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Hints, Tips and Solutions (Do NOT post requests for help here) If you have any useful general hints and tips for vintage technology repair and restoration, please share them here. PLEASE DO NOT POST REQUESTS FOR HELP HERE!

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Old 2nd Feb 2018, 12:40 am   #1
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Olympia, Washington, USA.
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Default Cleaning dirty "Push Push" switches

The bane of my existence was trying to clean the "Push Push" switches in banks on stereos, tape recorders etc.

A tech friend told me about this tip, after I was loudly grousing about what a pain in the rear they were to try to clean

I had tried drilling into them and injecting cleaner- plastic bits got into them and jammed them, disassembling them- you don't even want to try that, and an ultrasonic cleaner.(Getting them dried out was a real pain too.)

My buddy told me to take a very fine tip soldering pencil and carefully melt a hole in the-- back corner-- of the switch, just big enough to put the spray nozzle tube of a cleaner into, then seal it up with a bit of silicone RTV.

It worked like a champ!
I did find out that while the bit of melted plastic was still hot, to push the switch a couple of times in case the plastic blocked the switch workings inside.

It makes them really easy to re-clean & re-lube in a few years too. I never had this fail or cause problems unless someone had run high current through the switch and burned the sliding contacts.

I would suggest using an old "garbage" pencil iron, as trying to solder with it after using it to melt plastic is not a good idea. You can even grind down the tip to a smaller diameter if desired, or thread a piece of house wire and screw it into the end of the iron.
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Old 2nd Feb 2018, 12:54 am   #2
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Default Re: Cleaning dirty "Push Push" switches

Good tip.

I usually break a bit off the top of the switch using a screwdriver. This leaves it open to contamination but I haven't found this a problem in practice.
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Old 2nd Feb 2018, 7:38 pm   #3
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Darlington, County Durham, UK.
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Default Re: Cleaning dirty "Push Push" switches

Good Evening, I have just purchased a Schaub Lorenz Touring 104a, its a lovely radio, however there are more crackles and pops than a bowl of Rice Crispies.
So I attempted to clean the push switches with WD40 switch cleaner, with little success, as gaining access is proving to be rather diffficult. Medium wave is almost none existent, but upon press the switch up and down it pops and crackles, if only I can get some cleaner in there. I have tried tentatively to flip the plastics cap off, with no joy.
Apparently the 104a is a great radio, when fully operational, and I'm getting rather frustrated as access is proving to be somewhat fruitless.
If anyone can advise me accordingly I would be very grateful.
Also the slider on FM is also suffering from the same problem, producing some loud noises.
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Old 2nd Feb 2018, 8:35 pm   #4
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Location: Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, UK.
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Default Re: Cleaning dirty "Push Push" switches

One method I've used on (similar) long record-replay switches on tape recorder PCBs is just to apply a soldering iron to each individual soldered pin of the switch and, while the solder / pin (and therefore the associated switch contact) is hot, move the switch rapidly back and forth a few dozen times.

Repeat until every section of the switch has been 'heat treated' in this way.

This has got me out of a jam a few times where I have not had the time or it has been too physically difficult to remove, dismantle and properly clean the switch as I would obviously prefer to do.
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Old 4th Feb 2018, 11:21 pm   #5
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Location: N.W. Oxfordshire(Chipping Norton)
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Default Re: Cleaning dirty "Push Push" switches

Wavelength - on no account should you use WD*40 as a switch cleaner, as other forum meembers may also point out. The correct product to use is Servisol super 10 or any equivalent cleaner. Maplin stock Servisol, which is also available from on-line firms such as CPC, RS, Cricklewood Electronics, etc.
* IIRC the 'WD' stands for 'Water Displacement'
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Old 5th Feb 2018, 9:27 am   #6
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Default Re: Cleaning dirty "Push Push" switches

I've never used it, but there is a contact cleaner from WD-40 as well...
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Old 5th Feb 2018, 11:23 am   #7
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Default Re: Cleaning dirty "Push Push" switches

Yes, WD-40 was originally developed as a water displacement product - not for the retail market, but for the aerospace industry.

