Atlantic Illumination Entertainment Lighting

AIEL Shop Tips


Many repairs and frustrations can be delayed or even
eliminated if these simple procedures are established.


Be aware neither Atlantic Illumination, nor its owner
and employees will be responsible for any problems
encountered as a result of following or not following
the procedures here. This is only a guideline. You
must decide the suitability of the steps given, and
be responsible for the results of your own work.



Lighting Fixtures


Shop Equipment



Lubrication Tips

The products suggested in this discussion
are available from AIEL.
Purchase Lubricants and Solvents



Lubricants promote quieter and smoother operation, so
their usage means less effort on the part of machinery
and humans. Choosing the correct product and then
employing appropriate application procedures will
maximise the effectiveness of your upkeep work.

    For those of you that may wish to print this page and use it to check off each step as it is completed, a Text Version is provided.

    Types: These can take the forms of oils, greases, silicones, or waxes and polishes. They provide protection from tarnish and rust, but also create a friction-reducing layer between surfaces, so ease of movement is promoted.

    Some products stick better and longer because they are more viscous or have properties that promote adherence. In particular, greases, petroleum jelly, and thick silicone such as LPS will not run after application.

    Before Lubing: For maximum effectiveness, lubrication duties should be preceded with cleaning. Remove dirt, dust, left-over adhesives, fibre and hair buildup, spilled food or drink, and old lubricants which will likely contain grit.

    Oiled or greased parts can be wiped with an unused rag, or by using mineral spirits if they are particularly grimy. Siliconed parts can be wiped off, or use lacquer thinner to remove it completely. Be sure to first test plastics to which the thinner will contact in case it dulls or deforms them. Turn rags frequently so as to present a fresh surface. Not turning often enough may redeposit what you are trying to remove.

    Some parts, such as linear potentiometers, can be cleaned with compressed air. Be cautious regarding the amount of pressure applied, though.

    Time Frame: How often one cleans and lubricates will depend on the severity of the environment, the amount of usage of the equipment or items, and how much abuse each of them takes. Some items that seem to need regular applications might benefit from using a more viscous product or one which coating adheres longer.

  A general schedule of frequency
  based on moderate usage might be:

  Presented now are some specific
  procedures for various categories:

*   Lighting Fixtures

    Protection: When doing any maintenance on stage lighting fixtures, you must protect lamps, lenses, reflectors, and internal colour filters. Particular caution needs to be taken with coated lenses and reflectors. At the minimum, lubricants on any of the above surfaces can cause them to be compromised, thus reducing their effectiveness and efficiency. While at the maximum, their capabilities will be ruined. So either completely cover these items or move them to a safe place while doing the work.

    Cleaning: Now clean the parts to be lubricated. How this is done depends on what the part is, and whether the unit is being disassembled for an overhaul. If it is the latter, please select the appropriate link from the Lighting Fixture Maintenance Table of Contents, and follow those instructions before returning here.

    Otherwise, wipe oiled parts with an unused rag, using mineral spirits if they are particularly grimy. Siliconed parts can also be wiped off, or use lacquer thinner to remove it completely, remembering to first test its affect on plastics. Turn rags frequently so as to not redeposit what you are trying to remove.

    Buffing: If metal parts are tarnished, use a wire brush or electric buffer to bring the surfaces back to bare again. Be careful that the wire bristles do not scratch sensitive surfaces. Consider using a brush with brass bristles instead of steel, and use the side of the bristles when buffing.

    Applying Product: To lubricate, either spray directly onto the surface, or if spray back splashes or covers too far afield, use a medicine dropper or an applicator with a foam swab to absorb the lubricant and then apply. Two cautions here are to keep droppers and swabs in labeled containers so as to not mix products, and also to not use fibre swabs that might shed cotton or rayon onto your work.

    When applying grease or petroleum jelly, a large tooth pick or similar will provide more precision, and it will keep the amount deposited from becoming excessive. For large gear systems, apply with a tongue depresser. Manually operate the gear mechanism to distribute the grease and to be sure all surfaces are adequately covered.

  Suggested Products:

   As a stage lighting company most of the products listed on this
webpage are available through us: Purchase Lubricants and Solvents.


*   Electronics

    Heat: The Number 1 enemy of electronics is heat. Maintaining proper ventilation by cleaning out dust is a start, but lubrication of moving and sliding parts is a must, as well. After removing dust and fibres from any fans, locate their main hubs or oil spouts and apply a small amount of a medium-viscousity oil. Be sure to remove any debris that falls onto the electronic circuits.

