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What do you use to clean AA battery contacts, preventive maintenance wise?

Gerry Siegel (Honolulu) , Mar 02, 2011; 05:12 p.m.

I usually take them out, the cells.But not always. And when if I leave unused for a while in this warm climate and see that the cells are almost drained or completely kaput on my tester green zone, before new cells I figure I should rub the positive and negative poles of the device, you know, burnish them a little.
( Today I was working on my old Minolta Flashmeter, one I truthfully set away in the drawer for a long time and forgot it got batteries in it).
Here is what I reach for, not so great any of them..
-A pencil eraser. So so, the rubber is not rubber and is usually like a piece of hard cake and barely erases anything.
-A Q tip sprayed with Radio Shack contact cleaner. That seems overkill for a light rubdown, and those solvent sprays don't come cheap.
-A piece of 'scorcher cloth,' the finest emory paper?. Not tried yet. But that makes me think overkill too - I use it on the contacts of fluroescent tubes but they are more robust, and get yuckier, and too, how do I know I am not abrading some plating if I get in there w a real abrasive..And then there is the neg pole which is a little wire spiral, how much do you get into that one,( see what I mean_.
Ok, not talking about the green gook oxide. Just the invisible ( I think it is invisible anywat) oxide layer that is bound to be there...(which has to keep some of the juice from flowing,--not sure).
Have you found something handier than a Number HB plain yellow pencil's eraser...
Just wondering and welcome thoughts. No earthshaker this. Thanks anyway...

Responses

Lex Jenkins , Mar 02, 2011; 05:53 p.m.

I've used old fashioned ink pen or typewriter erasers to clean corrosion or heavy oxidation from battery contacts. These are getting hard to find. Last source I found for typewriter erasers was in an antique shop, of all places. They're the kind that can be "sharpened" like a pencil as the eraser wears down. Bought a bunch of 'em. They were still cheaper than the equivalents sold in a local camera shop. Pencil erasers are useless - they leave smudges on the contacts.

For light cleaning or delicate plated contacts I'll use cotton swabs very slightly dampened with isopropyl alcohol.

Jim Momary , Mar 02, 2011; 07:03 p.m.

Gerry -

Lex is right on. Most battery contacts/switch contacts are brass or phosphor bronze with an overplate of nickel. Theoretically, the nickel prevents oxidation. But with some moisture and or leaky cells, that's not the case. Ink/typewriter erasers are great as they reach down into deep cavities (Grampa ... what's a typewriter?)

If you are too aggressive in rubbing or the batteries have corroded the contacts, you'll be down to the "brass" which implies you'll have to routinely keep them burnished. But, such is life.

In electronics, that's why most of edge board connectors are gold plated, or "tinned" with solder for a poor man's gold edge.

RS contact cleaner is ~70% isohexane and ~3% ethanol, effective and pretty safe for use around plastics. Carburetor cleaner is a mix of toluene, acetone, methanol and diacetone alcohol, very aggressive and likely to hurt any plastic parts or vinyl wiring. It's mucho cheaper tho. Some crazy people use it like water around "stuff", but, don't do it!

Jim

Harry Joseph , Mar 02, 2011; 07:24 p.m.

a Q-tip dipped in Vinegar works real well.

Jerry Litynski , Mar 03, 2011; 12:33 p.m.

Radio Shack (used to?) has a glass-fiber pen, and it lightly cleans battery connections...and not much left-over grit to worry about.

Graham Line , Mar 03, 2011; 01:31 p.m.

Glass fiber pens are nice but the last couple I bought seemed to shed a lot. I like a swab dampened with alcohol. Hobby stores sell a product called "Conduct-A-Lube" that looks like a light oil. A light swab with this will retard corrosion, though Hawaii is probably tougher for such problems.

Ben Myerson , Mar 04, 2011; 01:58 p.m.

A glass fibre pen it does the job and isn't messy.

Gerry Siegel (Honolulu) , Mar 04, 2011; 04:50 p.m.

Thanks I will look into all of the above. I dislike Radio Shack spray because it gets to be too much of a blast for what I want. Seems safe enough though. Messy however. I used to have one of those typewriter erasers, maybe can still find mine. I will also look into the fiberglass pen arangement and the Conduct A Lube. Mahalo, all..

Scott Murphy , Mar 04, 2011; 06:26 p.m.

I usually use the erasers atop #2 pencils. If that doesn't work, then I use a small 1/2" wire brush attached to a Dremel and run it at the lowest speed.

Ben Myerson , Mar 06, 2011; 09:54 a.m.

A Dremel with a wire brush will remove the Zinc plating from the battery contacts as well as the corrosion.

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