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Thread: Cleanliness is the wellspring of functionality.

  1. #1
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    Cleanliness is the wellspring of functionality.

    A couple of buddies came over to the house over the weekend, and brought an assortment of pedals, so we could compare and contrast. One of them had a Klon clone whose footswitch was driving him nuts, due to its unpredictable action (sometimes on, sometimes not). The other fellow had an original Colorsound Overdrive whose gain pot was erratic and would go from modest gain to full tilt with a few degrees of rotation, plus an Ibanez Auto-Filter that howled.

    Using my Spidey-senses, I pried the tabs of the footswitch in the Klon clone and disassembled the switch. Luckily, there was enough slack in the connecting wires that no unsoldering was necessary to get in there. Sure enough, like so many DIY pedals, the rocker contacts inside had conducted heat during soldering, liquified the damping grease inside the switch, causing it to flow and impede electrical contact. I took the rocker contacts out, wiped them dry and shiny with a paper towel, put a dab of Stabilant on each end, and re-seated them back inside. Put the other half of the switch on, squeezed the tabs shut, and screwed it back into place. Lo and behold, 10 minutes later, he had a fully functional pedal that had sound when bypassed and sound when engaged...every single time.

    The Overdrive gain pot was likely filthy inside, but I had to completely disassemble the pedal and unsolder the pot from the board to get at it. I did so, and saw the resistive strip had all sorts of crap on it. I cleaned it up with a Q-tip, applied some Stabilant, reassembled it, and soldered it back into place. Fifteen minutes after commencing, he had a properly functioning Overdrive.

    The Auto-Filter was an interesting case. I found that wiggling the "Peak" slider pot would make the howling go away. Since infinite resonance makes filters break out into oscillation, I figured it was that pot not making contact. Again, pulled the board assembly out, unsoldered the slider pot, disassembled it, cleaned off all the grime and residue that had accumulating on the resistive strip over 25 years, applied some Stabilant to fill in the gaps, and reassembled the pot. Put the pedal back together, and it works like a charm.

    Remarkable how many (though certainly not all) problems with gear can ultimately be attributed to things not making proper contact because some sort of extraneous material is in the way.

  2. #2
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    Dirt sounds like dirt. And, not good dirt either.

    I am routinely amazed that people will not clean their gear. There are hobbyists who mod their amps, but bring in the DeOx jobs. Not complaining about having the work, really. Just surprised at the things I see and hear that a little attention could fix.

  3. #3
    Supporting Member Jazz P Bass's Avatar
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    What floors me is when a mixer board comes in, literally covered in grime.
    And all of that crap for sure is down in the sliders & around the pots.
    Then there are the keyboards.
    Had a keyboard teacher that would make notations & then make corrections with an eraser.
    Right on the keybed.
    Guess where the eraser crumbs went.
    And then there are the power amps that had crud pulled in by the fans.
    For ten years.
    (Why did you remove the filters? They where dirty.)

  4. #4
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    Oh, and the say 16 channel mixer with several aux sends and a few sub busses, and the thing barely functions. All the controls are scratchy and iffy, sliders flopping around loose, etc etc. Well the stuff to fix is obvious, but how did it get this far? They decided to bring it in that way, so presumably last week it was still usable... somehow.
    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

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    On an un-repair shop related issue...

    Ever notice the condition your stuff (especially musical gear) is returned after a loan compared to how it went out!?! Same thing when yu sell a piece of gear to someone you remain in contact with. It always and truely amazes me how a guitar that I used for ten years, and sold in pristine condition, can be in the hands of a new owner for a week and have a loose volume pot, missing a nut lock, jack is shorting, new scratches and actual food (spaghetti, you could actually make out a piece of noodle) smudged on it!?! That's a true story. Of course they want you to fix it and never think you'll want to charge them. And of course you don't. ???

    I loaned a guitar to a fellow working musician one night and it came back with deep cuts in the first five frets under the high E and B strings. I asked him "What the hell happened?" and he just looked at me with a sheepish smile.

    And I once had a loaned amp returned to me with mildew on it and rusty transformer.

    Some of this from people I NEVER would have expected it from.

    I never loan anything anymore unless it's a dear friend and I can live without the thing and not judge. Which I think is a good rule in general.
    "I should have been born sooner. Of course, if I had been, I might be dead now." trem

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    Question I am unfamiliar with Stabilant........

