinder & Slide Shop's "Dunk-Kit". This is a gallon bucket of a cleaner-lubricant.
You soak the gun in the bucket, shake off the excess and that's it. The cleaner leaves a lubricant on the metal.
This works even faster in an ultrasonic cleaner, and there's no rinsing or lubricating to prevent rust needed, but I would still apply a dedicated lubricant on key areas.

Some ultrasonic pointers:
Use a basket or wires to keep parts of the bottom. The cleaner works better is parts aren't lying on the bottom.

Run the unit until the cleaner liquid is warm or use hot water. It works better with warm solution.

KEEP YOUR HANDS OUT OF THE TANK. Bone marrow and ultrasonics don't work well together.
This is not instant, it's cumulative. but don't even start.

Ultrasonics will remove painted sight and safety markings. This may take a few times with water based cleaners, or can happen instantly with many solvents.

As you noted, some of the strong soap cleaners like Simply Green and Greased Lightning will seriously damage aluminum. They do so faster in an ultrasonic tank.

For small parts like trigger units you can put an inch of water in the tank and stand small jars in the bottom filled with lacquer thinner.
The ultrasonic waves pass through the water and into the small containers. You can use glass, plastic, or metal. Again, watch the highly flammable fumes.
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Old 03-31-2013, 08:17 PM
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Unless you are a professional Gun Cleaner I can't imagine why someone would need or want one of those. Cleaning a gun or two after shooting isn't that big of a deal - and I am anal about it! I could understand it if you owned a gun shop with rental guns - but for most I think it's a little over kill.
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Old 03-31-2013, 08:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbliss57 View Post
The soap solution is up to you. But the best oil for dewatering is Bluing oil. It's very thin and is made to push water out of the crevices. Wipe, dry and add oil to your lubrication spots. It is pricey but it lasts forever. You can order from Brownells.
PLUS 1 ++

Brownells Bluing oil.. a bit expensive but you re use it. and re use it
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Old 03-31-2013, 08:51 PM
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Quote:
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Unless you are a professional Gun Cleaner I can't imagine why someone would need or want one of those. Cleaning a gun or two after shooting isn't that big of a deal - and I am anal about it! I could understand it if you owned a gun shop with rental guns - but for most I think it's a little over kill.
I own 12 handguns and I always shoot at least 3 guns everytime I go out. I shoot lead in most of my guns so they get fairly dirty. I bought the ultrasonic so I don't have to fully disassemble everything to get it as clean as I like. I also plan to clean brass
in it also and I clean a lot of brass. Just as an example I spent 3 hours Saturday cleaning guns from the practice session earlier in the week. My time is valuable to me so if I can save time and get my guns as clean as I want then that leaves more time for other things.
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Old 03-31-2013, 10:41 PM
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Call me crazy, but if you use oil in the ultrasonic you don't have to worry about any of the water oriented problems. I actually just use mainly transmission fluid and a small amount of synthetic oil of any type. Plus very little Coleman lantern fuel.

I run the heater a few minutes, run the gun in it for a few more and toothbrush off the heavy stuff, run the gun in it a couple more minutes and wipe dry.

And guess what, it's all ready oiled and ready to go....
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Old 03-31-2013, 11:01 PM
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Are we cleaning revos or autos this way? I have always removed the sideplates and gutted my revolvers for ultrasonic cleaning. Then hot water rinse and careful drying of the parts and reassembly with proper lubes. I haven't used it for "normal" cleaning, just for NOS guns with thickened lube in them or a used gun I bought and wanted to get "up to spec".
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Old 04-01-2013, 08:33 AM
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I bought one last week when I got tired of trying to get all the gunk out of a 100 year old colt 1903. It works wonders on small parts and places that are difficult to reach. However, I don't think it will do much or anything for lead, heavy carbon or copper fouling. I've use Krud Kutter, diluted. I also plan to use it for general degreasing on bluing jobs. That is something that it shines at.