    Circuit Boards: Removable board trays should have their sliding edges cleaned and siliconed. Card contacts can be restored with a clean pencil eraser. Be gentle here with the eraser; gold is a soft metal. Brush away any eraser remnants using an anti-static brush. Before reinstalling the card, some techs will apply a coating of contact restorer, but this is unnecessary if the contacts are gold plated. For cards that are bolted in, do not over tighten because excess pressure might crack circuit boards.

    Integrated Circuits: Socketed ICs can become problematic if their leads become tarnished. Resistance increases so circuit values change and equipment begins to perform erratically. The solution is to remove each IC and carefully scrape the leads with a knife back to shiny. One may then apply with a swab a minimal amount of contact restorer before replacing the IC and moving onto the next.

    WARNING!: You are strongly cautioned to leave the above procedure to a trained tech. It should only be performed if equipment is not operating correctly and all other reasons have been eliminated. Some of the problems that can be encountered are bent leads, ICs reinserted backward, over-usage of the restorer causing contact issues of its own. Static destruction of the IC chips is possible in dry weather if one does not wear a wrist strap that bleeds away static charges.

    Other Electronic Components: Switch contacts and potentiometers should be coated with a lubricating contact restorer. Apply directly into the switch mechanisms using just small amounts so as to prevent drips on to circuit boards. A medicine dropper works better for this purpose than a spray dispenser. Operate the switch or control several times from its minimum through its maximum range immediately after application so as to aid the cleaning action, and to spread the restorer's protective coating.

    Electrical Connectors: Outlets on dimmer packs can benefit from spraying light oil into each connection opening. Do this with the power off, and keep the amount used to a minimum. You may do this to the plugs, as well. Remove tarnish from the prongs with a wire bush or buffer before applying product. These methods will help protect the contacts against corrosion, and will make plugging and unplugging go much more smoothly.

    Computers: Remember to include shop computers as part of this work. They can benefit especially from the cleaning phase due to their internal fans drawing in dust-laden shop air. If cards are removed during dry weather, it is advised to wear an anti-static wrist strap.

  Suggested Products:

*   Shop Equipment

    Protection: Your shop tools will work better with less wear if they are maintained. Part of this means lubricating some of them a few times a year, while others may need it after only a few uses. At the minimum, metal surfaces on drivers, pliers, hammer heads and other hand tools should be buffed and then protected against corrosion with a light oil. Use a foaming oil to reach metal surfaces that are not accessible.

    Power Tools: Moving parts require oil or grease to operate properly. This is especially true regarding power tools because they will overheat without lubrication. Lithium grease is excellent here because it can handle high temperatures. Lighter tools can use Fluid Film, as it too has a wide temperature range.

    Cutting Tools: Those implements that cut, shear, or bore will benefit from silicone or oil in that friction is reduced, thus making for an easier cut and less heat buildup. Use silicone on the blades of hand tools where oil staining the work might be a problem. Oil is preferred for drill bits because it will also draw away the heat built up during cutting. Actual cutting oils are available for this purpose, but unless you are dealing with very hard materials that take time to cut, viscous products such as 5W motor oil, mineral oil, or Fluid Film should suffice.

    Vacuum Cleaner: This should first be cleaned thouroughly. Lubricating while dust remains will form a slurry that can impede proper working. Remove the drum and empty the contents; wash the drum and all hoses thoroughly and set aside to dry. Clean or replace all filters. Those that can handle water should be washed and allowed to fully dry. Blow out the motor and its housing with compressed air; some disassembly may be required.

    Parts to lubricate with oil are the motor and casters. For the hose and fittings that slide together or rotate, use silicone.

  Suggested Products:

*   Workshop

    Work spaces contain many rolling, moving, and sliding parts. Keeping them in top shape makes for a non-frustrating time when there is work to be done. In addition, using silicone on lamp bases whenever they are replaced will prevent them from seizing, especially with screw-in types. Some items, such as casters, may have to be disassembled in order to reach the parts to be lubricated. As always, clean before applying lubricants.

  Suggested Products:

*   Vehicle

    Outside of professional automotive repair shops which will do your oil changes and grease work, there are vehicle items that you can maintain yourself. As discussed in other categories, cleaning parts first is always a good idea.

  Suggested Products:

*   Lubrication Tips

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Your Archives

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