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Old July 19, 2000, 02:26 PM   #1
Opihi
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Join Date: July 1, 2000
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Hello everyone,

Does anyone have feedback on ultrasonic cleaners? I'm considering purchasing one and going between the following:

o L&R A140
o Branson 2510
o Elma 30LC

Elma claims to be the most powerful at 35kHz, but the L&R and Branson appear to be more popular units.

Any help is greatly appreciated.

Thanks.
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Old July 20, 2000, 08:17 AM   #2
weegee
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Opihi--

I have never used an ultrasonic for gun cleaning purposes, however I have used them for about 20 years for cleaning jewelry, including removing polishing compounds, etc.

I've used cleaners from all of these companies, but not the specific models you list.

One recommendation--get the Elma. I've used two of theirs, and they are FAR more powerful than any other units I've used. I'm talking 'night and day' different. So powerful that sometimes they're scary (I would never so much as put a finger in one; even holding a piece in one with a pair of tweezers can produce an uncomfortable sensation.

A friend has had a large (3 gal.) Elma for app. 6 years, not even a hint of trouble; a second Elma I use has been going strong for 3 yr.

I own a 3 qt. branson and it is a good cleaner, but had I known how much better the Elma is there would have been no choice..

Hope this helps, weegee

P.S. Be sure that whatever model you get has a heater, preferably a 'thermostatically-controlled' one, which maintains a set temp. in the tank.
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Old July 20, 2000, 08:25 AM   #3
Opihi
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Thanks Weegee,

That's exactly the kind of information and referral I was looking for. Based on specs, the Elma appeared to be the better unit. My only reservation on the Elma was on their warranty (1-yr vs. 2-yr on Branson). Being that they are manufactured in Germany, I was concerned about servicing.

Based on your feedback, I'll go ahead with the Elma.

Thanks again.

Opihi
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Old July 20, 2000, 09:29 AM   #4
missmanytoes
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I've been considering getting an ultrasonic cleaner, but I don't know what questions I should even ask. What is the deal with a heater? How powerful does it need to be? How do I determine what size to get? What sort of ballpark prices am I going to be looiking at for a decent one? And where do I get one from? (help!)

-sarah
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Old July 20, 2000, 09:59 AM   #5
Opihi
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Hi Sarah,

I am new to this too, but did some research online. My objectives were to find the best balance between price/quality/effectiveness.

In my search, I found that the biggest applications for such cleaners is jewelry, medical, and mechancial/electrical. Firearm cleaning is rarely mentioned, infact, I believe only L&R officially has a weapons application listed.

Please keep in mind that I'm by far no expert, but here are some basic responses to your quesitons:

"What is the deal with a heater"?
>>Heat plays an important part in the cleaning process. From what I've read, I recommend getting one with a heater. It shouldn't cost much more either.

"How powerful does it need to be?"
>>I'm not absolutely sure either. My undestanding is that the power has a direct impact on cleaning effectivness. The low end units will average 50-100 watts. The better ones will have 200 and higher. This also depends greatly on the size of the cleaner.

"How do I determine what size to get?"
>>This depends on what you want to clean. I'm strickly looking for a pistol cleaner. I also don't mind running several cycles if needed, instead of putting them all at a single run. So, I opted for the smaller version (3 quart). This is about the size of the L&R Q140 positioned as a weapons cleaner.

"What sort of ballpark prices am I going to be looking at for a decent one? And where do I get one from?"
>>Prices will vary greatly. After considering all of the factors listed above in addition to other preferences I had, I narrowed my search down to three brands: L&R, Branson, and Elma. The price will again vary based on the unit size you decide on. A 3 quart unit ranges from $350 to $500. My recommendation is to do a search on ultrasonic cleaners via Yahoo and check some retailers. Here is a list a few:
http://www.lrultrasonics.com/ http://www.elma-ultrasonic.com/ http://www.kassoy.com/clean002.htm http://www.lacywest.com/prodlist.htm http://www.kell-strom.com/tools/branson/branson.htm

Please let us know which model you decide on.

At the moment, I'm still trying to decide which lube to use. It's coming down between two manufacturers (L&R and MPro7). I've already decided on the MPro cleaner, but I'm still not sure about the MPros7 Gun lube, since I'm not sure how thick it will get in the hidden portions of the slide, etc.

Good luck and I hope this helps!

Opihi
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Old July 20, 2000, 10:07 AM   #6
Opihi
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Sarah,

Forgot to mention about frequency. It has a direct relation to cleaning as well. The lower the frequency, the better and stronger the cleaning. The two trade-offs include 1) being louder, and 2) having potential damaging effects to very fragile parts, mainly delicate jewelry. The higher frequencies have weaker cleaning results. I believe for gun cleaners, the recommended range averages 40kHz.

