Cleaning stuff with surgical spirit

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tuxychuff
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Cleaning stuff with surgical spirit

Postby tuxychuff » Wed Apr 07, 2010 11:52 am

I have found that surgical spirit (mixture of methanol & ethanol) seems to work quite well as a track & wheel cleaner. I also noticed that there was a massive up cry of "noooooooooooooooooooooo that will wreck everything" when someone suggested WD-40.
do you lot think that my idea is that terrible or is actually quite good?

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Roger (RJ)
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Re: Cleaning stuff with surgical spirit

Postby Roger (RJ) » Wed Apr 07, 2010 12:11 pm

Surgical spirit can be good BUT some brands have a lot of oil in them. It's added during the manufacturing process and is there to help stop skin drying out when the surgical spirit is used for it's original purpose.

To see how much oil is in it, put a small amount onto a mirror, laid flat, and allow it to evaporate over a few days. The residue will show how much oil there is.

I prefer to use meths or lighter fluid. Meths leaves a tiny trace of blue dye behind but in my experience it has virtually no ill effect. The best cleaning fluid of all is Isopropyl alcohol (IPA).

WD-40 is a definite no-no. You can try the evaporation test with it and see what a thick gungy mess is left behind. This mess eventually dries up completely and leaves a hard skin, almost like varnish.

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Re: Cleaning stuff with surgical spirit

Postby bigbob » Wed Apr 07, 2010 12:15 pm

I use Carb/Brake cleaner from work! have to be careful which one as some can damage plastic parts.

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tuxychuff
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Re: Cleaning stuff with surgical spirit

Postby tuxychuff » Wed Apr 07, 2010 12:28 pm

thanks, that mirror test sounds like a good idea, I'll try it some time.
but if its no better than meths I'll probably use that :)

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son of triangman
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Re: Cleaning stuff with surgical spirit

Postby son of triangman » Wed Apr 07, 2010 12:41 pm

Merely echoing Rogers advice to a large extent. Surgical spirit is good and I use it myself, been using it for years, however you need to avoid the brands with a lot of oil in them as Roger rightly says. You might have try a few brands to find one that doesn't leave too much of an oil residue. Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) is best for the job when you can get it, but it seems to be in very short supply in the North Cambs, South Lincs areas, so I am forced to use Surgical Spirit instead more often than not.

WD40 and 3 in 1 are a definate NO, NO as Roger rightly says, they leave a gungy residue and also overtime cause damage to loco gearing if left on. WD40 softens the plastic of ringfield motor gears and can turn them into a putty like substance overtime, also it can have the opposite effect depending on where the model is stored of making the gears very brittle. Both WD40 and 3 in 1 are best left in the shops when it comes to loco lubrication and track cleaning, and shouldn't be used as a loco degreaser.

Brake and carb cleaner can be ok for track cleaner, but they love to eat plastics as bigbob rightly says, so I wouldn't use it.

You are doing no harm using Surgical Spirit, just wipe the railhead afterwards to remove any residue. It cleans up plastic sleepers a treat and that old dusty track you have seen in the local junk shop can come up like brand new.

Surgical spirit also makes a good transfer remover on non-painted surfaces too and can be used to remove paint on overpainted locos providing you use it sparingly, making sure you don't go through to the original paintwork underneath.

It is also perfect for cleaning those old Tri-ang wheels especially if you follow it with a beeswax based polish and thoroughly rub off the residue afterwards

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Re: Cleaning stuff with surgical spirit

Postby edwardholmes91 » Wed Apr 07, 2010 1:53 pm

Again, as Rodger and Son of Triangman have already said, surgical spirit can leave an oily residue, but can be wiped off easily. IPA or Isopropanol is very useful and does not leave a residue but it does dry your skin out and turn your fingers white after lots of use :P It is also very smelly like surgical spirit so use in a well ventilated area!

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upnick
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Re: Cleaning stuff with surgical spirit

Postby upnick » Wed Apr 07, 2010 2:12 pm

Use IPA for track cleaning as surgical spirit can be greasy as has been said ........ some chemist dont stock IPA (isopropyl Alohol) now as someone found it made a good drink :shock:

I bought mine off ebay no problems a search on there will show several suppliers.

