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is Ultrasonic cleaning safe?


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Is it safe for me to drop my slide into the ultrasonic cleaner and clean it? How about if I take the grips off, is it safe to drop the lower into the ultrasonic cleaner?

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Yeah.

You have made my day!! I have had someone tell me I would have to disassemble every single piece before I could use the US cleaner.. That sounded like more work than just hand cleaning it.

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bzt, I just bought an ultrasonic cleaner. After I conditioned the solution, I tried an experiment. I stripped the pistol down to individual components and wiped all the parts down. I cleaned the frame like I normally do, plus the barrel and larger parts. Then I dropped them into the solution and gave them a 10 minute ultrasonic clean. The solution was opaque black. I was amazed. Evidently there is stuff hiding in crooks and crannies you cannot get to with regular cleaning tools. I'll also say I had treated the frame rails and outside of the barrel with molydi, so that may have been some of the black.

I'd strip it so everything gets spotless. BTW, you have to rinse the parts with water after you use the Lyman solution, so if you don't strip yours, you'll have to run it through again in plain water to get rid of the gunk and cleaning solution.

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So what is the point of the US cleaner if I have to break down the pistol into each individual piece? That is more labor intensive than I normally clean it.

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Ya. I was going to field strip it, but it sounded like I needed to completely disassemble. So I field strip, US, put clean water in, US again.. Dry, lube?

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I started using an ultrasonic cleaner. I usually toss in a few caps of simple green as well. I make sure to disassemble my guns/bolts/slides to the very last piece I can before I have to take pins out using punches to do the job. They are safe and just make sure you get the water out. A hairdryer will work just fine most of the times but I prefer to take my parts in a bin to my garage and blow it out using my air compressor.

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Ya. I was going to field strip it, but it sounded like I needed to completely disassemble. So I field strip, US, put clean water in, US again.. Dry, lube?

Disassemble, ultrasonic, wash off with water/brush it, rinse, dry, lube. When your gun is clean, it should feel clean of all lubes, if still oily, throw it back in and turn up the heat and use more degreaser.

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I did this last night.. Field stripped it, put in the cleaner with one shot. Let it buzz for about 2 hours.. Brushed it off. Let it buzz.. Put it in the oven on 150 to dry it out.. Lubed it and greased it. And it is awesome!

Hmm.. So I dont do this for every cleaning?

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Be careful with blued parts also. US can strip bluing off in a hurry. I put the small parts of my STI Trojan (known to have crappy bluing) in the US, and it damaged finish using a solution of dawn detergent and water.... I have stopped using US for any blued parts. I now only use it to clean my AR BCG's.

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Be careful with blued parts also. US can strip bluing off in a hurry. I put the small parts of my STI Trojan (known to have crappy bluing) in the US, and it damaged finish using a solution of dawn detergent and water.... I have stopped using US for any blued parts. I now only use it to clean my AR BCG's.

Ouch.. maybe this US isnt such a good idea as I thought it was..

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I have heard people have had good luck, and I know that the local gunsmith here swears by them. It is possible that there was something in the detergent I used (dawn scent free something) that caused the problem I had. I think a lot depends on the solution you use and the duration you keep it in the US. I have found that I was really probably over cleaning all of my guns (old military habit). I have now kind of switched to getting the gunk out of the important spots (any friction area) and keeping them well lubed. That said, I do strip every gun down once a year whether it needs it or not and give it a good deep cleaning, essentially changing the old protective oils on the heirloom guns I have and knock the heavy crud out of my weekly shooters.

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I love it, throw parts in the cleaner (removing plastics and knowing i will have to replace FO front sight) and load ammo while the little noise box does the hard work. frees up time and gets places an AP brush just can't quite reach.

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Be careful with blued parts also. US can strip bluing off in a hurry. I put the small parts of my STI Trojan (known to have crappy bluing) in the US, and it damaged finish using a solution of dawn detergent and water.... I have stopped using US for any blued parts. I now only use it to clean my AR BCG's.

