Cleaning / polishing EHX pedal enclosures without harming the ink / screening
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Posted: 24 February 2012 05:14 PM

Howdy fellas,

I have a few Small Stones, Small Clones and the like that are in very dirty condition.  The screening / colored ink on the face of the enclosure is dull and faded on some.

I of course know better than to use any type of heavy-duty cleaner as it would likely take the ink right off.  I’ve already read that the screening on most EHX units is not overly durable and can indeed be damaged / removed if any type of even slightly harsh cleaner is used.

So, I’ve been using good ole soap and water for now… and a toothbrush (a dab of dish washing detergent like Palmolive, and water).  Then rinse / wipe with a damp paper towel.  Seems to be working well, removes the grime, scum, nicotine, beer, etc… and zero damage to the ink.

But once clean, often the finish on the face of the units is just dull looking… scuffed and faded due to years of use.  Needs a good polishing! ...well, in a perfect world anyway.

If this ink could handle some type of “wax”, that would really spiff up the finish and add a nice shine, give the color some depth, etc.  But I fear that a typical wax may harm the ink.

Any suggestions from those who work on these pedals regularly?  Any good way to yield a nice shine on the original paint without smearing it or removing it?  Have you guys found a cleaner or a wax or a method that can bring out the color and get rid of the dullness / minor scuffing, without removing or damaging the ink?

Thanks!

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Posted: 27 February 2012 10:14 AM | Link to this reply (#1)

Have you tried glass cleaner (windex type stuff?)

Unofficial 2880 troubleshooter. Not ehx staff, just an effects enthusiast.

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Posted: 27 February 2012 02:24 PM | Link to this reply (#2)
Cryabetes - 27 February 2012 04:14 PM

Have you tried glass cleaner (windex type stuff?)

No, haven’t tried glass cleaner.  I did gently experiment with “Fantastic” and it started taking the red off the face of my red Small Stone.  It did not ruin the finish, but my cloth started taking on a very slight red tint so I stopped.  I’ve seen used EHX pedals where the paint / ink was noticeably smeared, so… don’t want to take any chances.  Mild dish detergent and water seems like a safe bet, but again, the goal is to figure out how to apply a nice “shine”.  With some painted or even heavily inked items, you can even take a mild car wax and buff lightly and it’ll achieve a deep shine, it can make a big difference in the appearance.  But… pretty much anything other than water is a potential hazard if the existing finish is very “weak”.  But hopefully more knowledgeable people will chime in with some ideas.  I’m sure there are guys out there that do serious restorations on these things and they must know the tricks.  Finally, a beat-up old damaged EHX pedal could maybe be gotten for cheap and then just use it as a guinea pig.

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Posted: 27 February 2012 03:29 PM | Link to this reply (#3)

otherwise, disassemble the pedal and take the enclosure to an automobile dealership that has a paint booth and inquire how much it’d be to get it clear coated.

Unofficial 2880 troubleshooter. Not ehx staff, just an effects enthusiast.

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Posted: 17 June 2015 06:48 AM | Link to this reply (#4)

Sorry to drag up this old thread, but I’ve been cleaning my pedals this way for years and never had any issues, even on my old 1981 V6 BMP, which is the second oldest and most treasured pedal I own.

First, never, ever use a spray cleaner and spray it directly onto the pedal. Spray a small amount onto the cleaning cloth and then gently wipe onto the pedal. Always be careful not to get liquid inside the box itself! The first step I do is mix a small amount of Dawn dish detergent with distilled water and put into a spray bottle. Next I thoroughly clean the outside of the box, removing the knobs if necessary to get under them. Dry the pedal completely. If there is some really tough dirt left then I use Formula 409 the same way. Spray a little onto a clean cloth and clean the exterior of the pedal. I never scrub the painted areas, but wipe firmly and gently and let the 409 do it’s work. Rinse the 409 off of the pedal with a little of the water/Dawn detergent mix and wipe dry. Let it sit and dry completely. I finally spray a little Turtle Wax no buff spray wax onto a clean cloth and go over the entire outside of the pedal. It shines it up and helps protect the finish for a good long while. I usually try to clean each pedal at least once a year (rarely happens, though). I’ve tried many different methods and products, but this one works best for me and I hope it will work well for you.

Is there anybody out there?

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Posted: 07 August 2015 09:18 PM | Link to this reply (#5)

I don’t see anything wrong with that for cleaning; but would highly recommend that you not use any cleansers that are abrasive, are alcohol or amonia or oil-based, as they would be very likely to affect the paint. 
Dawn is a mild cleanser and water-baed but also great at getting dirt and grease off of things, but i would not think anything with amounts of liquid, even water is a great idea if it might leak into anything. so spraying is out.  i use a Q-tip, and a small soft cloth to clean my pedals, and a little mild soap (like dawn) works ok.  the casings can rust, so they have some iron content, so avoid moisture in general.  Turtle wax isnt a terrible idea to protect it, but be careful of other types of auto polishes or car “waxes”, and they often have small abrasives, or are made of silicon and or oil-based. neither is a good idea for electronics or these kind of paints.
For and old tired looking DEM pedal I used a little bit of Flitz metal polish also is a great rust remover (its for metals, fiberglass, plastics) and it worked out very nicely.  At first i was just trying to remove some small rust spots on the top by the lettering, but i noticed it cleaned the metal and the rust, so figured i’d do the rest of the metalic part, but noticed it didnt seem to affect the inked lettering, so tried a little corner of the main paint art on top, and it didnt damage it, but it did give a bit of a more even luter to the whole top.  Flitz removes rust and dist, but also polishes and protects too, so waxing afterwards isnt really needed.  it doesnt feel oily or waxy or anything after either.  I have also used it to clean rusted or corroded mechanical type electrical connections too.. (like guitar jacks, amp jacks.) For those i usually clean it iwth the Flitz so its silvery metal again.. then use some rubbing alcohol on a q-tip to make sure there is nothing left on the jack, then its just clean metal.  an electrician once told me you should clean the jacks and connectors on your amp and guitar now and then to keep a good clean connection..youd be surprised how much grease and dusty dirt you can get on those parts over time. later on i just added the metal cleaner to the practice.

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