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Author Topic: A little experiment with Silicone lubrication...  (Read 1502 times)
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Lawrie

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« on: Feb 17, 2017, 05:11AM »

G'day all,
I've been doing a little experimenting lately and would like to hear the comments of anyone who might have:
a) traveled down the same path, or
b) might have any specific knowledge RE using silicone fluid as an oil.

Bruce (BGuttman), I'd particularly welcome any input you might have.

OK - a little background.  As I'm sure any of you who uses a horn with a Fatt, AND uses any of the Silicone slide lubes will know, if you allow any of the hydrocarbon oils to mix with the Silicone slide lube it pretty much turns into glue :(

Also, if the valve oil finds its way into the atachment tubing it will dilute the tuning slide grease - also undesirable.

Soo, remembering comments Bruce Guttman had made in the past RE Dow Corning High Vacuum Grease I decided to see what a full Silicone approach might be like.

So here's what I've done (R10F and 42A):

a) The slides work very well with Slide-o-mix Rapid Comfort so I didn't change that.

b) I acquired some Dow Corning Silicone Fluid ("Xiameter PMX200, 2cst") This fluid has a viscosity of 2 cSt.

c) I acquired some Silicone grease - not having easy access to the High Vacuum stuff Bruce recommends I hunted around for a bit and found a Permatex product for use as a "Dielectric Grease" to corrosion proof electrical connections in the automotive industry.

d) After dismantling my valves and removing the tuning slides I THOROUGHLY cleaned them to remove all traces of hydrocarbon lubricants.

e) I "oiled" the valves fairly liberally with the PMX 200 and reassembled them.  I made a small mistake here that worried me for a bit - some of you may remember the roller modification I made to my R10F linkage - lovely feel, BUT I didn't disassemble it and foolishly dropped some of the PMX200 into it - this has now been remedied - it damn near stopped me from being able to use the valve because the roller became so sluggish.

f) I greased the tuning slides with the Permatex.

So far everything is working really well as far as ease of use etc. is concerned, although I think that the Permatex would benefit from being a bit higher viscosity.

Is anyone aware of any downsides I might be missing - particularly any techs who might have had problems with Silicone contamination and solder repairs?
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« Reply #1 on: Feb 17, 2017, 06:40AM »

My caveat is that sometimes on some horns, silicone seems to solidify or crystalize.  I've felt some slides that to the eye were very good, straight and no dents.  However the slide felt as if it had multiple hard dents.  After a long acid bath it was fine.  Cleaning, wiping after playing, etc don't seem to matter.

No idea if the cause is organic, chemical, temperture, or why it happens on only certain instruments.

Since I can't find a cause and I'd prefer not to chem clean an instrument if it's avoidable, my advice is to only use silicone based lube (slide O mix, yamasnot etc) if it's the only thing that works.
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« Reply #2 on: Feb 17, 2017, 07:20AM »

Thanks John,
I've read others who've mentioned this crystalisation effect too, yet I haven't experienced it myself.

I think it would be good if we could determine what's happening - find some kind of common denominator so to speak.

From my reading straight up Silicones are supposed to be very stable, so I can only assume there is either some additional component(s) or contaminants that become the solidified bits.

FWIW I've been using SoM on my Rath (Nickel outers), on Raths advice, from day one - (September 2010) and started using it on my Bach (brass outers) at the same time.  Neither horn has ever given any indication of this kind of problem.

Actually, I use it on all my horns including my cheap, Chinese bass (not sure what the outers are - possibly cupronickel) and my 1918 King (silverplated brass outers AFAIK).
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« Reply #3 on: Feb 17, 2017, 07:33AM »

Might the Ph of water sprayed on have a bearing here?
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BGuttman
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« Reply #4 on: Feb 17, 2017, 11:08AM »

I'll have to do some research on what would cause a silicone to degrade.  I was under the impression that heat might be a factor.