I think the high end machines would do a much better job, but I am unwilling to spend $500+ for something that just won't get that much use.
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Old 04-01-2013, 09:55 AM
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Yeah, don't expect lead or copper removal. But old oil and grease plus bullet lube/powder buildup, it works wonders...
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Old 05-28-2013, 09:22 AM
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So I am about to purchase an ultrasonic for both this hobby and a couple others. I'm struggling on "size" now. I just called S&W to ask if there were any "no-no's" and the guy told me to NOT use ultrasonic cleaning except for maybe springs. Asked if that was specific to any lineup or model and he said no, across the board, even when using just water and a very mild detergent.

Now I'm disappointed
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Old 05-28-2013, 09:59 AM
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Call again and you'll probably get a different answer..... The only thing I wouldn't put in Tupperware guns....
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Old 05-28-2013, 11:28 AM
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I have the small HF unit for cleaning small parts but I usually cycle the cleaner several times then use water in the cleaner to rinse out solvents. Afterwards, I rinse off parts in basket with methanol to remove the water. Methanol drys quickly and does not leave any residue.
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Old 05-28-2013, 11:57 AM
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When I was in the Air Force, I had my unit purchase both a long gun and handgun sized ultrasonic cleaner. We were shooting about once a quarter, more often when we were alerted for deployment, so the cleaners made a difference in time and effort.
The cleaning agent supplied with the ultrasonic cleaners was citrus-based and quickly damaged the phospate finish on M-16/M-4s. We converted to Safety-Kleen for a number of reasons: We already had numerous organizations on base with a Safety-Kleen contract (motor pool, aircraft maintenance, etc.), there were multiple products to choose from, and Safety-Kleen disposed of the used products. The citrus-based product also required a hot water rinse followed by a hot oil bath and air dry. With the Safety-Kleen, we just pulled out of the cleaner and used an air compressor to blow off the excess. We would also run a patch down the bore to wipe away any debris still there. Lastly, reassemble and back in the rack.
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Old 05-28-2013, 01:43 PM
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Well I went and ordered up one of these anyway. I can still return after inspecting it upon arrival at teh store.

I have enough other uses and I'll do as suggested, call S&W a few more times. With a $50 coupon and a $100 gift card I've had laying around, I walkd out the door $150 lighter in the pocket TTL!

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Old 05-28-2013, 11:04 PM
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I suspect the guy on the S&W phone just told you not to use ultrasonics on any thing to avoid having to read off a long list of guns it is safe for and the newer models with special finishes it's not safe for.

Some of the newer guns have specialized finishes that seem to be sensitive to solvents and cleaners, and ultrasonics often make things worse.

A big advantage of ultrasonic cleaning is that you don't have to disassemble anything.
We watchmakers use ultrasonics to clean some small components to avoid having to disassemble them.
If an ultrasonic cleaner can get a partially assembled ladies watch movement surgically clean, it can sure and hell get a comparatively gigantic gun clean without disassembly.
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Old 05-29-2013, 11:12 AM
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I use mineral spirits in mine . You'll still have to brush out barrels & cylinders to remove lead / copper fouling . Dry the gun off & relube . Cleaning solution heats up so 30 mins is usually enough .
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Old 05-29-2013, 11:43 AM
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I use the traditional Ed's Red mix minus the acetone. Equal parts Dexron II atf, K-1 kerosene, mineral spirits. Works well with no water related rust issues.

I've been using it for all my gun cleaning. Only exception is if I need a copper cleaner for barrel bores.
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Old 05-29-2013, 12:14 PM
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When the LAPD was issuing revolvers we had an ultra sonic cleaner in each locker room filled with Hoppe's #9. My revolver was a model 14 with the patridge front sight. Most of the guns were the Model 15 with the ramped red insert. Of course there were other model bugs cleaned in the hot Hoppe's #9 for years and no adverse effects were ever identified. About 20 minutes was the average cleaning time but some were left in the cleaner overnight with no ill effects.

The ultrasonic cleaners disappeared after the introduction of the semi-autos. I am not aware of why their use was discontinued.

I would love to have one.
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Old 06-02-2013, 09:03 PM
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Just a suggestion when cleaning brass, don't use heat. They can tarnish with heat. I use the Lyman solution it works great. I tried some cheaper stuff I bought on flea-bay and it doesn't work very well.
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Old 06-02-2013, 09:24 PM
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Just a suggestion when cleaning brass, don't use heat.
I'll go that one better. For brass, don't use a sonic cleaner, use a vibrating type "tumbler".
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