Hope this helps.
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Old July 20, 2000, 02:52 PM   #7
Skorzeny
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Opihi:

Thank you for your detailed explanation of ultrasonic cleaners. It was very useful for my understanding.

I am looking for one just like what you described (small one for pistol cleaning). Please let us know when, where and what you buy.

Lastly, while I understand how Ultrasonic cleaner cleans (using, say, MPro-7 cleaner, which I use for hand-cleaning firearms currently), how does it lubricate? My concern is that 1) the cleaner would strip oil in the trigger area and 2) over-lubrication if the pistol is dipped into a tank containing oil.

Do you have any thoughts regarding this? Thanks.

Skorzeny

------------------
For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme excellence. Sun Tzu
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Old July 20, 2000, 03:18 PM   #8
Opihi
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Skorzeny,

I have the same question as you do regarding the lube process. My preference is to use the MPRO7 lube, but have concerns about how much lube will remain in hidden portions of the slide, e.g. firing pin.

I'm checking with the MPRO7 guys and expect to get a response back from their technical guy next week Monday.

If that doesn't work, I'll use the lube made by L&R. I've read good reviews on that as well. That lube is made specifically for guns cleaned in ultrasonic cleaners.

Will keep everyone posted.
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Old July 20, 2000, 11:19 PM   #9
weegee
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Hi everyone!

Opihi, your observations are spot-on. I don't think you really needed my advise too much since you obviosly had done excellent research.

missmanytoes(great name)--
One thing I can add about power--this is a tricky area to evaluate strictly on 'numbers' (i.e. wattage). Some machines that have a lower stated wattage can actually clean better. Apparently the frequency plays a VERY significant role in actual cleaning power. Many of the better units--I'm pretty sure the Elma's included-- use something called "sweep frequency" technology, which sweeps the energy through a range of frequencies. This causes the cleaning action to be more even throughout the tank.

You definitely want a heater. You can heat the solution before pouring it in, but that's a hassle to do everytime (though the ultrasonic energy will keep the water warm if you keep the machine running for a long time. Most cleaners big enough to do a pistol frame or rifle receiver will come with a heater anyway. Heating helps the cleaning process by liquifying or softening the grease and oil that are mixed with the crud.

One negative about the Elma's--they are loud mothers! I'll take the trade-off. You can always build a simple 3-sided box around it to cut the sound, or buy one of those old enclosures people used to put around their noisy dot-matrix printers (these things can sometimes be found for a song, since no one uses them anymore for their printers.

Just some more rambling; hope I helped...best,weegee
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Old July 21, 2000, 08:06 AM   #10
Jhp147
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All this comes under the heading of "Stuff that I know absolutely nothing about," so can a ask a couple of questions about the ultrasonic cleaning? First, does it clean the barrell? I don't necessarily mean heavy leading, but normal shooting? How long do you "cook" the handgun, or does it depend on how dirty it is? What is a good average? For the price quoted, I could buy a lot of Hoppes and Breakfree and bore brushes. Is this mainly for someone who cleans a goodly number of guns, or maybe just prefers to not get in trouble with the spouse for "smelling up the house" and spilling oily chemicals on household items. Thank you .
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Old July 21, 2000, 08:16 AM   #11
missmanytoes
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I really appreciate you guys giving me all this great information! Opihi, thanks for the links and answering my questions, and weegee(another great name), thanks for your tips as well. I've got one other question though...will this cleaner acutally work like I envision it? ie, I get home from the range, strip the slide/barrel off of the frame of the pistol, dunk it in the machine, turn it on and go away for say 15-30 minutes and come back and viola! magic has happened and I have a clean slide/barrel??? Even better, I just imagined putting the bolt/bolt carrier from an AR in there...this thing is beginning to have all sorts of possibilities. Anyway, once I pull the parts out of the machine, do I have to re-lube or is the cleaning medium for guns a cleaner/lubricant? And in that case, how do I make sure it is not over-lubed?

-sarah
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Old July 23, 2000, 01:38 AM   #12
JH
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This topic was extensively discussed about five or six months ago. Do a search for the term "ultrasonic" and you will come up with lots of helpful information. There was a thread on 3-02-00 that I found most helpful. I've found MPR7 to work very well.

JH
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Old July 23, 2000, 06:36 AM   #13
Jhp147
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Must have missed it, thank you and will do.
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