Using ScotchBrite and Steel Wool in Parts Washer
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    Default Using ScotchBrite and Steel Wool in Parts Washer

    For years now, I have kept a coarse scotch brite pad and some 0000 steel wool along with my brushes in my parts washer (mineral spirits). This has always works well for either getting crusty grease and oil out of tight spots, as well as giving previously painted or even metal surfaces a good etch when washing them down for paint.

    However, I was cleaning out a casting today that holds bearings/spindles/gears/etc. I got to thinking, I'm sure the scotch brite pad and the steel wool add some abrasives to the solvent that would theoretically coat the part...

    Now, for parts that are to be painted, or in this case, precision parts, I do have a spray bottle of fresh mineral spirits I use to rinse off the oil-contaminated parts wash fluid.

    Does anyone else use abrasive pads in their parts washer? Would the rinse with the clean solvent likely remove potentially damaging abrasives? Is that even necessary?

    Curious...

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    Most parts-washers have a filter under the drain, so that the solvent returning to the pump is at least slightly clean.
    There is a lot of abrasive stuff in the dirt you wash off of the parts, and that would destroy the solvent pump quickly.

    So the addition of 0000 steel wool or Scotchbrite pad debris should be irrelevant. [almost]
    If you are seriously concerned, check out the drain-filter and upgrade it.

    I prefer a fast-dry solvent wash on any part that is going to be painted anyway, Cast parts are not solid, they are porous,
    so trapped mineral spirits can and will soak into porous castings and will cause paint to not adhere to the castings..

    Ever TIG weld an aluminum casting that was an oil pan or engine crankcase? it will weep oil for many applications of heat/cooling before it will be 'dry' and stay clean enough to weld..

    DualValve.

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    I personally would use the scotchbright as a last resort- because it is designed to be abrasive. There will be times that is what you need, but for me that is when other things have not worked.

    A magnet will help catch the steel wool particles.

    I prefer brass brushes, and bronze wool. I also will take a chip brush and cut the bristles short so they are much stiffer. Bamboo skewers from the grocery store can reach into holes and crevices. I also have some brass barrel brushes for holes and odd shapes. They can be trimmed and or bent if needed to reach around corners.

    Popsicle sticks can be cut to a shape if needed. Before using them, coat them with superglue to harden them and somewhat solventproof them. The superglue can be used with the bamboo skewers as well.

    The solvent spray is a good idea

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    only micron size ultra fine grit would normally get circulated. but rust dust contamination should be rinsed and blown off
    .
    doesnt usually hurt to rinse with clean solvent especially for bearings

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    Quote Originally Posted by DualValve View Post
    Most parts-washers have a filter under the drain, so that the solvent returning to the pump is at least slightly clean.
    There is a lot of abrasive stuff in the dirt you wash off of the parts, and that would destroy the solvent pump quickly.
    DualValve.
    Every solvent tank pump I have seen had about 1/4" clearance around the impeller, a trash pump for sure. Scotch brite will never hurt it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by J_R_Thiele View Post
    I personally would use the scotchbright as a last resort- because it is designed to be abrasive.
    Scothbrite pads are color-coded. The white scotchbrite pads do not have any abrasive.

    I mostly use the white pads for hand washing of dishes: Use Bluette cotton-lined gloves, so you can work with hot water straight from the tap, at full temperature.

    http://www.amazon.com/SPONTEX-20005-...457932&sr=8-17

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    There are some good cleaning tips and tricks in this thread, thanks!

    My parts cleaner is only for nasty non-precision parts and I do use scotchbrite and brushes. If it has anything to do with bearings, bearing housings, spindle shafts etc it doesn't get cleaned in my parts washer. Those precision parts get wiped down repeatedly until the grime is removed and cleaned with denatured alcohol or acetone.

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    I understand the comments about not using the abrasive pad, but I would say that I certainly appreciate how well it works for getting off light staining/dried oil. Second, I can basically wet sand an entire part, WHILE de-greasing it at the same time. When you pull the parts out, the paint is well stripped of oil and has a nice clean dull finish.

