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  1. #1
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    Cleaning drivetrain via ultrasonic, good idea? bad idea?

    Figured I'd put this in here since my question is really for the drivetrain.

    I was cleaning my bike doing the yearly teardown, and it's a bit of a pain in the ass trying to get in all the nooks and crannies and trying also to get all the dirt/junk out of everything. I like to have a clean bike.

    Anyone have any thoughts about using something like this? After HF coupons its $50 Ultrasonic Cleaner - 2.5 Liter

    Seems like a REALLY easy button in terms of drivetrain parts. Take the chain, drop it in, boom clean. Take your shifters, der, cassette, drop em in, boom, clean. It can use hot water and 5 minutes later, your stuff is clean.

    Can you have that stuff TOO clean?

    -Tom

  2. #2
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    A lot of tuning articles from the UK suggest it.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by trhoppe View Post
    Figured I'd put this in here since my question is really for the drivetrain.

    I was cleaning my bike doing the yearly teardown, and it's a bit of a pain in the ass trying to get in all the nooks and crannies and trying also to get all the dirt/junk out of everything. I like to have a clean bike.

    Anyone have any thoughts about using something like this? After HF coupons its $50 Ultrasonic Cleaner - 2.5 Liter

    Seems like a REALLY easy button in terms of drivetrain parts. Take the chain, drop it in, boom clean. Take your shifters, der, cassette, drop em in, boom, clean. It can use hot water and 5 minutes later, your stuff is clean.

    Can you have that stuff TOO clean?

    -Tom
    Too clean is not good. You can be removing lube that can not easily be replaced, especially with the chain and shifters. And introducing water to places it should never be.
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  4. #4
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    Thinking about the XTR shifter and the fact that they have bearings in there I see it.

    But chainrings, chain, cassette, derailleurs, I completely see those items as ones that I would want super clean. Especially the chain, where my Squirt lube pretty much says to "make sure there is no other lube in there"

    -Tom

  5. #5
    LightJunction.com
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    UltraSonic cleaners are great for chains, cassettes, chainrings...any metal parts, really. I wouldn't stick anything in there that had bearings or grease like pedals or rear derailleur pulleys. I wouldn't submerge a rear derailleur anyway if I didn't intend to fully disassemble it. The cleaner can get caught inside and you can't re-lube it without taking it apart.
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  6. #6
    ouch....
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    I could see that being sweet for cleaning cassettes, chainrings etc!

    many times though, if you use a decent lube & the chain isn't overly dirty/muddy/salty, sometimes it's best to wipe down the outside a few times & relube, instead of submerging it totally. The lube needs to stay in the chain/rollers to do it's job.

    Of course, if the chain is super-duper-terribily-dirty-gross then it may need a good cleaning anyways.

    As the other guys noted, I probably wouldn't put shifters etc in there, as you are getting water in where it shouldn't be & could be causing more harm than good.
    Riding.....

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the opinion guys.

    For $50 and considering that I have 3 MTBs (race bike, trail bike, wifey's mtb) and 3 road bikes (my road bike, commuter, wifey's road) that I maintain, it's gonna be really easy to do my full clean that I like to do once or twice a year. I'll keep it to the chains, cassettes and chain rings, and it will pay for itself in time savings I think the first use.

    -Tom

  8. #8
    Nouveau Retrogrouch SuperModerator
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    Quote Originally Posted by trhoppe View Post
    Thanks for the opinion guys.

    For $50 and considering that I have 3 MTBs (race bike, trail bike, wifey's mtb) and 3 road bikes (my road bike, commuter, wifey's road) that I maintain, it's gonna be really easy to do my full clean that I like to do once or twice a year. I'll keep it to the chains, cassettes and chain rings, and it will pay for itself in time savings I think the first use.

    -Tom
    My bet is you will see lower chain life because your lube (like most dry/wax "lubes") will not reach the inside where it is most needed.
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  9. #9
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    It occurs to me that after a water/ultrasound bath....

    One could use a lube/unltrasound bath....

    Sure the oil won't carry the sound as well as the water....but it should work alot better than just the normal lube and wipe method...

    Not that I have the time to mess around with it.

  10. #10
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    I use mine on chains, cassettes, rings... like others have said. I get... probably 400% the chain life I did when I was using the bottle of solvent approach to cleaning, and probably 1000% compared to those stupid chain scrubber things; wax and 'dry' lubes are totally worthless where I ride, dumonde tech likes a very clean chain when first applied. You let it soak, like other lubes that come thinned with a volatile solvent, lube gets where it needs to be, then you wipe off the excess.

    The ultrasound is really nice on cassettes with a carrier, where it's nearly impossible to get to all the corners that trap dirt.

    edit: with mine it's more like 30 minutes later, not 5.
    Last edited by Joules; 02-09-2012 at 01:13 PM.

  11. #11
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    I use Squirt, which also likes a really clean chain and I degrease the piss out of the chain before I first apply Squirt and then only wash with water before reapplying. Would be cool to intially use ultrasonic + degreases to get the chain squaky clean before applying Squirt and then pull the chain every 6 months, dump it in an ultrasonic water bath and reapply squirt, vs just the wash/wipe/apply/wipe that I do now.

