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Unsubmerging My Computer

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  • Homebuilt
  • Computer
  • File Server
  • Systems
Last response: in Systems
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October 3, 2009 6:14:25 AM

Hello Everyone,

Im not sure if this is the right forum for this, but im not sure where else it would go. I have a very old computer that i decided about 2 years ago to turn into an experiment and so I submerged in in mineral oil and overclocked it. Now I want to setup a very simple file server at my house and was thinking that using the parts from that machine would fit all my needs, only problem is... they are all soaking in mineral oil. My question is, are the parts recoverable? Everything still works now as is, but the computer cant run more than about 8 hours because the oil heats up. Would it be possible to take everything out and wash the mineral oil off with distiled water or something and let it completely dry out before hooking it up to power?


Thanks in advance!

Chris

More about : unsubmerging computer

October 3, 2009 2:57:24 PM

I would think so but I'm not sure what I would use to clean the parts.
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 3, 2009 3:03:38 PM

Well, since you cannot wash off oil with water, I kind of doubt that will work.
You can however buy large spray cans of electrical parts cleaner, which works very well to remove oil, dirt, grim etc. It sprays on wet, but soon drys and leaves no residue. I would give that a try, I use it on on electrical parts all the time at work, even ciruit boards on machinery, but I have never used it on PC parts.
I'd say that is about the best shot you have.
In retrospect, I have just got to throw this out. that mineral oil thing.......
Anyone with common sense could see so many undersirable drawbacks to putting your PC parts into a tub full of oil, it just defies logic that someone would actually follow through and copy the idea.
You have just discovered undesirable effect #9.
It comes in place right before undesirable effects #10 and #11, which are your house will smell like a fast food burger grease kitchen, and your wife will go postal on you for spilling oil all over the carpet.

Good luck, and let us know if you get it all clean and working again in under normal atmospheric conditions!
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 3, 2009 5:22:07 PM

You could always find a way to use a fan to cool the oil. That way the oil is just a big heatsink. Hopefully you can simply get it to a point where it can stay on all the time, then it doesn't matter that it's submerged. And the smell thing? In proper file server fashion it's supposed to be running where you don't normally hear it anyway. And in this case smell it...
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October 3, 2009 6:01:30 PM

Along the lines of jitpublisher, you might want to rent/borrow an air compressor if the spray can works. My guess is that it would cost you a lot of cans to get all of the oil off.
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October 3, 2009 8:27:25 PM

Clean-up is the worst part of using Mineral Oil to submerge a PC and why almost no one does it. I, being somewhat lazy, wouldn't bother with cleaning that mess and just get new, low cost parts to build a file server. You're going to spend about half of that budget on cleaning supplies anyway, and who knows if the parts will be any good when you're done.
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October 3, 2009 8:37:04 PM

scatrdfew has a good point, it will cost a lot to clean all of the oil off. Instead of buying low cost parts, perhaps you might want to just run your server in the oil?
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October 3, 2009 9:50:41 PM

I think if you submerge the parts in rubbing alcohol, gently shake, then let air dry... that would do the trick.

I've heard you have to use high concentrate alcohol but i'm not sure why.... i'm sure you can find articles about if you choose to go this route.

best
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October 3, 2009 10:44:50 PM

Mineral oil is non-polar and polar substances (like alcohol and water) won't dissolve it. You need to use a non-polar liquid, like hexane or acetone. Both are quite flammable, though (acetone the lesser of the two). You could nab a bottle of your wife's nail polish remover (acetone) for specific parts of the board, and wipe the rest off.

Honestly, I think you're better off hanging the board component side-down in a hot room for a few hours, then wiping it off with paper towels and such. That's not so expensive, but rather time consuming.
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 4, 2009 12:37:23 AM

frozenlead is right - you need some kind of solvent to remove it properly

perhaps buy some acetone and soak the components in it, and a finnisher - soak in methylated spirits (totally evaporates to nothing) for a minute to remove the other chemicals and allow to dry infront of a fan - that may be your best bet

chemicals like that are cheap (well cheaper then new components unless its really old etc)
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October 4, 2009 1:14:04 AM

Re-submerge it in some >70% pure rubbing/isopropyl alcohol, then hang it out to dry :D 
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October 11, 2009 6:03:50 PM

What I ended up doing was using Nascar Grade Oil/Grease remover, which sprays on, foams up, and then you rinse it off with water. I then let the components dry for 4 days outside in the sun. Everything seems to be working well. The components still have a bit of oil on them, but not much at all. I think that its leftover from the smaller holes. I used an air compressor to get the oil out of the smaller holes as much as possible.
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