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  • Removing tarnish

    I have a parts-drawer chock full of open-chassis 3.5mm phone jacks. I forget how I acquired them, but they are rather tarnished, even though they're in decent shape apart from that.

    Is there something I can soak them in - preferably some sort of household chemical (e.g., vinegar, baking soda, etc.) - that will remove the tarnish? The "problem" is, of course, largely relegated to the tip contact, which is brass, where the ground/shaft contact is shiny chrome.

  • #2
    I'd do a test on one of them with vinegar, see how it works.

    A soft nylon bristle brush (old toothbrush) helps to scrub it clean during/after soaking.

    Vinegar worked pretty good for me on the last metal parts I cleaned.
    They were not jacks tho...

    YMMV
    The world is full of people that are right.

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    • #3
      Thanks. Always nice to get some help from a fellow Canuck. I'll give it a whirl. Or maybe a swirl.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Mark Hammer View Post
        I have a parts-drawer chock full of open-chassis 3.5mm phone jacks. I forget how I acquired them, but they are rather tarnished, even though they're in decent shape apart from that.

        Is there something I can soak them in - preferably some sort of household chemical (e.g., vinegar, baking soda, etc.) - that will remove the tarnish? The "problem" is, of course, largely relegated to the tip contact, which is brass, where the ground/shaft contact is shiny chrome.
        These are electrical contacts and the best treatment for contacts is Deoxit and Q-Tips or a toothbrush.

        Acids like vinegar tend to activate new corrosion.
        - Own Opinions Only -

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        • #5
          Sounds a bit tedious scrubbing a whole bunch of Jack's. I'd try soaking one in vinegar to see how it goes, you could also try hydrogen peroxide which starts at 3% strength. If that brightens things up rinse well, dry and leave for a week to see if there is any sign of corrosion or tarnish forming. (Use a magnifying glass or jeweler's loupe makes it much easier to see)

          If that goes well process the rest of your Jack's in the same manner. I'm curious why the Jack's tarnished in the first place, were they subject to a humid environment or something corrosive fumes in the atmosphere? Unless you consider that possibility they may tarnish again...

          Just a final thought if it's just the contact spring you want to clean. Get a small bottle of silverware cleaner and apply with a Q-tip just to the contact area with a bit of rubbing. As before, rinse well and dry to remove any residue.
          Last edited by Wal_zz; 05-22-2020, 02:15 AM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Wal_zz View Post
            Sounds a bit tedious scrubbing a whole bunch of Jack's. I'd try soaking one in vinegar to see how it goes, you could also try hydrogen peroxide which starts at 3% strength. If that brightens things up rinse well, dry and leave for a week to see if there is any sign of corrosion or tarnish forming. (Use a magnifying glass or jeweler's loupe makes it much easier to see)

            If that goes well process the rest of your Jack's in the same manner. I'm curious why the Jack's tarnished in the first place, were they subject to a humid environment or something corrosive fumes in the atmosphere? Unless you consider that possibility they may tarnish again...

            Just a final thought if it's just the contact spring you want to clean. Get a small bottle of silverware cleaner and apply with a Q-tip just to the contact area with a bit of rubbing. As before, rinse well and dry to remove any residue.
            That's funny...Have you been able to find any hydrogen peroxide lately?

            nosaj
            Binkie McFartnuggets‏:If we really wanted to know the meaning of life we would have fed Stephen Hawking shrooms a long time ago.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by nosaj View Post
              That's funny...Have you been able to find any hydrogen peroxide lately?

              nosaj
              Uh...........I haven't looked recently, having maybe 1/3 of a bottle left. Has it hit the endangered species list due to the Pandemic?
              Logic is an organized way of going wrong with confidence

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              • #8
                Ammonium Hydroxide in the form of household ammonia is a good cleaner for brass and nickel. I keep .880 ammonia in stock to dilute for some cleaning jobs and most horological cleaning solutions are based on ammonia and soap. like everything else it needs rinsing off thoroughly.

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                • #9
                  In the past I have used bleach...aka Javax or Clorox to clean the pins on vacuum tubes....I put just enough bleach in a small perscription pill bottle so that when I stand the tube upright the liquid just comes up to the bottom of the glass...I let it sit for a few minutes and then take it out and clean it....toothbrush, fine emery cloth, etc..if you leave the tube in the liquid too long it will remove the coating completely and you are left with a copper pin....so you do have to be careful....and make sure that you wear gloves and eye protection....you can probably clean other metal parts the same way just as long as you are careful....

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                  • #10
                    Chlorine is one of the most aggressive and corrosive chemical agents. It seems counterproductive to fight corrosion with a highly corrosive substance.
                    The tiniest residue may cause a lot of long term trouble.
                    After some bad experience I banned all chlorine containing products from my house.

                    Also peroxide is corrosive and works by oxidation.

                    I like the proposal of Mick Bailey to use ammonium hydroxide because it's alkaline and works by chemical reduction rather than oxidation.
                    Last edited by Helmholtz; 05-22-2020, 06:16 PM.
                    - Own Opinions Only -

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Helmholtz View Post
                      Chlorine is one of the most aggressive and corrosive chemical agents. It seems counterproductive to fight corrosion with a highly corrosive substance.
                      The tiniest residue may cause a lot of long term trouble.
                      After some bad experience I banned all chlorine containing products from my house.
                      well, you have to leave it in only for a couple of minutes and you must clean up the contacts with some fine emery cloth.......you can even rinse the items with warm water and mild dish liquid to remove any residue from the bleach....if you leave the bleach residue on the metal for too long then you will cause yourself grief....

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by bsco View Post
                        well, you have to leave it in only for a couple of minutes and you must clean up the contacts with some fine emery cloth.......you can even rinse the items with warm water and mild dish liquid to remove any residue from the bleach....if you leave the bleach residue on the metal for too long then you will cause yourself grief....
                        Don't forget that chlorine is a gas. It evaporates and then attacks and corrodes most everything. Sometimes the damage shows after years.
                        - Own Opinions Only -

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                        • #13
                          I deeply appreciate all the help and suggestions. Just bear in mind I'm dealing with things like these, where applying steel wool is highly problematic. For me - and not to pooh-pooh any debate here - the optimal solution (no pun intended) is something I can plunk the jacks into for some reasonable period that avoids damage, rinse them off and dry them sparkling bright.
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                          • #14
                            Problem solved. Diluted some Brasso with a bit of warm water, soaked all the jacks in it for a little while, shaking the container every now and then, and gave them each a low-effort scrub with an old toothbrush, and sparkly clean.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Mark Hammer View Post
                              Problem solved. Diluted some Brasso with a bit of warm water, soaked all the jacks in it for a little while, shaking the container every now and then, and gave them each a low-effort scrub with an old toothbrush, and sparkly clean.
                              How does that work with the phenolic material separating signal and ground ?

                              nosaj
                              Binkie McFartnuggets‏:If we really wanted to know the meaning of life we would have fed Stephen Hawking shrooms a long time ago.

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