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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Some information about buying an Ultrasonic Cleaner

An ultrasonic cleaner cleans things by sending vibrations through a liquid medium. It gets in to a every small crevice, hole, passageway. The vibrations then loosen the material and it floats out.

I use an ultrasonic cleaner for cleaning carburetors, small engine and auto/truck carbs. Besides the popular cleaning jewelry using an ultrasonic cleaner, you can use it anywhere you have crevices, hard to clean places, or you just want a better job of cleaning. I've cleaned household scrub brushes with it!

Some others on here have mentioned the benefits of an ultrasonic cleaner. I have some experience with a few brands and want to share my knowledge with those who may have an interest buying one.

Looking for information on the best ultrasonic cleaners to buy, there's almost zero information, who's the best, what to buy, specifications, how effective they are, even how to use them is limited. The latter being the most important.

If you don't want to spend much money, buy a used quality cleaner but do not overspend. If you by a used cleaner sight unseen, I wouldn't pay more than $100 tops. If you buy it through a homeowner, and know the use on it then $150. There is a limited usage time span for them. And never buy or use one without a basket! The life of the transducer has been shortened. The basket also keeps the parts suspended in the cleaner. This allows for a more effective cleaning. The vibrations are not dulled. You can get a new low end cleaner for $75, the same unit under different names, Harbor Freight, Kendall. These all look the same, you will easily recognize them. I would not buy these cheaper ones but they do work, carrying only a 7 minute timer. You want at least a 30 minute timer if not 60 minutes. I generally clean my carbs for 30 minutes, sometimes 60 minutes. Some people I know do it for 20 minutes.

You can test out the effectiveness of an ultrasonic cleaner, and the strength of it, by suspending a piece of aluminum foil in the cleaner, turning it on. You should see holes being punched through the foil, the longer it is left on, the larger the holes, and the more the foil will deteriorate.

You want to buy an ultrasonic cleaner that uses 40 mhz, the large majority are all 40mhz, 40mhz is used for general cleaning. They also come in 20mhz and 80mhz for other applications.

You will find ultrasonic cleaners clean better in a warm to hot solution, similar to cleaning grease using hot water, so the unit should have a heater. The lower priced units do not though a warm heat is created by the vibrations of the solution.

There are several very good brands of ultrasonic cleaners but they are expensive. A quality unit that is priced reasonably is SharperTek (made in MI). It is the best ultrasonic cleaner for the money ranging from $200-$500 depending on the size of the tank in liters. A 2l tank is fine for small engine carbs, for auto carbs, you need at least 3l if not 4l or better yet, a 6l tank. Sharpertek is U.S. made and most important, parts are available! Plus their support and repair department.

Some quality brands are Elma, Branson, L&R (made in NJ), Crest (which is made near me in NJ and it's expensive!) These units start at $1,000. I was told by an ultrasonic distributor that Elma is Italian but my information is it's German. (You sell these and don't even know where it's made? What else don't you know correctly?) Kendall is another popular brand because it's low priced, and low quality, and impossible to get parts for.

Over the years I've used a variety of cleaners, water, cider vinegar, seltzer water, cola, Awesome, Simple Green, Simple Green HD, NAPA carb dip, and Berryman's Chem-Dip Carburetor Parts Cleaner which is my favorite!

Many use in their ultrasonic cleaners Simple Green HD at a dilution of 50/50 or 1/4, and the carbs are successfully cleaned and look great! However, I am not comfortable with using a soap to dissolve gas varnish. I think you need a stronger solvent, that's why I use Berryman's Chem-Dip Carburetor Parts Cleaner. Though Simple Green HD makes the carbs looking really clean, however I don't have the time to take chances so I use tried and true Berrymans. I want maximum effectiveness and can't play around. I want the chemical to dissolve the varnish, which I don't think Simple Green HD is designed to do, it needs the help of the ultrasonic cleaner. It dissolves grease and dirt but gas varnish? I question it. Using a specific disolver for varnish, Berrymans, will ensure success, and hopefully the passageways (that you don't see!) are cleaner and more open. If the passage ways are more open then my job will last longer.

Berryman's Chem-Dip alone is what I started with before the ultrasonic cleaner. and for the most part, it worked, then I encountered some difficult carburetors where the dip by itself did not work. Sharing this with a neighbor, he told me he had a very old lab unit. I used it and it solved the carb problem I was working on.

