OT?: Best cheap ultrasonic for parts washing /polishing parts
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  1. #1
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    Default OT?: Best cheap ultrasonic for parts washing /polishing parts

    I'm restoring a couple of old bicycles. Also maintaining some new ones. Two things I'm concerned with are

    1) Cleaning the crude out of old chains, brakes, derailleurs, and such, and

    2) Polishing small aluminum (and other metal) parts like brake handles, hubs, etc.

    For the cleaning, I've always used min sprits in a jar. Put a chain in, for example, add min spirits, close the thing and shake. Possibly apply an old toothbrush and resoak and shake. Works pretty well, but I've been thinking about an ultrasonic cleaner. Worth it for this application? If I get one, are the cheapie harbor fright ones (1.5 L, plastic housing, 75 bucks) ok, or would one of the more industrial looking (stainless housing and tank, for example) off ebay be better? If this was a business, I'd probably buy a higher quality one, like a Crest, but for my needs the cheapie should be fine. I hope.

    For polishing aluminum, there's a couple of ways to go. A pedestal grinder with a buffing wheel, plus a Dremel-type tool (or a flex shaft tool) with a buffing wheel. Or a vibratory bowl. Or a rock tumbler.

    Given that my needs are pretty minimal I'm thinking that a small wet-dry vibratory bowl tumbler might work as well as anything.

    Suggestions?

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    I have only used a few ultrasonic cleaners so I have no idea if this is an ideal one or how it compares to a top end one. Or HF, for that matter.

    Grizzly often offers new products at an attractive price: I have taken advantage of this on several occasions and have not been disappointed. Some months ago they offered this ultrasonic cleaner that way so I bought one.

    Shop Tools and Machinery at Grizzly.com

    I can say that it does work. Features include a heater (which is standard on most ultrasonic cleaners), digital controls (timer, temperature, etc.), and a built in dump valve. All the previous ones that I used did not have a built in valve so it had to be added ($$) and external valves are somewhat awkward. All I needed to add was a piece of plastic tube to reach a bucket under the table: I had some so laying around the shop so no cost there. The manual is OK but could be improved. It does have some good tips that I was not aware of.

    The included basket is a plastic design and has legs and handles for easy handling. They are a combined feature: the top half of the legs are folding handles so the cover fits over them. When they are unfolded (up), they slide so that the basket can be elevated above the solution in the tank for drainage. A pair of wire hooks holds it in that elevated position. This avoids the need for a separate drainage area that some of the other units that I used required: this means that it needs less bench space.

    A nice touch is the brackets on the back for holding the cover when it is taken off: you do not have to put it down on the workbench. This also saves bench space. These features have allowed me to locate it on a small table that is only slightly larger than the unit itself. In my shop space and especially bench space is scarce and valuable.

    So far it has cleaned everything that I have used it on for dirt and grime. I did try it once with some rust removing solution but the results were less than spectacular. I guess it did speed up that process, but not by a lot. I will probably experiment more with that. I am sure it will do a good job with your bicycle parts with the proper cleaning solution.

    All the standard disclaimers apply: I have no relationship with Grizzly other than satisfied customer.

    I think you should look at tumblers for the polishing.

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    Horrible Freight has a small one. I've seen larger units on ebay reasonably priced.

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    I have one of these from eBay, search there for:

    10L Liter Ultrasonic Cleaner Heater Stainless Steel Industry Heated w/Timer

    240 Watt ultrasonic, 250 Watt heat. Electronic timer.
    Works very well for me, but might be small for your use. You must use water based solvent, I use WD-40 Specialist Cleaner-Degreaser full strength.
    Does the job!

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    We used the old version of https://www.riogrande.com/product/sh...cleaner/336180 when I worked in repair/conservation studio. Simple green and water was the go to solution. It worked, and it hurt your hands if you stick them in ultrasound for a few seconds - a sign it really is working/blasting the crud away.

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    I have two of these And they work great. Good price.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...link1183174-20

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    Quote Originally Posted by memphisjed View Post
    ...it hurt your hands if you stick them in ultrasound for a few seconds - a sign it really is working/blasting the crud away.
    Dude! You're not supposed to put your hands in an ultrasonic bath!

    Thanks, all.

