(Topic ID: 240818)

Washing out a Em with soapy water.


By timab2000

5 days ago



Topic Stats

  • 27 posts
  • 14 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 3 days ago by phil-lee
  • Topic is favorited by 3 Pinsiders

You

#1 5 days ago

Ok I am hoping that some EM guys will chime in on this.

I saw on another post that a guy actually washed out the lower cabinet equipment, relays, scoremoter and everything else with soapy water, and then rinsed it all with clear water, and then claim everything work after it all dried out. Has anyone else actually done this and what kind of success did you have?

I mostly work on SS machines and there are posts that say take your wiring harnesses and run them thru the dishwasher, some with solenoid attached, to clean all the crap off of them. I don't personally do this, but some have and it works for them.

I am rebuilding my Capt. Fantastic and am sort of dreading cleaning everything by hand, but will if I have to.

So what about on Em's???

#2 5 days ago

I have done it but really just the bottom board and cabinet not the mechanicals. But no problems whatsoever spraying out the cabinet and letting it dry in the sun and/or with fans — same thing with the mech board in the bottom (but tried to avoid getting the mechs wet).

That’s my experience.

#3 5 days ago

Check out how this guys cleans a bingo machine head.

Dave

#4 5 days ago

I'm staying out of this one as far as good or bad, other than to say I personally couldn't even consider risking water on any of my machine/wood/cloth covered wires/motors/relays/etc. But that is just my choice for my stuff. I know too where I've heard people do it successfully.

Again, not a fan of water, but the dishwasher thing for PVC insulated harnesses etc....well....my first thought is, I don't want to eat off someone's plates ever when I hear they use their home dishwasher to wash grimy parts etc in it too.

ALTHOUGH, I would probably be more likely to risk grease/lead/flux ingestion than whatever NASTY stuff comes off of people's dirty hats when they tell me they use it as a washing machine for their favorite baseball cap. Lol.

#5 5 days ago

I've done this with simple green and a paintbrush for scrubbing. It works great but will certainly give you high anxiety during the process. It's only pinball, give it a shot, you might just like it.

#6 5 days ago

Yeah the was the video that I saw and really did not know what to think.

#7 5 days ago
Quoted from Gotpins:

It works great but will certainly give you high anxiety during the process.

Do you still have the game you did this too and does it still work?

#8 5 days ago

I did it on a machine that stunk of smoke and death, it was either that or the machine had to go. I used Mean Green and very hot water, no problems that I could tell and the amount of brown crud streaming off the machine was astonishing! And yes, it got the stink out. Those bingo guys are very experienced.

#9 5 days ago

This method can't be good for the transformer?? I guess if I tried it, I would try to stay away from that as much as possible.

#10 5 days ago
Quoted from timab2000:

This method can't be good for the transformer?? I guess if I tried it, I would try to stay away from that as much as possible.

And the score motor I would think...

#11 5 days ago
Quoted from dr_nybble:

I did it on a machine that stunk of smoke and death, it was either that or the machine had to go. I used Mean Green and very hot water, no problems that I could tell and the amount of brown crud streaming off the machine was astonishing! And yes, it got the stink out. Those bingo guys are very experienced.

Someone died in the cab? That would be bad karma...

#12 5 days ago
Quoted from timab2000:

This method can't be good for the transformer?? I guess if I tried it, I would try to stay away from that as much as possible.

Transformer is a hunk of metal, I always de rust and paint anyway so no issue.

Quoted from pacmanretro:

And the score motor I would think...

Again all metal so no actual harm I have found.

Quoted from dr_nybble:

I did it on a machine that stunk of smoke and death, it was either that or the machine had to go. I used Mean Green and very hot water, no problems that I could tell and the amount of brown crud streaming off the machine was astonishing! And yes, it got the stink out. Those bingo guys are very experienced.

Same overall experience. Did this for a bingo as it really stunk and for the smoke stink on two baseball games a while back (not death that I know ) used bleach not mean green as I did not know better. Came out great no damage to the wood, smell was gone. I strip the games down and don't wash the mech's in situ but strip out and will wash harnesses and parts in my ultrasonic. The diluted orange citrus cleaner is my staple cleaner.

The NL bingo guys do the video thing before they totally strip it down, they are usually very dirty and greasy. Everyone that buys a game says they work flawlessly afterwards.

#13 5 days ago
Quoted from EMsInKC:

Someone died in the cab? That would be bad karma...

What’s that smell?

https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/ems-whats-that-smell#post-2641341

#14 4 days ago

I've done this a couple times. Most recently and only documented here: https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/a-275-el-doh-rah-no

As someone else mentioned, that machine was so far gone and I was at such a loss for what to do or how to proceed, I said "eff it what have I got to lose" and gave it a shot.

