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Cleaning Nicotine off old radios




 
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Author Topic: Cleaning Nicotine off old radios  (Read 54638 times)
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w3jn
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« on: June 09, 2005, 08:19:52 PM »

Yeah, every REAL ham had a pack of Pall-Malls at the ready during those midnite DX sessions... and many of the boatanchors you see nowadays show real evidence of chronic nicotine exposure.  Nicotine is hard to remove.  The first time I came across this was a Hammarlund SP-600 that had a green front panel.  Never saw one in green before - the reason was a think, guncgy coating of nicotine.  409 and LOTS of scrubbing barely made a dent in it.

I tried a bucnh of different things and the BEST cleaner for removing grease, nicotine, or ham grunge is Westley's White Wall Cleaner.  Available at your local Wally World or hardware store.  

Here's what you do.  Wet down the item to be cleaned, then spray Westley's liberally... the gunk will instantly disolve and start to run off.  Wipe off with a wet rag, then rinse well.  If the item is still attached to the radio (front panel, chassis, etc.) you can use a rag wet with Westley's, then plenty of wiping wiith a wet rag.  Wax afterwards on front panels makes 'em look like new.

C A U T I O N:  Westley's WILL take the sheen off bakelite!  Don't use it on bakelite, printed dials, and avoid silk-screened lettering.  *MOST* of the time it doesn't bother lettering but every once in a while it'll dissolve silk-screening... so BE CAREFUL.   Also don't spray westlkey's right onto something as it will leave light colored spots where the droplets first hit.
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Jim, W5JO
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« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2005, 10:23:40 PM »

With a little more elbow grease, you can get some rubbing compound and do the flat paint.  When finished you not only have a clean surface, but it shines better too.
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KB2WIG
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« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2005, 11:00:33 PM »

carb cleaner works...... dont use it on the outside unless u want to do a repaint/finish ...... klc
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WQ9E
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« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2006, 12:10:13 PM »

I have also found that the "scrubbing bubbles" bathroom cleanser works well and seems to be pretty kind to paint. I just started working on a Pierson KP-81 which had not only the usual layer of nicotine but some thicker spots that I thought were from some form of corrosion. The "bubbles" took it right off and left a beautiful panel and knobs underneath. Now I just have a lot of molded paper caps and some out of spec resistors to replace before I try the first power up. This should be an interesting radio to get going, it is the only sliding coil catacomb radio I have seen that was not either a National produced or at least National design (as in the RAO series produced by Wells-Gardner) and others. Rodger WQ9E
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Jim, W5JO
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« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2006, 09:29:39 PM »

Try Pledge furniture wax.
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AB3L
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« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2006, 02:44:45 PM »

50/50 mix of 409 and clear ammonia. Also, get a natural bristle paint brush and cut down the hairs untill they firm up a lot. I cut mine in half and it becomes a nice scrub brush.

Always test your cleaning liquid in a unseen place on the cabinet or front panel.
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W1RC
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« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2007, 07:17:59 AM »

Just be careful that you don't use automotive finish "restorer" or other such product that contains silicon. If you do it will be virtually impossible for anyone to ever completely remove it in the event that they wish to repaint it in the future.
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wa2rqy
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« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2008, 11:02:04 AM »

For Years I have used this stuff in a spray can called PLEXO.
It says that its for Plexiglas windshields like on Airplanes.
I first found it on a Auto Supply shelf, then bought it by the case.
I just spray it on & watch the Nicotine just run off.
Caution on Johnson stuff though Roll Eyes
My distributer was Saul From Brooklyn, he would hand deliver it to me.
Such service Grin
I still have a case with me here in Paradise(Florida)
7trees.....
Rich WA2RQY/4
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VE4EE
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« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2008, 09:47:00 AM »

Hi Guys I've been using and relied on for the past 30 years, is plain old WINDEX
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Jeff W9GY
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« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2008, 07:31:43 PM »

Yes..."Scrubbing Bubbles"  is FB stuff!
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Jeff  W9GY Calumet, Michigan
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Mac
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« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2009, 04:32:20 PM »

I have been using "simple green'' all purpose cleaner foam.  Takes care of everything.  Wet things down first then foam away.  Only thing is don't let it dry. Hard as heck to get off.  Hasn't done anything to the silk screens or the looks of the cabinet or the insides.  Best I have tried.

73 Mac
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W2WDX
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« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2011, 06:55:22 PM »

Commercial grade Windex cannot be beat. The trick is to liberally apply it to the surface being cleaned and let it sit for about 20 seconds. It will take anything off that isn't glass, metal or paint. Putting it on the cloth first will not work, nor is it designed to work that way. Windex is designed to lift the dirt off the surface and put it into suspension. This is how it does its cleaning action, so putting it on cloth first defeats its designed use and makes it very ineffective.

A myth ... Windex removes paint. Not so. What it does seem to do is remove surface oxidization of paint. So you may, if the paint is oxidized, see the color on your cloth. But this  is not the paint, it is the oxidation coating. I was able to confirm this recently when I cleaned the front panel of an R-390a I recently restored. Before stripping the old paint off the front panel I do clean them with Windex first. (This allows the chemical strippers to work more evenly.) The oxidized layer of gray paint came off with the dirt. After the panel was repainted and the paint was baked and hardened, I cleaned it with Windex after assembling the radio to remove fingerprints. No color on the cloth. Why? Fresh paint, no oxidation.

