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  #1  
Old 11-09-2009, 11:22 PM
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engine parts cleaning - What works?

I know it may sound a little silly, but I'm really jealous any time I see engines that still look fairly shiny (southern cars). Mine really isn't all that bad...mostly it's just that all the metal parts look like they've been soaking in oil that has penetrated the surface and no end of wiping/cleaning and detergents seems to make it look much better.

Would blasting the metal parts with some form of softer media work?
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1985 300SD - 'Grace' (198K mi.)
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  #2  
Old 11-09-2009, 11:25 PM
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I have always just squirted mine with a can of that stuff they sell at the parts stores that amounts to aerosol kerosene -- the "engine degreaser", I think Gunk or something is a name brand of it -- and then I take it to a car wash (or actually we own a pressure washer now) and blast the thing. Anything left after that treatment, I figure is just going to stay there and it doesn't bother me.
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  #3  
Old 11-10-2009, 12:19 AM
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I have done a variety fo different things to clean up the engine or parts of the engine.

First off I have done the car wash - drive there, spray everything down with degreaser, let sit for 5-10 minutes and then let 'er have it. (You may want to protect sensitive areas - electrical and IP for example).

Second, I have made my own generic home "hot tank" - placing a pulled part in a container just big enough to hold it - and filling with 50% degreaser and 50% boiling water. Do this in a well-ventilated area. I did it on the IP of my 240D because it was just covered inside and out in grease and gunk. After letting it sit for a couple hours, I actually took this to the car wash as well and sprayed it out. Took care of everything.

Finally, I always keep a couple cans of brake cleaner around (just buy the cheap knock-off brand - its all the same). I just clean the IP in my 300 the other day with breake cleaner and it was all shiny after a little rubbing with some shop towels. Be sure to wear gloves when handling the stuff and work outside or in a very well ventilated area.
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  #4  
Old 11-10-2009, 09:58 AM
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After an exhaust leak that I let go too long, my engine area is covered with soot. I did the Gunk and Car Wash routine with little success. Will the Brake Cleaner work better?
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  #5  
Old 11-10-2009, 10:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfikentscher View Post
After an exhaust leak that I let go too long, my engine area is covered with soot. I did the Gunk and Car Wash routine with little success. Will the Brake Cleaner work better?
Maybe. But it will take paint off too.

I cleaned 50 years of nasty off my '59 vw engine while it was out of the car- gunk cleaner, high pressure hot water, plenty of elbow grease, shop towels, brass and nylon bristle brushes, wooden scrapers... whatever it took.

The car washes where I am really frown on degreasing, and have been known to call the cops when they see someone's hood open. There is one place that for an extra $20 will let you take over while they go get a cup of coffee....
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  #6  
Old 11-10-2009, 01:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by my83300cd View Post
The car washes where I am really frown on degreasing, and have been known to call the cops when they see someone's hood open. There is one place that for an extra $20 will let you take over while they go get a cup of coffee....
Wow - extreme car washing. I was thinking of the self-service places. The one close to my house is unattended. Where are you at that it is illegal to degrease in the car wash? Most of the self-serve car washes I have seen actually have a selection for engine cleaning. $20 to pray your engine is quite a racket they have going on there.
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  #7  
Old 11-10-2009, 01:34 PM
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I'm actually seriously contemplating a small bead blasting cabinet now.

The parts that I've tried so far...I've used the brake cleaners, degreasers, etc. I've scrubbed them...used wire brushes. Nothing really seems to work as well as what I'm wanting.
Based on some small parts I've blasted years ago, I think that this would be a great solution. Don't need anything really too big. And the frequency that I would use it wouldn't mean that I'd be spending much on media. Plus...it'd just be fun.
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  #8  
Old 11-10-2009, 01:48 PM
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It is probably out of your budget but I used to work for a company that used a high pressure water system that incorporated plastic beads - we were cleaning aircraft wheels and aircraft brake parts.