I had a neighbor's snowblower that only ran on full choke, anything less it would die. I soaked his carb in Berryman's Chem Dip for 4+ hours, cleaned the holes with a welder's tip cleaner, also it's a mild reamer, and it ran great on everything but no choke. It would run on 1 choke notch then when no choke, it would die. I put it in his ultrasonic cleaner for 60 minutes, again cleaned the holes, and it ran great with no choke. I was sold. I have other similar experiences, same problem, same story, same solution. No matter how clean you think the carburetor is, if it's not working right, there's varnish somewhere inside it.

When cleaning any carb, YOU MUST remove the low speed Welch plug, on Tecumseh engines it would be the plug on the side, as there are holes behind there that must be thoroughly cleaned. The Welch plug under the fuel bowl is unimportant unless it's extremely rusty as there is one large opening and it doesn't clog.

WARNING - You do not want to use any explosive or flammable solvents in an ultrasonic cleaner.

I put the Berryman's Chem-Dip in the ultrasonic cleaner letting the carb sit for 2-4 hours, then I turn the unit on. I then remove the carb and submerge it in water, removing and using a set of welding tip cleaning wires to clean all the holes. The cleaning wires have a rough section on it that acts as a reamer. If you choose to use an all purpose cleaner as the solution in the ultrasonic cleaner, I do suggest using the Berryman's carb dip first to allow the carbs to soak and loosen the varnish. Sharptek makes a cleaner specifically for gasoline varnish, I don't use it, called Shellac Buster, which many other manufacturers sell! but am considering buying it as I feel it would be excellent, but at $70/gallon and not dilutable?

I've used 3 different carb dips and found the Berryman's Chem-Dip to be the best so far. Berryman's makes two carb dip solutions, The best is the professional in the 5 gallon pail, the consumer is a 1 gallon, and it's excellent. The professional solution is a layered solvent with a volatile active agent on the bottom and another chemical that floats on top preventing the solvent from evaporating. It is a different chemical and much stronger than the 1 gallon. The 1 gallon is a water based solvent, the 5 gallon is not.

Walmart.com has the 1 gallon for $14 while the 5 gallon is $150. A while ago I posted Ollie's had the 1 gallon for $7.

Start with the 1 gallon, and if it doesn't work for you, then buy an ultrasonic cleaner. If you have an ultrasonic cleaner, I see no need for the 5 gallon professional solution. 40 years ago before ultrasonic cleaners were affordable, I had the 5 gallon, but another brand, to clean carburetors and it was excellent, for the time.

Whatever the solution, I periodically strain it through a paper towel placed in a funnel. I also clean the parts prior to putting it in the carb solution or ultrasonic cleaner with old gasoline. I suggest using kerosene instead of gas, it's less flammable and toxic.

I do not dispose of the carb dip solutions, I reuse and reuse it, losing some to dripping off the parts, accidental spillage, and evaporation.

Do not expect to put the carb in the ultrasonic cleaner or a carb dip bath without taking it apart. Remove the fuel bowl, float, fuel inlet valve, if you have adjustment screws, remove them, from the fuel bowl, from the side of the carb. If you have Welch plugs on the side or top of the carb, remove them. Tecumseh carbs have a Welch plug on the side that needs to be removed to clean the holes behind it. This is critical for successful cleaning. Some carbs have a small black plastic cap that hides a high speed jet, remove the cap and of course unscrew the jet. Some Honda and Kawasaki carbs have a jet on top that needs to be removed. Any holes in the jet are cleaned using a welding tip cleaning wire.

Three stories.

A years ago, a neighbor could not start his lawnmower. I drained the gas, and could not start it either. So I removed the carb, disassembled it, put the carb in Berryman's carb dip for 4 hours, put it back on again and it started but ran rough, and was searching, hunting. The mower was very usable. I cut my grass with it. I called him up and told him I got it running but it was running rough. He said he had an ultrasonic cleaner, a very old lab unit that was two piece, the stainless tank and the power unit called a generator with a plastic hollow tube as the connector. He had used it for his 350 Chevy boat engine with a 4 barrel carb. His engine was running rough and hard starting. He put the carb in vinegar in the ultrasonic cleaner and it worked and ran great. I took his ultrasonic cleaner home and disassembled the mower carb, put it in the ultrasonic cleaner using my Berryman's as the solution medium. After 60 minutes, reassembled, installed, the mower ran great, smooth. So this was my first experience with using an ultrasonic cleaner.