Here's an example of nicotine removal off the worst radios for seeing nicotine staining, any Clegg front panel! All that was used was Windex and a brush.


Now ... Formula 409 or Fantastic will remove paint, labeling and especially silk screen, even when diluted. If they don't remove it they will make it soft and more susceptible to scratches.

No matter what cleaner you use, it is a good idea to always rinse with water after you clean anything. This will keep any painted surfaces hard and prevent any softening over time from chemical residue.

Scrubbing Bubbles works good, if you like a coating of silicone (the "shining" agent added to it) that is there to make plastic/chrome faucets and porcelain look shiny.

Never ever use anything with wax, or silicone. This stuff will have to applied and reapplied to keep the finish looking consistent over time, especially painted surfaces. Also products like Johnson Wax use a petroleum distillate to lift off older wax on furniture. It basically will work like paint remover on any enamel finish surface; either softening, dulling, or even possibly removing the actual painted finish. On an unpainted metal chassis it would be fine.
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k4kyv
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Don
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« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2011, 08:47:17 PM »

50/50 mix of 409 and clear ammonia.

409 also will take the sheen off bakelite.  So will Fantastik.  I ruined a pair of National Type A Velvet Vernier dials with the stuff.  Someone also told me of ruining the escutcheon on a KW-1 the same way.
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Don, K4KYV                                       AMI#5
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W2WDX
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« Reply #13 on: November 26, 2011, 06:15:10 AM »

I would like to make one caveat to my Windex post.

Windex will remove paint stick used to fill in dots, lines on knobs or any of the other uses it has been used for by Hammy Hambone. One good example of this is the engraved white lettering on some R390a's. Many times, owners have used paint stick to fill in the engraved lettering on their R390's instead of real paint. Windex will lift this right out. So be aware of this.

I always use enamel paint when restoring front panels on R390's with a special paint pen. It is then baked in a kiln and will last a very long time. See below.


The finished product!


Click here for full resolution image.


John
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w3jn
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« Reply #14 on: November 26, 2011, 06:56:54 AM »

Lacquer sticks aren't real paint??

Been there and done that with the Windex, 409, and every other cleaner known to man.  The Westley's is by FAR the best.
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MikeKE0ZUinkcmo
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« Reply #15 on: January 07, 2012, 07:12:56 PM »

I use plain ole ammonia right out of the bottle.   It is the "magic" ingredient in many of the cleaners mentioned.   
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Mike KE0ZU

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« Reply #16 on: January 08, 2012, 10:34:15 AM »

I use plain ole ammonia right out of the bottle.   It is the "magic" ingredient in many of the cleaners mentioned.   

A agree. It takes a while for the ammonia smell to wear off but 6 months later the cigarette preserved equipment looks and smells just fine.
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W2WDX
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« Reply #17 on: February 21, 2012, 07:56:01 PM »

Lacquer sticks aren't real paint??


Well they are Lacquer, but most folks use them incorrectly. The most common way people use them is like a crayon. They rub the cold dry lacquer stick into the lettering or grove on a knob and wipe off the excess. Nope ... not gonna last, nor is it how these sticks are designed to be used.

Simply rubbing it on, means it never hardens. Since it is a unhardened oil based material it will tend to collect dirt and go brown from the dirt and patina, it is prone to being pricked out of the engraving, since it's not hardened it will be prone to melting by heat or be dissolved by any solution that breaks down oils, etc.

Heat is the key here. Once the stick is used, an iron is used to melt the lacquer. (These are designed as a filler for furniture.) Once melted (or burned-in) the lacquer is allowed to harden. Then a "lubricant" is used to remove excess. (One that comes to mind is Nu-Glo Patch Lube.) I have tried this method on R390 panels, both with an iron, and with sympathetic methods like a kiln. I was not happy at all with the results. Why? ...

Even if one was to "burn-in" the stick into the engraving, the problem is lacquer does not bond well to enamel. It will tend to want to release out of the engraving at some point. It also tends to bleed out during curing even when sitting still in a kiln, making for lettering that's less than sharp.

So to answer your question ... No ... lacquer sticks are not real paint. Paint is a liquid that hardens and molecularly bonds to the surface it's applied to. Sticks are crayons rubbed onto the surface. So ask yourself ... If your kid draws on the wall with a crayon or instead did so with paint, which would be easier for you to remove? And therein lies the point.

John
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« Reply #18 on: February 21, 2012, 08:47:50 PM »

Plain old latex white flat paint works for filling in engraved panels. I have one here I painted 20 years ago and it looks pretty good.

Just dab the panel with a wet sponge to remove excess. 
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w3jn
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« Reply #19 on: February 21, 2012, 10:25:24 PM »

Interesting.  I have several panels and knobs that have been done over 12 years ago (SX-28, NC-173, R-390),and they exhibit none of the problems you describe.  None have chipped or flaked and the lettering and knob indexes are hard.  Of course I treat them pretty well and they don't get a lot of use.
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