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Looking For Tips On Using An Ultrasonic Cleaner



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Some plastics can discolor with too great an exposure to water.

 

Not quite correct, and maybe a little broad. The problem is defining "too great an exposure." It's not uncommon to have to soak a pen or pen part before trying to separate them. An over night soak before removing an inner cap or removing a Pelikan piston for instance, is not uncommon.

 

Some hard rubbers can discolor with exposure to water. Casein (which I consider to be in a class by itself) can be damaged by water, but celluloid and most other plastics are OK.

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I own a sonic cleaner, something I got before I was into FPs to clean my jewelry and glasses and such- is the mild cleanser used with most sonic cleaners generally fine to use for FPs and their parts as well? Or should I use something different?

- The poster formerly known as HollyGolightly

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I own a sonic cleaner, something I got before I was into FPs to clean my jewelry and glasses and such- is the mild cleanser used with most sonic cleaners generally fine to use for FPs and their parts as well? Or should I use something different?

 

I wouldn't use it. Use plain water or a 10% ammonia solution. Get the household ammonia without any fragrances or other additives. Use 10% of the ammonia and 90% water, preferably distilled.

 

Glenn

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A few more warnings -- In regard to ammonia solutions, it seems to be generally recognized that it will affect copper, brass, and aluminum. In regard to gold: David Nishimura observes, "there is strong evidence that ammonia can slowly and irreversibly embrittle 14K gold by attacking the base metals of the alloy."

 

Hope this helps,

 

-Oslowe

So should I assume any metal parts are best to just sit in plain old water? I apologize if these are silly questions, I'm still very green so to speak.

 

The cleaner I have in my possession seems similar to dish soap, but thinner. I've read that dish soap is generally fine to clean feeds and such. Is the consensus that certain parts of the pen are fine for the diluted ammonia solution and others you just stick to water?

- The poster formerly known as HollyGolightly

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Water is not enough. Even in an ultrasonic it can not break down the ink that has dried on nib and feed. Short exposure to the diluted ammonia, as in a 3 minute cycle followed by a good rinse, is safe enough. A long soak however is not. A few drops of Dawn dish detergent with the ammonia works well. Or you can buy Koh-I-Noor Rapido Eze pen cleaner.

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Keep pen parts in a plastic basket so they don't touch the stainless steel tank. Don't use ammonia based solution on silver. Some plastics can discolor with too great an exposure to water.

 

If you are sonicating a plated item, I'd go further than Joe's plastic basket. Don't allow the plated item to touch Anything other than

cleaning solution.

 

Notice how some of those plastic baskets resemble cheese graters? Now. Your plated part is going to vibrate a brazeelyun times a second right over that cheese grater. Don't do that.

 

Sonicated water gets warm. Warm water will turn ebonite brown. Change the water before it gets warm.

 

If you ever think to sonicate an Estie Tranny cap, don't. IMO, you can sonicate the jewel retaining ring inside the cap loose.

 

Fixing that is a bit of a PIA.

 

Bruce in Ocala, Fl

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HollyGolightly, on 04 Feb 2015 - 10:42, said:

I own a sonic cleaner, something I got before I was into FPs to clean my jewelry and glasses and such- is the mild cleanser used with most sonic cleaners generally fine to use for FPs and their parts as well? Or should I use something different?

On the rare occasion that I need more than plain water to clean a pen, I add a little Rapido-Eze.

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Jumping in........

I am looking to buy an ultrasonic cleaner. Is it better to buy one that has a heating feature, or does it make a difference? Amazon has about a thousand different styles and models. It is a bit overwhelming. Any tips on what to purchase?

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re use

Do not just put any part of the pen into the USC. The USC will drive water into the pen, and if you cannot clean it out, the water will stay there. This is not good if an iron alloy metal is there (like the clip), as the metal will rust or corrode over time. So I would NOT put a cap into an USC, as the water will be driven in between the inner and outer cap, and you will probably never get that water out.

A USC will clean solid ink but not liquid ink. Liquid ink has to be clean out by flushing or soaking. So you have to use several forms of cleaning together.

A USC is not a "silver bullet," and will not clean out everything. I have several times cleaned a pen with my USC till NOTHING was coming out. Then I soaked the section overnight. And in the morning I found a cloud of ink in the glass. There was still ink in the section that the USC did not clean out.

To minimize the amount of cleaning fluid that is made dirty by ink. A trick that I have used is to put a small stainless steel cup into my USC with the object to be cleaned in the cup. The cleaning fluid in the cup is turned BLACK with ink, but not the rest of the water/cleaning fluid outside the cup. This is useful when cleaning really clogged pens or pens with a LOT of dry ink.