    -Tom

  12. #12
    gran jefe
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    ultrasonic bath of mineral spirits would get stuff really clean, it seems. then i would dry out all the mineral spirits.

    to get lube back in to all the places where you want it, you might put lube and the parts into the ultrasonic bath for a while. or you could put lube and the part into a vacuum bagger to suck air out and try to get lube back into all the spots where you really want it.

    all in all, i see a high probability of something going wrong for me.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill in Houston View Post
    ultrasonic bath of mineral spirits would get stuff really clean, it seems. then i would dry out all the mineral spirits.

    to get lube back in to all the places where you want it, you might put lube and the parts into the ultrasonic bath for a while. or you could put lube and the part into a vacuum bagger to suck air out and try to get lube back into all the spots where you really want it.

    all in all, i see a high probability of something going wrong for me.
    Nah...if you want to dry it (without heat) just do a soak in methanol/ethanol/acetone...

    But just rinse with distilled water and heat dry...

    Then lube bath with Ultrasound.

  14. #14
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    Where did you get the HF coupons?
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  15. #15
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  16. #16
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    So far only cleaned the chain, but it did an awesome job. It was a chain I already cleaned n my usual method. Threw it in there with a couple of squirts of degreaser and water and 480 seconds later it came out totally squeaky clean. The water was black.

    Impressed and will use it on all my non moving drivetrain parts (chain, cassette, rings) as I do my usual tear down/cleans. I might just take the jockey wheels off the RD and throw both derailleurs in there too. I'll leave the shifters out as those have integrated bearings.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy View Post
    Too clean is not good. You can be removing lube that can not easily be replaced, especially with the chain and shifters. And introducing water to places it should never be.
    I disagree w/ respect to the chain, water eventually dries (especially w/ a hot day or low oven temp) and soaked in an oil bath (I use bar-oil in a glass jar w/ lid) the oil fills all the voids as air wants to escape - Also give it a good shake after a few.
    Last edited by highdelll; 02-09-2012 at 09:16 PM.
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy View Post
    My bet is you will see lower chain life because your lube (like most dry/wax "lubes") will not reach the inside where it is most needed.
    uggg, just quit w/ the nonsense man.

    1 - no one mentioned 'dry-lubes' other than they suck (as far as my 'ctrl-f' tells me) and
    2 -lube will reach inside just fine either via capillary action, or soaking (see above post)

    I know you are a great MTBr, with a lot of experience, but science trumps that.
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  19. #19
    Nouveau Retrogrouch SuperModerator
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    Quote Originally Posted by highdelll View Post
    I disagree w/ respect to the chain, water eventually dries (especially w/ a hot day or low oven temp) and soaked in an oil bath (I use bar-oil in a glass jar w/ lid) the oil fills all the voids as air wants to escape - Also give it a good shake after a few.
    I was referring mainly to chains and shifters. There is no guaranty the water is going to evaporate out of the inside of the parts, and it certainly can encourage corrosion. If the water is inside of the part it can prevent lube from getting in.
    mtbtires.com
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  20. #20
    Nouveau Retrogrouch SuperModerator
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    Quote Originally Posted by highdelll View Post
    uggg, just quit w/ the nonsense man.

    1 - no one mentioned 'dry-lubes' other than they suck (as far as my 'ctrl-f' tells me) and
    2 -lube will reach inside just fine either via capillary action, or soaking (see above post)

    I know you are a great MTBr, with a lot of experience, but science trumps that.
    1. The OP said he uses Squirt--a wax based dry lube.

    2. A wet lube penetrates a chain better if there is already lube on the inside.

    In any case, removing chains for cleaning with solvent is unnecessary for long life. I have not even used cleaning solvent on a chain in the last 15 years. Just (wet) lube and wipe.
    mtbtires.com
    The trouble with common sense is it is no longer common

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy View Post
    I was referring mainly to chains and shifters. There is no guaranty the water is going to evaporate out of the inside of the parts, and it certainly can encourage corrosion. If the water is inside of the part it can prevent lube from getting in.
    Well we are out in right field....but

    Water can certainly be evaporated maybe takes a bit of heat and time...

    Trouble is it will leave behind salts...so you would have to rinse with distilled water, or do a solvent extraction (methanol, ethanol, dry cleaning fluid etc)....

    Yes water would stop the lube getting in with capillary action....

    But if you used ultrasound the water would be displaced by the bulk phase fluid...lube so there you go....

    Again way beyond anything I would ever screw around with...

    I will definately try the ultrasound next time my RD and FD quite working cause they are full of salt though...

    Last winter a soaked my RD and FD in CLR for about a week, then Tranny fluid for about a week, I did it all over again....I did finally get them to start working smoothly again...so Ultra sound would definately speed things up.

  22. #22
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    Maybe I don't need it for long life, but I like having a clean drive train and the Squirt lube helps that by being clean to begin with. I still like to take my bikes down to the frame every 4-6 months of service, clean everything, lube bearings, and put it back. Takes maybe 2 hours total and keeps me on top of any issues that might be happening. Also makes sure my race bike is always top notch.

    Seems that this ultrasonic cleaner will make that job easier

  23. #23
    Nouveau Retrogrouch SuperModerator
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    Quote Originally Posted by trhoppe View Post
    Maybe I don't need it for long life, but I like having a clean drive train and the Squirt lube helps that by being clean to begin with. I still like to take my bikes down to the frame every 4-6 months of service, clean everything, lube bearings, and put it back. Takes maybe 2 hours total and keeps me on top of any issues that might be happening. Also makes sure my race bike is always top notch.

    Seems that this ultrasonic cleaner will make that job easier
    If you must, you must.

    Over the years I have found that clean is not necessarily the same as efficient and functional.
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  24. #24
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    "A clean race car is a fast race car"

    That's gotta apply to bikes too, right?

  25. #25
    gran jefe
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    Ultrasonic would be really nice for getting a glitchy freewheel cleaned out.

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