contact treating : Computer Hardware Buyers’ Glossary


contact treating
For contact treating you will need the following materials: In building, repairing or refurbishing computers a recommend you CramIStab (Cramolin, Isopranol, Stabilant treatment) the contacts. — using an electrical contact treament of Caig Labs DexoxIT (née Cramolin) followed by an isopropranol rinse, then Stabilant.

I swab a few drops of Stabilant 22A contact enhancer into the contacts of all female electrical connectors. I clean all male connectors with Caig Laboratories DeoxIT (née Cramolin Red R100L) contact cleaner and preservative, rinse with 99% isopropanol and swab on Stabilant to finish.

You can get foam tib swabs at any electrical supply store. There are much better than cotton swabs since they don’t leave any whispy residue which can interfere with the contact.

If you can’t get Stabilant and DeoxIT, try for Tweak, which is watered down Stabliant and R55 which is watered down DeoxIT. Caig makes a similar product to DeoxIT called PreserveIT (née Cramolin Blue) that does not clean, just preserves contacts. That will do if you are working with brand new equipment. Normally though you want DeoxIT, especially when novices have been getting greasy thumbprints on the contacts.

This treatment keeps your contacts from tarnishing and forgives any poor mechanical contacts. For contacts that will be repeatedly disconnected and reconnected, I leave off the Stabilant because it is sticky and attracts dust. I treat every metal to metal electrical contact in a computer, even the AC (Alternating Current) power prongs. This voodoo seems to make computers ultra reliable. People tell me CramIStabbed computers I built for them over 25 years ago are still running without a hiccup.

The treatment also works great on batteries, phone jacks, computer component connectors, battery terminals, AC sockets, light bulbs, Christmas tree lights, stereo connections, detachable kettle contacts, keyboard connectors… basically any place electricity flows from metal to metal.

In the old days, people used to clean contacts with a Pink Pearl eraser. That is no longer recommended. Today’s gold plating is so thin and delicate you will easily wear it off.

DeoxIT works by forming a one-molecule thick film on the contacts that gets out the way when they are pressed together. Otherwise it protects the air from getting at the bare metal and corroding it. You need only the tiniest whiff for it to work. It tends to spread around by casual contact, like a beneficial virus, improving contacts everywhere.

Stabilant works because it is a liquid semiconductor that normally insulates, but becomes conductive in the presence of an electric field. This enables it to bridge the gaps between mechanically imperfectly fitting connectors, or connectors that pry loose slightly under thermal expansion and contraction stresses. You need to be more generous with it than DeoxIT because it has to fill in any gaps, between the contacts.

I have been a Cramolin/Stabilant fan and cheerleader since the early 80s, having learned of them from Byte’s Jerry Pournelle and friends on BIX (Byte Information Exchange). Stabilant’s inventor came to visit me. He was a colourful character who reminded me a bit of the late Dr. John Cunningham Lilly.

This contract treating regimen is especially useful in stopping thermally intermittent problems, e.g. problems that occur only when the computer is cold or only when it is running hot. You be amazed at how the most cranky temperamental computer turns into a rock solid workhorse after you methodically clean and treat every contact in it. Dirty electrical contacts and worn fan bearings are the two most common causes of computer failure.

A quick wipe of DeoxIT from time to time on the debit card gold contact keeps it working smoothly. If the contact gets dirty, the reader will think your card has no chip. Doing this also helps clean the contacts inside merchant machines and indirectly the cards of other customers. DeoxIT works with a film even one molecule thick.


Grease and dust are the two types of dirt that cause trouble in computers. You blow out dust with a can of compressed air. Especially watch the fans and cooling fins. You have to be careful not to get dust in contacts. Clean out the dust before you remove any cards. The dust can block cooling air causing your components to overheat and fail.

Any time you remove cards from a computer, follow static precautions.


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