As to the Permatex, I have some Dow-Corning 111 that is very similar and works OK as a tuning slide lube.  I think there may be a higher viscosity version.  Or maybe the Dow-Corning 111 is available where you are.  It's fairly heavy.

For the lube, I can't comment on whether what you have is ideal or not.  I've found the UltraPure materials seem to be compatible with almost everything else.  The slide prep works with Rapid Comfort, Slide-O-Mix, and Trombotine as a "refresher".  The valve oil works with my Blue Juice.  Haven't tried their rotor formula, though.
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« Reply #5 on: Feb 17, 2017, 03:03PM »

Might the Ph of water sprayed on have a bearing here?
I doubt that it would be far enough from neutral to be relevant.  I do know that you make silly putty with boric acid and an organo-silicone compound. It's probably not specifically the Ph or the boron that does it though...
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« Reply #6 on: Feb 17, 2017, 03:36PM »

Hi Bruce, 'owyagoinmate? ;-)
I'll have to do some research on what would cause a silicone to degrade.  I was under the impression that heat might be a factor.
Hmm - wonder just what temperature might be the deciding factor so to speak, and is it hot or cold that might be the problem.

I've had Rapid Comfort separate in the past, but never go hard, or get hard bits as reported by John.

Quote
As to the Permatex, I have some Dow-Corning 111 that is very similar and works OK as a tuning slide lube.  I think there may be a higher viscosity version.  Or maybe the Dow-Corning 111 is available where you are.  It's fairly heavy.
I'll do some checking - thanks.

Quote
For the lube, I can't comment on whether what you have is ideal or not.  I've found the UltraPure materials seem to be compatible with almost everything else.  The slide prep works with Rapid Comfort, Slide-O-Mix, and Trombotine as a "refresher".  The valve oil works with my Blue Juice.  Haven't tried their rotor formula, though.
FWIW, I tried some Dow Corning 345 fluid first and it seemed a little "heavy".  The viscosity of 345 is 7cSt.  For comparison the viscosity of the paraffin I had been using extremely successfully before is 3.5cSt.
 
I had originally thought about trying a blend of 345 and PMX200 2cst in an attempt to get a fluid that was about 3.5 cSt then decided to just go with the straight PMX200 first.  It's working well so far so I don't see any reason to explore the blend.

WRT UltraPure products, I'm going out on an uninformed limb here and assuming, from what you said, that the UltraPure valve oil must be a hydrocarbon rather than a silicone if its not having problems with Blue Juice.  To me that would suggest the rotor formula probably is too.  Conversely their slide prep is most likely a silicone if it's not causing problems with SoM et al.

The compatibility I'm seeking is between valve lube and slide lube - while I don't really have a problem because I'm careful, that was a lesson learned the hard way.  It took me a while to figure out my occasionally, suddenly dreadfully slow slide was caused by cross contamination between the silicone SoM and the hydrocarbon valve oil.

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« Reply #7 on: Feb 17, 2017, 04:23PM »

I think it would be good if we could determine what's happening - find some kind of common denominator so to speak.

I've had some thoughts on this.  It may have to do with some folks using hard water as a spray.  The minerals in the water precipitate out when the silicone changes the solubility factor of the water for those particular minerals.  The silicone then binds with the minerals to create a hard, rough but very thin coating on the slide surfaces.

This is only an hypothesis at the moment and I have done no experiments to investigate.
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« Reply #8 on: Feb 17, 2017, 05:00PM »

Hi Bill,
I wonder if John, who raised it, has any data relating to that.

A deposit that requires an acid bath to clear is NOT trivial.

John, what type of acid do you normally use for this kind of thing?  I ask because I'm wondering if we're dealing with calcium deposits from a water spritz (of course, one would also expect this to affect other lubes that get a water spray too).  Actually, thinking about that, I wonder would the creams be more likely to create an effective barrier that prevents deposit than the silicone lubes?

