Submerging running DC locomotive motor in water to clean...

mtntrainman Feb 10, 2019

  1. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

    Can anyone confirm or debunk this ?

    I know I am getting a lot older and my brain is a little more fuzzy about a lot things...but. I know I read right here on TB...years ago...that someone said you could take a motor out of an N Scale locomotive...connect jumpers from your DC power pack to the motor tabs...and apply power and submerge the running motor in water to clean it without anything shorting out!! As I recollect this method of cleaning was confirmed by a number of other modelers !

    Fact or Fiction ??? TIA :confused:o_O:whistle:
  2. tehachapifan

    tehachapifan TrainBoard Member

    Definitely never heard that before.
  3. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

    Immersing in water wont hurt a motor as long as it's short term. Long term will will damage a motor due to accelerated galvanic corrosion. That's not really a worry as it takes a considerable amount of time for that to happen.

    When I worked at Telex, years ago, and we made 8-track decks for Ford, we used to put motors in a bucket of water and run them just to see how long they would last. They would run for days or even weeks before failing because of components corroding away.

    Plain water may not actually clean the motor, however. Oil and grease are not dissolved by water. You should have a degreaser added to effectively clean the gook out.

    There used to be a commercial cleaner made for just that application advertised in the MRR magazines and may still be available or one like it..

  4. viperjim1

    viperjim1 TrainBoard Member

    That is true with the old r/c cars as this is how we broke in the brushes. And I clean my motors with an airbrush and isopropyl alcohol and just life the shafts at the ends of the armature.
    mtntrainman likes this.
  5. Akirasho

    Akirasho TrainBoard Member

    In days gone by, Radio Shack (at least) made a low residue aerosol "TV Tuner" cleaner that I'd used on a variety of non tuner projects in the past, including the brushes on an old shop vac. Agreed that water alone may not be effective on certain e-spooge.

    Although rotary contact tuners are gone, I suspect that some PC board preps may work. And, there are still rotary contact switches in the e-world.
    Hardcoaler likes this.
  6. locomcf

    locomcf TrainBoard Member

    Many, many years ago, Seuthe had a product called "No 108 Cleaning Distillate" that was sold as a track cleaner. However, you could use it to clean motors exactly as you've described - by connecting power feeds to the motor tabs, then immersing the motor in the fluid and applying power. The first time I tried this, the liquid instantly turned the colour of indian ink, and my heart leapt into my throat as I thought that I had destroyed the motor. However, it was fine, and ran extremely well afterwards.

    I still have my last (empty) bottle, and the English instructions attached to the back of the bottle (which is otherwise all printed in German) say:
    "CLEANING FLUID for TRACK & LOCOS. Will NOT damage paint, electrics or plastics. To clean LOCOS immerse in fluid & agitate for 3 minutes. Allow to dry - then OIL."

    The used fluid could be decanted or filtered and used again although with some loss. That was my usual way to clean motors for several years, until my supply ran out.

    I haven't seen Seuthe No 108 around for many years, but I've just noticed that a shop in Mittagong Australia is advertising it:

    These days, if a motor needs a good clean out, I use electronic cleaner from a spray can, using the little straw to direct the spray where I want it to go. It's also a great way to clean loco trucks without removing them from the loco (but remove the shell and other painted surfaces beforehand, just in case.)
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2019
    Hardcoaler likes this.
  7. locomcf

    locomcf TrainBoard Member

    Here's a link to a video on using Seuthe 108 cleaner, Just as I remembered it.
  8. John Moore

    John Moore TrainBoard Supporter

    I have used water for years to clean electronic items, although in an ultra sound bath and with Dawn dish detergent, followed by a clean water rinse in the ultra sound bath and a suitable period to dry before relubing. I use warm water in the cleaning in a jar that fits into the ultra sound bath with water always in the ultra sound bath. That way I avoid having to clean the bath.
  9. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

    That! Be sure to dry everything well and then relube and you'll be good to go.
  10. locomcf

    locomcf TrainBoard Member

  11. RCMan

    RCMan TrainBoard Member

    In the military we used Ivory soap and water to clean Radar equipment. Never on a Transmitter final stage. Ivory soap back then never left a residue on the equipment.
    Motors, I have been taught that you do not clean them, period. The carbon dust does not affect the performance of the motor, but over oiling the motor is very bad.
    The saying "A little is good and a lot is better." does not apply to motors.
    Only thing you occasionally oil is the bearings, not the brushes.

    Just my 2 cents worth.
    jtomstarr likes this.
  12. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

    Pure water (as in distilled water) does not conduct electricity. Tap water is not distilled.

    This is an important distinction. It may be a detail, but it's a critical detail.
    mtntrainman likes this.
  13. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

    I remember the part about RC guys breaking in motors in water (y)

    I know there are commercial cleaners out there but water is cheaper :whistle:

    At least I wasnt imagining I read it :LOL::sneaky::cool:

    A friend and I where discussing it and he said it couldnt be done o_O

    He said no matter what...things would short out ;)

  14. Onizukachan

    Onizukachan TrainBoard Supporter

    Bollocks. Not on low voltage low amperage DC it won’t. not enough current to make it past the poor conductivity of water.
    Doug Gosha and MK like this.
  15. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

    I believe it was LaBelle who sold the cleaner back in earlier days. I don't know if they still do.

  16. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I well recall the TV tuner cleaner method. It worked great.
  17. jtomstarr

    jtomstarr TrainBoard Member

    RCMan, I learned that ivory soap trick from a WWII U.S.N Veteran he and his wife even taught me to use Fels-Naphtha Soap to clean paint brushes after cleaning them with turpentine / paint thinner.

  18. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    It's all bunk, puck, nonsense, foolishness and works great?:unsure:o_O:rolleyes:

    I've cleaned off all kinds of electrical gadgets and motors. Of course anything that is more then 12 volts as in 110 I made sure the power was turned off. I've never cleaned any motors by immersion. I didn't figure they'd needed a born again experience. :D:p

    I us an Isopropyl Spray and shoot it threw the motor allowing it to drip on one of momma's brand new dry towels. Oh that was fun!:eek::mad::censored:

    I thought I was listening to feed back from the sound system. ;):rolleyes::cautious:

    Give it a go. If it doesn't work well your good friend told you right.
  19. Tony Burzio

    Tony Burzio TrainBoard Supporter

    My question is, how did it get that greasy? Sounds like way too much oil. I only put a dot on the bushing where the shaft passes, never on the motor.
    BarstowRick likes this.

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