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Old 19th April 2010, 10:07 PM   #1
bst is offline bst  United States
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Default Tube socket and pin cleaning

If you're fed up paying ridiculous prices for contact cleaners, here are some practical ways to clean sockets and pins for next to nothing.

DIY socket contact cleaner: For sockets, I mix a solution of 5% oleic acid and 95% naptha. This will do exactly the same job as DeOxit for a fraction of the cost. Oleic acid is a reddish oil, and available via mail-order for about $8 a quart. Naptha is available at hardware stores and big-box home centers in the paint department.

If you want a solution which evaporates more quickly, use 5% oleic acid, 90% naptha, and 5% acetone.

Most pharmacies carry very small dental brushes made for cleaning between the teeth. These are available in a variety of sizes and tapers, and are just right for scrubbing the inside of socket contacts with the liquid solution described above.

General component lead and circuit board cleaning:Plain old isopropyl alcohol works well, just be sure to get at least 91%, and preferably 94 or 99% pure (the remainder being just water). Do NOT use rubbing alcohol, which contains traces of lanolin or other oils, and will play hob with your attempts to solder.

Tube pin cleaning: I don't like to use any chemical cleaners on tube pins. Dipping pins in tarnish removers or contact cleaners can result in migration of the dilute acids into the glass seal, resulting in rapid deterioration. I prefer mechanical cleaning only.

The easiest method I've found is to cut a small section of an ultra-fine Scotchbrite pad (the gray ones), and insert into a small section of tubing or an expended pistol cartridge case. It takes a little fiddling to find just the right size to fill the inside periphery of the case. Once you do, though, all it takes is inserting the individual pins in the center of the Scotchbite insert- a few quick twists and the pin is polished. .357 Magnum cases work just right for octal pins, .22 Magnum for nine-pins and other smaller diameters.

Switch and Pot cleaner:A visit to the health-food store or pharmacy should yield a bottle of synthetic oil-of-wintergreen (methyl salicylate). It takes about a week to completely evaporate, but it leaves no residue, and is gentler on many plastics and plated finishes than some commercial cleaners.
Smells nice, too!

Hope these suggestions save you a few bucks.
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Old 19th April 2010, 10:17 PM   #2
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Nice, exactly the info I was looking for. Thanks!
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Old 20th April 2010, 02:38 PM   #3
jfitz57 is offline jfitz57  United States
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Pretty detailed post. Thanks for the info.
For less serious jobs or after you have done the initial clean-up
Baby oil will work. Just dip the pins of 7 or 9 pin miniature tubes in it and plug them back into the socket and wiggle them aroud a bit. For octal or other large tubes use cotton swabs. Works good on pots and switches too because it will migrate were you can't get it to. Does basically what WD-40 does but slower and it smells nice too.

Jim
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Old 20th April 2010, 07:28 PM   #4
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I don't think I'd want to load up a socket with all the lanolin and stuff from the baby oil...

Last edited by wrenchone; 20th April 2010 at 07:28 PM. Reason: sp
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Old 20th April 2010, 08:25 PM   #5
pchw is offline pchw  United States
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Something like this?
Oleic Acid 1 Gallon - eBay (item 290394569939 end time Apr-22-10 15:14:06 PDT)
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Old 21st April 2010, 12:49 AM   #6
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I wonder if "plugging" your tube into a block of Magic Eraser a couple of times would clean up the pins pretty well.

mike
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Old 21st April 2010, 01:01 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bst View Post
General component lead and circuit board cleaning:Plain old isopropyl alcohol works well, just be sure to get at least 91%, and preferably 94 or 99% pure (the remainder being just water). Do NOT use rubbing alcohol, which contains traces of lanolin or other oils, and will play hob with your attempts to solder.
I believe that one can purify isopropyl alcohol to 99%-ish by driving off the water from epsom salts, adding them, and straining off the remaining liquid. If you're into that sort of thing.
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Old 21st April 2010, 05:43 AM   #8
mach1 is offline mach1  Australia
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For small 9 and 7 pin sockets 'piksters' sold at pharmacies make excellent cleaning brushes: on their own, or to deliver your favourite cleaning solution.

Get the larger ones if available.
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Old 21st April 2010, 04:52 PM   #9
jfitz57 is offline jfitz57  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wrenchone View Post
I don't think I'd want to load up a socket with all the lanolin and stuff from the baby oil...
Baby oil is mineral oil and fracrance (perfum). It does two things: displace moisture and lubricate. Alcohol, Naptha and Acetone are used as degreasing solvents and do the opposite.

Jim
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