FWIW I now use SoM Rapid Comfort exclusively (I've tried Ultra Pure - the blue lid one, I'm told the white lid one is a newer and better formulation - and Yamasnot but have found the SoM to work best for me).  Sometimes I'll add a spritz of water and sometimes not.  Mostly not, but when I do I'm not that fussy about the water source, though usually it comes out of my water filter at home or from a bottle of water I've purchased to drink during a gig.  One hopes the latter isn't just the local tap water... ;-)
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« Reply #9 on: Feb 17, 2017, 05:49PM »

I was over on the Dow-Corning site and found that silicones degrade with soil and with UV light.  Decomposition products are water, carbon dioxide (for organo-silicones), and silica.  Generally they use fumed silica as the basis for these materials, which is EXTREMELY small particle size -- and bulky; a package about the size of an obese human weighs about 10 Kg.

My thought as a chemist is that if the degradation goes slowly, crystal size can increase to make the deposits John sees.

Sources of UV light?  Sunlight is the strongest.  Then some fluorescent tubes.  My guess is you need a lot of exposure to really do some degradation.
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« Reply #10 on: Feb 17, 2017, 09:21PM »

My caveat is that sometimes on some horns, silicone seems to solidify or crystalize.  I've felt some slides that to the eye were very good, straight and no dents.  However the slide felt as if it had multiple hard dents.  After a long acid bath it was fine.  Cleaning, wiping after playing, etc don't seem to matter.

No idea if the cause is organic, chemical, temperture, or why it happens on only certain instruments.

Since I can't find a cause and I'd prefer not to chem clean an instrument if it's avoidable, my advice is to only use silicone based lube (slide O mix, yamasnot etc) if it's the only thing that works.

Christan Griego commented some time ago in a slide cleaning video that they do not use Slide-o-Mix at Edwards for the very reason that you mention. His experience was that if the slide was not cleaned regularly, and properly, the silicone base would crystalize and fuse itself to the inside of the outer slide, and that they would receive horns and the user would state there were dents, and there were none!
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« Reply #11 on: Feb 18, 2017, 12:55AM »

Just to pull things back on topic a little:
The discussion RE SoM and similar products and crystalisation or whatever some players have noticed isn't new.  From what I understand it also doesn't seem to be that common, or at least, I've ONLY heard about it from this forum.  None of the 'bone players I work with on a regular basis have experienced anything like it.  This includes Yamasnot, Ultrapure and SoM users.  I am in no way trying to suggest it isn't a problem, but at this point I can't help thinking it's a fairly limited issue and it's certainly already known.

While I'm very curious about what that problem is, I'm more interested at the moment in the efficacy of using silicones as valve and tunng slide lubes.

From what Bruce has related, I'm guessing the silicone greases are probably not a degradation problem in the same way the slide lubes have presented for some people.

So, what I really want to check out is the use of silicone fluids as valve oil.

From Bruces research, soil and UV light are the listed causes of degradation and I somehow doubt the inside of a valve body will have much UV penetration ;-)

Soil on the other hand...  Perhaps BillO's comment on hard water is relevant here - what components in soil cause degradation?  Are they present in the "spritz" water?  I would suspect yes, so that might explain problems on slides, but surely the only water that would find its way to the valve would be condensation which I would hope wouldn't contain those minerals and salts.

Thoughts anyone?

<edit>  It just occurred to me that I've seen deposits inside valves and tuning slides.  Some of that would surely be verdigris, but what else?  And is it likely to be something that might create a degradation problem?
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« Reply #12 on: Feb 18, 2017, 01:33AM »

Might the Ph of water sprayed on have a bearing here?

I write this because I now live in a soft water area, and don't have the same amount of slide lubricant degradation that I had when I lived in London, which is/was very hard.
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« Reply #13 on: Feb 18, 2017, 04:18AM »

I write this because I now live in a soft water area, and don't have the same amount of slide lubricant degradation that I had when I lived in London, which is/was very hard.