A year before this, a neighbor brought me his snowblower with a Tecumseh engine. It would only run only on full choke, and told me it would stall in wet or deep snow. I was using only Berryman's carb dip then. I took his carb apart, soaked it in the Berryman's Chem-Dip for 4 hours, cleaned it, used the welder's tip cleaning wires, then put it back on again. It ran great, did 2' of snow, but it ran only on 1 choke notch rather than no choke, otherwise it would die. The following year after using my neighbor's ultrasonic cleaner to solve his lawnmower problem, I called the neighbor with the snowblower to bring his snowblower back to me to try the ultrasonic cleaner. I disassembled the carb, and after using the ultrasonic cleaner for 1 hour, again cleaning the holes, it ran great on no choke.

I recently cleaned a neighbor's Chinese engine carb on his Craftsman that has been hunting for couple of years when he's been using his snowblower. Years prior I told him to start using Seafoam before the problem got worse. Never did. Then snow was forecasted, he ordered a new carb, he waited until the night of a snow storm when the snowblower did not start to put the carb on it only to find the carb he ordered was the wrong carb for the machine and it did not fit. A few days later I did his snowblower's carb in the ultrasonic cleaner, after the carb soak, and using the ultrasonic cleaner it ran so smoothly.

I was sold. I have other similar experiences, same problem, same story, same solution. No matter how clean you think the carburetor is, if it's not working right, there's varnish somewhere inside it.

That's All Folks!
 

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Great Write-up..... But just to be perfectly clear, You are using Straight BerryMans* from a 5 gal pail as the cleaning solution in the U/S Cleaner??

Thanx, Jay
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Great Write-up..... But just to be perfectly clear, You are using Straight BerryMans* from a 5 gal pail as the cleaning solution in the U/S Cleaner??

Thanx, Jay
No. I use the 5 gallon as a dip, and use the 1 gallon in the ultrasonic cleaner.
 

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Thank you for the excellent write-up. You are right about not using a flammable liquid in the ultrasonic cleaner! The flammable solvents need an energy of activation to release their energy and the ultrasonic cleaner provides that energy.
 

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If the fluid that you are cleaning with is warm to hot, it works better in an ultrasonic also. That is why a lot of them have heaters. Not for flammable fluids, of course.
 

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Sooooooooooooooo............

Thank you for the excellent write-up. You are right about not using a flammable liquid in the ultrasonic cleaner! The flammable solvents need an energy of activation to release their energy and the ultrasonic cleaner provides that energy.
So using flammable liquids in an ultrasonic cleaner can start a fire? How does that work?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
So using flammable liquids in an ultrasonic cleaner can start a fire? How does that work?
Great for barbeques! Expensive though. You've lost your ultrasonic cleaner.
 

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The ultrasonic cleaner is putting energy into the liquid. This is not the quick burst of energy like a spark, or a flame, but it is energy nonetheless. Once the liquid reaches it's activation energy point, it releases it's energy. With a match, gasoline lights right up. The flame gives it enough energy to reach its activation point and it bursts into flame. The ultrasonic cleaner's energy is invisible, but it is adding energy slowly to the liquid.
 

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The ultrasonic cleaner is putting energy into the liquid. This is not the quick burst of energy like a spark, or a flame, but it is energy nonetheless. Once the liquid reaches it's activation energy point, it releases it's energy. With a match, gasoline lights right up. The flame gives it enough energy to reach its activation point and it bursts into flame. The ultrasonic cleaner's energy is invisible, but it is adding energy slowly to the liquid.
I assume you mean the ultrasonic cleaner excites the flammable liquid to a mist just like a carburetor and any outside ignition source even the ultrasonic cleaner itself with it's electronics can initiate combustion. Looking at the SDS for Berrymans carb cleaner makes me wonder why it's able to be used considering it contains the following:


Section 3 – Composition/Information on Ingredients

Component:

Toluene 40-50%
Acetone 20-25%
Methanol 20-25%
Methyl Ethyl Ketone 1-5%
2-Butoxyethanol 1-5%
2-Propanol 1-5%

All I can say is be careful out there!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Below is not the composition for either one of their Chem-Dips. It's for their pour in fuel cleaner, similar to Seafoam.

I assume you mean the ultrasonic cleaner excites the flammable liquid to a mist just like a carburetor and any outside ignition source even the ultrasonic cleaner itself with it's electronics can initiate combustion. Looking at the SDS for Berrymans carb cleaner makes me wonder why it's able to be used considering it contains the following:


Section 3 – Composition/Information on Ingredients

Component:

Toluene 40-50%
Acetone 20-25%
Methanol 20-25%
Methyl Ethyl Ketone 1-5%
2-Butoxyethanol 1-5%
2-Propanol 1-5%

All I can say is be careful out there!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Well that makes sense, thanks for the correction, any idea what's in their Chem-Dip?
Yes, it's on their website. I'll do a copy and post shortly.
 

