Cleaning and refurbishing metal parts

saladman

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Mar 16, 2020
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Hello all,

Can people please share their experience and tips for restoring metal parts? I have seen / read about people using ultrasonic cleaners, tumble polishers, manual polishing, various products.

I recently got an ultrasonic cleaner - they are relatively cheap - and have got some decent results so far on rusty / corroded screws and some grotty switch actuators (the wire-y lever-y bits that mount to the underside of the playfield).

It seems that some people also use tumblers / tumble polishers to clean things up. I have seen cheap versions on the usual sites - basically an acrylic tub that you fill with media and your parts - and also more industrial, often 3 phase machines that are super expensive and out of reach of most of us mere mortals. I don't have any experience with these.

Does anybody use wire wheels / buffing wheels on a bench grinder to clean up larger parts?

Hoping to learn and share along the way.
 

DanLewell

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Jul 21, 2011
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I've got a tumbler. Lyman 1200 I think.

Works really well and gets even the crappiest rusty parts looking shiny and new. It takes a while though, put stuff in, turn it on and leave for a couple of days.
 

astyy

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Dont be nosey :-)
Seems to be a following on pinside for Evaporust as an all-in-1 dip for rust, crud and dirt, reporting great results. Build a "bath" from a soil stack pipe and reuse. I'd like to try this approach at some point it seems efficient.
https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/cult-of-evaporust

Currently I cut and polish small parts, the mops and compounds from here and they sell on Ebay too I think.
https://www.metalpolishingsupplies....eel-10pc-metal-polishing-buffing-kit-3-x-1-2/

Different approaches to hopefully achieve the nice and shiny end goal :cool:
 
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saladman

saladman

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Mar 16, 2020
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Blimey it does look that Evaporust stuff works wonders. Handy to know for the larger parts that wouldn't fit in a tabletop tumbler or ultrasonic cleaner.

Seems to be that people later wax or oil larger parts to try and protect against / delay future corrosion. I think I'll try that.
 

DanLewell

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what media do you use for tumbling?
Crushed corncob and a big squeeze of autosol in with the parts.

I'm going to start stripping a playfield at the weekend. It's an old EM that was stored in a damp garage, so the tumbler is going to have its work cut out to make everything look nice again. I'll put some before and after pics up when I do that.
 
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carl lawrence

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Normally I use the tumbler with a squirt of autosol prof it for a few screw heads then I use a buffer in a drill clamped on a vice with autosol one down side in doing this method the screw can flick out of your fingers and if could be days before you find the little bugger !!
 
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saladman

saladman

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At first I thought you guys were sticking in your leftover sweetcorn until I looked up what corncob is 😂

Good tips on the autosol and T-cut too

@DanLewell would be great to see some before and after shots - thanks

@carl lawrence I've spent many hours looking for tiny parts that have flown across the workshop, haha. Position an array of strong magnets near the polishing location in an attempt to catch the parts in flight perhaps?
 
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RuzRuk

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Vibratory shaker from Frosts Auto Restoration. Use ceramic cones and their cleaning fluid. Then finish off in a jewelry tumbler with walnut chippings and autosol for a couple of days. Works great.

Sent from my I3113 using Tapatalk
 

RudeDogg1

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In the tumbler I normally use walnut for the first day or so to get rid of most the crap. Then a couple days in corn cob with a squirt of autosol or even better fritz polish if u can find it
 
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Dave Bishop

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Thinking of getting Lyman 1200 polisher -
Also I see stainless steel media.. which should last a lifetime...

What are people’s thoughts on this?
 

7oxford

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Evaporust is good for legs or anything rusty. Stick legs in a long pipe. Don’t leave them in for too long.
For small parts I ultrasound first to remove most of the dirty stuff, dry, then place in a vibratory tumbler using walnut. Sometimes I add brasso to the walnut. I think it helps to clean parts first with the ultrasound or meths otherwise you will need to change your walnut more frequently. I use a Franklin ****nal tumbler.
For lane guides and larger parts too big for the tumbler: Clean in meths then use autosol.
Steel rails will come up quite good with something like a steel wool soap pad and warm water.
 

stumblor

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Yup - exactly what i use :)
No specific size....
The only thing with walnut, or any tumbling for that matter, is getting it out of very tiny spots. Phillips screw heads being the most annoying in my opinion. Bearing in mind how many screws you end up with - I would just replace these outright.

Otherwise for tubes and such (hex posts) you may sometimes need to drill the media out with a 1 or 2mm bit.
 
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carl lawrence

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Never heard of anything being used for metal other than corn cob or walnut. Can’t see it being much good on bolts etc anything with a flat surface like brass shell maybe
I agree too !!
Hence why Dave and i asked to see if any of you guys have tried it :)