I clean my Trojan and Ranger II in an ultra sonic cleaner and haven't had any issues with the terrible blueing being affected, or any of my blued revolvers.

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My .02. i am a chemist who uses ultrasonic cleaning in the lab. I have recently purchased an RCBS ultrasonic cleaner to clean brass and hopefully my pistol one day. I am experimenting to find the right way to clean brass.

Ultrasonic cleaning will absolutely get crud out of extremely small spaces. It's designed to do that. You shouldn't have to take your slide apart in order to get it thoroughly clean. In fact, in cleaning brass, the RCBS manual warns you have to de-prime either before or soon after ultrasonic cleaning as water will be driven into the space between the primer and the case. Since they are dissimilar metals, a tiny little electric circuit will form and corrode the primer pocket.

Uh-oh. I had some brass I had ultrasonically cleaned in the lab some months ago but had not de-primed. Back I go to de-prime the entire bunch. Sure enough, in about five cases out of a thousand there was extensive green corrosion in the primer pocket. I could see tiny green dots in a number of other primer pockets but not significant damage. I had sonicated a bunch of them in denatured alcohol to remove water and get a fast dry, and there was no corrosion in those pockets. Little luck there.

So now I de-prime my brass after allowing it to dry overnight. The primer pocket is still wet too. The rest of the brass will be dry but the primer pocket will still have water in it.

My take on this is it's going to wind up replacing a lot of hard work but it's a brand-new technology as far as cleaning guns are concerned, and the chemistry is still being worked out. There are going to be some horror stories before the best solution is found.

Hope this helps.

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ChemistShooter, what's your thoughts on using regular Simple Green in ultrasonic cleaning? I heard that the regular Simple Green can "attack" aluminum. I purchased some Simple Green Extreme, bluish bottle & aircraft safe. It is supposedly safe for all metals, polymers, & plastic. Home Depot, Walmart, & Amazon sell the Simple Green Extreme for about $15-$17/ gallon. It doesn't look like Lowe's carries it.

EDIT: Wow, I just checked prices, and they have basically doubled from when I purchased some towards the beginning of last year. Amazon= $35/ gal. Jet.com & Uline.com have it for about $22-$25 / gallon though.

ind_prod_extreme_air_lg.jpg

Edited by CajunTrooper
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I don't know, actually. I don't know what chemicals are in Simple Green. Even if I did know, i would be reluctant to comment because I don't know the chemistry involved.

The OP asked if ultrasonic cleaning was safe. The answer is it SERIOUSLY depends on what chemicals are in the water.

My advice: EXPERIMENT. Get ten of the dirtiest cases you have, de-prime them, and clean them. Take a picture of the inside of the cases before and after cleaning and compare them.

After you've cleaned them, put them somewhere and let them sit for two weeks, then check for corrosion inside and out. This last is based on experience. I have been experimenting with commercial vinegar solutions based on what I've read around the Web about cleaning brass. I had some brass start turning green from corrosion after sitting for two weeks after cleaning with vinegar (old NRA formula), even though I rinsed them extensively. I added a neutralizing step with sodium bicarbonate and that stopped the corrosion. Experimentation is continuing as they still are not all getting clean. Some of them come out squeaky-clean, a lot of them have a mild black patina inside. I don't really know why at this stage.

In order to get something clean, you have to some idea what the chemical composition of the crud you're trying to get out is. My reloading manuals have informed me gunpowder is generally a mix of nitroglycerin/nitrocellulose coated with graphite to make manufacturing and metering easier, along with proprietary agents to control combustion rate. I am guessing the residue after combustion is mostly graphite with maybe a little unburned nitrocellulose/nitroglycerin. Nitrocellulose/nitroglycerin should be pretty soluble in water and is therefore nothing to worry about. So the problem reduces to getting graphite particles out of brass chambers. So removing graphite particles is what I'm Googling at the moment.

Anybody who knows different, please enlighten me.

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