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Why I don't use WD-40 on amplifier electronics

CoolBlueGlow
January 16th, 2012, 02:36 PM
This was posted elsewhere - thought it might be helpful.

re: TDPRI member asked "What's wrong with WD-40 as a contact cleaner"

Here's my screed on the issue. Again - no axe to grind and NOTHING PERSONAL against WD-40, which I openly acknowledge is a fine product when used as intended.

The screed:

WD-40 was originally formulated as a surfactant type water displacing anti-corrosion treatment for the exterior skins of missiles. It is a mixture of light oil, a light hydrocarbon solvent compound commonly referred to as "Stoddard solvent", hexane, and naptha. Both naptha and Stoddard solvents are aromatic hydrocarbons. Naptha and Hexane are building block components for the product we call "Gasoline".

Stoddard solvent and its variants - (which WD-40 now claims it uses instead of "regular" Stoddard Solvent, possibly for environmental reasons) along with commercial Naptha are themselves compounds of other aromatic and aliphatic hydrocarbons. Aliphatic hydrocarbons can be incompatible with both nylon and Polystyrene (such as the polystyrene found in capacitors in some electronic circuits). Nylon and its cousins are common materials in electronic components such as potentiometers. Aliphatic hydrocarbons will dissolve polystyrene, if present in sufficient quantity. Contrary to popular myth, aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons generally do not "melt" nylon. Rather, they cause it to swell. This is the reason some Fender amplifier potentiometers (for example) get "tight" or "freeze up" when the pots are cleaned with WD-40.

Since WD-40 is essentially a promiscuous compound manufactured at a particular price point, its component formulations need merely meet the requirement for their individual MSDS designations in order to satisfy manufacturer and EPA requirements - In English, they can be any mixture of their subcomponents that happen to be convenient for the manufacturer's price point at the time of manufacture.

Thus the formulation of WD-40 itself can vary in its component formulation from batch to batch, depending on the economics of scale for the purchase of said subcomponents by the manufacturer. For example, WD-40 subtly acknowledges that there was a formulation change in 2006, by providing two different MSDS sheets for pre and post 2006 manufactured materials.

So, no matter what WD-40 may suggest at their website, unless they batch order entire runs of their Naptha and/or Stodddard Solvent derivative, (not impossible, but not a certainty) is entirely possible for the formulation to vary in ways which could make one batch fairly benign to nylon and other sensitive electronic plastics, whilst a second batch might well be mildly or even significantly destructive to the same materials.

It is likely that WD-40 is aware of this, and makes reasonable attempts to manage their formulations to minimize this risk...however it is not fully within their control.

In spite of an aggressive marketing campaign to expand WD-40 uses, the prudent observer should also note that WD-40 is extremely careful NOT to recommend their product for electronic work. The few "electrical" uses suggested by users on the WD-40 "2000+ uses for WD-40" list are clearly NOT situations where WD-40 would encounter anything like the conditions inside an amplifier. Even those few "electrical" uses carry a clear disclaimer from WD-40 that these are "user submitted" uses, for which WD-40 disclaims responsibility, in case of damage.

That's why I wouldn't use WD-40 as a precision cleaning solution for electronics. WD-40 is a fine corrosion prevention medium - which was its original design function. It is also a fairly good spot lubricant when evaporative, surfactant behaviors are beneficial to the application. (e.g. door hinges)

Probably more than you wanted to read or hear, but the devil's usually in the details.

Cheers,

CBG

Boubou
January 16th, 2012, 02:39 PM
What about jigaloo??

CoolBlueGlow
January 16th, 2012, 02:41 PM
I have not researched Jigaloo, sorry.

CBG

pnutman3k
January 16th, 2012, 02:44 PM
There is a guy here in town that uses WD-40 on his neck every time he plays, like Finger Ease. Kinda grosses me out. Doesn't seem like a good idea either.

jhundt
January 16th, 2012, 02:44 PM
whatever... I know guys who are 60 years old, they have been spraying their pots with this stuff since they were 15.

fezz parka
January 16th, 2012, 02:57 PM
I think it stinks. The smell I mean. Blech.

TxTeleMan
January 16th, 2012, 02:58 PM
WD-40 is for rusty screws and such. Use DeoxIt on pots.

jh45gun
January 16th, 2012, 03:07 PM
I do not use it on guns either.

jefrs
January 16th, 2012, 03:07 PM
Try the "unforgettable" smell of a bucket of the stuff chucked into the intake of a naval jet as it spools down, to remove salt spray from the turbine blades ...

It does dissolve the rubber hand grips on bicycles turning them into an horrible sticky mess.
It does dissolve the grease in a ball race of a bicycle hub requiring a full strip and re-pack, there are 96 tiny ball bearings in a freewheel (I think I found them all).

