The effects of using Lighter Fluid to clean a pot.

Burning Fingers

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Hi Guys...I'm working on an Ampeg SVT HD 300 watt monster and found that Channel 1 only worked with the ultra high switch engaged with a very thin sound and then a loud bass thump happened at half volume. With the switch not engaged there was no volume until the volume was turned up halfway then the loud thump. Obviously a bad pot...but curiosity got the better of me so I pulled the pot apart and found this...The carbon track had disappeared from a lot of the pot !.

I asked the owner if he had done anything to the amp recently and he said he pulled the amp apart and squirted cleaner into the volume pot as it was scratchy...what sort of cleaner...Lighter Fluid!..Considering how long it takes to get these amps apart to be able get to the pots ( it took me 20 minutes to disassemble and another 20 minutes to reassemble ) I am amazed that he could be bothered going for a 10 minute drive to get electrical contact cleaner and lube. Luckily he didn't "clean" the other pots as well.

This what the carbon track looks like..

Ampeg pot.jpg
 

Ebidis

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Hi Guys...I'm working on an Ampeg SVT HD 300 watt monster and found that Channel 1 only worked with the ultra high switch engaged with a very thin sound and then a loud bass thump happened at half volume. With the switch not engaged there was no volume until the volume was turned up halfway then the loud thump. Obviously a bad pot...but curiosity got the better of me so I pulled the pot apart and found this...The carbon track had disappeared from a lot of the pot !.

I asked the owner if he had done anything to the amp recently and he said he pulled the amp apart and squirted cleaner into the volume pot as it was scratchy...what sort of cleaner...Lighter Fluid!..Considering how long it takes to get these amps apart to be able get to the pots ( it took me 20 minutes to disassemble and another 20 minutes to reassemble ) I am amazed that he could be bothered going for a 10 minute drive to get electrical contact cleaner and lube. Luckily he didn't "clean" the other pots as well.

This what the carbon track looks like..

View attachment 924308
That'll buff right out.
 

Burning Fingers

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Blaming the lighter fuel is an assumption at best. Looking at the wear pattern that could be the result of dirt and friction. I doubt he would have cleaned the pot if there was not an issue in the first place.

As I mentioned he cleaned the pot due to it being scratchy so there was dirt/grit ...lighter fluid tends to soften the carbon tracks so rotating the pot after a drink of lighter fluid will cause the sort of damage seen in the picture.

I showed someone many years ago why using lighter fluid is a bad idea...I put a slider pot into a container of lighter fluid over night then opened the slider to show that the carbon had been dissolved off the slider track and was just partially in suspension and partially a dark mess on the bottom of the container.


Give it a try yourself ...put a carbon track pot in lighter fluid for a while then rub your finger over it ... then report back lol
 

Wound_Up

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Most electronics cleaners (Deoxit, CRC, etc.) are alcohol-based and perfectly safe for most all electronics.

Petroleum-based solvents? All bets are off.

I tried CRC on my scratchy pots with zero effect. Guess it's time to move up to Deoxit and see how that does.

I did take time to read about all the different types of Deoxit, as well. They have some that's for cleaning plastic pots, they have some that doesn't clean at all and just lubes basically, and they've got the std Deoxit that cleans & lubes. Probably more I'm forgetting.

Edit: let's see. Theres:

-D series, the regular stuff
-Gold series for gold plated stuff
-Fader for the plastic faders
-And Shield, which I think is the stuff that has zero cleaning action. IIRC, std Deoxit only has like 35% cleaning action.
 

Wound_Up

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Blaming the lighter fuel is an assumption at best. Looking at the wear pattern that could be the result of dirt and friction. I doubt he would have cleaned the pot if there was not an issue in the first place.

Its only an assumption when one don't know what lighter fluid does to carbon tracks/the inside of pots.

And considering that the entire pot worked beforehand, it was just scratchy... I'd say it's almost guaranteed that the lighter fluid did it. Or he wouldn't have tried to save the pot. You don't save a pot that only has half the sweep working. So, it obviously had a full carbon track before adding lighter fluid. Thats the only logical conclusion to come to with the info provided.


Come on man. All it takes is a little logical thinking to understand why it's not "an assumption at best". Next time, take a minute to understand what's wrong instead of just making assumptions on your part.

No one would try to clean & save a pot that had half the sweep not working whatsoever, and then say it was just scratchy. And yes, he'd have known only half of it worked before ever attempting to clean it. Anyone with even a lick of sense would understand that the pot is ruined, before ever touching it, when half the sweep doesn't work at all. Not just scratchy, like it was before he cleaned it with lighter fluid.

