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Cleaning an old radio?

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' 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 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 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?
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