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  • dirt & grime

    Anybody out there know of any good cleaning agents that are really aggressive on dirt and grime for cleaning up machine tools? Being that the holidays are here and the work load has dropped,I now have more time to clean up my Bridgeport mill(especially that area above the dovetail of the knee,and below the turret)where it gets hit hard with sulfer based cutting oils,water soluable coolants,etc..I've tried; laundry soap and water;does'nt cut it,409;does'nt cut it,Borax powdered hand soap;does'nt cut it,alcahol;does'nt cut it,acetone??,well...
    I'm looking for something that won't take too much time yet won't strip the paint off the machine either.Thanx ya'll for any advise.

  • #2

    D-Limonene, or "citrus peel extract" is unbelievable and safe to use (but is flammable in pure form) - it can be mixed with water and turns milky white. It might attack the paint in pure form and will disolve some plactics (test it first). It cleans most surfaces easily (works faster than laquer thinner too).

    Check with a bulk chemical agent, I buy it here in Edmonton for around $50/pail (Canadian).



    • #3
      Dave, At work I use a product called D-Gel. I believe it to be the same citrus extract that the other Dave mentioned. I wash my hands and tools in it, start fires to warm up, and clean plastics with it. Works great too as a fuel for hurricane lamps. However, in the shop, I usually use an automotive product. It is called Brake Kleen and is used to remove oils and grease from brake linings. It has not eaten the paint from my lathe yet, removes oil with a quick spray, and evaporates with no residue. I spritz it on to remove oil when I detail clean before measuring. You can get it relatively cheap at any discount parts store. Mike


      • #4
        Acetone seems to dissolve the paint on the tools I've cleaned.

        Brake cleaner seems to work pretty well. I've used CRC Brakleen (available at HW stores) with pretty good luck. Dulls the paint a bit but doesn't seem to dissolve it.

        Mike near Chicago
        Mike Henry near Chicago


        • #5
          I've always used plain old mineral spirits for work like that. Always worked well, doesn't hurt paint, not explosive like gasoline.


          • #6
            Spic and span powder mixed strong will cut most of that stuff. Let it soak for a few minutes. Of course it's water based so do what you can to prevent rust afterwards.

            For really thick baked on crud maybe some diesel or kero brushed on and left to soak for a few hours? Bad smell of course and always a fire hazard to watch out for so be advised. Don't use gasoline! :-)



            • #7
              My favorite cleaning solvent is WD-40, doesn't hurt the paint, does leave a minute amount of lubrication, doen't hurt the hands and doesn't smell bad.

              Mineral spirits next choice, not as friendly to the nose.

              I don't like a machine to be cleaned to dry, as in non oily, and don't like most cleaning solvents because of this.

              Oil is good, rust is bad. Never seen anything rust because of too much oil.

              Dried water soluable coolants are cleaned off the easiest with water soluable coolant. Best if this stuff is wiped off before it sets up into sticky goo. Yes, its nasty to get off, only thing that works for me is more coolant and then a rag.

              I bought a Van Norman mill one time that the only way I could get the chips and dried coolant off was with Gasoline. No smoking around this operation for sure.

              Good luck.


              • #8
                At work we use a cleaner degreaser sold by Fuller Brush it is called formula 939. Works real well for all kinds of cleaning and degreasing of our equipment.It is mostly for industrial use I believe. Since it is deluted with water but doesn't seem to cause any rust if wiped down right away.
                Have you heard of Simple Green? I think it is similar to the 939 but I have not tried it. Anyway this is what I use.



                • #9
                  I've just started the drudgery of cleaning my mill from the top down.So far ,down to the ram.I've tried "Simple Green" and it works great on the light duty dirt and kinda smells gross.But as for the really thick crud,I'm gonna probably go with these water soluable agents you guys are talking about.I've almost contemplated using gasoline but the vapors get me light headed.I remember hearing a story years ago of some guy cleaning his machine w/gasoline and he lit up a cigarette,and something else lit up that should'nt have.Anyway,my mill is looking great.Thanks again folks for the info.


