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Ultrasound Cleaner for Cleaning AB?

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  • Member since
    December, 2011
Ultrasound Cleaner for Cleaning AB?
Posted by Chrisk-k on Friday, July 12, 2013 1:06 PM

Does anyone have experience in using an ultrasound cleaner to clean the airbrush?  In theory, it seems like a good idea; disassemble the AB, put the parts in an untrasound cleaner, turn it on, and the AB will be immaculately clean in a few minutes.

Iwata HP-CS | Iwata HP-CR | Iwata HP-M2 | H&S Evolution | Iwata Smart Jet + Sparmax Tank

  • Member since
    April, 2013
Posted by KnightTemplar5150 on Saturday, July 13, 2013 1:42 AM
My wife purchased a smaller ultrasonic cleaner for me to use on my jeweler's bench a few years ago, but I've gotten more use from it on the scale modelling end of things. Since I normally shoot Tamiya and Valleijo acrylics through my airbrush, using a simple ammonia solution in the ultrasonic makes cleaning a breeze. I place the stripped down parts of my Badger into the bath and just let the machine do the work for me - no pipe cleaners and laquer thinner needed! I've also recently used the ultrasonic to help strip paint from a few old Andrea figures I found in storage. I used a little stronger ammonia solution than normal, placed the figures in the bath, and they stripped down to bare metal in just a few hours. The cleaner has been a wonderful addition to the tool box!
  • Member since
    December, 2011
Posted by Chrisk-k on Sunday, July 14, 2013 12:50 AM

I've read that ammonia eats brass/chrome parts of an airbrush. Obviously, you haven't had such a problem.

Iwata HP-CS | Iwata HP-CR | Iwata HP-M2 | H&S Evolution | Iwata Smart Jet + Sparmax Tank

  • Member since
    January, 2012
Posted by Fuddy Duddy on Sunday, July 14, 2013 12:51 AM

IMO if you need an ultrasonic cleaner to clean your airbrush, you have the wrong airbrush. I've had a number of AB's until I finally purchased a Harder & Steenbeck. The problem I had with the cheaper AB's are they do not come apart easily to clean all the parts. The H&S breaks down quickly without tools and is very easy to clean completely in 2-3 minutes.

If you look at what it costs to buy an ultrasonic cleaner, you could probably invest in a good quality H&S or Iwata that are easy to clean by hand.

  • Member since
    April, 2013
Posted by KnightTemplar5150 on Sunday, July 14, 2013 2:48 AM
The concentration of the ammonia in the cleaning solution is pretty dilute and I have not had any problems with it affecting any of the metal. The ultrasonic cleaner warms the solution a bit, which helps to make the solution a little more effective, but it's the vibrations which do the actual cleaning for me. I have run a Badger Anthem with a selection of tips and needles for several years now, which is pretty easy to break down. During the 90's, I shot only Model Master enamels through another Badger and a Paasche, but my ex-wife complained constantly about my use of laquer thinners to clean them out. With the use of the ultrasonic, I'm not having to put out fumes, which is particularly important around our menagerie of pets, and disposal of the waste is a little more environmentally friendly. No use of pipe cleaners, cleaning traps, filters, or other 'disposable materials' also means a financial savings in the long run. It just seems to fit my situation, you know?
  • Member since
    December, 2011
Posted by Chrisk-k on Sunday, July 14, 2013 8:00 AM

@Fuddy,  I have a high quality AB - an Iwata Eclipse.  Sure, the Eclipse is easy to clean, but a $30 ultrasound cleaner makes it much easier to clean.    

Iwata HP-CS | Iwata HP-CR | Iwata HP-M2 | H&S Evolution | Iwata Smart Jet + Sparmax Tank

  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Northern New Jersey
Posted by Tojo72 on Sunday, July 14, 2013 8:23 AM

How would you clean an airbrush that has been used with enamel ? would you use thinner or does the ammonia solution work for enamels also ?

  • Member since
    August, 2012
Posted by AndrewW on Friday, July 19, 2013 8:42 PM

I've got an ultrasonic cleaner that I use at the end of a day's painting and I find it indispensable.  It's not the only tool I use, but it is an important one.  Because I shoot Vallejo's paints, I use their airbrush cleaner diluted inbetween color shots.  At the end of a paint session, I use my ultrasonic with warm water and a drop of dishsoap, and it cleans my Aztek nozzles like a charm.  I've also used it on an old badger (same mixture) that was caked with dried on gloss lacquer, and the same mixture cleaned that up incredibly.  

Personally, Tojo, I'd not use thinners in the cleaner bath, or anything flammable, as the vibration and agitation may set things off.  I think the likelyhood of that happening is low, but still, why take the chance?

This being said, I originally bought a $30 'jewelry cleaner' at Walmart, and you get what you pay for.  I handed that along to the little lady and shopped online, I think spending about $75 and found a small 'ultrasonic parts cleaner'.  The difference was night and day.  I decided to forgo the heated tank option, I just use hot tapwater.  Spend the few extra dollars on a proper parts cleaner (mine is not big, smaller than a foot square, and has a timer) if you're going to buy one.  They are worth their weight in gold when you finish a paint session, drop your brush in there and set it on, and you see 'clouds' of paint washing out.  As I say, not the only tool on the bench, but definitely a good one.

Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne.


  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Northern New Jersey
Posted by Tojo72 on Saturday, July 20, 2013 6:28 AM

Thank you Andrew for the tips

  • Member since
    December, 2011
Posted by Chrisk-k on Saturday, July 20, 2013 5:19 PM

I bought a $26 UC from Amazon only to return it. It's too small for the needle of my Iwata Eclipse. I will spend $80 to buy a good quality UC not just for my hobby but also for other things.

Iwata HP-CS | Iwata HP-CR | Iwata HP-M2 | H&S Evolution | Iwata Smart Jet + Sparmax Tank

  • Member since
    May, 2013
  • From: Indiana, USA
Posted by Greg on Saturday, July 20, 2013 5:29 PM

I'm grateful for this thread. I have a years old small ultasonic cleaner I bought from Tony's Train Exchange. I guess it is for cleaning wheelsets. I've tried it a couple of times. Just tried yet again after reading this thread. Like Chris, my Iwata needle doesn't fit. Also, must have had some gunk in the main chassis through hole, after two cleanings, still had to swab it out with lacquer thinner. In fact, I think the two ultrasonic attempts made it worse.

Think I'll follow the lead and good advice here and get a good one.

Thanks, all.

-Greg

  • Member since
    December, 2011
Posted by Chrisk-k on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 8:43 PM

I received a Kendal Industrial Grade Ultrasonic Cleaner ($89) from Amazon today.  The tank size is big (about 9.5" long).  I tested it first with my glasses and some jewelry.  I used only tap water.  VERY impressive results.  Then, I added a little bit of Windex and put in my Paasche H & Iwata Eclipse, which I used and cleaned on last Sunday.  Now, they are crystal-clear clean.  My wife took it and is currently using it to clean her jewelry (heh).  I'll test if paint brushes can be cleaned ultrasonically.

Iwata HP-CS | Iwata HP-CR | Iwata HP-M2 | H&S Evolution | Iwata Smart Jet + Sparmax Tank

  • Member since
    August, 2012
Posted by AndrewW on Tuesday, July 30, 2013 10:58 AM

Glad it worked out for you, Chrisk, sounds like you made a sound purchase to me.  It's an investment, but it pays off in the end a thousandfold.  Like I say, a little dishsoap and water will also work wonders.

Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne.


  • Member since
    February, 2007
Posted by mitsdude on Wednesday, July 31, 2013 2:18 AM

Harbor Freight sells two sizes of these. Small and Bigger! Tongue Tied

$40-$70ish.

I bought the larger one as I didn't think the smaller one was wide enough for the needles.

 

  • Member since
    March, 2011
Posted by Josy11 on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 2:19 PM

Are you guys putting the entire airbrush into the cleaner? - Are you taking it apart at all? - I was thinking of getting one of these and using it to celan the needle and nozzle, but it sounds like those of you who are doing this just put the entire airbrush in?

  • Member since
    February, 2007
Posted by mitsdude on Friday, September 20, 2013 1:10 AM

I take mine apart. I don't believe it would clean very well if you didn't. Any paint dislodged from needle if left inside would stay inside!

  • Member since
    April, 2008
  • From: Maryland
Posted by cruz on Friday, July 14, 2017 8:25 AM

The ideal way is to take it apart of course, it will be cleaned more thoroughly. Also make sure to use the plastic tray that it's supplied with the unit, placing parts directly on the metal tray damages the unit in the long run.

  • Member since
    January, 2014
Posted by gobobbie on Friday, July 14, 2017 10:39 AM
Keep your eyes peeled at yard sales, flea markets and thrift shops. Got mine at goodwill for five. Following Dr. Franky's advice I always put the needle from my neo in first. After 3 minutes, I pull the parts and reassemble and relubricate Bob Gregory Ruining one kit at a time
  • Member since
    March, 2013
Posted by patrick206 on Friday, July 14, 2017 2:43 PM

A good topic, plenty of good info here. Just a couple of thoughts from me, not minimizing other ideas. I bought an ultrasonic cleaner, at the Boeing surplus facility in Seattle. Wonderful implement, you should see how it can clean an old, grimy, flexible metal watch band.

Use it for cleaning many things, but not my airbrushes. The main reason I won't put an airbrush body in it, is the air valve. If I was to put the body in, I would definitely remove the valve first. I'm not sure any cleaning agents, even soapy water getting in the valve, would be of benefit over an extended period.

I rely on alcohol or lacquer thinner, cotton buds, nylon cleaning brushes etc, for my after use cleaning. The few minutes it takes is a small time investment, what I like about manual cleaning is the ability to closely inspect the tiny parts for condition.

The tiniest parts seem to "buzz" around a tiny bit in the bowl, miniscule nozzle ends and such are prone to damage, if in contact with other bits.

Again, whatever works for anyone is perfectly fine, I just prefer the super careful, hands on method for cleaning. 

Patrick   

  • Member since
    July, 2013
Posted by modelmaker66 on Friday, July 14, 2017 11:52 PM

I strongly suggest you watch this video before using an ultrasonic cleaner. This also happened to me. I'll never us one again.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVNt0MX9yQE

 

 

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