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Thread: What is the best cleaner for pots and faders?

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    What is the best cleaner for pots and faders?

    I am really confused! I am looking for the best product from Caig Laboratories (DeoxIT) for cleaning, and lubricating, potentiometers and faders. The more I read, the more confused I get.

    It seems DeoxIT D5 or D100 is recommended for older controls, but the “F-Series” is best for the newer controls. Why do they provide a myriad of products? Shouldn’t the “F-Series” safely clean, and lubricate, any potentiometer?

    I tried to “drill” trough the vast amount of information on Caig's web site - but I just don’t get it! Even the sales Rep. I spoke with at Caig Laboratories seems confused about their own products. I just want to know the best product available for cleaning, and lubricating, potentiometers and faders.

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    Supporting Member Jazz P Bass's Avatar
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    I have always been happy with the results of Caig D5S-6.
    Deoxit.
    I use Caig Shield on switches.
    You have to be careful when "cleaning" sliders .
    They are lubed in a meriad of ways.
    You don't want to interfere with that.

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    Old Timer soundguruman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AMPREPAIR View Post
    I am really confused! I am looking for the best product from Caig Laboratories (DeoxIT) for cleaning, and lubricating, potentiometers and faders. The more I read, the more confused I get.

    It seems DeoxIT D5 or D100 is recommended for older controls, but the “F-Series” is best for the newer controls. Why do they provide a myriad of products? Shouldn’t the “F-Series” safely clean, and lubricate, any potentiometer?

    I tried to “drill” trough the vast amount of information on Caig's web site - but I just don’t get it! Even the sales Rep. I spoke with at Caig Laboratories seems confused about their own products. I just want to know the best product available for cleaning, and lubricating, potentiometers and faders.
    The best cleaner is Caig Deoxit G-100 which is also known as pro gold 100 it is expensive but well worth the price.
    The second choice is Caig deoxit D100, less expensive but very reliable.
    For sliding faders, use Caig Fader lube F series.
    Remember that using the wrong type of cleaner can destroy your expensive equipment, you have been warned....And now for a re-post of my (now famous) blog on cleaning controls and jacks:
    Does your volume control crackle when you turn it? Do the left and right channels cut out when you turn the controls?
    You need to clean the controls. OK-- better disconnect the power before doing so.


    Contact cleaner and switch cleaner is NOT suitable for cleaning volume controls! Get your application straight!
    Incorrect type of cleaner will strip the lubrication out of a volume control and render your control FUBAR. Contact cleaner MELTS plastic! Using the wrong type of cleaner can DESTROY your controls.
    Use ONLY lubricated control cleaner, which is specifically designed to clean rotating mechanical parts. THIS IS NOT CONTACT CLEANER!!!
    The correct type of cleaner is sprayed into the control in small amounts, ONE spray. Spray this into both sections (left and right) of the control.
    Next, rotate the control back and fourth several times, to distribute the cleaner across the entire surface. Allow the control to dry, and wipe off excess cleaner.


    An example of REAL control cleaner is DEOXIT or PRO GOLD, sold by CAIG chemical company. This is not cheap, but it will not harm your expensive equipment.


    DO NOT rely on a sales person to recommend the correct type of cleaner, verify it YOURSELF, using the recommendations posted on the cleaner manufacturer's website.
    You have been warned.



    CLEANING THE HEADPHONE / AUDIO JACKS TO CURE AUDIO CUT OUT AND CRACKLES:
    The headphone jack contains switching contacts which disconnect your speakers when you plug the headphones in. However, if these contacts become oxidized or corroded, your left and right speakers may stop functioning.
    Spray a small amount of cleaner into the jack. Insert a headphone plug, then pull it out, repeat the insertion several times. This will assist the cleaner, to help clean the contacts inside the headphone jack.
    After the contacts have been cleaned, your left and right speaker outputs might function again. Try it.

    DO NOT use cheap cleaner on your controls, don't be a sucker! Do not spray WD 40 into your controls, you will be very sorry you did that. Just because the cleaner says: "safe on plastics" does not mean that it is!!!