I do wonder what it does to the delicate insulation and PCB lacquer on electronics.

I think I'll stick to contact cleaner and iso-propyl alchol for electronics.

It is a de-watering fluid. It probably does have 101 uses, mainly on garden tools.

ac15
January 16th, 2012, 03:09 PM
My long time amp tech is known to use WD-40 a lot on amps. I believe he uses it to help treat the transformer in some way as well, some type of preventative maintenance. I know that the practice is controversial to some people, though I have never had any problems with any amps he has worked on.

charlie chitlin
January 16th, 2012, 03:12 PM
Great for removing sticker goo, as a 2-stroke starting fluid and for lubricating stone hones when boring cylinders, and, of course, displacing water. Great in the rain if you haven't replaced your ignition wires in too long.
It's the most mis-used/over-used product since duct tape.

cband7
January 16th, 2012, 03:15 PM
Surviving decades in the tropics with the associated coral dust, we found that a product called Triflow was far superior to WD-40 for 'outside' jobs. Stick to products that are made for cleaning contacts and try not to get it on anything but the contacts, if possible.

Also read a lot of police agencies advise not using WD-40 on weapons without cleaning it all off as it will migrate into the ammo and cause a misfire.

Just in case you go hunting with your amp......





.

BiggerJohn
January 16th, 2012, 03:34 PM
whatever... I know guys who are 60 years old, they have been spraying their pots with this stuff since they were 15.

Yeah, we used to burn witches at the stake as well. Just because people have been making a mistake for years is no reason to continue making the same mistake.

BiggerJohn
January 16th, 2012, 03:37 PM
WD-40 is for rusty screws and such. Use DeoxIt on pots.

+1

BiggerJohn
January 16th, 2012, 03:45 PM
Surviving decades in the tropics with the associated coral dust, we found that a product called Triflow was far superior to WD-40 for 'outside' jobs. Stick to products that are made for cleaning contacts and try not to get it on anything but the contacts, if possible.

Also read a lot of police agencies advise not using WD-40 on weapons without cleaning it all off as it will migrate into the ammo and cause a misfire.

Just in case you go hunting with your amp......


.

I use Rem Oil on my guns. Never Wd40.

WireLine
January 16th, 2012, 03:50 PM
Anything that leaves a lubricating residue is bad news for pots...think about the pot is supposed to do - conduct electrical signal...

promagnum
January 16th, 2012, 03:51 PM
Wasn't there a thread here a few years ago about WD-40 being used on arthritic joints?

dngrsdave
January 16th, 2012, 04:09 PM
Yeah, we used to burn witches at the stake as well. Just because people have been making a mistake for years is no reason to continue making the same mistake.

? What do you mean "Used To "?

muchxs
January 16th, 2012, 04:11 PM
whatever... I know guys who are 60 years old, they have been spraying their pots with this stuff since they were 15.

If you spray it on your pots your food won't stick. Not sure if it's good for you, though. :lol:

Controller
January 16th, 2012, 04:32 PM
If you spray it on your pots your food won't stick. Not sure if it's good for you, though. :lol:

Some people can't get used to the taste.

Triton Thrasher
January 16th, 2012, 04:50 PM
WD40 smells ok, but the best smell ever is hot tractor kerosene.

nickhofen
January 16th, 2012, 04:58 PM
I work on jet engines, if a screw or nut is too rusty to be removed or you afraid that it might broke during removal and this means that the whole engine will have to come down from the aircraft, you tread it with WD40. This thing is extremely penetrative and is very good for specific works done , WD40 leaves oily film behind and this is not good for potentiometers.

Jim Dep
January 16th, 2012, 05:30 PM
I know from people that mistakenly used it as a lubricant for the older electro-mechanical pinball machine relay switches, WD-40 leaves a residue that turns into an adhesive after a couple years or so. That's the opposite of what it should do. I might use it as a quick fix for a rusty gate, but NO WAY would I spray onto amplifier parts.

Boundforglory07
January 16th, 2012, 05:35 PM
Put a drop on ur fishing lure.
There are fish oils in it and they love it

rolling56
January 16th, 2012, 06:07 PM
Also no Vaseline or WD-40 on my guitars. Vaseline traps moisture and causes rust on metal parts.

Mike Bruce
January 16th, 2012, 06:18 PM
Put a drop on ur fishing lure.
There are fish oils in it and they love it

I don't know about fish oils but there was a salmon fishing video around years ago that promoted WD40. I thought it was irresponsible to use solvents in the water, however small the amount, but it sure was tempting...really tempting...I like to catch fish as much as any fisherman.

