Recommendations for cleaning nicotine

Discussion in '"Boat Anchor" & Classic Equipment' started by VE2GCE, May 8, 2019.

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  1. VE2GCE

    VE2GCE Ham Member QRZ Page

    I recently acquired a 30L1 that obviously belonged to a smoker.
    I was able to clean the case with dish washing soap + water and that got rid much of the brown staining.
    My problem is the hole perforations are still full of nicotine, any recommendations for removing nicotine from these thousands of ventilation holes ?

    I decided not to clean the chassis because I was afraid to introduce water near any HV circuitry.
    The chassis is not as bad as the case, but I am open to any cleaning suggestions that don't involve removing any components.
  2. KP4SX

    KP4SX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Take the case outdoors with a hose pipe and clean it again with a toothbrush. Give the soap time to break down the crud.
    K9ASE and VE2GCE like this.
  3. SM0XHJ

    SM0XHJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Is it the smell you are trying to get rid of? If so, you could try ozone. That is commonly used to get rid of smell of smoke in cars and apartments.
    VE2GCE likes this.
  4. AB2YC

    AB2YC Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Look for product called Super Clean.

    I recently tried this on the bottom cover of a Power supply that was yellowed.
    I sprayed it on then just lightly rubbed it around with my finger and rinsed it off.

    VE2GCE likes this.
  5. K3XR

    K3XR Ham Member QRZ Page

    You need to use care with the finish and lettering when cleaning old ham gear. Some of those cleaners are very powerful and can damage the finish or remove the lettering. I start with the mildest cleaners i.e. Windex or dish detergent and move up to a stronger cleaner. Odoban, available at stores like Lowes, can be effective on smoke odor.
    VE2GCE likes this.
  6. WB2GCR

    WB2GCR Ham Member QRZ Page

    I recommend, but have no relationship with, ZEP 505 which is a great alkaline cleaner.
    Will definitely REMOVE THE BROWN!!

    I've sprayed in on all sorts of chassis and panels, HOWEVER it will remove regular
    stamped lettering, some (not many) paints, and printed items... so use judiciously.

    Should work fine on your linear and definitely super on aluminum chassis...

    TEST in a small area.

    RINSE very well.
    I use a garden hose.

    To dry, I heat the chassis with a hot plate, spacer to keep the rig up off the surface, and do that
    for one to two days... TRANSFORMERS NEED THE END BELLS OPENED, or they will
    trap moisture!!!

    Attached Files:

    VE2GCE and K3XR like this.
  7. AG5CK

    AG5CK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    That's good stuff. I know a machine shop that used it to clean aluminum cylinder heads. They would soak them overnight in a barrel and they looked like new the next day. If the solution was too strong the aluminum would turn black.
    VE2GCE likes this.
  8. KA9JLM

    KA9JLM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I would not use hard water for electronics. Soft water should be fine.

    De-Ionized is best.

    If your oven has a lightbulb, You can put it in there with the light on.

    Measure the humidity in the oven to tell when it is dry and done.

    Windex and a shop vac can suck the vent holes clean.
    VE2GCE likes this.
  9. K7TRF

    K7TRF Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I use a product called Krud Cutter and it works like a charm for nicotine stains on old rigs. Dilute it with water per the instructions or it can take off more than nicotine but the stuff definitely works.

    I also wouldn't hesitate to wash the main chassis of a rig, even around HV components you've just got to dry it out real well before turning it back on. In extreme cases I've pulled all the components that are removable or might get damaged from water like meters, and things that are lubricated (like VFOs, PTOs) and run the entire rig through a dishwasher, rinse it a couple of times but then dry it out over several days including oven drying at low temperature. The process is a PITA especially if you have to desolder sensitive parts but when a rig is in really bad shape it works. FWIW we wash circuit boards in dishwashers all the time in commercial manufacturing, sure it's tougher with a fully assembled rig with some components that might suffer water damage that should be removed first but water isn't an issue for most parts as long as you dry everything out really well. All that said, I'd at least hand wash the chassis using diluted Krud Cutter followed by soap and water if there's obvious yellowing from nicotine.
    VE2GCE likes this.
  10. N8YX

    N8YX Ham Member QRZ Page

    First, I'd start by choking the smoker (and I say this as a former smoker myself). 'TRF's procedure is a good one and I've successfully used Fantastik cleaner plus Dawn dishwashing liquid on the odd piece of gear. Most enamels or epoxy paints aren't affected by either of these. What I do is to separate the case/covers and panel(s) plus knobs from the main chassis and attack each one separately.

    If the buildup isn't too bad and the smell is the main issue, put the equipment - covers removed - in a trash bag along with a permeable sack full of fresh baking soda. Seal the bag and leave it for a week or two. The odor should be gone.
    K9ASE and VE2GCE like this.

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