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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 16th Jul 2019, 12:06 pm   #1
PJL
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Default Degreaser for cigarette tar removal

Those who also work on vintage cars/bikes will already know this but...

Having tried every solvent and detergent I could find on a French chandelier that must have sat over a table of French men discussing politics and chain smoking Gauloises for a few decades, I went and bought some no nonsense degreaser from Screwfix. The neat solution washed the nicotine off with very little effort and it claims to be OK on plastics and paintwork. So far I have had no trouble although I am avoiding the cut glass.

It is corrosive so will need to be rinsed off which will limit it's use on radios but is something I will reach for when nothing else works.
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Old 16th Jul 2019, 12:14 pm   #2
paulsherwin
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Default Re: Degreaser for cigarette tar removal

Beware of automotive degreasers. Some make an excellent job of dissolving adhesives. I once used Gunk to clean a lot of tar splashes off a car and all the trim badges promptly fell off.

I've always found aerosol foaming cleaner shifts cigarette tar pretty well if you leave it on for 5 minutes.
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Old 14th Aug 2019, 5:35 pm   #3
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Default Re: Degreaser for cigarette tar removal

I think you probably mean this, Paul.

https://www.cricklewoodelectronics.c...ser-400ml.html

Absolutely magic, and specially made for the job. Tony.
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Old 14th Aug 2019, 6:00 pm   #4
David G4EBT
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Default Re: Degreaser for cigarette tar removal

For some time now I've been using brake cleaner spray and find it really effective at shifting old grease, wax, and general grime. Depending on the surface to be cleaned, I either spray some onto kitchen roll and apply it by hand, or spray it onto the surface (of a chassis say) and used a brush to agitate it to loosen the grime, then wipe it off. It evaporates quite quickly, leaves no residue and doesn't seem to harm plastic and polished surfaces.

It's cheap too. I get mine from an autojumble, but it's widely available from the likes of Toolstation for example, at 2.45 for a 400 ml can:

https://www.toolstation.com/brake-cl...oaAoroEALw_wcB

Might be worth a try to see how you get on with it.
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Old 14th Aug 2019, 6:13 pm   #5
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Default Re: Degreaser for cigarette tar removal

I seem to recall that White Spirit worked well with "cigarette residues" and is fairly compatible with most materials.

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Old 14th Aug 2019, 7:45 pm   #6
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Default Re: Degreaser for cigarette tar removal

Quote:
Originally Posted by boxdoctor View Post
I think you probably mean this, Paul.

https://www.cricklewoodelectronics.c...ser-400ml.html

Absolutely magic, and specially made for the job. Tony.
+1
I use it on every new to me item I get that looks grubby, washes off smokers residue a treat (though I prefer not to buy it if its bad)
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Old 14th Aug 2019, 8:55 pm   #7
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Default Re: Degreaser for cigarette tar removal

On the one occasion i had to remove tobacco residue (on bakelite) I used Meths successfully.

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Old 14th Aug 2019, 9:16 pm   #8
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Default Re: Degreaser for cigarette tar removal

I’ve worked on many jukebox refurbishments over the years and have found that Flash liquid diluted 1 part to 3 parts water and sprayed on from a hand spray and maybe brushed in with a paint brush, leave a few minutes and wash off with water cleans away years of nicotine easily. Some parts have had 50+ years of nicotine applied in pubs and clubs. Also used to clean all parts in amplifiers. Just protect the entry points to transformers and coils and leave to dry in a warm place. Blu-tac works well to bung up holes that cables go through into transformers. I sometimes use a hairdryer on a cool setting to help drive out the water to help drying.
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Old 14th Aug 2019, 10:22 pm   #9
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Default Re: Degreaser for cigarette tar removal

Another vote for flash. My late brother-in-law was based in Paris for 30-odd years and usually smoked Disque Bleu . His flat was heavily nicotine'd and much of the stuff we brought back needed a good clean. Meths worked as well.
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Old 15th Aug 2019, 6:45 am   #10
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Default Re: Degreaser for cigarette tar removal

I also restore jukeboxes, their life in smoky environments guarantee that they will be brown from cigarette smoke. Myself and other restorers I know use Elbow Grease bathroom cleaner. Large spray bottle for 1. The grease and nicotine just run off.

