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Your tricks for cleaning a dirty chassis?

Discussion in '"Boat Anchor" & Classic Equipment' started by KW4H, Jul 23, 2021.

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  1. KW4H

    KW4H Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    A question for you. The case around the HRO-60 I've been resurrecting was, unfortunately, one of those train wrecks. Unless I wanted a perfectly running radio inside a terribly ugly cabinet, it had to go for refinishing. There are drawbacks -- the shop that powder coated it did their best, but the engravings in the metal for the front panel lettering are filled in "just enough" such that I can't successfully re-ink most of them with a lacquer stick. You did a magnificent job on the front panel lettering on your Hallicrafters. How did you do it?

    Unless I learn some new tricks, the end solution for me will be to use white-on-clear labels in our label maker. I can match the font and the symbols -- however, even though those labels are totally clear you can see the edges at the right angle.

    73 - Steve.
  2. KN4SMF

    KN4SMF Ham Member QRZ Page

    It isn't the powder coating that prevents you from inking it as it were Linotype slugs. The lettering is not raised enough for that even on a normal rig. I don't know how the factory originally did it. Nevertheless, the wording IS raised, however slightly, and was all I needed to hand letter over the top of it. Is it tedious? It most certainly is. But patience pays off. I used the 50mm lens from a junk 35mm camera, turned around backwards as a sort of jewelers loupe. I chose water-based opaque white pens I bought at Wallyworld. I believe they are called Jelly Roll, in a 3 pack. I decided on waterbased because I knew there would be many mistakes. I reasoned that the number of mistakes would be so numerous that a solvent based ink would require a petroleum distillate to wipe off the ink and start over, probably many times. In turn doing harm to the black finish. My plan worked, but I also had a job that would rub right off with one swipe of the finger.
    The next step was a can of Satin, and a can of Flat Clear Krylon. I'm sure an airbrush would have been better. I then masked each word with a stack of masking tape strips that I had cut-to-measure on a separate metal plate, a ruler, and an exacto knife. I don't remember how many thickness of masking tape I used. 5 or 6 maybe? I cut the windows out at a 45 degree slant of the knife so that the clear spray would "feather outwards", rather than a sharp line. I discovered that the first few coats of spray had to be the lightest mist. Otherwise it would be so wet it would soak in to the white inking, ruining it. Opaque water based ink isn't very opaque. Then a few more coats for good measure. If the satin was too shiny, the next coat I used Flat. I didn't want it to be obvious like a decal.
    Before I did the whole job, I tried just one word to see if my idea would chip off with time. I couldn't hurt it with my fingernail. Admirably pleased that it IS pretty rugged, I went ahead and did the whole job. I 'm sure at some point it will separate or flake. But at 64 with one heart attack under my belt, it will likely outlast ME. and it sure is pretty.
    KW4H likes this.
  3. N8VIL

    N8VIL Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I use "Awsome" cleaner from the dollar store diluted with water, a chip brush/tooth brush, followed with a rinse with water. You have to use common sense and care as some things should not be flooded with water. I then dry in the oven on low heat followed by putting the item in a small closet with a dehumidifier running for a week. Pictures are of my SB-220 that I acquired before restoration that was sitting in a fruit cellar of a basement for 30+ years and was full of grime and mildew. Came out looking new. I restore many electronic items that are full of nicotine residue and grime the same way and they come out looking new and no more smell. Again, common sense and care when doing this. I never had a problem with this method.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 1, 2021
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  4. KN4SMF

    KN4SMF Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've preached the gospel of Awesome Cleaner myself. Laying down a radio on the driveway and blasting it with a pressure washer is ridiculous. Great for cylinder heads and such, but not a radio. Unless the radio is nothing but a skeleton found at the bottom of a river after 60 years. I've let up on my rigorous obsession quite a bit, when I realized that most of these old radios only need to be re-worked electronically and brought back into electrical adjustment. We live in a day and time of anti-nicotine obsession. All radio grime gets blamed as "nicotine". That's a war where i am a pacifist. If the radio is nasty with whatever substance, I clean it. But if it's generally workable, I clean it within reason with Awesome cleaner and various scrubbing implements and get busy on the business of electrical tuning and whatever associate parts prevent that. I'm not running a museum. I don't get a government paycheck and a pension to do this.
  5. KW4H

    KW4H Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thanks for the tips on Awesome Cleaner -- the XYL and I were out for dinner and we detoured to a Dollar General for several things -- and whaddya know -- Awesome Cleaner was there.
    N8VIL likes this.
  6. KN4SMF

    KN4SMF Ham Member QRZ Page

    Awesome Cleaner is just a weaker solution of Purple Power, or purple soap, which in its strongest commercially available form is a very strong cleaner/degreaser. I don't know the name of the chemical, but it can be some super-bad stuff. Even in its iteration called Awesome Cleaner, it can sill do a pretty reasonable job of cleaning engine parts, but it cannot degrease engine blocks and cylinder heads deeply enough for painting. But if abused, it CAN damage the cadmium plating used on radio chassis. Cleaning a radio chassis, which are universally cadmium plated entails decision. How much remaining pitting or staining are you willing to live with? After as many radio overhauls as I've done, I've decided that the cleaning process may not be necessary at all. If you have a radio browned by tobacco smoke, Awesome cleaned can be diluted with Windex, or used alternately. First, do no harm, which is also a doctor's motto. Do a reasonably good job and maybe if the radio passes into other hands after my death until such time as the museum curators get it one day and give it the" B-29 found at the bottom of the Pacific" treatment, then let THEM do it.
    AB2YC likes this.
  7. W3SLK

    W3SLK Ham Member QRZ Page

    I will advise against using Windex® near anything acrylic or cellulose based. The ammonia will attack it and either crack it or decompose it.
    KA0HCP, WA1GXC and N8VIL like this.
  8. WD0GOF

    WD0GOF Ham Member QRZ Page

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  9. KD9IQO

    KD9IQO Ham Member QRZ Page

    Industrial ultrasonic cleaner. 91% Isopropyl & Mean Green in equal parts.

    Attached Files:

  10. KB7LOQ

    KB7LOQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Scrubbing Bubbles.

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