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Ultrasonic Parts Cleaner for Cleaning Bearings

marka12161

Stainless
Joined
Dec 23, 2016
Location
Oswego, NY USA
I've got a Monarch 16CY QCGB apart for cleaning, assessment and reconditioning as necessary. It's got a bunch of Timken Tapered Roller bearings. I soaked them in Kerosene in an attempt to clean them with limited success. After this soak, some of the bearings just don't turn as smooth as I would expect. The outer races look clean and unblemished so I guessing the roughness I'm feeling is due to crud trapped inside the roller cage. While i'm certainly open to replacing all these bearings and will certainly do so if necessary, I hate to do it just because I can't clean them thoroughly. These shafts don't turn fast and there is very little radial or axial load so I could believe these bearings are just fine from a wear perspective. Does anyone have any experience with an ultrasonic cleaner for this application? I suspect the cost of a cleaner would be about half the cost of a total bearing swap out.
 
no experience with ultrasonic cleaners, though I'd like to get one for that and other jobs. I've had some success soaking bearings in purple power, with repeated scrubbings, then blowing out with air (not letting the bearing spin) and more scrubbings. Then WD40 or kerosene the same, followed by whatever clean engine oil I have around. Lots and lots of repetitive cleaning and blowing to get the old grease out of the bearing. Once you're done they should spin freely and feel kinda awful, but after loading them with the correct amount of grease they'll feel great. Just takes a long time.
 
I got a 2 gallon Crest that works great but if it was me I'd just replace the bearings if I had it all apart.

I mean, how old are they? What's the cost in the big scheme of things?
 
U/S cleaner is a no-no for radial bearings - the balls will fret against the races and wear. If you're just doing the rollers and cages, probably OK. I use WD-40 as the solvent, in a beaker, in the water bath for this.
 
I've got a Monarch 16CY QCGB apart for cleaning, assessment and reconditioning as necessary. It's got a bunch of Timken Tapered Roller bearings. I soaked them in Kerosene in an attempt to clean them with limited success. After this soak, some of the bearings just don't turn as smooth as I would expect. The outer races look clean and unblemished so I guessing the roughness I'm feeling is due to crud trapped inside the roller cage. While i'm certainly open to replacing all these bearings and will certainly do so if necessary, I hate to do it just because I can't clean them thoroughly. These shafts don't turn fast and there is very little radial or axial load so I could believe these bearings are just fine from a wear perspective. Does anyone have any experience with an ultrasonic cleaner for this application? I suspect the cost of a cleaner would be about half the cost of a total bearing swap out.
I use lacquer thinner in tin coffee cans. Have a few cans. Also spray brake cleaner. Be sure to wear safety glasses. In 50 years of rebuilding I only used a ultra sound cleaner once. Not worth it.
 
Ultrasonics are great for bearings only if you can take them apart fully. If you can't, they can do damage microscopically. Put the bearing in a ziplock bag with acetone, that should break down whatever is in there, provided the cage is metal and with not react with the acetone. Obviously well filtered dry compressed air to get everything out is very important regardless of what you are soaking it in, some grease formulations are quite tenacious.

Where Ultrasonics are amazing, if you have a large one... if for heat exchangers like the ones used inside spindle chillers. I have lowered these into the ultrasonic without taking them apart and cleaned them like new when they were completely plugged up with oily/greasy deposits.

For reference: They are also great for cleaning turbocharger impellers without having to take apart the center section.

Dave @ Nerv
 
I've got a Monarch 16CY QCGB apart for cleaning, assessment and reconditioning as necessary. It's got a bunch of Timken Tapered Roller bearings. I soaked them in Kerosene in an attempt to clean them with limited success. After this soak, some of the bearings just don't turn as smooth as I would expect. The outer races look clean and unblemished so I guessing the roughness I'm feeling is due to crud trapped inside the roller cage. While i'm certainly open to replacing all these bearings and will certainly do so if necessary, I hate to do it just because I can't clean them thoroughly. These shafts don't turn fast and there is very little radial or axial load so I could believe these bearings are just fine from a wear perspective. Does anyone have any experience with an ultrasonic cleaner for this application? I suspect the cost of a cleaner would be about half the cost of a total bearing swap out.
Just a sanity check.
You put some oil on them before checking if they are smooth after kerosene?
A VERY clean Bearing is not smooth without lube. Likes to snag and hang up on the cage.
 
I would just replace them IMHO
Normally I would but since it's the QCGB (not the spindle drive system), low RPM and very small loads, I'd like to try cleaning them first. A comprehensive rebuild (had the ways reground) gets expensive and while not doing it on the cheap, I have to make value judgements. Thanks
 
Just a sanity check.
You put some oil on them before checking if they are smooth after kerosene?
A VERY clean Bearing is not smooth without lube. Likes to snag and hang up on the cage.
Good feedback. I did throw a bit of 30 weight on one of the wosrt offenders after I cleaned it and it smothed right out.
 
I use lacquer thinner in tin coffee cans. Have a few cans. Also spray brake cleaner. Be sure to wear safety glasses. In 50 years of rebuilding I only used a ultra sound cleaner once. Not worth it.
Thanks Richard. Laquer thinner and break cleaner it is. I can't wait to get past the gearbox rebuild so I can get on to the scraping.
 
I have had mixed experience with using ultrasonic cleaners to clean bearings. I've found that if you leave them, even for a few minutes, microscopic particles wedge between the ball and the race, making them worse. However, if you spin them and partially dip them in the ultrasonic you can avoid that problem.
 
I use paint thinner or mineral spirits (same thing), it cleans better than lacquer thinner and gasoline on the initial cleanup. I use lacquer thinner for final cleaning if do a final clean. Blow out with air always. Lacquer thinner always left a film on the surface, when I used it.
Ben
 
I had success submerging bearings fully in solvent, Then putting the hose from a small fish tank bubblier into the liquid. The gentle air flow kept the solvent in constant motion, and did a great job cleaning my precision grinder bearings.
 
I have been using ultrasonic cleaner 9L 540W for over 10 years now (paid $400 in 2011). I like it for certain applications but by no means it is a miracle worker for all applications. Choosing the correct solvent for the specific part is still 90% of the job. As far as aggressiveness of the cleaner goes; if i can't clean the crud off with a brush the ultrasonic cleaner won't get the job done either. Mine has a built in heater and i do find it useful. The main benefit of USC is to get into hard to reach places with the brush, but even at 540W mine does not feel more powerful than a brush. Main advantage is that i can throw a part in there and forget it for 2hr, rather than spending 1hr at the sink scrubbing it.
 








 
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