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    Don't forget the joker g1's Avatar
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    Yes, they may have a few too many options, and adding by the day it seems. A few notes about the differences:
    There is a number indicating the concentration of the active ingredient, ex. DN5 is 5%, DN100 is 100%. Some have "no drip" versions, so an N suffix is used (DN5S-6N). Then there are all kinds of different applicators, spray, brush, wipes, etc. This is more a matter of personal preference.
    The most common types used in audio gear are probably deoxit, deoxit gold, and deoxit fader. From their info, the regular deoxit is most suitable for severe oxidation and corrosion. The gold is optimized for gold contacts, and "Recommended for critical applications where only slight cleaning action is necessary".
    If it needs more than light cleaning, they recommend using the deoxit first, followed by the gold.
    The F-series fader lubricant is optimized for conductive plastics, and applications where you don't want to lose the "feel", like sliders and faders. They include potentiometers in the usage, but it is more of a lube than a cleaner, so I don't think it would work as well as the deoxit or gold for general pot and switch/jack cleaning.

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    Old Timer soundguruman's Avatar
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    Thank you for that wonderful cleaning information. More people need to learn about cleaners.

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    Finally, I am getting some good information. Thanks for all the excellent guidance! However, I am still confused by everyone using the term "DeoxIT" as a generic reference to Caig's product line. I wished folks would mention the specific product they are using (DeoxIT D5, DeoxIT D100, DeoxIT G5, etc.) In any case, it appears I need more than one DeoxIT product to perform a good cleaning and lubrication of a pot or slider. So how does this sound for fader restoration: Use DeoxIT D5 or G5 to clean, followed by DeoxIT Fader F100 to lubricate?

    All comments are welcome!

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    The Deoxit line is some of the best contact cleaners I've seen in 30 years of this stuff.

    One place I worked we had cases of some kind of contact cleaner that must have been for old good quality 50's and 60's pots and jacks.
    I sprayed it on a plastic pot and the thing melted in my hands!

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    Don't forget the joker g1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soundguruman View Post
    Thank you for that wonderful cleaning information. More people need to learn about cleaners.
    Thank you for the informative tutorial.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AMPREPAIR View Post
    However, I am still confused by everyone using the term "DeoxIT" as a generic reference to Caig's product line. I wished folks would mention the specific product they are using (DeoxIT D5, DeoxIT D100, DeoxIT G5, etc.)
    When I said "deoxit" I meant the D type, by "gold" I meant the G type. But I see your point, many people use the term "deoxit" for both the regular and the gold. D5 would be a thinned down version (5%) of the 100% D100.
    Have you looked at this? SB-WhichSpray.pdf
    I guess you are asking for opinions on which is the best format, but it really depends on the application.
    Here are their instructions regarding when to use what:
    SB_AV9-1-1.pdf

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    Last edited by g1; 12-23-2011 at 05:05 AM.
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    Lifetime Member Enzo's Avatar
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    Used to be called Cramolin, then it turned into Deoxit.

    The D5 is the aerosol spray can. That is what I use. the 5 is 5% solution. The D100 is straight stuff, 100%, no thinner. But in use, you only need a small amount of the actual chemical. The D5 spray will coat the entire innards of the pot, and will lay down more than enough of it. The D100 is more like the direct drop application. RUn a small drop into the work. But on many amps the pot innards are not exposed in a way that lends itself to direct dropping. So the dilute spray gets in there real well. And it leaves a thin lubricating film.


    You will run into an almost religious reaction when discusssing this topic many times. SOme folks will have you thinking this is real complex and you need a whole shelf ful of various formulations. Not in my experience. I have yet to se a pot the D5 didn;t work in, if anything was going to work.

    That was rotary pots.

    Sliders are a different animal. If all it was was cleaning the resistive stripe in them, then D5 would work. In fact electrically it DOES work in a slider. Problem is, sliders have a more demanding mechanical aspect. The little shuttle inside needs to slide smoothly. If you spray cleaner in there, it usually removed the lubricant. Now the motion becomes balky, not smooth. So you need a lubricating cleaner, and perhaps a better technique as well.