What you're suggesting doesn't make logical sense. At all.

Nobody calls a pot thats missing half the sweep "a scratchy pot". They'd call it what it was. A jacked up pot lol
 
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Telekarster

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Funny part - I love that a member named "Burning Fingers" posts a thread about lighter fluid! LOL!!!:lol::lol::lol:

Now onto my question - I've never actually pulled a pot apart, so this is my first time seeing the insides! Kinda cool to see. Out of curiosity is it possible to recarbon it, or not worth it i.e. wondering about all those old pots that are pulled out of vintage gear and replaced with new. Could old pots be rejuvinated somehow and thereby keeping their originality?
 

Peegoo

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Out of curiosity is it possible to recarbon it, or not worth it i.e. wondering about all those old pots that are pulled out of vintage gear and replaced with new. Could old pots be rejuvinated somehow and thereby keeping their originality?

It is not possible to recondition a pot with a damaged carbon track. The only way to do it would be to rebuild it using donor parts from an identical pot.

Which is way more work than it's worth, unless you're a sleazy type that's bent on selling a geetar or amp that's "all original/mint condition."
 

Boreas

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I doubt it is a good idea to soak an old pot in ANY solvent overnight. My suspicion is a worn pot was further damaged by naphtha. But a worn/damaged pot can also be damaged further even with Deoxit. A worn/damaged pot should typically just be replaced if a quick spritz of contact cleaner doesn't clear it up. I have never had an instance where more was better.
 

Wound_Up

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I doubt it is a good idea to soak an old pot in ANY solvent overnight. My suspicion is a worn pot was further damaged by naphtha. But a worn/damaged pot can also be damaged further even with Deoxit. A worn/damaged pot should typically just be replaced if a quick spritz of contact cleaner doesn't clear it up. I have never had an instance where more was better.

That's exactly why I bought new pots after cleaning didn't change mine. I still haven't installed them because the guitar plays so well overall that I didn't really want to mess with it, if ya know what I mean. They only get scratchy towards the end of the sweep so it's not a huge issue 99% of the time. Hence my not being in a hurry to swap them out.

I believe they're full size Alpha pots so I'm hoping it's just a simple swap to the CTS pots. They're going in a carved top LP-style guitar so as long as they're physically the same size & shape, I shouldn't have any issues afaik.
 

tomasz

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Could you dip that remaining pot in lighter fluid for the sake of experiment? Would be interesting to know if that was the case for sure
 

Wound_Up

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Could you dip that remaining pot in lighter fluid for the sake of experiment? Would be interesting to know if that was the case for sure

That's the only way it could've logically happened. As I explained previously, no one would try to rehab a pot that was missing half the sweep. So the carbon was there before the lighter fluid was applied. I can 100% guarantee it without having ever met anyone involved.

He'd have just thrown it away if half the sweep, didn't work. But that wasn't the case before lighter fluid was used. It was only scratchy and worked through 100% of the sweep.

If it didn't, it would've been thrown away from the get go. Anyone with any sense can understand this. Logic says it had to happen that way or he wouldn't have tried to clean & rehab the pot. Nobody rehabs a pot that only sweeps 50% unless they have no idea what a potentiometer is and it's their first time ever seeing one.

I'm sure you all have old pots you took out of something. Test it yourself and see.
 

Boreas

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Don't get me wrong, I am not advocating for the use of naphtha in cleaning electronic components. But the proper test of naphtha would be to use NEW pots not old, worn, degraded pots - then checking for damage. And just with a SHORT spray of naphtha, not soaking it overnight. I don't submerge the neck of my guitar in naphtha overnight to clean the gunk off of it. It is indeed a solvent, just as water. We use it for general cleaning because it is generally effective and it evaporates quickly. Soaking something in any solvent will likely return a different result than a brief spritz with the same solvent.

Has anyone tested submersing a pot in Deoxit or alcohol overnight?
 

schmee

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What @Boreas said: "I doubt it is a good idea to soak an old pot in ANY solvent overnight. My suspicion is a worn pot was further damaged by naphtha. But a worn/damaged pot can also be damaged further even with Deoxit. A worn/damaged pot should typically just be replaced if a quick spritz of contact cleaner doesn't clear it up. I have never had an instance where more was better."

That missing carbon could very well be what the original problem was, not necessarily the lighter fluid. There are pot cleaners that have lubricants... are those petro based? But yeah, I would avoid doing that.
Not sure if lighter fluid is an issue or not. It's just one of many petro based solvents which are similar.
 
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