It worked wonders!

I recommend a soft spraydown with Purple Power before spraying the water. YOU WILL BE SHOCKED AND ASTOUNDED at how much nasty brown nicotine (or worse) grime and regular coil dust just pours right out of places you couldn't reach or dare scrub aggressively, with almost no effort at all.

I was especially pleasantly surprised with how well it restored the color to the fabric wires: all that grime in the fabric literally just rinsed and evaporated right out, they looked almost new afterward!

So as for the question "Does it hurt to do this?"... Well the proof is in the pudding: there is NO WAY I was going to touch or adjust every one of those disgusting nasty switches and mechs individually to clean them; I may as well just burned the machine like others suggested. But I sprayed it outside on a warm sunny day and left it out to dry... while blasting compressed air in all the switch & relay banks to flush water and bubbles out of crevices and crannies and springs and such... places that would be likely to swell or oxidize if left exposed or wet too long. A few days later, I tested it and it worked! And TWO YEARS later, I finally got the machine 100% done and playing with no apparent long-term ill effects from the soapy bath.

The key to using water is to dry it out quickly! Think of a car: water exposure is inevitable, but rust only forms if it's constantly wet or not allowed to dry sufficiently (such as in those crevices and crannies beneath where rust always forms naturally because you can't easily dry, yet you'd be shocked how much bare metal is otherwise exposed and clean in a car). So, if you wash your parts and then dry them promptly and thoroughly - again, use outdoors in full sun, and/or compressed air to blast water out of crevices and such - you shouldn't have much to worry about. Plus, if the game was in such poor shape that "washing it outside" was even a consideration in the first place, you almost can't make it worse

#15 4 days ago

Great info. My game has plastic coated wires so I'm not too worried about that, I guess the solenoids worry me the most.

I am considering washing it down, sure would save a lot of time.

#16 4 days ago

This question was raised in another thread yesterday.

https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/best-way-to-clean-entire-em-cabinet-mechanics

Spraying water on wood makes me nervous. I'm sure it will clean quite well, but getting wood wet doesn't sound right. You could gut the cabinet and spray-n-wipe with your favorite cleaner. Someone talked Purple Power; I like PP. I also like Zep Industrial Purple for cutting nicotine.

For cleaning the relays and switches, I would remove the relays board from the cab and get some automotive spray brake cleaner and spray it down. Brake cleaner is not water based so it will not hurt your electrics. It is flammable so you would need to let the parts dry for several hours before you apply power.

#17 4 days ago
Quoted from cottonm4:

This question was raised in another thread yesterday.
https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/best-way-to-clean-entire-em-cabinet-mechanics
Spraying water on wood makes me nervous. I'm sure it will clean quite well, but getting wood wet doesn't sound right. You could gut the cabinet and spray-n-wipe with your favorite cleaner. Someone talked Purple Power; I like PP. I also like Zep Industrial Purple for cutting nicotine.
For cleaning the relays and switches, I would remove the relays board from the cab and get some automotive spray brake cleaner and spray it down. Brake cleaner is not water based so it will not hurt your electrics. It is flammable so you would need to let the parts dry for several hours before you apply power.

I was shocked the first time I saw an empty Pinball cabinet being sprayed out with the hose and nozzle. Tim Meighan, one of the Premier EM restorers in America, who lives in Seattle, showed me this technique at his house one time and I about fell over.

Since then, I’ve done it on numerous cabinets and as long as you dry them out in the sun and/or with fans, they are totally fine and it does not hurt the wood at all.

#18 4 days ago

Whatabout between bakelite and steel, or screws into wood? Surely rust forms?

#19 3 days ago

Works for some I'm sure, but not for me - I kinda feel like water is the enemy. I sometimes think many folks these days are a little too obsessed with cleaning the INSIDE of their games. Personally I like whatever shows to the player to be as shiny and clean as possible, and internal parts that affect game operation, but wire looms and other brackets and plywood only get cursory cleaning...

But to each their own fershure...I just feel like shining up internal parts are a waste of MY time - other's are free to feel differently, but I just have too many games to restore! Frickin' hoarders....lol

Sean

#20 3 days ago
Quoted from Stoomer:

Works for some I'm sure, but not for me - I kinda feel like water is the enemy. I sometimes think many folks these days are a little too obsessed with cleaning the INSIDE of their games. Personally I like whatever shows to the player to be as shiny and clean as possible, and internal parts that affect game operation, but wire looms and other brackets and plywood only get cursory cleaning...
But to each their own fershure...I just feel like shining up internal parts are a waste of MY time - other's are free to feel differently, but I just have too many games to restore! Frickin' hoarders....lol
Sean

Except people's virtual pinball machines! Those I recommend hosing out internally at least once a month

#21 3 days ago
Quoted from Pinballer73:

Whatabout between bakelite and steel, or screws into wood? Surely rust forms?