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Old 15th Aug 2019, 9:33 am   #11
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Default Re: Degreaser for cigarette tar removal

Quote:
Originally Posted by boxdoctor View Post
I think you probably mean this, Paul.

https://www.cricklewoodelectronics.c...ser-400ml.html

Absolutely magic, and specially made for the job. Tony.
I don't doubt that the Servisol stuff works as well as anything, but I normally use an aerosol carpet or bathroom cleaner from one of the supermarkets. Cheaper and easier to get hold of.
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Old 15th Aug 2019, 9:46 am   #12
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Default Re: Degreaser for cigarette tar removal

I'll second this. The no-nonsense degreaser is excellent stuff, I always keep some in the workshop now. It's a lot cheaper than Jizer and just as effective on oil and tarry deposits.
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Old 15th Aug 2019, 1:04 pm   #13
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Default Re: Degreaser for cigarette tar removal

Another vote for aerosol foam cleanser.
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Old 15th Aug 2019, 3:33 pm   #14
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Default Re: Degreaser for cigarette tar removal

A word of caution though - some cleaners make an excellent job of removing the black printing on the front of 70s silver Japanese hifi gear, as I found out the hard way.
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Old 15th Aug 2019, 4:05 pm   #15
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Default Re: Degreaser for cigarette tar removal

I'll add my vote to the "No Nonsense" line from Screwfix. I've used various of these, and as far as I can see the "No Nonsense" generally implies "Professional use - not the water based or otherwise "Improved" versions and substitutes in the general consumer market".

(I've no connection to Screwfix, by the way).
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Old 15th Aug 2019, 7:45 pm   #16
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Default Re: Degreaser for cigarette tar removal

Bit of an expert on removing that stuff. Firstly I worked on materials testing with it and was responsible for cleaning out the "tar chambers". Secondly my parents house had a furry coat which I removed.

Magic: fairy liquid. Just goes straight through it.
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Old 15th Aug 2019, 8:54 pm   #17
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Default Re: Degreaser for cigarette tar removal

I've used this:

https://cpc.farnell.com/ambersil/700...0ml/dp/CP01525

successfully in the past. It works well on hard surfaces [bakelite etc] and also on things like speaker-cloths.
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Old 15th Aug 2019, 9:17 pm   #18
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Default Re: Degreaser for cigarette tar removal

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrBungle View Post
Bit of an expert on removing that stuff. Firstly I worked on materials testing with it and was responsible for cleaning out the "tar chambers". Secondly my parents house had a furry coat which I removed.

Magic: fairy liquid. Just goes straight through it.
Without wishing to sound like a green warrior I'm very much in favour of using everyday cleaning agents like washing up liquid for this kind of thing. Buying specialist products just encourages the generation of even more greenhouse gases and plastic waste. After all tobacco tar is essentially the same as any other type of grease/oil and can be dealt with as such.

Alan
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Old 15th Aug 2019, 11:51 pm   #19
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Default Re: Degreaser for cigarette tar removal

Quote:
Originally Posted by paulsherwin View Post
I've always found aerosol foaming cleaner shifts cigarette tar pretty well if you leave it on for 5 minutes.
It must be 20+ years ago now when someone gave to me a rickety pair of possibly Edwardian-era dining table chairs that needed some serious restoration. The first thing to do was to get all the grime off the woodwork - underneath the grime, of course, was the traditional dark lacquer. So I though "Start with aerosol foaming cleaner to get the grime off and then see what I actually have". Much to my surprise, not only did all the muckite come off, but so did all the dark lacquer - I had pools of it, fortunately on the newspaper I had beneath the chairs' legs.There must have been a chemical reaction between the cleaner and the lacquer. After that, the refurb. was straightforward - and I still own those two chairs today.

Al.
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Old 16th Aug 2019, 11:54 pm   #20
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Default Re: Degreaser for cigarette tar removal

if it's genuinely cigarette smoke residue I find water-based cleaners best, for example a weak solution of Traffic Film Remover or Stardrops in water.
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