Water hardness and pH are two different things.  Hardness is a result of dissolved minerals in the water.   One lab where I worked used to have a water distillation unit and they found the distilled water to be fairly acidic -- enough to require neutralization with some sodium carbonate.  The distilled water certainly would be considered "soft".

Another thing in soil is bacteria.  It's possible that biological activity does some degradation.  Some slides might be a bit bioactive depending on how much was spit and how much was condensation.
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« Reply #14 on: Feb 18, 2017, 04:29AM »

I write this because I now live in a soft water area, and don't have the same amount of slide lubricant degradation that I had when I lived in London, which is/was very hard.
I followed this up a little further and stand corrected.  I hadn't realised that water hardness is related to ph, though now I think about it, it makes sense.

Soft water has lower mineral content which relates to lower ph (more acidic).  It is the lower mineral content which I think is relevant here.

With the most common element dissolved in water being Calcium it makes sense that any deposits in a horn that result would be quite hard.

I asked John about what acid he uses to clean slides.  I wonder how it relates to the CLR product?

The MSDS of the CLR (Calcium Lime Rust) product states that it contains:
Component   % by Weight
1. Lactic Acid   12.00-18.00
2. Gluconic Acid   2.50-3.75
3. Lauramine Oxide   1.50-3.25
 
 
Is this combination likely to be less harmful to the horn?

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« Reply #15 on: Feb 18, 2017, 04:37AM »

Lauramine oxide is a surfactant, not an acid.  Probably to get it to wet down the surface.  Some rust stains are hydrophobic.

The other two are organic acids (think vinegar) and as such are not as strong.

Removing rust can use a chelating agent and I think the gluconic acid may be acting in this fashion.

I wouldn't regularly soak a slide in this stuff, but I doubt an odd treatment will be too bad.
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« Reply #16 on: Feb 18, 2017, 04:39AM »

<snip>
Another thing in soil is bacteria.  It's possible that biological activity does some degradation.  Some slides might be a bit bioactive depending on how much was spit and how much was condensation.
I hadn't thought about that, but it is certainly a consideration.

My observation earlier about verdigris in the valve and tuning slide should also have included pale/white deposits too.  I can only imagine this might be Calcium from spraying water on the slide and then it getting blown through the horn.

Might just have to start using ph neutral or maybe even slightly acidic water for my spray bottle :)

Might check my filtered water at home first - as I haven't been having problems it's probably fine.
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« Reply #17 on: Feb 18, 2017, 04:41AM »

Lauramine oxide is a surfactant, not an acid.  Probably to get it to wet down the surface.  Some rust stains are hydrophobic.

The other two are organic acids (think vinegar) and as such are not as strong.

Removing rust can use a chelating agent and I think the gluconic acid may be acting in this fashion.

I wouldn't regularly soak a slide in this stuff, but I doubt an odd treatment will be too bad.
I wonder if it is less or more leaching of Zinc than whatever John uses...  I think that would be my main concern.
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« Reply #18 on: Feb 18, 2017, 07:33AM »

If I had a 1/2 hypothesis I'd put it out there, but nothing as a common denominator...

I find it fairly common...maybe 1/4 of the users of slideomix or yamasnot have it.  What is weird is it may only be 1 horn in a stable of 4...same player and enviroment.

I'd prefer not to discuss chemical like acid on the forum, I don't want the wrong person using the info incorrectly...suffice it to say that I'd not recommend it being done by the player.
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« Reply #19 on: Feb 18, 2017, 04:28PM »

Hi John,
If I had a 1/2 hypothesis I'd put it out there, but nothing as a common denominator...

I find it fairly common...maybe 1/4 of the users of slideomix or yamasnot have it.  What is weird is it may only be 1 horn in a stable of 4...same player and enviroment.
A few questions come to mind - if you don't easily remember that's OK.  I realise I'm being a little invasive here ;-):

a) Do you primarily see horns from a limited geographic area?

b) If so are the affected horns all from this limited area?

c) Does this putative limited area have hard water?

d) Have you noticed any correlation with age of the affected horns?  Perhaps the composition of the brass is relevant...

e) Have you noticed it with Nickel outers?

f) Have you noticed a correlation with chromed and unchromed inners?