The USC WILL heat the cleaning solution, so you need to monitor the temp of the cleaning solution, and periodically change it out, to prevent it from getting beyond lukewarm, as some plastics and other pen material do NOT like heat.

 

re cleaning fluid

I start with plain water, as being the least aggressive to the pen. For me that works 95% of the time. The dry ink is blasted out by the USC, only needing the water as a carrier of the sound waves, and to liquify the dry ink.

- When plain water does not work, I use water with a few drops of dishwashing soap.
- And if that does not work the I switch to 10% ammonia solution (be sure to rinse very well after using ammonia solution, as what oslowe said is correct).
- I have not had to use Rapido-Ez but that would be the next step if the ammonia solution does not work.

 

re plated nibs

I would CAREFULLY look at the nib before putting it in the USC. If it looks the least bit like peeling or flaking, do NOT put it in the USC. Also limit the time in a USC, and check often. The problem is that a USC can deplate a gold plated nib, even if suspended in the USC and not touching anything but the cleaning fluid. From first-hand experience, I have 1 completely deplated nib and 2 partially deplated nibs.

 

re heater

If you can turn the heater OFF, then get it. The heater makes the USC more versatile for cleaning other stuff where heat will help.

re USC

Get a USC with the controls on the body of the USC. There will be times where you want to use the USC with the cover open, and having the controls on the cover will be inconvenient.

Bigger is not always better. The bigger the tank the more cleaning fluid you need to use. This is OK for water, but will get expensive when you have to use Rapido-Ez. But using a stainless steel cup in the solution is a method to use less of the expensive cleaning solution.

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Also, leaving the lid open will help tremendously with the heating up issue.

 

The only problem I've had with the ammonia solution was with a chrome plated 51 sac guard. That didn't work out too well, but it was already flaking a bit.

 

Glenn

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I bought an ultrasonic cleaner yesterday after reading good things about their effective cleaning capabilities. Are there any do's and don'ts regarding its use that I should follow?

 

Do not use on the Pelikan Binde's as it may delaminate or fade the colors. Using on all of the other Pelkan parts is fine, just not the barrels.

"Not a Hooker Hooker, but rather a left-handed overwriter."

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Thanks so much!

This is a lot to digest in one bite. I will take some time to re-read the comments about using the machine. So, if I understood correctly, get a usc that has a heating feature but turn it off when cleaning pens?

And get one where the controls are not on the lid.

Carl

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  • 7 months later...

Thanks to all who posted with their advice for using USC. I got one for my birthday, well maybe a sonic cleaner if not an ultra one. It calls itself electro-sonic. If it's wrong for pens, I'll use it for jewelry.

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The usc works better after about 5 -10 minutes, during which time the water de-gases. So I like to clean in bursts. Temperatures close to human body temperature (37 degrees C or about 98 degrees F) are also more effective at creating cavitation and cleaning.

 

Regular Dawn is a fine mild cleaner. The regular stuff is cheaper than Ultra-Dawn, which includes enzymes to attack food residues. If you can find a camera store which carries darkroom chemicals, a bottle of Kodak Photo-Flo will cost less than $10, and is a very effective detergent which sometimes works better than Dawn. Or you can use a few drops of both together. Purchased online, Photo-Flo will run closer to $20, but heck, it is still a supply which will last for for years. (Triton-X is similar; I've used it for decades in labs.). Household ammonia can be added for tough cases (use between a 1 to 9 dilution of ammonia to water, up to 1 to 5 parts in tough cases). Use some judgement in terms of how long to sonicate (or soak).

 

The usc is just another tool. I don't think it replaces soaking overnight, or even flushing with a rubber bulb. I've been sonicating gunked up nib units for a couple of minutes in very dilute Dawn, followed by an overnight soak in the same, then more sonication and finally rubber bulb flushes. Add ammonia only as required. Each method has advantages, but the most outstanding results seem to come from using the whole bag of tricks. Sometimes, it seems like the soaking softens hardened deposits, and allows the sonication to work much more effectively in a shorter time. Always finish with copious cool water flushes to remove any remaining surfactant.

 

I bought a stainless steel unit on eBay (Chinese make) for about $60 shipped. It also heats. The solid-state electronics and body are solid, and well-sealed against moisture. The warranty is for 24 months, and the seller has been around for over six years on eBay. The 1-1/2 quart capacity (a little optimistic) allows me to clean tools and automotive parts as well. Find more uses for it every week. Wickedly effective on eyeglasses! Note all cautions suggested in earlier posts, and only plug into a grounded outlet.

Brian

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