  10. Likes Screwmachine liked this post
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    Quote Originally Posted by EPAIII View Post
    I have only used a few ultrasonic cleaners so I have no idea if this is an ideal one or how it compares to a top end one. Or HF, for that matter.

    Grizzly often offers new products at an attractive price: I have taken advantage of this on several occasions and have not been disappointed. Some months ago they offered this ultrasonic cleaner that way so I bought one.

    Shop Tools and Machinery at Grizzly.com

    I can say that it does work. Features include a heater (which is standard on most ultrasonic cleaners), digital controls (timer, temperature, etc.), and a built in dump valve. All the previous ones that I used did not have a built in valve so it had to be added ($$) and external valves are somewhat awkward. All I needed to add was a piece of plastic tube to reach a bucket under the table: I had some so laying around the shop so no cost there. The manual is OK but could be improved. It does have some good tips that I was not aware of.

    The included basket is a plastic design and has legs and handles for easy handling. They are a combined feature: the top half of the legs are folding handles so the cover fits over them. When they are unfolded (up), they slide so that the basket can be elevated above the solution in the tank for drainage. A pair of wire hooks holds it in that elevated position. This avoids the need for a separate drainage area that some of the other units that I used required: this means that it needs less bench space.

    A nice touch is the brackets on the back for holding the cover when it is taken off: you do not have to put it down on the workbench. This also saves bench space. These features have allowed me to locate it on a small table that is only slightly larger than the unit itself. In my shop space and especially bench space is scarce and valuable.

    So far it has cleaned everything that I have used it on for dirt and grime. I did try it once with some rust removing solution but the results were less than spectacular. I guess it did speed up that process, but not by a lot. I will probably experiment more with that. I am sure it will do a good job with your bicycle parts with the proper cleaning solution.

    All the standard disclaimers apply: I have no relationship with Grizzly other than satisfied customer.

    I think you should look at tumblers for the polishing.
    I had the Grizzly unit. I was not impressed. Only worked for light cleaning. I also have a small old Neysonic that worked better than the Grizzly, but it had no heater and was too small.

    Last year I broke down and bought a real ultrasonic cleaner. Its a real 30 gallon ultrasonic cleaner and works great but it did set me back $8,000.

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    Forgot to mention is that one way to measure the effectiveness of an ultrasonic cleaner is to see how long it takes to poke a hole in a piece of tin foil. When I worked on co-op we made ultrasonic cleaners so I learned a bit about them.

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    For $8000, it should work great. And do the laundry and dishes too.

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    Ultrasonics are hell on ball bearings. The balls bounce against the races and make dents. Disassembled would be OK, though. DAMHIKT.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EPAIII View Post
    For $8000, it should work great. And do the laundry and dishes too.
    LOL! I wanted the $15,000 one...........

    And one reason I have it is because my wife would no longer let me clean parts in the dishwasher!

    This unit actually takes paint off many of the parts so I need to be very careful if the part is painted and I don't want to hurt the paint. It's a good unit but it is $8,000!

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    I have the 18 lb. Vibratory tumbler from Eastwood (I think it's the same as the HF one) and I've been pleased with it. I bought it from an acquaintance with an extra tumbler bowl which is convenient since it allows me to complete a cycle without emptying out the media.

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    Quote Originally Posted by memphisjed View Post
    We used the old version of https://www.riogrande.com/product/sh...cleaner/336180 when I worked in repair/conservation studio. Simple green and water was the go to solution. It worked, and it hurt your hands if you stick them in ultrasound for a few seconds - a sign it really is working/blasting the crud away.
    Does Simple Green work as well as the Rio Rapid cleaner?

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    The cheapy harbor freight unit can be bought for around $50 ,with coupon. I have had mine for a year and used it about 20 times.I use liquid dish wash solution,works good on small carburetors ect.I had a larger $160 unit off internet,It quit working in about 6 months. If I ever buy a bigger one again,I would buy a name brand or one with a bullet proof warranty. Also the digital controls are a pain.The best would be simple wind up mechanical timers.To start,get a Harbor freight and try it. Don't like it,take it back,no hastle. Edwin Dirnbeck

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    Quote Originally Posted by memphisjed View Post
    Simple green and water was the go to solution.

    What dilution ratio did you use?


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