Quote
I'd prefer not to discuss chemical like acid on the forum, I don't want the wrong person using the info incorrectly...suffice it to say that I'd not recommend it being done by the player.
Fair enough.  Would you mind telling me, or perhaps Bruce if he's willing to investigate, in a PM?

For my own benefit I'd like to look into the relative activity of the acid you use and CLR when in the presence of zinc, and what possible deposits it is most likely to affect.

The other consideration is whether the deposits are silica, calcium or something else, silica being a breakdown component of the silicone and calcium may be deposited from water.  If this can be determined, it may suggest a more effective treatment that could have a less aggressive effect on the slide material itself.

Thanks mate.
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« Reply #20 on: Feb 18, 2017, 05:05PM »

There are a lot of acids I'd strongly recommend against use by "civilians".  Strong acids will actively attack the metals in the brass and cause structural problems in a trombone.

Vinegar (acetic acid) and oxalic acid are organic acids.  Oxalic acid is often used in automotive radiator cleaners so it's more compatible with brass.  Any organic acid is a lot less aggressive on metals than the mineral acids like hydrochloric, sufuric, nitric, and phosphoric.  Still, organic acids are somewhat corrosive to metals.  CLR does not contain acetic or oxalic acids, though.

The CLR MSDS states that it's reactive with all metals except stainless steel and chrome.  I don't know if this means they tested it with everything else and found some corrosion or if they didn't test it and just assumed it will corrode if not tested.

Incidentally, the MSDS of CLR shows a glycol ether solvent in the formula.  It's not shown in the hazardous materials list but is shown in the environmental section.  Glycol ether solvents may attack a lacquer coating.  Note that I said may.  Do a test on an unimportant area before you start soaking.
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« Reply #21 on: Feb 18, 2017, 11:04PM »

Thanks Bruce,
There are a lot of acids I'd strongly recommend against use by "civilians".  Strong acids will actively attack the metals in the brass and cause structural problems in a trombone.

Vinegar (acetic acid) and oxalic acid are organic acids.  Oxalic acid is often used in automotive radiator cleaners so it's more compatible with brass.  Any organic acid is a lot less aggressive on metals than the mineral acids like hydrochloric, sufuric, nitric, and phosphoric.  Still, organic acids are somewhat corrosive to metals.  CLR does not contain acetic or oxalic acids, though.

The CLR MSDS states that it's reactive with all metals except stainless steel and chrome.  I don't know if this means they tested it with everything else and found some corrosion or if they didn't test it and just assumed it will corrode if not tested.

Incidentally, the MSDS of CLR shows a glycol ether solvent in the formula.  It's not shown in the hazardous materials list but is shown in the environmental section.  Glycol ether solvents may attack a lacquer coating.  Note that I said may.  Do a test on an unimportant area before you start soaking.
I guess that's a pretty good indicator that CLR is NOT a benign alternative, even though it's used to target calcium...  :-0
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« Reply #22 on: Feb 19, 2017, 10:45AM »

No common denominators. In southern california heat may be a constant, at least compared to other parts of the US.  Always the outers, but nickel or brass, new or old can happen.

sending PMs
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« Reply #23 on: Feb 19, 2017, 01:57PM »

No common denominators. In southern california heat may be a constant, at least compared to other parts of the US.  Always the outers, but nickel or brass, new or old can happen.

sending PMs
Thanks mate.

Quite a conundrum isn't it...

Doesn't surprise me that it's the outers that suffer - I imagine the highly polished chrome finish of the inners would make any deposition quite a bit less effective.

