Although I live in the desert (and yes, throw my gear in the sand sometimes!), I don’t have to clean my cams very often. When they get sticky and don’t re-cam after you let go of the trigger, it’s time to fix them up, for obvious reasons…
I am a huge fan of Aliens. From the black up to the red, I think they are the all-time best small gear ever made (I like the Metolius cams from big fingers size and up). Nothing else has ever come close to Aliens, in my opinion, for weight, versatility, pin scars (especially the red one!), cam spacing, and all around awesomeness. Anyway, I’m really glad I have some, because tragically they are no longer being produced…isn’t it always the way, that the very best gear somehow ends up going obsolete? (Please, someone buy Colorado Custom Hardware, and make them again, please!!! And if anyone wants to sell any red ones, let me know!).
These little Aliens do require some extra care (especially because they are now treasured, irreplaceable gear!). There’s just not that much range of motion on those mini-sized lobes, and if they’re sticky, they might not do their job at the crucial moment, through no fault of their own. I’ve been using them a lot recently, and it’s time to clean these guys up. And reflect once more on how much I love them
I was shown this method once in Camp 4. Get a piece of cardboard (a medium sized box made flat is good), a pot you don’t care about (I like to use a can), and some Tri flow or WD 40 or pretty much any kind of bike or chain lube. Lay out your cams, and treat each one with the lube. Squirt it everywhere, and work the trigger until the action is good. (If it’s not, you have other issues.) If you are heating up the water in the can nearby, keep in mind that this stuff is flammable. Also, try to keep the slings dry.
Now get some water boiling in your can, and one by one, hold the cam so just the head is in the boiling water. Don’t let the piece touch the metal of the can or pot. You are just using the boiling water to scrub away the excess lubricant, so it will be clean and won’t attract sand and dirt.
Lay each one down as you finish and let them drip dry. While you are doing this, you can scheme up ways to steal Aliens from your climbing partners. Not that you would ever do that.
Alternatively, you could think about your next desert trip…