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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was just wondering about the ultrasonic cleaners offered by L&R (or others) that are made for home use. At around $400 they aren't exactly cheap, but they aren't unreasonable either. I noticed that they have a water displacing lubricant that is typically used after the general cleaning process. Sounds pretty neat. Cost wouldn't necessarily prevent me from owning one, but I was just wondering how effective they are in general.

Is anyone else using these, or similar units, for their personal collections at home? Or are most people sticking with good old-fashion elbow grease?

Thanks.
 

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Here's a post I did on another forum concerning ultrasonics for guns:

The good points:

They really clean.

They usually clean FAST. Drop a dirty part in, and the dirt actually BOILS off in a cloud.

They DEEP clean, getting crud you normally don't even see. Ultrasonics get into cracks and holes that normally you can't get to with other methods.

They're especially good on harder fouling. (Ultrasonics work better on hard dirt).

You don't have to disassemble things. Ultrasonics are used by watchmakers to avoid having to disassemble some small components.

They work with a variety of solutions. Water with detergent works on many types of dirt, so you don't HAVE to use a volatile solvent.

The solution is heated up by the ultrasonic action. Warm solution cleans even better. Many tanks have a built-in heater also.

You can put an inch of water in the bottom and use small glass or plastic cups to hold solvent and small parts.
The ultrasonic waves are transmitted by the water in the bottom through the beakers or jars.

You can use the tank for MANY cleaning jobs, Paint brushes, dirty watch bands, electric razor heads, you're wife's jewelery, car parts, ANYTHING that you can fit into the tanks will clean up surgically clean.

The bad:
KEEP YOUR FINGERS OUT OF THE TANK. Ultrasonics and bones don't mix.
This isn't something that happens instantly, it's over time.

Expense. The larger tanks are COSTLY. However, if you want to clean a stripped pistol or small parts, one of the smaller $150.00 range tanks will work fine.
You CAN put a portion of a frame or slide in the tank at a time.
After cleaning it, turn it over and clean the other half.

Any solvent that will attack plastic or gun finishes, will attack it FASTER in ultrasonics.
Most sight dots or markings are nothing more than paint. These may be removed by the cleaner.
Some solvents like Simply Green attack aluminum, and other soap-type cleaners can attack finishes.
They will attack faster and more aggressively in the cleaner.

You've got to be careful to apply a THOROUGH coat of anti-rust lube after cleaning. Ultrasonics remove ALL grease and lube, leaving the part absolutely bare, including in tiny holes and crevices that ordinarily cleaning never touches.

They don't work as well on soft gummy grease as harder dirt. You can speed things up by pulling parts out and scrubbing with a brush.

They're electronic and heat the solvent. You have to be careful with flammables.

Ultrasonics do nothing for bore fouling. You still have to use bore solvent, brushs, and patches to clean the barrel.
It "may" help loosen leading, but a Lewis Lead Remover is faster and better.

Advice:
If possible buy a basket that holds parts off the bottom or make up wire hangers. Ultrasonics work better when the parts are suspended in the solution instead of laying on the bottom of the tank.

A tank cover is nice to hold down fumes.

NEVER run the unit when the tank is dry even for a few seconds, it'll burn out.

Be careful what cleaning solution you use. You can pull the item out and find finish or plastic parts GONE.

Be careful with Tritium sights, and sights with any kind of inserts or dots. Many can be damaged or removed in the tank.

The small tanks sold in discount stores for cleaning false teeth and jewelery really don't work too well, and most of them aren't even real ultrasonic units.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Good info ... thanks!

One more question, would you recommend using an ultrasonic cleaner after every trip to the range, or just every once in a while? Meaning, can they be overused and possibly break down components?
 

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Again, any solvent that will attack something, will attack it faster in the ultrasonic tank.
If over used, even soapy water will eventually remove painted on sight highlights.

If the cleaner you use doesn't attack something, it can't really be over used.
It would take a LOT of cleaning to cause any real wear even to blued parts.

I recommend ultrasonics for yearly revolver servicing, and anytime you've got a really dirty auto.
 

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We used an ultrasonic cleaner for many years in our shop.
We had revolvers come in that were so fouled that we were amazed that they could even shoot.
After the Ultra sound dip we would then clean very well with solvents and final treatment with water displacing oil before fully drying and reassembly.
 

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Sig, like others have said-home type units are junk. Don't be tempted by price! I see you live in Cin. Oh.. You should have some used laboratory supply stores/warehouses in your area. Try there first, you'll be surprised how cheaply lab equip. goes for used. It may not be shinny and new looking, but it's a tool.I always try to buy industrial grade tools and equipment. It will out perform just about unit you can buy retail, and it will outlast you. Good luck
 
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