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Old 08-16-2010, 03:04 PM   #1
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Default What's the best solvent for cleaning aluminum heads?

Have the heads off an OHV V twin mower. The valves are sticking, guides have heavy varnish from bad gas. Need something to clean that and the carbon from the valves and combustion chamber.
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Old 08-16-2010, 03:05 PM   #2
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Oven cleaner works great, just don't let it sit for days on end and wash it with plenty of water when you're done.
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Old 08-16-2010, 03:12 PM   #3
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Oven cleaner works great, just don't let it sit for days on end and wash it with plenty of water when you're done.


Do not put oven cleaner on aluminum unless you want to dissolve it immediately.

I learned this lesson years ago while trying to clean a aluminum piston of a model airplane engine.
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Old 08-16-2010, 03:12 PM   #4
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Sea Foam.
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Old 08-16-2010, 03:22 PM   #5
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Do not put oven cleaner on aluminum unless you want to dissolve it immediately.

I learned this lesson years ago while trying to clean a aluminum piston of a model airplane engine.
It doesn't dissolve aluminum quickly. At least the stuff available today doesn't.
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Old 08-16-2010, 03:32 PM   #6
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It doesn't dissolve aluminum quickly. At least the stuff available today doesn't.
I used Easy Off oven cleaner and it basically boiled the aluminum, bubbled and spit like crazy. It left the surface very pitted and dark gray.
This was in the late 70's though so they might have changed the formula since then.
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Old 08-16-2010, 03:35 PM   #7
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Just use carb cleaner, you know, the stuff made for removing that sort of thing from an aluminum carb.
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Old 08-16-2010, 03:36 PM   #8
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I used Easy Off oven cleaner and it basically boiled the aluminum, bubbled and spit like crazy. It left the surface very pitted and dark gray.
This was in the late 70's though so they might have changed the formula since then.
High acid content will do that.

TPFKATK: I wouldn't use Easy Off if it has a high acid content, particularly muriatic or sulfuric acid. Have you tried mineral spirits or engine degreaser?
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Old 08-16-2010, 03:43 PM   #9
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High acid content will do that.

TPFKATK: I wouldn't use Easy Off if it has a high acid content, particularly muriatic or sulfuric acid. Have you tried mineral spirits or engine degreaser?
Weird, it has NaOH and some kind of compound with a high ph.



http://www.wired.com/science/discove...-06/st_easyoff

Anyway, I've used it to clean aluminum intakes and timing covers without problems. Like I said, don't let it sit forever and wash it with plenty of water when you're done.
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Old 08-16-2010, 03:47 PM   #10
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Weird, it has NaOH and some kind of compound with a high ph.



http://www.wired.com/science/discove...-06/st_easyoff

Anyway, I've used it to clean aluminum intakes and timing covers without problems. Like I said, don't let it sit forever and wash it with plenty of water when you're done.


Crap you're right, I knew I should have checked under the kitchen sink first.

I got it crossed with the old Works Toilet cleaner experiment.

Guess that means my meth lab is probably a bust.
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Old 08-16-2010, 03:53 PM   #11
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Crap you're right, I knew I should have checked under the kitchen sink first.

I got it crossed with the old Works Toilet cleaner experiment.

Guess that means my meth lab is probably a bust.
If you've ever had it on your fingers (I don't recommend this) you'd know immediately that it's a base.

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Old 08-16-2010, 03:54 PM   #12
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Have the heads off an OHV V twin mower. The valves are sticking, guides have heavy varnish from bad gas. Need something to clean that and the carbon from the valves and combustion chamber.
I'm not sure if there is much in the way of a spray cleaner that will completely remove carbon buildup on the valves and chambers. If they were mine, I'd pull them apart, clean them with solvent, bead blast the chambers and take the valves to a wire wheel.
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Old 08-16-2010, 03:54 PM   #13
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If you've ever had it on your fingers (I don't recommend this) you'd know immediately that it's a base.

Yup, I hated cleaning apartment ovens.
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Old 08-16-2010, 06:12 PM   #14
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Put them in here and walk away for a couple hours.

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Old 08-16-2010, 06:16 PM   #15
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I'm not sure if there is much in the way of a spray cleaner that will completely remove carbon buildup on the valves and chambers. If they were mine, I'd pull them apart, clean them with solvent, bead blast the chambers and take the valves to a wire wheel.
Well that's also what I'd do. You have no business getting this deep into an engine unless you own a blast cabinet. But even then I frequently use oven cleaner to take off the dirt before using the glass beads to refresh the finish on the aluminum.
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Old 08-16-2010, 07:00 PM   #16
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Hmm. Online research mentions acetone, mek, and xylene but the vast majority just say "solvent". I want to stay away from blasting:
Quote:
Glass beads are very hard and abrasive. When soft aluminum parts are blasted in a glass bead machine, we have found that some of those same beads that do such a great job of cleaning, get stuck in the metal. You can try to shake them out, blow them out, wash them out, or use any other method you may want to try to get rid of the beads, but some of those glass beads still seem to remain in the part. They get in bolt holes and spark plug threads, oil passages, and cooling system passages. But perhaps most importantly they can damage finely machined surfaces like cam bearing bores. So in most cases we do not throw anything at the aluminum part. No glass beads, steel shot, sand, or walnut shells.
http://www.enginebuildermag.com/Arti...rspective.aspx

Thanks for the input.
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Old 08-16-2010, 07:37 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by TPFKATK View Post
Hmm. Online research mentions acetone, mek, and xylene but the vast majority just say "solvent". I want to stay away from blasting:

http://www.enginebuildermag.com/Arti...rspective.aspx

Thanks for the input.
While I can understand their reasons for not bead blasting, this is why it is very important that the subject be clean and free of all oil or grease prior to blasting. Depending on the item, I would either run them back through the aluminum tank after blasting or in the case of something like an intake manifold, just thoroughly rinse with water and air hose dry. And I would have thought it was a given not to blast cam journals, etc. and only focus on the combustion chambers and ports If you aren't going to bead blast, then after tanking or cleaning with solvent, just use a soft bristle wire brush on your air drill to clean any remaining carbon deposits in the chambers. But along the lines of residual glass beads, dust, etc., keep in mind if you are planning on doing any machine work on the heads, it is just as critical to make sure they are perfectly clean. There is dust generated from machining the seats for example and of course if you are going to do any kind of porting work, there will be lots of crap generated from that as well that will need to be thoroughly cleaned out before reassembly.
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