We have all seen it: corroded electrical contacts. And yes, we all know the consequences. Although metal is a good electrical conductor metal oxides, phosphates, etc. are good insulators. Believe me it happens. When you desperate want to start the engine and drive with full lights through a dark and rainy night.
So, a perfect contact might get lost after exposure to corrosive circumstances. How can we prevent it? How can we repair it? Two important issues.
Prevent corrosion of electrical contacts:
Luigi Galvani discovered the principles of corrosion in the 18th century. His statement still stands: “Water in contact with bare metal provokes corrosion”. So tell me now: “How to prevent corrosion”? Indeed, take away the water. But, 71% of the earth surface is water and a relative humidity of 50% is normal. So, it is for sure, we are facing a serious problem.
But hasn’t nature an answer for most of our problems? Look at ducks. And I hear you thinking: “What the duck?”. But yes! The oily feathers of a duck are immune for water. Water just rolls off, doesn’t want to contact the feathers!
Great animals those ducks. Let’s copy. To protect an electrical contact, you have to cover the metal parts of the contact with a thin layer of oil. That’s simple!
Some might remember now their lessons of chemistry. There, the teacher told us, hydrocarbons (and oil is a hydrocarbon) are insulators. So, in theory we will loose the contact when there is an insulating oil film on it.
The trick is, to take a miserable lubricating oil. This means that the oil film can not take a lot of force. When the contacts close, the oil film splits. The metal contacts make a perfect electrical connection now. And about the corrosion, the contacts are still surrounded by the protective oil film.
When the contacts open again, the oil film must flow over the metal contact surfaces again. To do so, the oil needs to have a low surface tension and a low viscosity.
Let’s become practical. Treat all the electrical contacts on your bike with thin penetrating oil. Corrosion gets no chance on it.
Protective oil: CRC 5-56, CRC 2-26, Kontakt 61
Restore corroded contacts:
When the corrosion animal passed already, unpredictable interruptions of your electric circuit will occur.
Cleaning corrosion is easy. All we need is an acid. But, contradictionary, acid also provokes corrosion on bare metals. In this case, we will take acid oil. This oil isn’t too aggressive and needs some time to attack the metals. We will use this time to our benefit. Apply the acid oil on the corroded contact and allow it to dissolve the corrosion. This will take 5 to 10 minutes. Then rince the acid oil with the dissolved oxides away from the contact. You best use a mild solvent contact cleaner for this. The surface left, is now a clean, bare metal contact. But, beware! This metal contact is now an open invitation for corrosion. We have to protect it, by using thin penetrating oil, as described above.
Contacts cleaned in this manner will provide you with a long term satisfaction.
- Acid cleaning oil: CRC Oxide Clean, Kontakt 60
- Mild contact cleaner: CRC QD Contact Cleaner, Kontakt WL