Hello All, Our bits are coming out of the handle with corrosion on the tips even though we cleaned them right before putting them away the night before. We've been coring cottonwoods (Populus fremontii) that are frequently very wet, and we suspect a small amount of liquid is collecting in the handle each time we but the bit away. Vapors then cause corrosion overnight.
Has anyone had similar experience with their bits corroding while stored? If so, how did you clean out the handles or otherwise deal
with the problem?
Russ Carlson, (RCA, BCMA, ASCA Registered Consulting Arborist #354, ISA Board Certified Master Arborist PD-0008B, PNW Tree Risk Assessor #891, —ESF alumni RM’73) wrote:
The end cap of the handle tube can be unscrewed, facilitating a thorough cleaning of the handle. You may need a vise to get a firm grip.
The bit should never be placed in the handle until it has been properly cleaned. A light lubricant such as WD-40 is sprayed or dripped into the inside of the bit, twisting the bit to allow the lubricant to coat all sides. Put some on the outside of the bit also. Next, use a small bore (.17 or .22 caliber, for 5 mm bit) rifle cleaning kit. I find that two cleaning patches, one at a time, do a good job on the inside. I then use the second one to wipe down the outside of the bit before storing, being careful to get between the threads. Don’t forget to wipe down the extractor, too.
Use the same process on the handle tube, after removing the end cap. If you find there is collected rust, you will need to use a wire brush and corrosion solvent to remove it. If it is quite bad, consider replacing the handle. Good luck,
William (Ed) Wright writes:
I agree with Russ Carlson's comments, but would add a few things. I'm working a lot in very wet places (tropics/cloud forests), so this is an important issue for me.
(1) The end caps of many increment borers are now nylon or something similar. Unlike the metal end caps they are a press fit, so they do not really unscrew. They can be removed, but will never look the same afterward! After cleaning the rust etc. from the end cap (get down into the circular groove where the sharp edge of the borer bit will be sitting), spray the inside of the end cap with WD40. I try not to remove the nylon end caps very often, because they will gradually become loose. Also, if you're going to remove the nylon end cap, then plan to clean the entire inside of the handle. If you have rust in the end cap, then you probably have rust on the side walls of the handle as well. A related point for after cleaning the increment borer is to always tap the borer handle open side down on a rock or concrete floor to dislodge anything that shouldn't be inside the handle. Bits of twigs, leaves,
dirt, rust, and a small pool of water can end up in the circular slot of a nylon end cap, right where you are ready to put your clean borer bit.
(2) There's nothing wrong with spraying some WD40 into the handle down onto the end piece where the borer bit will be sitting. WD40 is great for driving out moisture (Similar products are available from other manufacturers). Remember to tap the borer open side down before spraying.
(3) After returning from the field, if you have the space, then leave the bits and extractors out of the handles after cleaning. This allows the handles to air dry. Ideally, you would have a stiff wire drying rack somewhere out of the way so that the bits and handle could be dried/stored semi-vertically.
(4) When I'm in the field (multi-day backpack trips) I use Kimwipes instead of gun patches. They are lighter and take less space than gun patches. Kimwipes are lint free paper used in chemistry labs. I'm sure there are other brands available. They are much tougher than other paper, but are still thin and absorbent.
(5) I also leave most of my 22 caliber gun cleaning kit at home when I'm backpack/tent sampling (except the brass brush). Wrapping a WD40 soaked Kimwipe (1/3 of a paper is the right amount) around the extractor tip can do an adequate job of cleaning the inside of the borer bit when you are in the mountains. The thorough cleaning can wait until you're back
in the lab.
(6) A tip from Rex Adams of the University of Arizona Tree Ring Lab... There is always some WD40 left in the bottom of the can. You can open the bottom with a can opener, after making certain that all the pressure is really gone of course! Even the small WD40 cans are a little big for a pants or vest pocket, so a small plastic dropper bottle full of WD40 is great for use in the field. Many dropper bottles for medicines (e.g. eye drops) can be reused for this.
(7) Finally, you might consider pressing the borer tip into a block of bees wax after cleaning and before replacing it in the handle. Bees wax blocks are available from Ben Meadows and Forestry Suppliers for lubricating the outside of the borer bits. I think coating the sharp end of the bit with wax before replacing it into a potentially wet handle is better protection than spraying the end with WD40. Good luck,