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Old November 22, 2009, 08:10 PM   #1
ormandj
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Best ultrasonic cleaner for the $?

Hi,

I am currently living in a location where the low noise of an ultrasonic cleaner would be ideal; the vibratory tumbler makes the ground move! Also, I've seen results from a small Harbor Freight unit a friend had, and it was amazing how well it cleaned.

That said, I'm a big proponent of buy once, regret never - so - I'm curious what people suggest for an ultrasonic cleaner? I'd love to buy one long enough to be able to toss a rifle barrel into, but those all seem (ridiculously) expensive. That said, for cleaning brass and smaller parts, what would people suggest?

I don't have a set price range, I'm more looking for the best bang for the buck. At the same time, I don't want to be limited to cleaning 10 cases at a time, so I'm not looking at 'micro' models. Maybe a 100 case (7.62NATO) capacity? Also, I've heard units with drains are much easier to deal with, so this would be a plus.

Thanks!
David
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Old November 22, 2009, 11:54 PM   #2
Tex S
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I am interested in one of these too. Anybody know anything about em?
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Old November 23, 2009, 01:52 AM   #3
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I've had a small-capacity half-gallon or so for about three years now (Crest brand, via eBay). Yeah, even though mine is small (it will do 100, .357 Magnum cases at a time) I wish that it had a drain.

Mine has a mechanical timer but it also has a heated bath which I strongly recommend as it makes the cleaning much more effective. I found that regular hand dishwashing soap works fine for the majority of stuff to clean. It's possible to use stronger stuff in them but you do have to be careful what you select. I haven't tried oxalic acid solution for brass and rust yet but I do plan on testing a relatively weak solution of it since I have some (note that oxalic acid is poisonous).

It's very important to run the ultrasonic cleaner for about ten minutes or so after you replace the solution; this will degas it which improves the cleaning.

There are some specialized cleaners for ultrasonic use out there but for home purposes they may be overkill...

In sum, the good ones aren't cheap but IMO you do get what you pay for. And they work fantastic on a number of items that are otherwise extremely difficult to clean.

I would certainly buy another Crest ultrasonic cleaner (and I may get a larger one at that). Industrial-strength cleaner.
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Old November 23, 2009, 02:14 AM   #4
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http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...emnumber=95563

That one is from harbor freight.

Take a look at this thread here on TFL.

http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/...d.php?t=385153
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Old November 23, 2009, 08:16 AM   #5
draggon
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I have 3 ultrasonic units. Don't know what I did without them.

Bought the first, a refurbished medical unit for cleaning jewellery, but it handles about 100 pistol cases fine. It whetted my appetite for US cleaners.

Was given a huge US cleaner that a hospital no longer required, too big for routine jobs so I bought another one off eBay which is just perfect for reasonably large quantities (100's) of rifle cases. Had no problem at all with it.

Go to eBay and search for ultrasonic cleaners dental, around the 5 to 6.5 litre size. These are being supplied by Chinese manufacturers directly and when I looked earlier today they were around the US 200 to 250 mark including shipping. They have drain valves, digital timers, heaters, trays all included. Make sure you get the correct voltage.

I have settled on a solution of citric acid, around 5%, with a dash of windscreen wiper detergent as my cleaning solution. About 30 minutes depending on machine and number of cases. Not as aggressive as vinegar but doesn't require neutralising, just a good rinse. Also passivates brass preventing further corrosion over time.
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Old November 23, 2009, 01:13 PM   #6
snuffy
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I see my link didn't work, lets try it again.

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...emnumber=95563

That fixed it! 2.5 liter is plenty big for 100 rifle cases. It'll also take an entire semi-auto handgun, assembled, clean it cleaner than you could ever get it even if you took it all apart. Oh, and yes, it does have it's own heater, and digital timer.
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Old November 23, 2009, 03:05 PM   #7
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I saw one of the multi-thousand dollar rifle-sized ultrasonic cleaners demonstrated at a law enforcement industry trade show one time. It was so powerful, the water above the (four, IIRC) transducers actually stood in mounds about an inch above the level of rest of the liquid. That takes a lot of watts and very large transducers, and that's what you pay for. It cleans very fast. You would be talking about cases getting done in a few minutes. The AR rifles they submerged were done in five or ten minutes, if memory serves. It's for production cleaning in an armory setting.

I have a 2.5 gallon Bransonic with built-in heater and temperature control. It does alright, but can't hold a candle to the power of the unit mentioned above. Has a drain an a nice rack that suspends four beakers in the water, and you can put whatever you want in the beakers.
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Old November 23, 2009, 03:15 PM   #8
rottieman33
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Snuffy is you want a $60 Ultrasonic Cleaner your going to get junk. A good one wil cost $200 and up. My friend has this one and it work great I have put whole atv,snowmobile carbs in this thing and they come out almost like brand new.
http://www.blitzinc.net/product/SH80...************=#
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Old November 24, 2009, 01:48 AM   #9
snuffy
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Quote:
Snuffy iF you want a $60 Ultrasonic Cleaner your going to get junk. A good one will cost $200 and up.
Oh? Then why does mine work? And work well? I can't say I've used it more than 10 times in the last year, so maybe it has a short lifetime, I just haven't seen the end yet? All I can do is say how it worked, it worked well, and I would buy another if this one quit.

Yes, some are built better, may last longer, but I can buy 3 of them to one of yours.
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Old November 24, 2009, 10:00 AM   #10
Jector
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I see the two cleaners from the two links above have different power ratings. The Chicago Tool unit is 160 watts and the unit from Blitz (cant read the manufacturer) is 380 watts. Am I correct to assume that both units would do the job but the higher power unit would be faster?

Edit: Need more power and larger size? Here's one whith Free Shipping!

Large ultrasonic cleaner

Last edited by Jector; November 24, 2009 at 10:09 AM.
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Old November 29, 2009, 05:01 PM   #11
ormandj
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I picked up the Harbor Freight/Chicago model (I have a HF about 4 miles away) to experiment with. I did the 6mmbr vinegar/baking soda method, and it ate away too much zinc in some brass, and I had copper splotches on the cases. They were clean as a whistle, other than this.

So, I grabbed some of my Slip2000 725 cleaner/degreaser (it's good at eating off tough carbon deposits in rifles, thought it might work on brass too) and ran 2x8 minute cycles with 5 pieces of brass in a plastic cup with the solution.

I then ran the brass through an 8 minute cycle with distilled water to clean off the 725. After letting it dry, the brass is as clean as my vibratory cleaner ever got it (and the primer pockets are clean, too) - and there is no dusty residue.

I'm going to experiment a while longer with this one, I might use the cleaner in the main unit instead of keeping the brass in cups - the cups will really slow down cleaning as you can only put about 10 cases in each, and 2 in the cleaner - plus I think they make the unit less effective.

If I can do 50 cases of 308/30'06 at a time, I'll be happy - which is about what this unit will hold without stacking more than a few cases. 16 minutes, very little noise, no toxic dust (I'm still debating what to do with the liquid after cleaning).

Once I have a better idea of what works best, and verify that it can continue this cleaning efficiency (over a thousand cases, let's say) - then I'll invest in a larger unit. There is no doubt - this HF/Chicago model is 'cheap', in every sense of the word, and I have a feeling a better engineered/higher powered model will do wonders for productivity and cleaning completeness, but this unit cost me 50$ at the store. A lot better than blowing $400 to find out something doesn't work for you. I can always gift this one to another reloading buddy if I move onto a better unit.
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