racer_ace New Reader
June 19, 2009 8:26 p.m.

I am confused. I have read through some of the old threads that dealt with cleaning and de-greasing aluminum parts. It sounds like everything from Purple Power to Easy-Off can be used...with a risk of causing damage. It also sounds like Simple Green is a definite no-no. I do not want to etch, oxidize, or corode the surface. Is my safest be to mix some Dawn and water in a spray bottle? Is their any other safe products out there for cleaning and de-greasing aluminum engine parts?

P.S. I am not looking to saturate and hose down the hole engine bay. I want to clean some specific components by hand.

Thanks,

Ray

Per Schroeder Technical Editor/Advertising Director
June 19, 2009 8:36 p.m.

Are they polished? If so, avoid the Purple Power, otherwise, it can be used on aluminum just fine. I just wouldn't leave them in the stuff for weeks.

NOHOME New Reader
June 19, 2009 9:25 p.m.

OK, I missed the simple greee warning and just finished cleaning the bugeye carbs in the stuff?!

The observable results were great. All grease and grime gone. I tossed then parts in a coffee can with 25% SG and 75% water and boiled on the barbeque for about 1.5 hours.

So what is the downside awaiting me?

Pete

P71 SuperDork
June 19, 2009 10:56 p.m.

I like oven cleaner (non-smelly) if used outside. The only downside is it will eat any clearcoat (like on wheels) but then you can polish. I did these ~ a year ago:

cb
cb New Reader
June 19, 2009 11:01 p.m.

please pardon what is probably a dumb question but what brand is non smelly i have some wheels i would like to try this on.

scottgib New Reader
June 19, 2009 11:25 p.m.

Most oven cleaners have a good bit of sodium hydroxide and that stuff will eat alumium.

Do the orange based cleaners have a warning?

Trans_Maro Reader
June 19, 2009 11:44 p.m.
scottgib wrote: Most oven cleaners have a good bit of sodium hydroxide and that stuff will eat alumium.

Takes your fingerprints off too!

Shawn

P71 SuperDork
June 19, 2009 11:46 p.m.

Non-smelly is the new, hippie-approved, environmentally friendly Easy-Off. I forget the actual name, but I think it's "No Odor" or something like that.

1 can did 4 14" wheels front and back that were totally painted. Absolutely no eating at the aluminum, even a year later.

I cleaned them with Dawn and water a lot after the oven cleaner was hosed off (so I could spray the centers bronze) and then I polished the lips with Mother's in a can. The backsides were left bare. I rotated wheels last week and the insides still looked new, no pitting.

racer_ace New Reader
June 19, 2009 11:46 p.m.

In reply to Per Schroeder:

Per,

Thanks. I will try some Purple Power then. I am cleaning some of the parts on my RX-7; the outside surfaces of the throttle body housing, VDI chamber, upper and lower intake manifolds, etc.

-Ray

EPcivic New Reader
June 20, 2009 7:26 a.m.

I bet you'd be amazed at how well just using a lot of Palmolive dish soap works for cleaning parts. That stuff is amazing and no risk of etching your parts.

-Chris

June 20, 2009 7:49 a.m.
EPcivic wrote: I bet you'd be amazed at how well just using a lot of Palmolive dish soap works for cleaning parts. That stuff is amazing and no risk of etching your parts. -Chris

Yup, it's always best to start out with mild cleaners and then work your way up if they don't get all the dirt. For heavy duty cleaning of non-clear coated aluminum I like using wheel cleaner - Eagle One has (or at least use to) a spray cleaner that's designed specifically for raw aluminum, the cleaners designed for use with clear coated wheels isn't as strong. NAPA also sells a serious etching aluminum cleaner with warnings all over the spray bottle that works really well, but you NEED to wear gloves and eye protection - it's nasty stuff.

YaNi Reader
June 20, 2009 8:28 a.m.

You can make some etching wheel cleaner with a solution of hydrochloric acid (muriatic acid) and water (I use a 1:3 ratio). It works great on removing aluminum corrosion. Followed quickly with some Eastwood Metal Wash and you can keep the corrosion at bay long enough to paint/powder coat the part.