    Part of me wonders if all of this is any worse than, say, scotch brighting the outside dry and having abrasives make their way inside, possibly to never get removed.

    I do like the clean rinse at the end. I have my solvent liquid level a ways below the shelf in the my tank. When the main washing is done, I can simply spray down the part with clean mineral spirits, washing away the oily washer solvent (and abrasive sediment). Best part, zero waste, as the clean solvent makes its way back down to the main sump.

    I just have no way of gauging how much abrasive sediment all of these things add to the solvent, and, if those particles actually get flushed away with the rinse. I can say, I have had the same scotch brite pad in there for a few years now. When you use them wet, they seem to stay in tact and not clog up.

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    A guy I know that is a Gear Head has 2 solvent tanks just for that reason and use.But he uses real solvent that a company comes regularly and changes.

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    White = no abrasive?

    That's not completely true. I have white pads which have a fine abrasive.



    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Gwinn View Post
    Scothbrite pads are color-coded. The white scotchbrite pads do not have any abrasive.

    I mostly use the white pads for hand washing of dishes: Use Bluette cotton-lined gloves, so you can work with hot water straight from the tap, at full temperature.

    www.amazon.com/SPONTEX-20005-Household-Gloves-X-Large/dp/B000ASB74A/ref=sr_1_17?keywords=Spontex&qid=1579457932&sr=8-17

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    Quote Originally Posted by EPAIII View Post
    White = no abrasive?

    That's not completely true. I have white pads which have a fine abrasive.
    So fine that I don't see any effect on cookware and dishes, et al, even after years of use.

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    Steel, wool or any metal wool is denser then plastic scrub pads. This should help the junk sink to the bottom and stay off the parts.
    Bill D

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gundraw View Post
    ......
    However, I was cleaning out a casting today that holds bearings/spindles/gears/etc. I got to thinking, I'm sure the scotch brite pad and the steel wool add some abrasives to the solvent that would theoretically coat the part...
    ......
    There is not another cleaning step for the casting after the initial parts washer and it needs to hold bearings or spindles?.....
    No matter the filter there will be left behind that bearings and spindles will not like.
    I'm all in favor of using both mentioned in the "rough" clean.
    You may do rough and finish cuts when making a part. You should do rough and finish cleaning and that means separate tanks, processes or just another flush in a sink or other in the driveway.
    Bob

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    The parts here I needed to be a little more careful with because of the engraved numbers on the dials. I used a brass brush to get the pieces to look clean but lightly stained, then lightly scrubbed with scotch bright. The problem with abrasives and numbers impressed in metal is, the sharp edges roll over and the numbers look mushy.

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    Very nice. Those numbers look great. I think you still have a good corner on the DNMG at the bottom of the photo.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CarbideBob View Post
    There is not another cleaning step for the casting after the initial parts washer and it needs to hold bearings or spindles?.....
    No matter the filter there will be left behind that bearings and spindles will not like.
    I'm all in favor of using both mentioned in the "rough" clean.
    You may do rough and finish cuts when making a part. You should do rough and finish cleaning and that means separate tanks, processes or just another flush in a sink or other in the driveway.
    Bob
    Bob, I appreciate the input, but I believe you are suggesting exactly what I mention in the next sentence of what you quoted: When I am finished with these types of parts, I shut off the main solvent pump, then use a spray bottle to rinse the part off with virgin mineral sprits. My hopes is that it flushes away the abrasives/contaminants in the tank solven (and keeps the solvent level up in my tank). Do you think this is sufficient?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gundraw View Post
    ... Do you think this is sufficient?
    Only a micro or stereo scope and a fair amount of searching will answer if this works.
    Bob

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    Quote Originally Posted by CarbideBob View Post
    Only a micro or stereo scope and a fair amount of searching will answer if this works.
    Bob
    My whole point here was to get a general idea if other are doing some similar, or if they specifically avoid abrasives in their washer. Second, if they have empirically experienced problems using a procedure such as this.

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    I like to final clean with brake cleaner and a paper towel.

    Keep spraying & wiping until the paper towel comes back clean.


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