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Thread: Dirty threads=performance loss?

  1. #1
    Flashaholic* batman's Avatar
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    Default Dirty threads=performance loss?

    Just got through cleaning the threads on an M-6 after seeing how black and dirty they've gotten. Perusing through the comprehensive lube thread got me interested in this question that I haven't found an answer to.
    Can dirty threads actually degrade output/performance on a light? Also, can you find a decent microfiber Cotton cloth at Wall-Mart?
    Please relocate post if necessary. Thx gentlemen,

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    Last edited by batman; 07-24-2012 at 07:34 PM. Reason: Grammar
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    *Flashaholic* StarHalo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dirty threads=performance loss?

    Dirty threads usually cause flickering or occasional fail-to-fires. And skip the cloth, the gunk that comes off your threads is quite toxic and shouldn't be on anything reusable; try disposable makeup wedges instead - no fuzz or lint to worry about, and you just toss it when you're done.

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    Default Re: Dirty threads=performance loss?

    Alcohol swabs also work nicely. You can find those just about everywhere.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Dirty threads=performance loss?

    I agree, it can definitely affect performance. Too much lube can as well. I recently bought a D25LC2 and the threads had so much crap on them, it caused the light to fail and flicker.

    And it looked to be a petroleum based lube, which you're not supposed to use because it can kill the O-rings. Use silicone based.
    Last edited by Bigpal; 07-24-2012 at 08:50 PM.

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    Flashaholic bob4apple's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dirty threads=performance loss?

    Dirty threads usually cause flickering or occasional fail-to-fires. And skip the cloth, the gunk that comes off your threads is quite toxic and shouldn't be on anything reusable; try disposable makeup wedges instead - no fuzz or lint to worry about, and you just toss it when you're done.

    I've had lights that got brighter after cleaning. And I clean them with cheap microfiber
    cloths that I bought at Home Depot. Since I don't eat the cloths, I don't worry about poisonous gunk.
    Reusing whenever possible makes more sense to me.
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    Flashaholic* batman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dirty threads=performance loss?

    Thanks gentlemen. I'm sure I can find something that will work for me to remove the dirt next time. I usually use a paper towel with no troubles, but micro fiber cotton towels seem to be recommended for just about everything now. Should they be used "right out of the box" or washed one time first?
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    Flashaholic bob4apple's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dirty threads=performance loss?

    Right out of the box should be alright, although I always put some rubbing alcohol on it first to help dissolve the dirt.
    I then follow that with a dry cloth.
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    Flashaholic* batman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dirty threads=performance loss?

    Thx for the info and ideas gentlemen.
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    Default Re: Dirty threads=performance loss?

    Direct drive lights are likely to be dimmer if the threads are dirty. Regulated lights should not show any sing until the threads are so dirty they won't access higher modes or, more likely, flicker.

    I just use Q-tips with rubbing alcohol. On occasion I'll use an old toothbrush dipped in alcohol and get the outside and inside threads clean all the way to the bottom of the groove. I normally remove the o-rings for this operation, though, as some materials will dry and start to crack with alcohol.
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    Flashaholic* batman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dirty threads=performance loss?

    On my M6 i noticed cleaning with %70 isopropyl alchohol and a micro fibre cloth doesn't really do anything to the threads. They weren't that dirty to begin with, but this method definitely will NOT get the threads anywhere near like new. How clean are people trying to get their threads? I always still end up with some black material regardless of what method.
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    Flashaholic bob4apple's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dirty threads=performance loss?

    In that case, you need the hard stuff- Deoxit!
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    Flashaholic* batman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dirty threads=performance loss?

    I have some deoxit, but should I remove the o-rings when applying it?
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  13. #13

    Default Re: Dirty threads=performance loss?

    Quote Originally Posted by batman View Post
    On my M6 i noticed cleaning with %70 isopropyl alchohol and a micro fibre cloth doesn't really do anything to the threads. They weren't that dirty to begin with, but this method definitely will NOT get the threads anywhere near like new. How clean are people trying to get their threads? I always still end up with some black material regardless of what method.
    The black gunk is the lubricant, in Surefire's case NyoGel, catching dirt particles and turning grimey.

    Grab a piece of paper. Fold it in half. Now, using the folded edge, slowly run it between the threads. That will get most of the grime and gunk out.

    Quote Originally Posted by batman View Post
    I have some deoxit, but should I remove the o-rings when applying it?
    Yes.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Dirty threads=performance loss?

    Quote Originally Posted by enomosiki View Post
    The black gunk is the lubricant, in Surefire's case NyoGel, catching dirt particles and turning grimey.
    Grab a piece of paper. Fold it in half. Now, using the folded edge, slowly run it between the threads. That will get most of the grime and gunk out.
    If wiping the threads firmly and repeatedly with an alcohol patch doesn't seem to be getting most of the gunk, I have sometimes used wooden toothpicks. I will place the tip of the toothpick in the end of the groove threads which are the farthest in, hold the toothpick with my right hand, and rotate the light with my left - sort of like an edison phonograph cylinder playing - and track it through the entire groove from start to finish, possibly interrupting the process occasionally to wipe the accumulating grime off the toothpick tip onto a paper towel. I would imagine that gun solvent and cotton bore patches might work also, for radial 'wiping'.
    Last edited by novice; 07-25-2012 at 09:18 PM.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Dirty threads=performance loss?