    I use the Cailube MCL, which has been renamed Deooxit Faderlube. Same stuff. MCL - moving contact lubricant. They also make Fadergrease. I've not tried that, but I bet it works. Again, I use the 5% aerosol spray, but the 100% might be easuer to access the sliders with than the rotaries. After all, the sliders usually face right up at you.

    When I squirt a fader, I try as much as possible to keep the spray on the bottom surface, where the resistive stripe is. If my cleaner gets up under the top surface, it washes away the grease. The contact shuttle slides along the bottom, but the upper surface of the shuttle slides along the underside of the top of the metal housing. And I think that surfacce is most important to smooth operation. If I get too much cleaner in ther and the original lube is washed away. Sometimes I use a small hook, like a spring puller, or even a piece of paper clip with a short right angle bend in the end. I keep a tube of white lube - really fine light machine grease - on the bencch, a little dot of that on the hook/wire, and I can reach into the fader slot, and dab it up under the edge of the slot. Then a couple swipes of the shuttle to spread it and there I am.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    WD-40!!!


    Just kidding... Deoxit.

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    I have discovered a couple of other concerns with Caig's (DeoxIT's) product information. In 2006, they chanced the name of their products. For example: what was previously called "CaiLube MCL" is now referred to as DeoxdIT FaderLube. The other problem I have noticed with Caig's (DeoxIT's) products is the overly huge selection of products. This can be daunting for for many purchasers, like myself. Using this group as a "sounding board" has been incredibly helpful in understanding the various products offered by Caig (DeoxIT). Although Caig offers some guidance, as g-one kindly provided in a previous post, I think it would be beneficial for Caig to provide an easy to understand guide to various products they offer.

    For what it's worth, I remember cleaning a potentiometer years ago with freeze spray/freon (because it was handy). The pot worked great for a day or so, then the wiper "dug" into the carbon material - causing particulate contamination and horrible, noisy, performance. This proves, to me, lubrication is important! I also find it refreshing that others are interested in this "thread" because they too, are interested in finding the best cleaner/lubricant for pots. With that said, I continue to seek comments from others about what they are using to clean potentiometers (Caig product - or not).

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    As mentioned.... You will need to know what any particular manufacturer says should be used. The manufacturer has already dealt with failure claims and service techs, etc. and there are, no doubt, particulars that have to do with the composit material chosen for the resistive element of a variable resistor. I have no idea how many variables there are, but you can bet any manufacturer knows what products on the market will break down the chemical structure of their product. They've recieved the calls and honored or denied the claims. I have NEVER had a problem with the Cramolin or deoxit (deoxIT) products causing parts to fail.

    It's almost certain that any product that strips the lubricant from a resistive strip will cause a failure. I can see freeze spray doing this. Likewise I've seen failures due to too much lubricant (as in WD-40). But (and against my better judgment, but in a pinch) I've used Cramolin at times without checking manufacturers specs and achieved intended results without causing part failures (there's an RB400 bass amp and a TNT Peavey that both made gigs because of the Cramolin product).

    Hasn't failed me yet. But as a precaution in these always changing times I do suggest checking manufacturers specs (just because I may be cavalier doesn't mean I can advocate it).

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    Old Timer soundguruman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AMPREPAIR View Post
    Finally, I am getting some good information. Thanks for all the excellent guidance! However, I am still confused by everyone using the term "DeoxIT" as a generic reference to Caig's product line. I wished folks would mention the specific product they are using (DeoxIT D5, DeoxIT D100, DeoxIT G5, etc.) In any case, it appears I need more than one DeoxIT product to perform a good cleaning and lubrication of a pot or slider. So how does this sound for fader restoration: Use DeoxIT D5 or G5 to clean, followed by DeoxIT Fader F100 to lubricate?