WD40 & 3in one oil shouldnt be used at all on modelrailways .......... a good grease used sparingly is far better.
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Re: Cleaning stuff with surgical spirit

Postby 47806 » Wed Apr 07, 2010 2:37 pm

I use IPA quite often. Not easy to get in the UK, Boots in Cambridge no longer stock it due to the drinking issue. In North America it is still very easy to find. I also use contact cleaner designed for electronics. My guess is that somewhere like Currys might stock it.
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Speed Whisker
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Re: Cleaning stuff with surgical spirit

Postby Speed Whisker » Wed Apr 07, 2010 3:46 pm

I use Sterets which are sold as a pre-injection cleaning wipe from many chemists. Basically, they are a small square of papery material soaked in IPA with each one coming in it's own foil sachet.
They come in boxes of 100. http://www.firstaid-direct.co.uk/produc ... fm?pID=412

(They do also contain a percentage of water but this is insignificant and, I've found, doesn't do any harm.)

IPA = India Pale Ale :D
Why are the locos I want, in the liveries I want, always either non existent, out of stock, discontinued or collectors club only/limited editions?

I used to be with it, but now what I'm with is no longer it and what's it is somehow strange and confusing.

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Flashbang
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Re: Cleaning stuff with surgical spirit

Postby Flashbang » Wed Apr 07, 2010 4:24 pm

Hi
IPA (Isopropyl Alcohol) is the "Bees Knees" of wheel and rail cleaners. It leaves no residue at all.
In the UK, many pharmacies are very reluctant to supply Isopropyl Alcohol, in fact I can't find any chemist locally to me that will supply, if they stock it in the first place? Perhaps they look at me and think "He's a boozer". :wink: :wink:

I have two means of very easy supply.
500ml lasts for ages anyway (if you remember to replace the cap on the bottle immediately after use!) :oops: But often 1ltr is the cheaper option.

ebay is the largest supplier, with loads of sites offering IPA in various sizes. But always ensure its the 99% or higher IPA. Lower percentages will contain some water and are not really suitable.
Lst of current ebay IPA suppliers
Or
Maplin IPA Sold in 1ltr can container.
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Speed Whisker
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Re: Cleaning stuff with surgical spirit

Postby Speed Whisker » Wed Apr 07, 2010 9:49 pm

I've found the percentage of water that is in Sterets (30%) evaporates as fast as the alcohol itself. There may be a tiny risk of corrosion to steel items from the small water content but I've been using them for years to clean and degrease all sorts or electronic equipment and components, computer components and the insides of model railway locos etc without any ill effects whatsoever. If the degreasing is a somewhat heavier job such as removing decades of gunk from inside a second hand Hornby loco or excess/leftover flux from a soldering job, then I use lighter fuel.
Sterets are a simple, cheap and convenient method to obtain IPA but if you're not sure about the effects of the water content on whatever you wish to clean then it's best not to risk it and opt instead for a bottle of the purer stuff.
Why are the locos I want, in the liveries I want, always either non existent, out of stock, discontinued or collectors club only/limited editions?

I used to be with it, but now what I'm with is no longer it and what's it is somehow strange and confusing.

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son of triangman
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Re: Cleaning stuff with surgical spirit

Postby son of triangman » Thu Apr 08, 2010 7:09 am

I totally agree supply of IPA sadly is the real problem as has been mentioned. It's impossible to get here out in the Northern part of East Anglia, the nearest place would be in Peterborough a 40 mile round hike. If you can get IPA then use it, if not surgical spirit will do the job.

tuxychuff
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Re: Cleaning stuff with surgical spirit

Postby tuxychuff » Thu Apr 08, 2010 11:03 am

While I'm trying to find some IPA:
Is there anything special I need to know about lubricating models exept
use light oil
DON'T USE WD-40!....
... or 3-in-1
only use small amounts
and don't slosh it all over electrical stuff?

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Speed Whisker
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Re: Cleaning stuff with surgical spirit

Postby Speed Whisker » Thu Apr 08, 2010 3:55 pm

tuxychuff wrote:Is there anything special I need to know about lubricating models exept
use light oil


I would say make sure the oil used is plastic friendly otherwise it might have a detrimental effect on any plastic it comes into contact with - and this detrimental effect might not immediately be obvious but will happen slowly as time passes.
If an oil is especially marketed/sold as a 'model railway' oil then it should be OK.
Why are the locos I want, in the liveries I want, always either non existent, out of stock, discontinued or collectors club only/limited editions?

I used to be with it, but now what I'm with is no longer it and what's it is somehow strange and confusing.

tuxychuff
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Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:50 pm
Location: 31A/CA

Re: Cleaning stuff with surgical spirit

Postby tuxychuff » Thu Apr 08, 2010 6:27 pm

sewing machine oil?


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