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What degreaser/cleaner to use on brake calipers and piston etc.

Discussion in 'Maintenance and Servicing' started by Chogy123, Aug 17, 2016.

  1. Hi, was just wondering what I can use to clean/degrease brake calipers and pistons etc. (would it be possible to just use vinegar...?)
    Also whats a good grease to use on brake parts.

    Thanks a lot!

  2. Brake cleaner is available in a spray can. It is a very light solvent - leaves practically nil residue and there is a risk with it if you just go spraying it willy nilly that you can drive grit into your piston seals or dust covers and it will adversely affect seals and dust covers Best reserved for things like disks only, which can become oil contaminated if you have a fork seal failure or an oil spill of some sort. This will also mean your pads are contaminated and may need replacement. By spraying the pad area, you also risk contaminating the pads with oil it might pick up on the way in and redeposit on them. It might be useful for cleaning parts during a complete disassembly, but isopropyl alcohol will do nicely. I "hand clean" the outside of my calliper assembly only during routine maintenance - no solvents.

    There is such a thing as brake grease. It will stand very high temperatures without melting, and you need practically none - don't use any on any parts near the pads - on the bracket pins only (the calliper mounts) Keep it well way from the pads or disks. If you contaminate your pads with oil or grease, you will throw them away, as a replacement will be pretty much on the cards. I've never used any sort of grease on any brakes on any bike I've ever owned apart from inside a drum brake, on the pin that turns to spread the shoes. Disk brakes? I've never greased a thing.

    Chogy123 - complete disassembly of brake callipers is not something people do very often, certainly not in the course of regular maintenance, which would see one replacing fluid and bleeding brakes, and replacing pads or piston seals occasionally as needed. Certainly you might use a brake cleaner such as I mentioned if you are rebuilding a calliper set and want to get rid of any trace of oil contamination before reassembly, but even then, Isopropyl alcohol is fine, no grease or oils at all to reassemble, only a little brake fluid on pistons and seals to fit. Cleanliness is the God with brakes, then leave them alone. Clean the dust off the outside only. Use no oil or grease.

    The only reason someone might take a caliper assembly apart would be in the event that a piston is sticking - they can have seal failures or they may stick if they haven't been used in a long time and/or the fluid is totally over the hill. (an annual change is a good idea - it absorbs moisture from the air and this moisture will eventually cause corrosion and pistons to stick.) Change brake fluid regularly and it may not be necessary to disturb them, apart from pad changes and eventual seal replacement. Brakes are one of the most reliable parts of motorbikes. It is surprising how little maintenance they take, but don't overlook fluid changes.
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  3. Some brake cleaners are mostly acetone which works quite well on it's own if you feel cheap.
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  4. I use the can that says brake cleaner, make sure your wearing nitrate gloves and double them up as that stuff seems to eat through them.
    Take the pads out, spray the caliper down and use a tooth brush to clean all the crap out.

    I sand the sliding pins and pad surface every time I pull the pads out and use a little copper grease on the back of the pads to stop them squealing.
    Changing the brake fluid its advisable however your best off buying the tool for $30 on ebay to suck the lines through, don't waste your time with the tiny supercheap ones.

    Only rebuilt the calipers and master cylinder two or three times after they started leaking. Its not a task that has to be done regularly.
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  5. You can use petrol, kero, etc too while things are disassembled and no rubber parts are present.
    But you must clean off with a final wash/wipe with methylated spirits or proper brake cleaner.
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  6. thanks guys great info really helpful. I want to do a full rebuild because the pistons get stuck in calipers and theres so much crud on them, Ive already bought new seals etc.
  7. Since nobody has said it specifically, DON'T USE VINEGAR, or any other acid or acid based cleaner. Just stick to regular brake cleaner and a soft toothbrush to loosen any difficult deposits. Also, wear safety glasses when spraying the stuff around. It stings like abitch if it gets in your eyes!
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  8. Very soapy water and tooth brush and dry it well aftewards. I've seen it on youtube - le dude or other.
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  9. Yep, just warm washing up water and a brush, they're waterproof afterall.

    Delboy will show ya.

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  10. Hi Chogy, at al.
    Can be quite a job to replace them without damaging the seals, or the piston/housing, so go easy with that screwdriver!

    Normally, the new seals should come with a small sachet of rubber grease to facilitate re-assembly.
    If not, look on ebay for "Penrite red rubber" grease. $8 a tube.
    Also handy when you are replacing fork seals etc.

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  11. As nobody else has mentioned it, anytime you're using solvents, it's a good idea to do it somewhere very well ventilated. Preferably outside. Be aware that acetone and isopropyl alcohol and most spray can based materials are toxic and flammable. So you definitely don't want to be breathing them in and you don't want any sparks nearby when you're handling them.
  12. Acetone isn't very toxic and isopropyl alcohol is only marginally. While you shouldn't go huff a load of either, they're safer than many alternatives.
  13. #13 Chogy123, Sep 1, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2016
    yeah ok, so I bought some acetone and copper grease. Already got new seals, Pads and everything else ill need for the rebuild. Gonna give it a go tomorrow!
  14. Have always only used Brake Clean [ just don't get any on paintwork it can take the shine off real quick ]
    Rubber Grease on the new seals for reassembly ,Don't over tighten the mounting bolts "FT is not always best"
    Flush old brake fluid and take your time bleeding the system starting at the caliper furthest from master cyl.
  15. Brake rebuild done and dusted! Was surprisingly a lot easier than expected, and everything was going well until i tried to bleed it... I found out that the master cylinder is full of crud and gunky water, and its all rusty. So i took off master cylinder to try and clean it but now it just leaks brake fluid from where its not meant to.. :-/ anyway, i guess thats the problem with working on old bikes, as soon as you fix one problem, 2 more appear. Went on Ebay and immediately bought a whole new master cylinder for pretty cheap. Now ill just have to wait...
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  16. Well done , and yup them is the breaks. [ no pun intended lol ]
    Gunky water and crap ? hmmm While your waiting for the new master cyl, I'd be taking off the brake lines and flushing them though with brake clean to make sure they are clean to avoid possible contamination of your nice caliper rebuild :cool:
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  17. Actually yeah, really good idea! Thanks
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  18. Make sure you get the right master cyl, if its from china and the pic shows a dirt bike cylinder, thats what you get even if it does say fits, gs1000, 750, 1100 etc. Then they'll fcuk you around for as long as possible before ignoring you and blocking you from from buying anything else from them. Go straight to paypal if this happens. they might take some notice.
  19. Bit of a late update, but Master cylinder arrived (it was the right one, and fitted )
    I then installed it and bled the brakes and everything went well. Now they feel smoooooooth as!
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