    All comments are welcome!
    You will use D100 to clean, and Fader lube to lubricate, normally for most applications (and in small amounts). However for the very high dollar equipment I would tend to use G100 on everything, and especially G100 where there is high humidity, like near the ocean. I have never found anything that worked better for protecting against salt air, and in marine applications, like in Hawaii.
    The problem with Caig is that their spray can design is retarded. It only works a couple times after you shake it really well after each spray. The can must be upright. The design is a royal pain.
    And so, because it's the best cleaner / protector out there, and the longest lasting by far, I use it on ALL my customers equipment, every time, despite the fact that it costs a fortune, and is very time consuming to apply.
    But I would rather take care of the customers in the best way possible. I feel as if I have given the customers the best possible care, when I use this product. And that, is worth it's weight in gold to me.

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    Old Timer soundguruman's Avatar
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    For fader restoration, I disassemble each fader, completely. I clean the entire inside of the fader and the resistor track, and the contact surfaces with D100 or G100, using Q tips. I lubricate the non-electrical friction surfaces with fader lube or food grade silicon grease (scuba divers grease works perfect when applied to the correct area in very small amounts). After re-assembly, I give it a final spray of G100, and operate the control to distribute the lubrication evenly.
    No, you cannot expect to "restore" a slide fader by merely spraying cleaner into it. There is too much dirt and crud down inside the control. You have to scrub it out, completely, by disassembling it. When the inside is perfectly clean, and properly lubed, then it's really "restored." OR the fader needs to be replaced, not cleaned.
    If the fader does not work almost like new, after cleaning as above, then I replace the fader, no compromise. My customers deserve that treatment.

    What's really amusing is what you will find inside the fader when it's disassembled. Beer, roach eggs, Gecko eggs, roaches (the good kind) or broken off X-acto knife blades, from engineers who splice tape on top of the mixer console, etc...there is no limit to what people drop inside faders (if it fits). It seems that whatever is in the control room winds up inside the fader.

    And I will do the exact same for any potentiometer, when it is vintage, or otherwise cannot be replaced easily.

    Yes I will pay about $22 a can plus shipping for G 100! And I do it because the customer deserves it.

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    Last edited by soundguruman; 12-23-2011 at 03:13 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by soundguruman View Post
    The problem with Caig is that their spray can design is retarded. It only works a couple times after you shake it really well after each spray. The can must be upright. The design is a royal pain.
    Have you tried rotating the nozzle 180 degrees? I have successfully done this with other propellent products. I think rotating the nozzle will ensure the "pick-up" tube inside the can will move to the liquid side, allowing you to "lean" the product into a more convenient position. Just a thought.

    I hope this doesn't begin another topic for this thread. I am enjoying the "on topic" suggestions about the best cleaner/lubricants for potentiometers and faders. Incidentally, another product that was suggested to me on the telephone is is called "Contact Cleaner" ( Private Label - Contact Cleaner ). I believe this is a cleaner without lubricants.

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    Old Timer soundguruman's Avatar
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    You are making a big mistake using contact cleaner. It strips the lubrication out of the control, and may damage the internal insulation.
    Contact cleaner is for application to metal only, like relay contacts.
    It will damage plastic, carbon, and other materials used in modern assemblies. Big Big mistake.

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    Quote Originally Posted by soundguruman View Post
    You are making a big mistake using contact cleaner. It strips the lubrication out of the control, and may damage the internal insulation.
    Contact cleaner is for application to metal only, like relay contacts.
    It will damage plastic, carbon, and other materials used in modern assemblies. Big Big mistake.
    After reviewing the terrific comments in this thread, it has become very clear that using only a "contact cleaner" is NOT a good idea (especially if the cleaner is harsh enough to damage resistive surfaces or other parts). However, using appropriate cleaning chemicals may be an important part of rejuvenating potentiometers and faders. It seems "contact cleaners" are used to "flush" contaminants away from critical surfaces - but it is also important to lubricant after cleaning. Some products claim to clean and lubricate - I assume this is done by flooding the control with products that are mostly cleaning solution, then after evaporation, a lubricant residue is left behind. I agree; using a "contact cleaner" alone is not the way to go.

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    It depends on what brand and chemical makeup of the contact cleaner.