(Edit...just noticed you're from Oshawa, ever fish Huron or Bruce Counties?)

Radspin
January 16th, 2012, 09:59 PM
+1 for Deoxit. That stuff is amazing for cleaning input jacks and connectors.

07 road house
January 16th, 2012, 10:51 PM
I use KY jelly

charlie chitlin
January 16th, 2012, 11:13 PM
I use KY jelly

Only in the output jack.

BlueCajun
January 16th, 2012, 11:29 PM
Another vote for Deoxit. Used it to clean a few scratchy pots on my Blues Deluxe. It's magic as far as I'm concerned.

dsutton24
January 16th, 2012, 11:48 PM
I used countless gallons of the stuff on the electronics of a former employer because they were too cheap to buy tuner cleaner. My belief is that scratchy pots need to be replaced, that 'cleaning' is at best a temporary fix. Now, that may stem from my having ruined them wholesale with WD40, or it may in fact be true, or any combination of the above. At any rate, the only time I ever spray controls in my own stuff is when I want to preserve what's there because it's valuable or rare.

Rod Parsons
January 17th, 2012, 12:25 AM
I read that WD 40 can be rubbed into the joints of stiff arthritic knees, elbows, etc. and it is a big relief to some, according to the article. Perhaps the guy mentioned, that uses it on the necks of his guitars, is nipping stiff joints in the bud. ???

lostpick
January 17th, 2012, 12:25 AM
wow...

i have used it for years on pots and never had a problem...

they are still behaving like they are factory fresh...

Radio Shack Tuner Cleaner/Lube leaves a film of
white mineral oil...wonder what that can do?

BiggerJohn
January 17th, 2012, 03:03 AM
Put a drop on ur fishing lure.
There are fish oils in it and they love it

Yep, well known fact that WD40 contains fish oil.

I heard about spraying it on your lures to attract fish. Is that legal?

Stewart Ward
January 17th, 2012, 04:39 AM
Yeah, we used to burn witches at the stake as well...

I thought we only did that in Europe (Joan of Arch). Glad to see you guys too are only human!

Piotr
January 17th, 2012, 05:53 AM
I think it stinks. The smell I mean. Blech.

A far cry from the Blue Stuff, isn't it? :wink:

GigsbyBoyUK
January 17th, 2012, 06:53 AM
There is a guy here in town that uses WD-40 on his neck every time he plays, like Finger Ease. Kinda grosses me out. Doesn't seem like a good idea either.

I use it after I play for more than a few minutes, and definitely after sweaty gigs - spray some onto a cloth, wipe over and under the strings, then wipe off excess with a clean cloth. Then maybe a quick rub over with Fast Fret. My strings last for ages this way and I've had no nasty side effects to me or my guitars.

Jim Dep
January 17th, 2012, 03:33 PM
? What do you mean "Used To "?

That's what I was wondering. So someone is suggesting that it's not OK to do that anymore? I've got all this wood piled here for NOTHING ?!!

jhundt
January 17th, 2012, 04:36 PM
I use it after I play for more than a few minutes, and definitely after sweaty gigs - spray some onto a cloth, wipe over and under the strings, then wipe off excess with a clean cloth. Then maybe a quick rub over with Fast Fret. My strings last for ages this way and I've had no nasty side effects to me or my guitars.

My friend does the same with generic no-name-brand silicon spray. He sprays the whole neck before and after the gig. He has been doing this for at least 20 years. I can't find any kind of damage no matter how hard I try.

charlie chitlin
January 17th, 2012, 06:15 PM
My friend does the same with generic no-name-brand silicon spray. He sprays the whole neck before and after the gig. He has been doing this for at least 20 years. I can't find any kind of damage no matter how hard I try.

Silicone is very different.
If he ever wants to refinish that guitar he's going to have to prep it like it's been soaked in butter!

AJBaker
January 17th, 2012, 07:08 PM
A sailing friend once said WD40 and duct were two things you need on a boat: one to make things move in an emergency, the other to stop them. As for WD40 in electronics, he said it'll work for a little while, just like pissing on it would...:twisted:

Jim Dep
January 17th, 2012, 08:14 PM
I think pissing on it would be better. At least it doesn't turn to glue after a while.

lostpick
January 17th, 2012, 08:46 PM
Just make sure it's unplugged and all the caps
Are discharged first...

jefrs
January 17th, 2012, 09:00 PM
I thought we only did that in Europe (Joan of Arch). Glad to see you guys too are only human!

Well no actually, at least not in England, we hanged them, but by far most were acquitted. Burning was far more popular in Scotland and on the continent. In England an execution by burning could cost 105 shillings apparently, or about 10,000 in modern money, so we let them go. Besides judge and jury didn't believe that superstitious nonsense.