    When I did a search for it, I came up with quite a few products. I've used cleaners and lubricants of various kinds, over the years. And, I'm interested in the particular one that you have mentioned. Your description sounds more like a lubricant, or some kind of de-oxidizer and lubricant. I would like to try the same, as it sounds like it does the job very well. Thanks for any and all info. Have a good one.

    Jack

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    The fuzz and dust creatures i have blown out of power amps.
    The spilled cola in the 24 channel mackie mixing board. All such fond memorys!

  8. #8
    Supporting Member Jazz P Bass's Avatar
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    Repair Of Mackie Mixer:
    Remove & clean 300 knobs.
    Remove main (only) board/ clean
    Reassemble & test
    WHAT!!: $300.00?
    Gotta love that one board (duh) design.

  9. #9
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    I'm too cheap! i did the mackie for $150 + parts 2 faders
    Most of the labor is pulling and replacing the damn knobs!

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    On a 1960s Vox AC30 I worked on recently, I had to remove a number of the chassis screws, wire-brush them and their contact surfaces, and reinstall them to get good ground integrity.

    Then there are the input jacks on guitar amps that often look like they've been buried in someone's garden for years...

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Hester View Post
    When I did a search for it, I came up with quite a few products. I've used cleaners and lubricants of various kinds, over the years. And, I'm interested in the particular one that you have mentioned. Your description sounds more like a lubricant, or some kind of de-oxidizer and lubricant. I would like to try the same, as it sounds like it does the job very well. Thanks for any and all info. Have a good one.

    Jack
    It's an interesting product that was marketed to audiophiles for a number of years under the product name "Tweak". I was introduced to it by a friend who has a very busy studio that records masters to 2" analog tape, and does post-production in the digital domain. Needless to say, he has a strong need to have those long-throw faders on the mixer as crackle-free as possible.

    It is NOT a cleaner or de-oxidizer, and while it does have some lubricant properties it is not explicitly a lubricant. It is an electro-conductive contact enhancer, that forms a permanently viscous layer on top of a conductive surface. As I am fond of saying, in the world of electrons, a micron is like the Grand Canyon. The thin conductive layer it provides fills in micro-gaps that can otherwise compromise electrical continuity. Best used as part of a one-two punch in combination with contact cleaner like De-Oxit.

    In the case of pots, the friction provided by the wiper can gradually erode the resistive strip over time, making for crackly performance, both by viortue of the pits created and build-up of residue from the stuff that used to be in the pits. This stuff nicely compensates for the pits created in resistive strips as the particulate matter they're made of gets scraped off. naturally, you have to clean the residue off first. Unfortunately, because it doesn't dry, you can't build up layers, so there are realistic limits to what it can fix. I wouldn't expect it to render near-new a late 1960's wah-wah pot that had experienced many hundreds of thousands of rotations. But within those limits, some near-miracle effects. I sometimes put poppy-seed-sized droplets in the pins of erratic IC sockets. You can find out more here: LINKS to OTHER SITES

  12. #12
    Senior Member mac1amps's Avatar
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    I tell you though, after years of checking out various "cleaners", & De-oxit's (I realize a lot you guys use De-oxit "religiously", and I'm not knocking it, but it IS pricey stuff), I keep coming back to good old WD-40 for cleaning up rust and oxidation throughout older (or abused) chassis (as well as speaker frames, reverb cable/ tray plugs/jacks, etc.). For the money, it sure has always done the job right for me.........Hmmmm, I didn't mean to sound like an ad for the stuff........'just sayin'
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    Mark -

    Good info. I particularily need some to see if I can clean up the scratchness in the pots on a '54 GA-40. Really good amp, otherwise. They have so much on their site, that I want to be sure to get the one that you are using. The link that you provided says Stabilant 22, and has it listed with several variations, I'm guessing. Is there a difference in these? Thanks for the reply. Have a good one.

    Jack

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    Noodle of Reality Steve Conner's Avatar
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    Mmm, WD-40. One of the mechanic's essential tools, the other being duct tape.

    I wouldn't use it on pots, mind you. There was a fad a while back for scratch DJs to use it on their crossfaders, and it never did much good.