Bakelite composites have several materials that absorb water and can swell. I wouldn't recommend getting them wet personally; but a lot of my concern with that comes from years of industry imvolving phenolic/bakelite insulators for higher voltages than seen in a pinball typically. Still, a concern with swelling causing weakining etc???

#22 3 days ago
Quoted from pacmanretro:

Bakelite composites have several materials that absorb water and can swell. I wouldn't recommend getting them wet personally; but a lot of my concern with that comes from years of industry imvolving phenolic/bakelite insulators for higher voltages than seen in a pinball typically. Still, a concern with swelling causing weakining etc???

I have left cloth harness soaking in a soapy mix for nearly a week by accident. Pulled them out,used a toothbrush on the cloth, rinsed and removed water with compressed air and air dried for 24 hours. Then polished up the switch leaves in place and the Bakelite spacers were none the wiser. Eventually put back in the game and all works flawlessly.

#23 3 days ago
Quoted from SteveinTexas:

I have left cloth harness soaking in a soapy mix for nearly a week by accident. Pulled them out,used a toothbrush on the cloth, rinsed and removed water with compressed air and air dried for 24 hours. Then polished up the switch leaves in place and the Bakelite spacers were none the wiser. Eventually put back in the game and all works flawlessly.

In general (not necessarily full washing), I've always wondered how even scrubbing/using cleaners on cloth covered wires affects the varnish coating on the cloth. A number of years back, I used a little cleaner and light brush on a few extra nasty wire sections....but I had begun to be concerned about the damage by disturbing the old wires, so I no longer do any more than a little brush on the vacuum.

Good to hear it has worked well though!

#24 3 days ago
Quoted from Stoomer:

I sometimes think many folks these days are a little too obsessed with cleaning the INSIDE of their games. Personally I like whatever shows to the player to be as shiny and clean as possible, and internal parts that affect game operation, but wire looms and other brackets and plywood only get cursory cleaning...

A nicotine stained bar fly of a pin is still going to smell like an old bar fly if all it gets is a spit bath. Something about "putting lipstick on a pig" comes to mind here

#25 3 days ago

"Washing out a Em with soapy water"

Did it once with a 1973 Gottlieb King Pin Cabinet and Head. Turned out to be a disaster. The wood started swelling shortly after and many panels had to be replaced. The only thing I can think of is that it was stored in a damp location for a very long time as it had mold and mildew. From now on it is sanding, vacuum, prime, and paint only.

It's a crap shoot what a cabinet will do when water is applied, just a bad idea in general from my experience.

Just my 2 cents.

#26 3 days ago
Quoted from EM-PINMAN:

"Washing out a Em with soapy water"
Did it once with a 1973 Gottlieb King Pin Cabinet and Head. Turned out to be a disaster. The wood started swelling shortly after and many panels had to be replaced. The only thing I can think of is that it was stored in a damp location for a very long time as it had mold and mildew. From now on it is sanding, vacuum, prime, and paint only.
It's a crap shoot what a cabinet will do when water is applied, just a bad idea in general from my experience.
Just my 2 cents.

Thank you for sharing your experience! Again, while I have heard some people say they had no problems, your not the first story I have read about disaster/ruined game either.....

That's why I'm only saying what I am concerned about...not arguing if someone wants to try it for the risk/reward.

As an extra note....again just me....if I was buying your game, and you told me you hosed it out.....I'd be a bit more concerned to double check it. Just something I was thinking about this afternoon.

I know I sound like a hypocrite since I started out in this thread trying to be totally neutral....but more and more I think about it, the less likely I would personally be to do it to something of mine unless absolutely necessary VS trash machine cuz of nasty or something.

#27 3 days ago

I am fascinated with the process demonstrated by the Bingo video. Have I encountered a machine that needed such treatment? No. Looking for great OEM playing action that's dependable and usually take a thorough yet minimalist approach when servicing a EM.
The smell is not a problem, actually would like to bottle a cologne based on a few machines odor. Nicotine is the problem. The Gottliebs once owned had worse nicotine contamination then any of the Williams, perhaps they stayed on location longer.

Going to resist the water bath treatment for now. My main concern would be oxidation or galvanic corrosion on the fine parts of each relay, hindering performance.

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