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Thread: Cleaning rotors

  1. #1
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    Cleaning rotors

    Sorry if this has been hashed, and rehashed, but I'm looking for advice for cleaning rotors.

    My wife had some Ice Tech rotors that were contaminated. We tried cleaning the rotors with alcohol, but in the end, just couldn't get stopping power out of them. Ended up replacing the pads and buying new rotors.

    I'm setting up some new brakes, and I'd like to reuse those rotors. I was thinking I would try "cooking" the rotors, probably holding the rotor over a gas flame, then cleaning the rotors with rubbing alcohol.

    I don't know what the heck got on the rotors (we bought the bike as a demo with the problem), but probably some kind of degreaser.

    Was thinking I wouldn't hold the rotors over the flame for long... don't want to mess up the metal. But, since they are scrap at this point, I don't mind experimenting.

    Suggestions? a link to a prior thread is fine. Thanks

  2. #2
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    rubbing alcohol is all ya need.. I'll sometimes use an orange degreaser type stuff then dry and scrub with alcohol after to remove any left overs from the cleaner... but only if something like brake fluid or shock oil got spilled on them or something...

    often times if the rotor gets oil the pads have, and you need to replace/bake those.. but the rotors don't absorb anything so that wont be an issue. Also you'll need to re-seat pads after changing something.. so after a major cleaning or something you'll need to reseat brakes will get better after the first couple dozen stops...

    baking rotors is pointless and will only re-temper the metal making them most likely worse/weaker
    Going to try and bring Trail Tire TV back. go take a look... http://trailtiretv.blogspot.com/

  3. #3
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    ^^ this
    Honestly... ahh I give up

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    Your rotors aren't scrap. But if you go heating them up unevenly with a flame, you'll likely warp them and turn them to scrap.

    I strongly doubt that your rotors have absorbed anything. As was mentioned, fancy household cleaners will leave a residue.

    Brake cleaner is expensive, but will do a nice job. So will acetone, laquer thinner, or MEK. All will leave some residue of the original contaminant. Denatured alcohol doesn't cut through contaminants like the above mentioned solvents, but it won't leave as much residue. Grocery store grade isopropyl alcohol, which is typically labeled "rubbing alcohol," is diluted with water and isn't suitable for our purposes.

    After you get everything perfectly clean and put back together, the surfaces of the rotor will not perfectly match up with the surfaces of the pads (think on a microscopic scale). You'll need a few miles of bedding in to get things back to running perfectly.

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    Okay. Thanks for the advice. I didn't mention that my wife had brought the rotors to the shop for them to try cleaning prior to giving up on them, so I was ready to resort to drastic measures.

    I'm going to try soaking in acetone, then hunt for high grade rubbing alcohol. My guess is that both me, and the shop, just used grocery store rubbing alcohol and then gave up.

  6. #6
    ~Disc~Golf~
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    Well, there's two different varieties of 'grocery store' ISO - one is 70% and the other is 90-95%
    the latter works just fine for most contaminants
    Honestly... ahh I give up

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    this stuff is good, no residue drys almost instantly


  8. #8
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    The rotors will have some pad material imbedded in them. This material may retain the contaminant on the rotors. After cleaning them once, lightly sand them on a flat block with 220 sandpaper, then clean them a second time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtyjack View Post
    The rotors will have some pad material imbedded in them. This material may retain the contaminant on the rotors. After cleaning them once, lightly sand them on a flat block with 220 sandpaper, then clean them a second time.
    please by all means correct me if i'm wrong but sandpaper / emery cloth both contain adhesives in the making of it so the potential to transfer adhesive byproduct to pad/disc is present yes?

    Edit: as a suitable replacement how about scotch-brite or steel wool? although scotch-brite is a synthetic material of sorts so perhaps not.
    Last edited by nvphatty; 11-20-2012 at 10:15 AM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by nvphatty View Post
    please by all means correct me if i'm wrong but sandpaper / emery cloth both contain adhesives in the making of it so the potential to transfer adhesive byproduct to pad/disc is present yes?

    Edit: as a suitable replacement how about scotch-brite or steel wool? although scotch-brite is a synthetic material of sorts so perhaps not.
    not really.. well as long as you clean them after sanding... I always lightly sand my rotors if I change something major as you get the wear ridge above and below the pad wear area, which will damage new pads and cause squealing and such...
    Going to try and bring Trail Tire TV back. go take a look... http://trailtiretv.blogspot.com/

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by thomllama View Post
    not really.. well as long as you clean them after sanding... I always lightly sand my rotors if I change something major as you get the wear ridge above and below the pad wear area, which will damage new pads and cause squealing and such...
    so fair to say a 2 or 3 step process to achieve a means.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtyjack View Post
    The rotors will have some pad material imbedded in them. This material may retain the contaminant on the rotors. After cleaning them once, lightly sand them on a flat block with 220 sandpaper, then clean them a second time.
    +1 This has worked for me also.
    It's such a fine line between idiocy and genius.

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    dish washing solution worked for me. Just make sure to rinse it away completely.

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