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Ideas to clean engine parts(getting rid of sludge)

Practical Engine Building

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Hey guys

Wanted to know what guys do to clean their engine parts. Any suggestions?

Brake cleaner. Diesel.

If wife is away, dishwasher.

Kerosene in recirculating parts washer. Available easily in 5 gal containers at the hardware store.

Mineral spirits, brake cleaner, and sometimes carburetor cleaner.

For some really badly encrusted stuff, sometimes oven cleaner works - but make sure there is GOOD(!) ventilation - the caustic fumes can kill!

As Gord suggested domestic oven or bbq cleaners work well. I’ve soaked cylinder heads in citra clean overnight to remove carbon and it’s then just rinsed off in the parts washer with Swarfega Jizer, followed by an ultrasonic and dip in the hot tank or vapour blast to get it better than new.

Just a note on vapour blasting - it does bring things back to brand new if not better than oem. But, make sure you remove all of the media (glass head normally) and if you aren't sure... Wash it again. Or as Scott mentioned the use of a ultrasonic bath.

There are products on the market for cleaning coke off of valves - something to be wary with these is how corrosive they can be to aluminium so not to be used on pistons etc, I have seen someone try to avoid the manual cleaning by leaving a set of pistons in such a cleaner and then had to write the pistons off!

Things like iron blocks etc can be acid dipped and I do this as a matter of caution to remove all sediment from the water and oil galleries. Chemical dipping is a good way of cleaning blocks and heads as long as they are inspected and thoroughly cleaned afterwards. Removing all drain plugs and core plugs before sending them to dip, speak with your local dipping firms as they will have a lot of experience with a variety of materials.

Excellent reminder that aluminium, magnesium, and some other parts can be destroyed by some cleaners - READ THE LABEL!

Aluminium and magnesium, for example, are VERY reactive metals but they form a transparent, protective oxide layer* which blocks excessive corrosion - some cleaners will strip that layer off and react with the underlying metal!

*Why they can be hard anodised in different colours as well as clear.

Those are great ideas team.

I personally have access to diesel so that's my number one go to. I have tried oven cleaner on a spare old cracked crank and man that worked like a champ too. I haven't yet experienced cleaning parts with ultrasonic bath but I heard it requires least elbow grease

What do people do for rust removal? I tried electrolysis yesterday and I was blown away with the results. I'll post some updates pics of before and after soon.

Have any of you seen this? This simple DIY electrolysis tank seems to be quite effective.


Dry ice cleaning -- expensive, but amazing.

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