Cleaning an old radio?

Discussion in 'Discussions, Opinions & Editorials' started by W5JTX, Jan 5, 2013.

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  1. W5JTX

    W5JTX Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am being given an old Kenwood HF rig from a SK's estate. The radio could be operational but that is unknown. I was told he was a heavy smoker and am expecting a nasty rig. I want to try and salvage it if possible and was wanting to know the best method/ products to use in cleaning the internals. Any info is appreciated.

  2. N8YX

    N8YX Ham Member QRZ Page

    First off: Which model?

    If it's a tube hybrid, the procedure will be a little different than for a solid-state unit.
  3. K7MH

    K7MH Ham Member QRZ Page

    Which rig is it? It might make a difference in how to go about cleaning it.
  4. W5JTX

    W5JTX Ham Member QRZ Page

    it is a Kenwood ts 520. Tube hybrid I believe.
  5. KB4QAA

    KB4QAA XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Krud Kutter spray from Lowes, Tru Value, etc is the only thing I have found that removes cigarette tar. It is pretty gently, but still strong and I dilute it when working with it.

    -Remove all tubes, meters, anything that will be damaged wet. Mask off with tape or aluminum foil all coils, xformer entrances, etc.

    -working over sink I use a chip brush, tooth brush, nail brush, a small tub and a cup. I dilute some spray in the tub, then use the brush to carry over radio, gently brushing and rinsing with clear water, repeatedly.

    When done I dry in a 120-130F (Navy & Army specifications) for about an hour.
  6. W5JTX

    W5JTX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for the info. We will see what happens.
  7. KE6KA

    KE6KA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Which version of Krud Klutter? There is about five different versions of it at the hardware store here.

    Same thing for Dawn dish detergent. I've seen references to using if because it doesn't take off the lettering. However, when I was looking at the various version of Dawn, I noticed one of them has amonia. I want to wash the faceplate on an SB-220 and would like to keep the lettering. My experience with amonia and lettering on old radios has been that amonia does a much better job at removing the lettering than the dirt and grime.

    I used a product called Mean Green degreaser on a SB-220 cabinet that was heavily stained with nicotine. It was about 85% effective. I'm hesitant about using in on the faceplate.
  8. KC8VWM

    KC8VWM Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I wouldn't use any harsh cleaner on anything that has any paint, plastic displays or lettering.

    Ammonia destroys plastic.

    Dawn dish washing liquid, strips the surface and even discolors paint finishes. For example, "Blue" suddenly turns "Purple" instead.


    After reading some of these suggestions, I am left wondering if anyone here has actually done rig restorations before?

    A good alternative to "cleaner" is to use automotive wax instead. Automotive wax is gentle on surfaces and yet by design it's intended to remove things from delicate finishes and painted surfaces like tar for example.
  9. KE6KA

    KE6KA Ham Member QRZ Page

    How does one go about cleaning the textured paint on the cabinet of an SB-220 with automotive wax? I just don't see it. I have used car wash detergent with good results.

    I just did a quick search on ammonia. Most plastics hold up fairly well to most types of ammonia. But anyway, my point in my post was that I want to stay away from ammonia.
  10. KC8VWM

    KC8VWM Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Automotive wax will actually emulsify any nicotine and tar right off the cabinet.

    I used automotive wax on the "textured" cabinet and face plate of an SB-220 and even an SB-200 before for that matter.

    Here's one..


    Automotive wax cleans because with each application you apply, it actually lifts the crud away and it does this without damaging the surface.

    ....Need some real examples showing how automotive wax can be used to actually "clean" old radios?

    :) Here's my own projects....cleaned exclusively using automotive wax...

    Note I use this photo as my qrz avatar..:


    What it looks like inside after cleaning with automotive wax:


    This cabinet is worse than "textured", it's actually full of holes and yet this is what happens after cleaning it with automotive wax...


    Wax works good for cleaning up old amplifiers too..



    ...Still not convinced automotive wax is a very good cleaner?
  11. KC9UDX

    KC9UDX Subscriber QRZ Page

    Saying anything is good or bad for "plastics" is dangerous.

    (Nothing cleans bakelite better than paint thinner.)
  12. KC8VWM

    KC8VWM Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I "cleaned" the plastic meter, plastic switches and face panel shown in the photo using automotive wax.

  13. KC9UDX

    KC9UDX Subscriber QRZ Page

    But, I'm guessing if you had some unknown plastic that you hadn't tried it on before you would try it in a small, hidden area before applying it to a large part.
  14. NL7W

    NL7W Ham Member QRZ Page

    The INTERNALS could be cleaned with a 10:1 or 20:1 water dilution of Parsons Ammonia All Purpose Cleaner. This has worked in the past for me. I wouldn't use it on front panels though. I've soaked chassis with electronic components with the stuff, brushed and then thoroughly bathed in very clean water. Let dry for days and days.

    BTW, Charles' meticulous way with wax is interesting, and it works as one can see! Wax has abrasives and or cleaning agents, too.

  15. KE6KA

    KE6KA Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm fully aware of the cleaning ability. Many of the same ingredients in wax are used in goo-gone type products. I often use an automotive polish for cleaning. It can be used to buff out minor scratches, but since it is mildly abrasive it can't be used over lettering.

    It looks like you have a different finish on your faceplate. Mine is a flat, fine-textured wrinkle. If it was the same finish as the faceplate on the SB-600 speaker I have I would try it. The speaker faceplate doesn't have a smooth finish, but the paint has an almost gloss surface to. I cleaned it in two minutes with car wash detergent and a sponge. The difference between the two faceplates is that the SB-600 faceplate has paint with a glossy enough surface on it that the nicotine settled on the surface, but couldn't penetrate the paint. The SB-220 faceplate has a flat paint where the nicotine could enter a porous surface. I'm not trying to restore it to mint condition. I'm trying to get it to look cosmetically acceptable and clean the dust out of the interior so the HV doesn't use the dust as a path to something else in the amplifier. But if I have to take things apart I'll clean them thoroughly.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2013
  16. N0WYO

    N0WYO Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm Impressed, Charles! Thanks for sharing that. Those radios look cleaner than they probably were when they were new.

    Very nice!
  17. KC8VWM

    KC8VWM Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    ...Why would it harm the plastic on your radio equipment?

    Automotive wax doesn't scratch or damage the surface either... This probably explains why they use it on $150,000 sport cars. :)

    The plastic shown here on the clock, dials, S-meter and even the plastic knobs on my Hammarlund radio project shown here was cleaned using automotive wax.


    Automotive Wax works good for cleaning the plastic frequency lense, and does a nice job of restoring the old tired paint on my R390A too...

  18. KC9UDX

    KC9UDX Subscriber QRZ Page

    I wouldn't get it anywhere near the plastic dial cover of a pre-war radio. Unless, of course, someone was going to give me a $150,000 sports car as consolation if the plastic was damaged.
  19. KC8VWM

    KC8VWM Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thanks!... Hey, I'm just doin' my part to keep 'em glowing...

  20. KC9UDX

    KC9UDX Subscriber QRZ Page

    That picture reminds me of when the Pentium(R) first came out, and I installed the even better Pentodium(R) in my Amiga 500. The +5V supply nicely lit the 6.3V filament of some random pentode in a box atop my monitor.
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