FYI - Aluminum DOES corrode, Try cleaning a part and then let it sit around for a week. It will have a chalky buildup, aka corrosion.

DILYSI Dave SuperDork
June 20, 2009 2:56 p.m.

Never used palmolive, but dawn is good stuff. I generally use it as the first round to get the majority of the crap, then as the last round to clean up any chemical residue from the intermediate rounds.

The BEST thing I've eve used to clean an engine bay was a siphon feed pressure washer that was sucking mineral spirits. That engine bay looked brand new when I was done.

Teegee
Sept. 21, 2009 1:30 p.m.

In reply to DILYSI Dave:

I used some heavy duty de-greasing liquid to clean the aluminum wheels, (sorry, not some exotic car or wheels), on my Buick Regal. I put too much solution on the wheels and it left lots of 'creamy' etched streaks on the wheels. I'm assuming the wheels have a type of sealant on them. How can I safely and inexpensively remove the marks and restore the wheels to a clean finish?

914Driver SuperDork
Sept. 21, 2009 1:39 p.m.
Teegee wrote: How can I safely and inexpensively remove the marks and restore the wheels to a clean finish?

If you find out let me know. The PO of my BMW bike did something like that, wheels are pacockta.

Hot water with Dawn is my weapon of choice. If you go too aggressive or too chemical, you can't go back. Dawn, but if that doesn't work, step it up to oven cleaner and such.

I had an oil leak at the rear of my Samurai valve cover that ran down the inspection port and all over the clutch and flywheel. 44Dwarf suggested Dawn, hot water and a pressurized spray bottle, like a pesticide sprayer. Worked GREAT!!

Dan

amg_rx7 Reader
Sept. 21, 2009 1:50 p.m.
racer_ace wrote: In reply to Per Schroeder: Per, Thanks. I will try some Purple Power then. I am cleaning some of the parts on my RX-7; the outside surfaces of the throttle body housing, VDI chamber, upper and lower intake manifolds, etc. -Ray

For those parts, I've used regular all purpose cleaner (like Fantastic) and sometimes Gunk foamy engine degreaser. I've found that it works best if I use something like Fantastic or soap and water or some kind of degreaser that is safe on aluminum and use a small brush (toothbrush or nail brush) to work the dirt out. Then hose off with water.

After degreasing and scrubbing, I've used wire wheels on my power drill to clean off some of the aluminum suspension control arms. Then followed up with some aluminum polish compound on a polishing wheel drill bit thing. Turned out pretty well.

On my last engine rebuild, I had the intake manifolds ceramic coated in a silver/chrome finish.

P71 SuperDork
Sept. 21, 2009 2:31 p.m.

That cream stuff you guys are getting is the factory clearcoat coming off of the wheels. The only way to fix it is to strip them completely bare and re-clearcoat or polish them.

bigwrench Reader
Sept. 21, 2009 3:00 p.m.

We have Magic Mix Alum. Brightener.Magic Mix Aluminum Brightener is a foam cleaner that brightens wheels, racing engines, engine blocks, fuel tanks, fishing boats and more. Its thick foaming action leaves a radiant surface with every use, and no residue is left behind. Go to www.bigwrenchracing.com and you can find it on the polish page. Per has used our stuff before.

bigwrench Reader
Sept. 21, 2009 3:08 p.m.

They also use it to clean new aluminum boat trailers before delivery.

walterj Dork
Sept. 21, 2009 3:10 p.m.

Doesn't anybody use good 'ol Gunk? I have had good success just putting things in a big keg tub and soaking them in engine brite, gunk, whatever brand of engine degreaser is on the local shelves. It all smells like kerosene so I suspect it isn't going to harm metals.

Jensenman SuperDork
Sept. 21, 2009 3:54 p.m.

Purple Power will also turn some aluminum alloys gray, mostly carburetors etc. If you need to clean an aluminum engine with PP, have a pressure washer handy, spray the COLD! engine, give it about 5 minutes then pressure wash (rinse?) the crap out of it with straight water. A garden hose won't develop enough pressure to rinse the residue off. If the engine is run and heated up several times with PP residue, said residue becomes sorta permanent.

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