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  1. #1
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    Cleaning tubes before joining

    How do you clean the inner surface of your tubes before joining them? Completely submerge them in a tank of some solution? Spray bottle of alcohol? I'm assuming you want/need to get the inner surfaces as clean as possible before joining the tubes, no?

  2. #2
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    Use a long tube brush to get the inside with hot, soapy water. Then sand inside and outside at the ends.
    NOTHING WORKS LIKE CLOCKWORK

    www.clockworkbikes.com

  3. #3
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    I use a wad of cloth and an old broom handle to push the wad through the tube. Soapy water first, wire brush the ends, more soapy, acetone wipe then tig. The acetone is likely overkill but I want to make sure it is as clean as possible.
    Mark Farnsworth, Raleigh, NC
    http://farnsworthbikes.com

  4. #4
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    I do similar, but I use a 1" dowel rod. It's perfect for wrapping sandpaper around to sand inside the ends of the tubes.

  5. #5
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    I think unless you're doing ti, acetone is probably more hassle/health hazard than it's worth but YMMW. I hit each end with some emery cloth to clean off the mill scale/gunk, then do a denatured ethanol dip and let it dry (which is super quick).

    If there's a LOT of gunk/oil inside the tubes, you might want to do a more thorough cleaning as the oil can warm up and run down into the back of the welding when you're working in some cases. When I see a really filthy tube (which is rare) I have some capped 3' long pieces of PVC with simple green and water in them and I'll give the tube a soak and then a wipe (rag on a stick) and rinse.

    -Walt
    Waltworks Custom Bicycles
    Park City, UT USA
    www.waltworks.com
    waltworks.blogspot.com

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    I think unless you're doing ti, acetone is probably more hassle/health hazard than it's worth but YMMW.
    Pretty low exposure if you where a mask and you don't take a bath in the stuff. Acetone is actually produced and disposed of in the human body through normal metabolic processes. It is normally present in blood and urine. I am not saying take a sip but it is not really all that dangerous provided you are careful.

    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    I have some capped 3' long pieces of PVC with simple green and water in them and I'll give the tube a soak and then a wipe (rag on a stick) and rinse.
    Walt,

    I assume you just do a quick dip and then wipe it down but just in case let me share a link.

    Basically you never want to soak anything for very long in simple green. I can confirm that it causes problems with bicycle chains and suspect that soaking steel tubes in it would be a bad idea.

    Technical Q&A with Lennard Zinn - Not-so-Simple Green - VeloNews.com

    I figure provided you don't leave the tube in for too long you would be fine but just be aware that it can theoretically cause problems.
    Mark Farnsworth, Raleigh, NC
    http://farnsworthbikes.com

  7. #7
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    I once cleaned a chain with muriatic acid just because and after I rinsed it off every single plate had a visible crack emanating from the pin hole. Lesson learned.
    NOTHING WORKS LIKE CLOCKWORK

    www.clockworkbikes.com

  8. #8
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    Thanks for all of your answers, guys. As a newb, I have asked a lot of what I think are very basic questions on this forum. Sometimes, like in this case, it actually generates a bit of discussion. That's always nice to see, as I'm sure there are other newbs out there wondering the same thing. I'm so appreciative of this forum. It's only as good as its members' participation. Thanks again for all of the guidance.

    Frame #2, and first at home, is in the works. I'll be posting about it on here very soon.

  9. #9
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    Yeah, I just dip/shake/remove/rinse, but that is interesting, for sure!

    You could sub ETOH or some other stuff for the simple green if you wanted. Lots of stuff will clean up your basic oil/mill scale.

    I think the bottom line is that there are plenty of ways to get tubes (steel tubes) clean enough for joining and if you're using almost ANY method it's probably fine. Even just straight mechanical polishing/sanding is usually going to be plenty. Not cleaning the tubes at all is probably something to avoid.

    I'll also note that I remember hearing that ti framebuilders have been known to develop acetone sensitivity to the point where it causes all kinds of problems - but maybe that was just Matt Chester?

    -Walt
    Waltworks Custom Bicycles
    Park City, UT USA
    www.waltworks.com
    waltworks.blogspot.com

  10. #10
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    didn't know you could become sensitive to acetone, but it looks like it's possible. i suppose I should favor cleaning up with alcohol

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    Interesting on the Acetone. Maybe I'll switch back to alcohol.

  12. #12
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    If you are really trying to get something clean it is best to use acetone followed by IPA. IPA on its own is a poor cleaner but acetone leaves a residue behind. Use the acetone to clean and the IPA to remove the residue. Totally overkill for tig, but if you are bonding it can make a difference.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by whydomylegshurt? View Post
    If you are really trying to get something clean it is best to use acetone followed by IPA. IPA on its own is a poor cleaner but acetone leaves a residue behind. Use the acetone to clean and the IPA to remove the residue. Totally overkill for tig, but if you are bonding it can make a difference.
    Sorry, but I'm not wasting a perfectly good beer on a bike frame.

  14. #14
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    Cleaning tubes before joining

    I have a few tube brushes (Pedro's for bike stuff) that I use with Simple Green, rinse in shop sink. If you don't have a shop sink and the house sink is a no no then Walt's PVC idea is great!
    I've tried acetone but ended up not seeing any difference with rubbing alcohol and a white t-shirt for final prep. Super cheap, effective, and safe. Does leave some residue I think but for steel does that matter? I'm asking...

    Scotch brite pads or higher grit (300ish) emery make quick work of the inch inside you need to clean (and out) especially if it's straight 4130.
    For the chain and seatstays I have flex hone.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by golden boy View Post
    Sorry, but I'm not wasting a perfectly good beer on a bike frame.
    I thought it was funny.
    Slowly slipping to retrogrouchyness

  16. #16
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    Cleaning tubes before joining

    Quote Originally Posted by G-reg View Post
    I thought it was funny.
    Ditto.

    Golden Boy - Thanks (from another newb) for starting this discussion.

  17. #17
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    Bottle brushes and acetone for me, but I'm doing tig.
    9 Piece Tube/Pipe Nylon Brush Set
    cheers
    andy

  18. #18
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    I ended up using isopropyl alcohol, a cotton rag and a wooden handle to an unknown household implement to clean out the tubes of the front triangle. No beers were harmed in the cleaning of these tubes.

  19. #19
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    I've got a piece of 1/8" brazing rod bent at the end so I can stick some shop roll in there and put the other end in a drill to clean the insides. I sand all around where the fillet will be and then acetone, although I'm going to look for something else as soon as this can runs out. That stuff is nasty.

  20. #20
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    I should've mentioned that after the rag-and-alcohol treatment, I did sand the ends inside and out and wiped down with denatured alcohol. Lest y'all think I was sloppy.

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