I think the machine was more expensive than a very comfortable four bedroom house at the time but this was nearly 20 years ago so may be there is a hobby version now... I haven't been in the market for anything like this so I can't actually point you in the right direction - however there is always a danger of removing more than you want with these sorts of machines. Even with my cheap cheap cheap pressure washer with the most aggressive high pressure attachment fitted I can quite easily erode concrete surfaces and strip paint off of some surfaces.
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  #9  
Old 11-10-2009, 07:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tankowner View Post
Wow - extreme car washing. I was thinking of the self-service places. The one close to my house is unattended. Where are you at that it is illegal to degrease in the car wash? Most of the self-serve car washes I have seen actually have a selection for engine cleaning. $20 to pray your engine is quite a racket they have going on there.
Lot of the local town near me in CT do not have wastewater treatment plants. The storm runnoff goes right into local lakes and long Island Sound.
Carwashes need permits about what they are allowed to do with the waste water, and recycling the water is a big enough pain in the ass without having people add extra oil and grease...

$20 is cheap compared to the required 'save the water and allow to evaporate. Dispose of solids in a legal hazardous waste dump'
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83 300CD 370k, gone away
89 190E 2.6- 335k, no more
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59 VW Beetle ragtop- 175k miles
12 VW Jetta- 140k miles
76 MG Midget, 60k miles pos
77 MG Midget in boxes, next project...
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  #10  
Old 11-10-2009, 09:55 PM
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If it's still attached to the car, scrape off anything loose, spray it down with Simple Green at full strength, scrub with a nylon or brass bristle brush and then wash it off.

If it's a loose part, you can soak it in simple green and do all of the above.

If it's aluminum or think it's an aluminum alloy, avoid any of the alkaline treatments. They will corrode the metal very quickly.

If you want a factory look to a part, there are all sorts of plating steps you could try, like a "rainbow" coating or phosphate. However to get the texture "right", it's not glass bead or walnut shells or anything else applied at pressure, it's metal shards in a tumbler. That last advice comes from Chris Johnson, who's a fanatic about things being "to factory spec".

Thx -CTH
PS. Don't soak it too long in Simple Green either.
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  #11  
Old 11-10-2009, 10:37 PM
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cth350:

"...it's metal shards in a tumbler."

VERY interesting.
btw...I've done the simple green, brake cleaner, metal brushes (and even the green scrub pads). The parts are squeeky clean...but they still have a very dulled and darkish look to them. It's that original shiny'ish new metal look that I'm after. That's a real bummer if it turns out that bead blasting won't do it.
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  #12  
Old 11-10-2009, 10:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ck42 View Post
cth350:

"...it's metal shards in a tumbler."

VERY interesting.
btw...I've done the simple green, brake cleaner, metal brushes (and even the green scrub pads). The parts are squeeky clean...but they still have a very dulled and darkish look to them. It's that original shiny'ish new metal look that I'm after. That's a real bummer if it turns out that bead blasting won't do it.
Since they are clean I guess its time to start polishing them...me, I figure if they a clean+stay that way=no leaks. If that were true I could stand the 26 years and 325k+miles of patina. But then, I don't own a show car
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77 300D, new addition to the fleet
83 300CD 370k, gone away
89 190E 2.6- 335k, no more
79 VW FI Bus- 145k miles, summer driver
59 VW Beetle ragtop- 175k miles
12 VW Jetta- 140k miles
76 MG Midget, 60k miles pos
77 MG Midget in boxes, next project...
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  #13  
Old 11-10-2009, 11:30 PM
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Don't get me wrong...not trying to make anything close to a show car here. Was just interested in seeing if there WAS a way to actually just clean these engine parts and be able to get them looking nice again. From what I gather so far, this isn't the case....or at least not w/o going to some more extremes.
(I'd still LOVE to have my own bead blaster though!
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  #14  
Old 11-11-2009, 01:13 AM
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Biodiesel is the best cleaner I have come across especially around diesel engines.

I also use it on the rubber trims which it brings up like new leaving them soft, only put a smidge on a cloth then wipe over sparingly - do not soak or leave in contact as some rubber will soften.

To get that new metal look on aluminium try using T cut or Brasso, sorry about the brand names but hope you have similar - ones a paint cutting compound the other a metal polish.
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  #15  
Old 11-11-2009, 01:56 AM
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If yu'll search the archives...

You'll find "Polishing" Mercedes Aluminum engine components is an avocation
with some owners...(At the end stage you end up with an Aluminum Polish just
slightly less gritty than Jeweler's Rouge)
It is possible to achieve a "Mirror Finish."

I've seen one person do this with the 15 hole alloy wheels...The final stage was
almost talcum powder consistency Corn dust.
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