Scorpion

Cleaning Lego Technic parts

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Good morning, gents.

So it's come that that time: I have to clean out my attick and wash my insanely dusty LEGO. To the city sets, that's simple: lukewarm water and dishsoap. But when it comes to Techic sets, two parts pose an obstacle: shock absorbers and linear actuators.

How does one go about cleaning those parts?

 

All suggestions are appreciated!

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You could blow the dust of the shock absorbers with compressed air.  Wipe down the shock absorber and linear actuators with a cleaner dampened cloth or paper towel.

 

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21 minutes ago, MinusAndy said:

Stick them in a fine mesh bag and put them through the dishwasher

I hope you are kidding and NOT talking about cleaning shock absorbers and linear actuators.

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Regarding ALL other parts (non-metal). What I found to be very effective is dishwasher soap (not for hand washing). That stuffs 'eats' up the dust and does not leave many bubbles behind. I'd fill a kitchen sink with hot water and dishwasher liquid, dump all the parts in there, let soak and mix few times, then rinse and put on a towel to dry. No brush, air-spray or anything that's too much work.

As for the metallic parts (LAs, pneumatics, shocks, ...) wet cloth, one item at a time. The last thing you want is moisture then rust/corrosion

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This is exactly how I’ve been refurbishing snowboard bindings for many years now, they are generally abs with a few springs and metal parts. So long as there are no electronics, Lego is just some bits of plastic for kids with a few springs in. It’s not a bag of kittens or part of the space shuttle. It’ll be fine.

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dishwasher detergent is highly aggressive... dishwasher with no detergent would be fine. However when its only LA and Shocks, just do them by hand... as for the rest of it, put it in a pillowcase and on a cool wash in the washing machine.

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6 hours ago, TeamThrifty said:

... as for the rest of it, put it in a pillowcase and on a cool wash in the washing machine.

I do this too.

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Laundry machine, fine mash bag or pillow with zipper, 30°C, liquid soap for all parts, except everything, which contains metallic part and/or is lubricated with grease. Parts with stickers i don't care, since i don't apply them and remove them from older sets i buy. That way 99% got clean so far. if one part doesn't get clean, i use an ultra sonic cleaner for glasses. But you shouldn't that often with the same part again and again. Some part got tiny holes in the surface. I guess that the ultra sonic waves "found" a weak spot on the surface, which then got bigger and bigger every time i cleaned it.

Do not make the mistake and clean just plates. I did that one time... man did i spent a lots of time to disassemble the plates again. Turned out that during the drying process the spinning speed was high enough so plates were connected to each other. So always have a good mixtures of parts, to prevent that. Safes you time and wounded fingers.

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Another vote for the washing machine!  You can get mesh bags for trainers or underwear, I use a variety of these in different sizes.  Just make sure the zip is robust and will stay closed!  You can always double-bag for extra security.  Just pick a cycle that's cool and for 'delicate's' or something similar - you don't want too high a spin speed, and you don't want too long a cycle.  As has been mentioned, take out anything electronic or with metal bits, and put a mixture of parts in together.  I also remove anything that's long and thin (i.e. fragile).  I just use my normal laundry pods and haven't had a problem.  Anything that doesn't pass inspection after washing gets put in the sink and scrubbed with washing-up liquid and a toothbrush.  I spread out the parts on a towel to finish drying, and move them around regularly.

But to answer the original question: shock absorbers I would wash in the sink - the metal is plated so provided you dry it reasonably quickly, it won't come to any harm.  The actuators I would wipe with a damp cloth.  As was mentioned above, a compressor with a blow-gun is great for dusting (being non-contact, there's no possibility of damage), but isn't necessarily something everyone will have access to.

Edited by me00rjb
Answer to original question!

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Actually, high spinning speed shouldn't matter since at that moment part are not moving anymore. Scratches on the surfaces will only occur when the drum is moving slowly during the washing phase. I would like to add one experience regarding drying parts and what works best for me:

  1. High rpm for drying in the laundry machine
  2. Thin bed sheet over a dryer like this:waeschetrockner-500089100-1.jpg

That way parts dry really fast.

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Can't use the washing machine.  I have a front loader. 

Iv used dish washing soap & hot water for lose parts. Leave them to soak for an hour in large trays. Kitty litter trays are good for thus. Unused of course. 

Strain out the water & leave on a towel on my deck to dry.

As for linear actuators/shocks/electronics etc, I wipe them down with damp cloth. If its really discolored I use peroxide on the cloth & leave in the sun.

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5 hours ago, Tazmancrash said:

Can't use the washing machine.  I have a front loader. 

Iv used dish washing soap & hot water for lose parts. Leave them to soak for an hour in large trays. Kitty litter trays are good for thus. Unused of course. 

Strain out the water & leave on a towel on my deck to dry.

As for linear actuators/shocks/electronics etc, I wipe them down with damp cloth. If its really discolored I use peroxide on the cloth & leave in the sun.

Why wouldn't it work with a front loader? I'm using one and had no issues so far. Be careful with higher temperatures. While it might not damage (color degeneration) the plastic, it might damage them over time.

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10 hours ago, Andman said:

Actually, high spinning speed shouldn't matter since at that moment part are not moving anymore. Scratches on the surfaces will only occur when the drum is moving slowly during the washing phase.

I cautioned against too high a spin speed, not necessarily to reduce scratching, but to reduce the risk of broken parts.  I have had a couple of instances of 1x16 technic bricks damaged when I chose the wrong cycle.  The forces involved go up as a factor of speed squared, so it does make quite a difference.  I think what happened is the 1x16 bricks ended up against the side of the drum (supported only at their ends due to the curve of the drum) and the centrifugal force of other parts bearing against them basically caused them to break in the middle.  Dropping the spin speed solved the problem - as did not putting too many parts in the machine at the same time.  I didn't notice any particular difference in drying time due to the reduced spin speed.

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5 hours ago, me00rjb said:

I cautioned against too high a spin speed, not necessarily to reduce scratching, but to reduce the risk of broken parts.  I have had a couple of instances of 1x16 technic bricks damaged when I chose the wrong cycle.  The forces involved go up as a factor of speed squared, so it does make quite a difference.  I think what happened is the 1x16 bricks ended up against the side of the drum (supported only at their ends due to the curve of the drum) and the centrifugal force of other parts bearing against them basically caused them to break in the middle.  Dropping the spin speed solved the problem - as did not putting too many parts in the machine at the same time.  I didn't notice any particular difference in drying time due to the reduced spin speed.

Valid point. I'll keep that in mind.

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On 1/22/2021 at 9:02 PM, Andman said:

Why wouldn't it work with a front loader? I'm using one and had no issues so far. Be careful with higher temperatures. While it might not damage (color degeneration) the plastic, it might damage them over time.

Wouldn't want the parts going up the side then falling back down. Could rick damaging them.

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The machine I use loads from the front.  Yes, the pieces do tumble around, however provided you pick a cycle designed for delicate or woolen items, you should be fine.  These cycles agitate the contents much less (fewer rotations, and longer gaps between them, plus lower spin speeds).  I always go for the 'quick wash' option as well.  I have only washed used parts so far, which typically have a degree of surface scratching anyway, but I haven't noticed it getting and worse.  I suppose the test would be to wash some new parts, and then see how they look afterwards.  I would recommend running a test on some parts you're not too worried about, and seeing if you're happy with the results.  The alternative is washing each one by hand, which I found gets tedious very quickly. In fact I noticed even a quick scrub with a toothbrush produced very fine scratches on the parts - most noticeable on black plates on the top surface, between the studs.

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