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

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by CoolBlueGlow, Jan 16, 2012.

  1. CoolBlueGlow

    CoolBlueGlow Tele-Afflicted

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    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
     
  2. Boubou

    Boubou Doctor of Teleocity

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    What about jigaloo??
     
  3. CoolBlueGlow

    CoolBlueGlow Tele-Afflicted

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    I have not researched Jigaloo, sorry.

    CBG
     
  4. pnutman3k

    pnutman3k TDPRI Member

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    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.
     
  5. jhundt

    jhundt Doctor of Teleocity

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    whatever... I know guys who are 60 years old, they have been spraying their pots with this stuff since they were 15.
     
  6. fezz parka

    fezz parka ---------------------------

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    I think it stinks. The smell I mean. Blech.
     
  7. TxTeleMan

    TxTeleMan Tele-Afflicted

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    WD-40 is for rusty screws and such. Use DeoxIt on pots.
     
  8. jh45gun

    jh45gun Banned

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    I do not use it on guns either.
     
  9. jefrs

    jefrs Doctor of Teleocity

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    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.
     
  10. ac15

    ac15 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    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.
     
  11. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity

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    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.
     
  12. cband7

    cband7 Friend of Leo's

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    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......





    .
     
  13. BiggerJohn

    BiggerJohn Friend of Leo's

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    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.
     
    cboutilier likes this.
  14. BiggerJohn

    BiggerJohn Friend of Leo's

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    +1
     
  15. BiggerJohn

    BiggerJohn Friend of Leo's

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    I use Rem Oil on my guns. Never Wd40.
     
  16. WireLine

    WireLine Tele-Afflicted

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    Anything that leaves a lubricating residue is bad news for pots...think about the pot is supposed to do - conduct electrical signal...
     
  17. promagnum

    promagnum Tele-Holic

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    Hahaha nice try....Ohio
    Wasn't there a thread here a few years ago about WD-40 being used on arthritic joints?
     
  18. dngrsdave

    dngrsdave Tele-Meister

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    They Don't ?

    ? What do you mean "Used To "?
     
  19. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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

    Controller Friend of Leo's

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    Some people can't get used to the taste.
     
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