    Quote Originally Posted by soundguruman View Post
    You are making a big mistake using contact cleaner. It strips the lubrication out of the control, and may damage the internal insulation.
    Contact cleaner is for application to metal only, like relay contacts.
    It will damage plastic, carbon, and other materials used in modern assemblies. Big Big mistake.
    It depends on what brand and chemical makeup of the contact cleaner you are using determines whether it is safe to use or not. Caig D100 contact cleaner is safe on all plastics, faders, volume knobs etc.

    According to Caig and all experienced technicians out there, you must clean then lube to make a lasting restore job. And these two products D100 and F100 by Caig work on the molecular level of all contact metals, carbon and conductive plastic, making the surface contacts free from oxidation, oxidized particles and build up of foreign material. And it actually increases the conductivity of the contact material, or at very least restores it to factory condition.

    Then the F100 lube takes the place of the previous lube or original factory lube, with one additional benefit, it protects the contacts from oxidizing again for a long long time. You can use other lubes but they may not be as long lasting in terms of contact protection and deoxidizing performance, keeping the scratchy noise out of your audio gear allot longer.

    I use Caig D100 dropper bottle to thoroughly clean the contacts and then the Caig F100 faderlube to finish the job. As far as the Caig G100 gold contact cleaner, keep in mind it is meant specifically for gold connections and it is not universally used for everything, you should use the right Caig chemicals for the job.

    No chemical cleaner and lube is absolutely universal, but the Caig products come close.

    Caig products seem to work the best without issues, although there are some issues with Caig D5 cleaner and care should be used, since it has petroleum distillate thinners it can and will swell rubber contact switches, and in some cases it can jam the rubber contact button by swelling it up, you will need to allow a week before it dries out and the rubber buttons have time to shrink back to normal size for the rubber button to function once again. And if this thinned down version of D100 gets on certain areas like LCD screens it may cause damage or discolor, also it may dissolve glues used to adhere faceplate paneling and display stickers, so be careful where you spray it. (Caig D5 spray bottle is 5% product and the rest of the 95% is a petroleum thinner)

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    Last edited by blue arrow; 08-07-2013 at 08:42 AM.

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    I've been using Kontakt PR pot regenerator from AG Thermopasty for the past year or so with good results. I started using their contact cleaner for general use and was impressed by how good it is so moved on to other products. When you spray the PR onto a surface it foams slightly then evaporates to a very thin film of lubricant. It's propanol-based so doesn't have a tendency to dissolve the spindle lube, which is mineral-based grease. I've pulled many pots back from the grave with this product. More European products are moving away from petroleum solvents and this is good news for plastics.

    Sometimes the only way to clean a pot is to take it apart and clean it, especially if it's from valuable vintage equipment. It also gives the opportunity to see if the track needs replacing. Remove the old grease from the spindle and re-lubricate with 'Kilopoise'. The track needs its own lubricant too before putting it back together.

    I no longer discard old pots from equipment. The combinations of shaft type/length/diameter and other physical characteristics are getting harder to find for pre-80s gear. Some pot manufactureres such as Citec use a modular construction and the tracks and other components are interchangeable.

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    Old Timer soundguruman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mick Bailey View Post
    I've been using Kontakt PR pot regenerator from AG Thermopasty for the past year or so with good results. I started using their contact cleaner for general use and was impressed by how good it is so moved on to other products. When you spray the PR onto a surface it foams slightly then evaporates to a very thin film of lubricant. It's propanol-based so doesn't have a tendency to dissolve the spindle lube, which is mineral-based grease. I've pulled many pots back from the grave with this product. More European products are moving away from petroleum solvents and this is good news for plastics.

    Sometimes the only way to clean a pot is to take it apart and clean it, especially if it's from valuable vintage equipment. It also gives the opportunity to see if the track needs replacing. Remove the old grease from the spindle and re-lubricate with 'Kilopoise'. The track needs its own lubricant too before putting it back together.