If it was simply the heat I would have expected all a players horns to be affected.  Confused
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« Reply #24 on: Feb 19, 2017, 04:33PM »

No common denominators. In southern california heat may be a constant, at least compared to other parts of the US.  Always the outers, but nickel or brass, new or old can happen.
If tap water is involved, that's a source of inconsistency all by itself. One day your water comes from the Sacramento Delta, the next it's from local wells. A week later it's from the Colorado River or maybe a local reservoir filled by runoff from local mountains.
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« Reply #25 on: Feb 19, 2017, 04:39PM »

CHrome is interesting.  I've polished chrome bike handlebars....rusty and nasty, but afterwards the rust is gone and they look new?  I've found that chrome plate is much like a sharks skin under a microscope, not the impervious layer I'd imagined.  Then the rusty handlebars made sense, the pores let the rust through, and wax (or cold cream) seals the pores.

So chrome is a hard layer resistant to wear, but not corrosion resistant.  Some gun coatings make chrome look like hairspray when comparing corrosion resistance, salt spray and heat, etc.  Also there are harder more wear resistant coatings (TIn) but most seem to be not compatablle with brass (ie high heat to apply).
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« Reply #26 on: Feb 19, 2017, 06:29PM »

CHrome is interesting.  I've polished chrome bike handlebars....rusty and nasty, but afterwards the rust is gone and they look new?  I've found that chrome plate is much like a sharks skin under a microscope, not the impervious layer I'd imagined.  Then the rusty handlebars made sense, the pores let the rust through, and wax (or cold cream) seals the pores.

So chrome is a hard layer resistant to wear, but not corrosion resistant.  Some gun coatings make chrome look like hairspray when comparing corrosion resistance, salt spray and heat, etc.  Also there are harder more wear resistant coatings (TIn) but most seem to be not compatablle with brass (ie high heat to apply).
Two different types of chrome plating. The plating on handlebars, bumpers, etc., is usually "decorative" chrome (very thin chrome over nickel). Mechanical wear parts normally get "hard" chrome - significantly thicker.
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« Reply #27 on: Feb 19, 2017, 07:57PM »

Thanks JohnL,
Two different types of chrome plating. The plating on handlebars, bumpers, etc., is usually "decorative" chrome (very thin chrome over nickel). Mechanical wear parts normally get "hard" chrome - significantly thicker.
Mildly informative wikipedia article here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chrome_plating
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« Reply #28 on: Mar 01, 2017, 02:37PM »

An update for those interested.
The full Silicone lube route is working pretty good on both horns with the following caveats:

a) On my R10F, the roller I made for the F trigger doesn't like the very light silicone fluid I'm using - it dries out fairly quickly.  To stop it being a distraction during a rehearsal I tried a drop of SoM Rapid comfort on it and it was excellent.  I'll keep that in my bag of tricks.  Longer term I have some 7cSt fluid AND some emulsion that is relatively heavy - 2000cSt.  The emulsion may turn out to be a better choice for the roller, but it is way too heavy for the valve itself.  Perhaps if I'd reamed the roller instead of simply drilling it and thereby gotten a closer fit the lighter fluid might have worked.

b) I want to try a slightly heavier (higher viscosity) lube than I'm currently testing.  I think I selected one that was too light - fortunately I can "dial my own" viscosity between 2 and 7 cSt by simply mixing various ratios of the 2 fluids I have.

Updates to come.
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« Reply #29 on: Apr 21, 2017, 09:42AM »

Time for the next update.

The 2cst fluid is too light.  I didn't end up trying to mix the 7cst to adjust viscosities, instead I tried SoM Rapid Comfort.  I have to say it's been a raging success - my valves have never been better.  Just need to use a little of the 2cst fluid with it.

Next move will be to convert my Chinese bass - it has conventional rotors rather than Hagmaans and I want to see if the silicone works as well - I expect it to.
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--=-- My credo - If something's worth doing, it's worth overdoing. - just ask my missus, she'll tell ya Grin --=--

You're only paranoid if you're wrong.
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