Dissolving old grease

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kevinhaney1
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Dissolving old grease

Post by kevinhaney1 »

If you have a reel that's 50-60 years old and it doesn't turn very freely, what is the best substance to soak it in to dissolve the old hardened grease in the gears? I can take the side plate off, but I don't what to completely dissemble it and clean each part individually. I need something that you can use indoors. I'm sure this has been covered before but since I'm a newbie to reel cleaning, I'll ask it again. Thanks in advance!

Kevin

Reeltyme

Re: Dissolving old grease

Post by Reeltyme »

Hello Kevin,
You’ll get a lot of different answers to this question, and all of them will be correct. I use “Greased Lightning” about $8 a gallon at most big box stores. So safe you could ALMOST drink it, but don’t! This stuff is absolutely great! An old coffee container filled enough to cover the reel. Let it soak over night, use an old toothbrush to get around the gears and such, rinse back in the solution and wipe it off with a cloth. Polish if desired and add new grease and oil. Done!
Good luck and have fun making an old into new!
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Re: Dissolving old grease

Post by kevinhaney1 »

Thanks Randy! Would you find that in the home cleaning supply section?

Reeltyme

Re: Dissolving old grease

Post by Reeltyme »

I get mine at our local Home Depot in the home cleaning isle. I’m sure you could get it at any of the box stores. I did forget to mention, try to remove as much of the old grease as you can scrape out with a screw driver and rag or something similar. It makes the final cleaning a little easier. The degreaser can be used several times before it becomes to dirty to reuse.

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Re: Dissolving old grease

Post by arley »

Dig out as much of the old grease as you can. A wooden coffee stirrer works wonders. As far as solvent, if there aren't any plastic parts I use common spray engine degreaser. Then I wipe clean and blow out the remainder with compressed air.
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Midway Tommy D
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Re: Dissolving old grease

Post by Midway Tommy D »

Many claim that Paslode degreaser/cleaner does an amazing job without being overly volatile. I've never used it, though, I'm a little too anal. :lol:

If I'm going to take the time to clean a reel I completely tear it down to individual pieces and clean everything thoroughly. I soak all unpainted metal parts in capped glass jar of lacquer thinner and clean all painted and plastic parts, first with Original White Goop, and then in warm water with Dawn dish washing detergent. I like knowing that there are no foreign or damaging elements left in my reels to cause problems.


I do it all inside the house in my reel room in our finished basement.


Edit: Thanks, John! :cool Plain lo' lacquer :loco: wouldn't accomplish much as a cleaning agent. :bricks:
Last edited by Midway Tommy D on Thu Oct 24, 2019 12:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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john elder
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Re: Dissolving old grease

Post by john elder »

Tommy, I think you meant liquor thinner??
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Re: Dissolving old grease

Post by kevinhaney1 »

I tired the Greased Lightening last night on an old Heddon 920 and it worked great! Thanks for the advice.

Kevin

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Re: Dissolving old grease

Post by Midway Tommy D »

john elder wrote:Tommy, I think you meant liquor thinner??
Thanks, John! Post edited, but, on the rare occasion I decide to imbibe :beer I never thin or drink that sissy light stuff. :jester
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Re: Dissolving old grease

Post by Reeltyme »

kevinhaney1 wrote:I tired the Greased Lightening last night on an old Heddon 920 and it worked great! Thanks for the advice.

Kevin
Glad it did the job Kevin. It has been working for me for quite a few years. Hope you now use that reel for what it was meant for! Get the big one!

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Re: Dissolving old grease

Post by kevinhaney1 »

Well, unfortunately on my second try it had an unintended affect. I had an Airex mastereel and it dissolved most of the black paint off of it After a few hours. I wonder what the difference of the paint is that allows it to dissolve this one but not the Heddon?

Kevin

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Midway Tommy D
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Re: Dissolving old grease

Post by Midway Tommy D »

kevinhaney1 wrote:Well, unfortunately on my second try it had an unintended affect. I had an Airex mastereel and it dissolved most of the black paint off of it After a few hours. I wonder what the difference of the paint is that allows it to dissolve this one but not the Heddon?

Kevin
That's why one should always use something gentle like White Goop & Dawn on painted & plastic surfaces. You never know how the paint or plastic will react to cleaner/degreasers. I've heard horror stories about Simple Green & Purple Power destroying reel paint & plastics.
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Re: Dissolving old grease

Post by kevinhaney1 »

My guess is that it is fine to use it with baked on enamel paint, but I think the Airex reel wasn't that--it was probably just some kind of regular paint.

Kevin

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Re: Dissolving old grease

Post by Reeltyme »

Well Kevin, I will have to say that 95% of the reels I soak do not have painted bodies so I haven’t had the unfortunate experience you encountered. I also disassemble my reels completely before cleaning. As for most of the reels with painted bodies, I usually hold them in a rag and “spray” them with degreaser. Then scrub with a toothbrush. This method works for me. As for dissolving the paint,, haven’t run into that one yet!