    I no longer discard old pots from equipment. The combinations of shaft type/length/diameter and other physical characteristics are getting harder to find for pre-80s gear. Some pot manufactureres such as Citec use a modular construction and the tracks and other components are interchangeable.
    I use G100 on everything, except high temperature. Not just for gold. Works on pretty much anything. Better than anything tried so far.
    Protects better in salty marine / humid environments. Very expensive.
    Yes, cleaning is first, but not with contact cleaner. "contact cleaner" infers just for metal relay contacts. Eats plastic, and don't recommend using it.
    Most people will not use any of the good ones, because they cost too much.
    I mean, what's the point of spending $30 on 2 oz of cleaner for 6 pots? Well, it's worth it in the long run.
    Radio shack contact cleaner is mineral oil. The best choice if you are broke, but doesn't last very long.
    I Use food grade silicon grease (mix w/ slick 50) (scuba divers lube) for mechanical wear friction surfaces..not on the electrical contact parts.
    The idea behind the grease is to hold the oil in place. You will see the most experienced mix grease with oil for mechanical wear surface areas. The oil is for lubrication, and the grease prevents it from running out of the assembly.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Your pretty much spot on. But you forgot to include anything about cleaning!?! There are also solvents in those products that clean the surface. Those solvents evaporate and leave the lubricant behind (because the lubricant is compatible). The primary agent being mineral spirits. Commercially known as "paint thinner". Incidentally, it's the same stuff they sell as "fuel injector cleaner" at the auto parts store. A 3oz. can of paint thinner for $6.99! Then there's DeoxIT!!! I don't have a can on hand, but there are other cleaners in that product that help remove and reduce oxidation of metal contacts. Something mineral oil, grease and paint thinner can't do. This would be a contact CLEANER and should be followed by a lubricant if it applies.

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    "Never bet your life on somebody else doing their job." SoulFetish's good friend

    "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

    "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

    "Back to the amp. It makes horrible sounds when I play my guitar thru it... because I suck at playing guitar." Mike6158

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    Kontakt PR contains propanol as well as lubricants. It foams and clears the track, then evaporates and leaves the lubricant. When I take a pot apart I clean the track with propanol and then wipe over it with Kontakt PR. A lot of fuel injector cleaner and paint thinner contains acetone and xylene - both of which can soften the surface of many thermoplastics - but are really good solvents for removing grease or oil from metal and compatible materials.

    Deoxit isn't too badly priced in the US, considering how long it lasts, but in Europe (and I guess other regions) it's insanely priced.

    No matter what you use, getting it to the right place can be tricky; many PCB amps don't have much space and when you're trying to get the product applied to the track you end up bending the spout and working semi-upside down to stop the product just running out of the bottom. Too much, and the crud and dust from all over the inside of the pot gets re-deposited on the track.

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  24. #24
    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mick Bailey View Post
    and the crud and dust from all over the inside of the pot gets re-deposited on the track.
    I blow them out first. You can use standard desk products like keyboard cleaner and such. I actually use a small bike pump with a piece of aquarium tubing and then a spray cleaner tube is fixed to the end. I jam the tube into the pot can opening and pump a blast of air in. Then I repeat with the tube jammed in the other side. When I need to do whacky stuff like turning the cleaner/deoxidizer/lubricant spray can upside down I find it helps to charge it with a small squirt with the can upright, then flip it upside down and it'll have a little product to blast. And paper towels are my friend too. If I think there will be drips or splatter I wad paper towels up around the pot or contact to minimize the problem.

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    "Never bet your life on somebody else doing their job." SoulFetish's good friend

    "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

    "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

    "Back to the amp. It makes horrible sounds when I play my guitar thru it... because I suck at playing guitar." Mike6158

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    I want to thank everyone who posted about DeOxit on this thread. I took apart my SAE preamp, which was a bit noisy after being stored for a few years. I used the DeOxit " slider" as well as the cleaner and lubricant"Gold'. It is wonderful stuff ! I carefully dissasembled, cleaned and lubricated, it works like new. I bought some small sponge Q tips to clean and apply lube to the sliders, to get into the slots. I had tries an electronics cleaner before, did not help much. This stuff cleared all the static, and the sliders are silky smooth. I since cleaned up one of my kids Fender amps with the product, wow what a change.
    I appreciate you all , I never would have taken it apart and done this, without the info on this site!

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