    Try spraying WD-40 on a toothbruth and scrubbing the threads and wipe the gunk off with a cloth or something then after the gunk is dissolved try alcohol to remove the WD-40.
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    Default Re: Dirty threads=performance loss?

    Among the OCD habits I inherited from my late father was the saving of old, 'retired' toothbrushes, soaking them in the sink while washing the dishes, then cleaning and rinsing them. They are a great way of cleaning delicate metal threads, amongst other things. +1 to making sure that you clean the WD40 off later. WD40 can leave a gummy residue when it completely dries, and I have read on the web of an old, classic bolt action being completely locked up by 'lubricating' it with WD40, and then putting it away in storage, and think about how much torque one is normally able to get on a bolt-gun.

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    Default Re: Dirty threads=performance loss?

    Like all types of cleaning, how much you need to do depends on how grundgy the light has become. Toothpicks and old toothbrushes both a great tools. Business cards and playing cards are also useful.

    I wouldn't soak a toothbrush used for cleaning tools and lights with the dishes but after the dishes are out of the sink should be OK.

    If you're using alcohol prep pads for cleaning, I recommend the BD brand. They're a lot thicker and do a better job than any other alcohol pad I've seen so far. I have seen a container of larger alcohol wipes (much like hand wipes in a canister). Those also work well. They're also really good for wiping off the oil from poison ivy.

    If I need to use a rag for cleaning and lubing the lights, it's one that is used only for that purpose and I wash it after I'm done. I just throw it in with a dark load of clothes and stain treat it first if needed. The amounts of lube I use are quite small ("Less is more") so I'm not too concerned about it.

    And yes, quite a few lubes can attract dust and gunk which will make life miserable later on down the road. That's just another reason to do a PM (Preventive Maintenance) on your gear on a regular basis.

    Basically just wipe off the old lube, clean the threads if needed, and then apply a new coating of lube.
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    Flashaholic* batman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dirty threads=performance loss?

    Well, thx again everyone, i learned more than I expected ! I've always just assumed I could never get the threads like new again,..but I'll give it a try using some of these techniques.
    I think I'll try the deoxit method first, i have it in a pen form with a hard pointy applicator thingy that will get into the threads on the M6 (The M6 threads are massive,). Does Deoxit need to be removed with %70 isopropyl alchohol after cleaning threads?
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    Flashaholic* Cataract's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dirty threads=performance loss?

    Quote Originally Posted by novice View Post
    Among the OCD habits I inherited from my late father was the saving of old, 'retired' toothbrushes, soaking them in the sink while washing the dishes, then cleaning and rinsing them. They are a great way of cleaning delicate metal threads, amongst other things. +1 to making sure that you clean the WD40 off later. WD40 can leave a gummy residue when it completely dries, and I have read on the web of an old, classic bolt action being completely locked up by 'lubricating' it with WD40, and then putting it away in storage, and think about how much torque one is normally able to get on a bolt-gun.
    WD-40 is NOT a lubricant... it is a solvent, that's why it cleans really well (try it on label glue, anything oily and even your car engine!). If you are going to use WD-40 on flashlight threads, you need to lubricate or they'll grind even more, leaving more gunk in less time.
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    Default Re: Dirty threads=performance loss?

    Quote Originally Posted by StarHalo View Post
    Dirty threads usually cause flickering or occasional fail-to-fires. And skip the cloth, the gunk that comes off your threads is quite toxic and shouldn't be on anything reusable; try disposable makeup wedges instead - no fuzz or lint to worry about, and you just toss it when you're done.
    Toxic? It's aluminum oxide mixed with oil.

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    Default Re: Dirty threads=performance loss?

    Quote Originally Posted by fyrstormer View Post
    Toxic? It's aluminum oxide mixed with oil.
    I wouldn't call it very toxic, but our bodies don't deal very well with aluminum cuts, so I would assume that swallowing even a small amount might result in mild to not-so-mild discomfort.
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    Default Re: Dirty threads=performance loss?

    Quote Originally Posted by fyrstormer View Post
    It's aluminum oxide mixed with oil.
    Assuming the lube is oil; it may be lithium or Teflon. Always wash hands thoroughly after servicing your light, there can be some seriously henious stuff on those threads..

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    Default Re: Dirty threads=performance loss?

    I usually thoroughly clean my threads once I notice that they're dirty. It'll take 20-30 minutes/light, but the threads are like new when finished (clean external threads, lube, put tailcap back on, unscrew it partially, and screw it back in multiple times, unscrew, clean gunk, repeat until clean).

    Spent about an hour and a half last week, cleaning my threads. Bought an "old-stock" Nyogel 760 2oz tube to do it (I'll probably use it for a ton of other stuff, too. Lubed threads are happy threads, unless you don't want them to loosen)
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  24. #24
    Flashaholic* batman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dirty threads=performance loss?

    I finally got the Deoxit out and spent some time Meticulously cleaning the M6 and E2E, the only Surefires I never sold off.
    I was a little less thorough with the 4sevens pocket lights, each brand has its place.
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