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This is not meant to disagree with anything that JL posted, merely sharing my experiences.

I use Simple Green HD, heated to about 140F, and have run my carbs for an hour in the ultrasonic cleaner. I disassemble the easy stuff, as JL described. Bowl, jet, etc, but I haven't removed any Welch plugs.

Mine have all run great afterwards. I do not do mechanical cleaning. No running wires through holes, etc. I let the ultrasonic & cleaning agent do the work. Easier for me, and less risk of accidentally increasing a hole size.

I've only cleaned about 5 carbs, but each has been successful, using this method. Merely as a data point.
 

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The Berryman second solution has enough water in it to prevent problems I guess. Yes, the worry is that the ultrasonic cleaner is causing the solution to vaporize and it could ignite. That's about the sum of my knowledge here.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I've done a lot of carbs, mower, blower, 2 cycle, using just Chem-Dip without an ultrasonic cleaner with no problems, then had a few problems, examples in my original post. I've also done a number of snowblower carbs using only the Chem-Dip without removing the Welch plug with no problem, then .... had some. So I removed the Welch plug, resoaked the carb, used the tip cleaner, shot it out using an aerosol carb cleaner, and fine, no problems. Then there are those few carbs that I've needed an ultrasonic cleaner for. After using it, worked fine. Now if I'm going to spend time to drain the gas, remove the carb, disassemble, soak it, reassemble, install, put gas in, I'm not going to remove it again and do it all over to achieve the same poor outcome. To get the best results, the least amount of work, 30 minutes in the ultrasonic cleaner is nothing. Now all carbs get the ultrasonic cleaner. Not saying you need it, again I've had much success with using just the Chem-Dip, but there are those few difficult situations. Besides I get some auto carbs, some DIY carbs, and a few disassembled gun parts that need really good cleaning from a few people. I've paid for my Chem-Dip. I've paid for my ultrasonic cleaner. You buy quality, it works, and keeps on working for a long time. Besides getting fewer returns or complaints.
 

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Some have suggested that you can use a flammable solvent by enclosing the item in a Ziploc bag and pouring in your solvent/cleaner. Then force as much air as you can out of the bag and seal it up. They then float the bag in the ultrasonic filled with water. What I worry about is the solvent eating away at the bag. I have never been inclined to try it myself.

My unit is a retired medical unit with heat. It is very aggressive compared to the Harbor Freight junk. The reason the cheap USCs only have a 6 minute timer is they have a short duty cycle and running them continually will melt them down.

Beware that any cleaning solution you use in the USC that contains an alkali will stain aluminum a dark gray over time so remove and rinse as soon as possible . If you forget and leave aluminum soaking overnight you may not be able to restore the bright surface.
 

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This is not meant to disagree with anything that JL posted, merely sharing my experiences.

I use Simple Green HD, heated to about 140F, and have run my carbs for an hour in the ultrasonic cleaner. I disassemble the easy stuff, as JL described. Bowl, jet, etc, but I haven't removed any Welch plugs.

Mine have all run great afterwards. I do not do mechanical cleaning. No running wires through holes, etc. I let the ultrasonic & cleaning agent do the work. Easier for me, and less risk of accidentally increasing a hole size.

I've only cleaned about 5 carbs, but each has been successful, using this method. Merely as a data point.
The welch plugs seem pretty intimidating until you do them once, and realize that it really is a quick, simple thing. I have a sharpened awl, and a 2" piece of about 1/2" brass, and that's all it takes . . . Gently poke and life, and they pop right out. Put the new one in, and tap the brass rod onto it until the plug is flush and flat with the face of the carb, and it's in . . . You can additionally seal with nail polish, but frankly, I have never seen one from the factory that way, although many service manuals recommend it. Once you do it, you will wonder why you never did so before . . .

- Tim
 

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thanks for the write-up and info. I have a small ultrasonic, and have cleaned a few dozen carbs using pine sol or simple green with water. Followed with running small wires through the openings. This has worked well for me. Note that I also put the cleaning liquid and parts in a ziploc, and put that in enough clean water in the machine to bring up to the proper level. This keeps the machine tub from deteriorating.

I work on machines as a hobby, and am usually not in any rush. I would probably try a stronger cleaner if I had deadlines to meet. Oh, I also started removing the welch plugs on the Tecumseh carbs last year, no big deal.
 
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