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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Handy DIY Tip - Ordinary Rubbing Alcohol As An Assembly Lubricant

Ever tried to slide some tight-fitting shrink tubing or "spaghetti" tubing onto a wire or other object and had it bind about 1/3 to 1/2 of the way way on? This can be a real problem where one does NOT want to leave oil or soap residue on the objects being assembled. My solution for these situations: Ordinary rubbing alcohol from the drug store or grocery store. Rubbing alcohol will wet the inside of the tubing and the object itself, allowing the parts to slide more easily, but unlike oil or soap it will NOT leave a permanent residue. The alcohol will dry much faster than water, lessening the chances of corrosion or oxidation.

I came up with this several years ago and have used it repeatedly since then. This works on tight-fitting hoses and fittings, heat shrink tubing or insulating sleeves for electrical cables, etc. Obviously one wants to be careful about getting too much into electrical wiring where it might short things out or cause a shock hazard.

My boss today at the company I work at part-time was struggling with a home-made handle for an angle grinder. He had a piece of rubber insulation he had taken off a piece of scrap battery cable and was trying to slide this onto a large bolt that would form the new handle for the grinder. The rubber tubing had slid part way onto the bolt and jammed like a Chinese finger lock; he could not go any farther forward, nor could he even pull the thing back off the bolt! I suggested the rubbing alcohol trick, which worked quite well. The rubber tubing slid onto the bolt with little further adieu.

Hope this helps someone.

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