    And if I sent my '59 Bassman for service (assuming I had one) and it came back smelling of WD-40, I'd fear the worst!
    "Enzo, I see that you replied parasitic oscillations. Is that a hypothesis? Or is that your amazing metal band I should check out?"

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    WD40....

    ...has its uses (mainly for cleaning-type chores, and rusty stuff...as mentioned) but "lubricating" is the last thing I use it for. I generally try to find something more appropriate for the particular job or piece.

    WD40 always seems to attract dirt and gunk up. I would NEVER consider it for a pot or fader. NEVER!!! Not on a chain. Not on an accelerator cable. Not on a door hinge. Not on an electrical contact. Actually, not on anything to use as a "lubricant" (except in a pinch).

    That's why machine oil, silicone and Teflon stuff, electrical contact cleaner, fader-lube and DeOxit-type pot cleaners are available.

    Use the right stuff for the right job. Never tried that Stabilant stuff, though. Looks interesting. I have an old 1948 Kalamazoo amp with a scratchy pot that I haven't gotten around to replacing, yet. (It'll settle on a spot and play fine...it's just annoying when it crackles as you turn it.) I've already taken the pot apart and cleaned it, etc.,...but no joy. Didn't work. Maybe that Stabilant will rejuvenate it, so I can leave the original one in? (If not...I would have to replace it anyway...and just throw the original one in the bag with the old caps and resistors I replaced.)

    Anyway...WD40...not as many uses as they advertise...if you are wise.

    Brad1

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brad1 View Post
    That's why machine oil, silicone and Teflon stuff, electrical contact cleaner, fader-lube and DeOxit-type pot cleaners are available.
    It might be interesting to know how similar (or dissimilar) WD40 is in composition to some of the producte you mention. It may actually be that it's just about the same. There may be some small differences that make it less suitable but it could be mice nuts. And the reason we don't use the stuff is because we're told it's wrong.

    Example: You know that tiny can of "gasoline conditioner" they sell at the auto parts store for adding to old gas??? It helps separate the water and dissolve varnishing in your gas tank. It costs about five bucks for a four ounce container. If you read the ingredients you'll see it's nothing but mineral spirits. Yup, the same stuff as ordinary paint thinner. But someone puts in a little can labled for an alternative use and charges nearly twenty times the price you would pay for the same stuff at the paint store.

    All I'm saying is, what makes actual fader lube better and less prone to gunk or cause problems than WD40. I don't use WD40 for this task, but people have been doing it forever.

    It's one thing to think your doing the right thing by using the advertised applicable product. And it's a very satisfying feeling. But it's quite another thing to know the truth of an issue. And considering it now I have to admit that I don't.
    "I should have been born sooner. Of course, if I had been, I might be dead now." trem

  17. #17
    Noodle of Reality Steve Conner's Avatar
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    Well, all of these things have to have MSDS published, and the MSDS tells you what the ingredients are, or at least the dangerous ones. I doubt it would reveal the magic recipe for Stabilant/Deoxit.

    For instance in Britain we have (or had) a brand of contact cleaner called Super Servisol. According to the MSDS, the main ingredient is "Pale spindle oil", whatever that is. WD40 is made of "Aliphatic Hydrocarbon", "Petroleum base oil" and "Surfactant-Proprietary". So, maybe they're both basically mineral oil, naphtha, kerosene or whatever, but WD40 has some sort of soap in it too.
    "Enzo, I see that you replied parasitic oscillations. Is that a hypothesis? Or is that your amazing metal band I should check out?"

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    Right. Sure. I'm not saying that WD40 is suitable. I'm just saying "How do we know it's not?" Everyone tells you that it'll cause the parts to gunk up. But IMHE some of the factory lubricants on pots and faders are extreamly tacky. How are these lubricants less prone to collect dust than WD40??? I haven't looked into it yet. I was just sharing a thought process out loud. It's never good to be complacent WRT the unknown IMHO.
    "I should have been born sooner. Of course, if I had been, I might be dead now." trem

  19. #19
    riz
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    "Pale spindle oil" is probably the same stuff I dump in the gravity-fed spindle oilers of my Bridgeport mill and pin router, to lubricate the spindles during use. I guess on some level, oil is oil...

    I, too, need to look into this Stabilant stuff.

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