                  • #10
                    Stay away from the gasoline. I've been driving by the same burned out house for a couple years. The guy was cleaning something in his garage with gasoline and got lit up. Either he is dead or disabled or the house probably would have been fixed. Go with the citrus based cleaners and a scrub brush. It works well on the grubby machinery we have at work. Gotta get enough on to soup up the crud.



                    • #11
                      Don't use gas! turning the lite on or off can set off the vapors. at work we use wd-40 to clean the tables on the VTC i run. if the crud is thick let it sit for a few min. a scrub pad helps also. scot


                      • #12

                        If it is really bad there are companies that can clean with Dry Ice - completely nontoxic but it will also strip it to bare metal (fresh Paint!) INSTANTLY.

                        If you mix a little water with the D-Limonene it will no longer be flammable - but does not clean as well as the pure form. The pure form will not rust your equipment.

                        Using any areosol or volatile hydrocarbon should be avoided unless your shop is at ground level and you open all your windows and doors and extinguish all pilot lights on gas fired equipment. Dispose of oily rags and debris in an approved fireproof container. You do not need to be another burnt out house...


                        • #13
                          Yes -- stay away from gasoline! I'll tell this story on behalf of the friend to whom it happened.

                          His son and a couple of friends were in the garage cleaning their dirt bikes, using a shallow pan of gasoline to wash out the air filters or some such. They had the double-wide door open, and the door in the back of the garage open. (plenty of ventilation, right?) They had the pan of
                          gasoline right up at the front of the garage, on the apron going to the driveway. One of the kids was there, washing a part. One of the other kids was sitting in the open doorway in the back of the garage, 25 feet away, idly flicking a lighter. Well, apparently all that great ventilation was going front-to-back in the garage. The lighter ignited the fumes traveling along the garage floor, flashed to the pan of gasoline in the front, and set the kid on fire. He was horribly burned, and after several agonizing days he died.

                          Gasoline is dangerous and unpredictable!

                          So now somebody comes along and says, "I've been cleaning parts in gasoline for 40 years and never had a problem. Used right, it's perfectly safe." Sorry, I don't buy it.

                          Try to make a living, not a killing. -- Utah Phillips
                          Don't believe everything you know. -- Bumper sticker
                          Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. -- Will Rogers
                          There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory. - Josh Billings
                          Law of Logical Argument - Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.
                          Don't own anything you have to feed or paint. - Hood River Blackie


                          • #14
                            Yes, don't use gasoline, I would never suggest it's usage. That old Van Norman was the nastiest thing I had ever seen, I bought it at a SBA forclosure auction, it had been running coolant. Parts were still in fixture, covered with chips, and who knows how long it had been left in this condition. I tried everything I knew of or had to clean it, the gas was the last resort, and then carefully.

                            Lots of safer solvents to use, and with them use caution, often they are almost as volotile as gasolene. Read the warnings on the containers, they are there for a reason.


                            • #15
                              I have tried many cleaning solvents. The best things I have found so far, and you may think the frist few are crazy are as follows:

                              1. Use some of the oil you use in machining to loosen the dirt - if you use black oil, use it and it will loosen crud. Then you have the crud loosened, and can attack it with other stuff. I also use - BABY OIL to loosen things up - works like gangbusters!!!! No paint damage.

                              2. If you use coolant on the machine, use the same coolant to loosen dirt up. This works just unbelievable. I soak a rag in the coolant, leave it on the crud, soak it again, and walah, it does absolute wonders as well.

                              3. For just plain crud of all sorts, I have used cleaners that have been completely worthless to things that have probably changed my chromosome make-up. I clean a school shop of 34 different machines, so i have quite a job in maintenance, so here is the best stuff I have found:

                              Crystal Simple Green!!!!! Have to buy it through industrial supply houses such as Fastenal, MSC and the likes, but in 15 years of cleaning machines, this is the best thing I have ever found. I actually cleaned machines to new condition, and just fell in love with it - use 10-1 water to cleaner solution.

                              Use the Baby oil, cutting oil, and coolant as firat line, then hit with the Crystal. I learned this two weeks ago, and am happy.
                              CCBW, MAH