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Midway Tommy D
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Re: Dissolving old grease

Post by Midway Tommy D »

Some of the very early spinners didn't even have an undercoat, so letting them soak in dishwashing detergent and warm water for an extended time will promote paint peeling and/or flaking. One has to be extra careful with those early specimens.
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Re: Dissolving old grease

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Head's up: I’ve been using Greased Lightning too and it’s been working well. Doesn’t need to soak when I use a toothbrush. However, the stuff started to turn pink-red when I soaked a Lurecast head plate for about 15min while I worked on another piece. So it can dissolve some anodized coatings.
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Re: Dissolving old grease

Post by jgestar »

Paul Roberts wrote:
Thu Dec 31, 2020 11:51 pm
Head's up: I’ve been using Greased Lightning too and it’s been working well. Doesn’t need to soak when I use a toothbrush. However, the stuff started to turn pink-red when I soaked a Lurecast head plate for about 15min while I worked on another piece. So it can dissolve some anodized coatings.
According to the SDS for Greased Lightning the product pH is 12.8 (page 5) because the product contains sodium hydroxide (lye). Sodium hydroxide is not healthy for aluminum or anodized aluminum. If you can, avoid products with a pH above 10 on aluminum. A quick scrub is fine, but a long soak is flirting with trouble.

ZEP Purple Power contains quite a bit of sodium hydroxide (wear gloves!). It does a good job of removing grease and paint from steel/iron parts. Brass will discolor with time. The ZEP purple concentrate is useful for removing aluminum... Simple Green is not nearly as nasty, but I wouldn't soak painted parts in it.

Midway Tommy D's procedure is a great first cleanup. The magic in GOOP hand cleaner is mineral spirits - which dissolves old grease and wax without disturbing intact paint or varnish.


Tom

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Re: Dissolving old grease

Post by Paul Roberts »

OK, thanks Tom. I'll go GOOP. What about something like Dawn dish soap?
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Re: Dissolving old grease

Post by 40fordflathead »

Paint thinner and at tooth brush works well for me.
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Re: Dissolving old grease

Post by Midway Tommy D »

Paul Roberts wrote:
Sat Jan 02, 2021 11:05 pm
OK, thanks Tom. I'll go GOOP. What about something like Dawn dish soap?
I clean all my painted, anodized & plastic parts with Original Goop Hand Cleaner (no Pumice). I brush it on, let it sit for a few minutes & brush it around and rinse it off. Then I put them in warm water & Dawn, scrub them a little with the brush, rinse 'em off and dry 'em. It's a good mild way to get rid of all the old grease & grime.

I clean all my non-painted metal parts, brass, aluminum, steel, etc., in glass jar soak with lacquer thinner. Sometimes I'll let them soak for a day or two, or maybe even weeks, depending on whether or not I get sidetracked in the middle of a resto or service. When I take the parts out of the thinner I wipe 'em off & burnish 'em with a wire brush, 320 worn sanding pad or green 3M pad. That shines them right up.

Here are a disassembled, cleaned & ready to reassemble Shakespeare 2062 & Penn 712 I did awhile back as a comparison. Sizes are comparable. Penns seem to get the oohs & ahs but Shakespeares from that era are built just as darn good.






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Re: Dissolving old grease

Post by Paul Roberts »

Thanks, Tom. A very thorough and helpful post. Guess what I have to be careful of are the corrosive cleaners. Looks like I may also have to get a set of gunsmithing screwdrivers.
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Re: Dissolving old grease

Post by jgestar »

Paul Roberts wrote:
Sat Jan 02, 2021 11:05 pm
OK, thanks Tom. I'll go GOOP. What about something like Dawn dish soap?
Full disclosure here, my first step is always to slather the reel with Dawn liquid and scrub with a toothbrush. Old reels often need further cleaning, which is where solvents, GOOP, and ultrasonic cleaners are useful. Modern reels often come clean simply by cleaning with Dawn.

The photo shows the pieces of a Holmes fly reel after scrubbing with Dawn. This removed grease (and loose paint due to a nasty decomposed fly line). The spindle (upper left) is still fouled with black grease. To clean the oil passage, the best option is ultrasonic cleaning with solvent. Solvent soaking the parts would eventually do the trick too. The other parts would be most easily cleaned by further treatment with GOOP.


Tom


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Re: Dissolving old grease

Post by Paul Roberts »

Thanks so much, Tom. Excellent article on US cleaning too.
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Re: Dissolving old grease

Post by Brian F. »

I just wipe down all of the reels I work on with Wet Ones wipes. When I had toddlers, the baby wipes worked just as well. They cut grease like any of the more toxic or industrial type cleaners. No soaking. The baby wipes were more fiberous so I like the cleaning wipes better. For grease in cracks and crannys, I squeeze some of the liquid on the area and use an electric toothbrush.
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Re: Dissolving old grease

Post by Paul Roberts »

:)) Thanks, Brian. Things get simpler and simpler the more I hear. I'm going to have a bench that looks like Midway Tom's before all is said and done. And... I'll probably end up using it all at one time or another. :)
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