In the late 1950s a team of three employees of the Rocket Chemical Company in San Diego, California, led by chemist Norm Larsen were looking for a water displacement solution for NASA to protect the Atlas Space Missile from rust and corrosion. It took forty attempts to get the formula right, which is how the product found its name, WD-40 - Water Displacement 40th formula.

It was first retailed in 1958 in aerosol cans. Over the years, it's tended to be seen as a 'toolkit in a can', and along with a roll of duct tape can solve just about and fault or breakdown, except of course that it can't. Like many on the forum, I'd never let it near a vintage radio, but in fairness to those that do, the claimed uses on the can are stated as:

Stops squeaks
Drives out moisture
Cleans and protects
Loosens rusty parts ["Thoroughly penetrates and loosens seized parts"]
Frees sticky mechanisms.

I'm sure that most of us have used it for all of those purposes over time, the least satisfactory of which is as a penetrating fluid. Penetrating oil needs low surface tension, (EG: 'Plus Gas') the opposite quality from a water displacement product. If it's used on moving parts, (ball races in tuning caps for example), over time WD40 dries to a sticky residue.

I think that the company tacitly realised the limitations, and hence, some years ago now, they developed a range of nine specialist products, but for almost six decades the original WD40 has become so embedded in people's minds as a cure all, that the Specialist range hasn't become widely available. Most of us will have at least one can of WD40 but few will have any of these. The company has to be careful how they market the range, because the more they stress the special benefits of each one, by implication, the more they emphasise the limitations of the original everyday WD40:

Contact Cleaner
PFFE lubricant
White Lithium
Spray Grease
Cutting Oil

I use the dry PTFE on such things as curtain tracks, for which it's superb.
I've also got some contact cleaner, but have a can of De-Oxit, which will probably see me out.
For degreasing, I use brake cleaner spray, which really shits oil and dirt, then quickly evaporates leaving no residue.

About the only thing I use WD40 for is on my lathes, pillar drill and bandsaw to stop rust in my workshop in the winter months.

WD40 introduced the 'Smartstraw' some time back, which is a real boon as the little red straws always seem to go AWOL.
You can leave the straw down and just use the spray, or pull the straw up to direct it where you want it. Well worth the extra cost.

If you go to this link you can click on any of the 'cans' to find out more about the product:

Some history about the company:

Other brands and products are available!
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Old 5th Feb 2018, 11:53 am   #8
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Default Re: Cleaning dirty "Push Push" switches

Hi David,
I shall be careful with the brake cleaner spray then if as you say "I use brake cleaner spray, which really sh**s oil and dirt"
Thanks for bringing a smile to my face on a Monday morning!

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Old 5th Feb 2018, 12:05 pm   #9
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Default Re: Cleaning dirty "Push Push" switches

Standard WD40 is white spirit with a bit of mineral oil. The idea was that the white spirit would evaporate leaving a thin layer of oil to prevent corrosion. The original name was 'Rocket WD-40’, because it was developed to prevent corrosion on the outside skin of Atlas missiles.

Many people will claim that it's a product of the devil. In fact it works reasonably well as a contact cleaner and lubricant. The main drawback with it is that it leaves a mucky film of oil everywhere, particularly if overused (which it often is). Servisol 10 is a much better product for contact cleaning.
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Old 5th Feb 2018, 12:52 pm   #10
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Default Re: Cleaning dirty "Push Push" switches

I used WD40 as contact cleaner for years with no problems and only initially got some Servisol about six years ago. I've found that this makes a better job of cleaning but the effect doesn't last as long as WD40's.
"Experts are only good at one thing: explaining why something will not work!"
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Old 7th Feb 2018, 3:28 pm   #11
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Default Re: Cleaning dirty "Push Push" switches

The WD40 contact cleaner (not the normal blue stuff) is wonderful. It doesn't eat any plastics, leaves no residue and works almost instantly. Have used it on all sorts of latching changeover switches. You give them a squirt up the bum with it, exercise them and that's usually enough. No dismantling of switches required. Getting creative with the tube that comes with it is the hardest bit when the switch is hidden away (Tek channel switches for example)
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