AJBaker
January 17th, 2012, 09:00 PM
Just make sure it's unplugged and all the caps
Are discharged first...

:-D

RubyRae
January 17th, 2012, 10:58 PM
I think it stinks. The smell I mean. Blech.

That's funny Fezz, I actually like the smell. I spray it on my gas and brake pedals in my car for the extra cool scent, lol. :razz:

I'm way to protective of my gear to ever use it on a guitar or amp, but I do love the wd40.

Scotty 2
January 18th, 2012, 07:23 AM
I even heard somewhere that some were using brake cleaner in spray can
from auto parts store?? Where can I buy Deoxit,,And does it evaoporate quickly?

Bluej58
January 18th, 2012, 08:09 AM
I found DeoxIt at Frys electronics, it aint cheap.

charlie chitlin
January 18th, 2012, 08:32 AM
That's funny Fezz, I actually like the smell. I spray it on my gas and brake pedals in my car for the extra cool scent, lol. :razz:



It's great for keeping your bicycle rims looking shiny and new, too!!

Scotty 2
January 18th, 2012, 09:20 AM
I found DeoxIt at Frys electronics, it aint cheap.

Thanks Bluej,,It might be extensive but it probably will
last for a long time....Yes?,,No?

CoolBlueGlow
January 18th, 2012, 10:19 AM
As the guy who started the thread, I want to point out that:

a.) my only comments about the efficacy of WD-40 were strictly about its potentially deleterious effects on polystyrene and nylon components inside an amplifier. I'm sure it makes a fine anti-corrosive for metal surfaces, including guitar strings. That exactly the kind of anti-corrosive work it was meant for back in 1953 when it was invented.

b.) WD-40 is not a silicone based product. It is a aliphatic/aromatic surfactant hydrocarbon compound carrying a light oil base. Anecdotal comparisons between WD-40 and silicone based sprays for use on guitars are not comparing apples and apples. Any comparisons between the performance of silicone and WD-40, and/or either of their efficacies inside of an amplifier are just that - individual anecdotes which in no way change the chemical realities of the thing. Present in sufficient quantities, Aliphatic hydrocarbons cause nylon swelling. period. present in sufficient quantities, aromatic hydrocarbons dissolve polystyrene. Period. You can tell me a about uncle Charlies "I've done it for sixty years" all day long, and at the end of the day you will not have changed the realities of the chemistry underpinning this issue.


So, to be clear... I started this thread simply to point out that the chemistry of the thing, coupled with the manufacturer's mysterious reticence to recommend it for electronic applications, is more than definitive enough to decide against its use on components containing polystyrene and nylon. Look, they're your amps - do what you want with them. Personally, I use DeOxit, Caig, and even TriFlow (mentioned earlier) depending on the application. And, as was mentioned by someone else in the thread, I even use a non-aerosol version of WD-40 to coat the laminations of vintage transformers. It keeps the rust down...just like its designed to do.

CBG

CoolBlueGlow
January 18th, 2012, 10:21 AM
p.s. By the way, Charlie Chitlin's absolutely right - silicone is brutally hard to remove from wood prior to painting. Its presence causes "fish-eye" and ruins lacquer and polyester topcoats...and yes - I've shot gallons and gallons of lacquer over the past 30 years. (I have about ten gallons of it in my shop as I type this.) I'm not just repeating some old wive's tale. But heck, don't believe me - check the PPG or DuPont website for preparatory absolutes when topcoating with automotive lacquer, enamel, or other automotive finishes. You find out exactly what they think about the presence of silicone anywhere near a finish!

:-)

CoolBlueGlow
January 18th, 2012, 10:26 AM
re: "Some are using brake cleaner from the automotive store".

STOP! For God's same DON'T use brake cleaner! That is an extremely aggressive hydrocarbon solvent. Ignoring the personal dangers from its noxious fumes, brake cleaners will most definitely RUIN your potentiometers and melt your capacitors and anything else plastic it can get onto. Seriously. DO NOT USE BRAKE CLEANER!

If, for cost reasons, you must use a auto-store product, you can probably get away with using mass air flow sensor spray. It is designed for use on mass air flow sensors, which are basically platinum wires strung across an injection molded plastic piece.

Bluej58
January 20th, 2012, 07:54 AM
Thanks Bluej,,It might be extensive but it probably will
last for a long time....Yes?,,No?

It will go a long way, I'm presently going over all the elec. connectors on my bike, there are a lot of them and it looks like I'll have plenty left over.
The nozzle has a setting for short , medium, and heavy blasts.

They recommend that you give it a shot , then clean and give it another shot to flush off the crud .