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[C2] Best way to clean aluminum expansion tank

Old 12-24-2017, 07:43 PM
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59vetteman
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Default Best way to clean aluminum expansion tank

As the title states, how is the best way to clean an aluminum expansion tank so that it does not have the shiny look, but rather the original aluminum look. The tank is in great shape, just has had some coolant overflow issues resulting in stains on the outside of the tank. Thanks All!! Al
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Old 12-24-2017, 07:57 PM
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USMC 0802
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I would try a green Scotch Brite pad. Itíll remove any stains and not scratch up the surface too much.

Good luck.
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Old 12-24-2017, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by USMC 0802 View Post
I would try a green Scotch Brite pad. Itíll remove any stains and not scratch up the surface too much.

Good luck.
I used the green Scotch Brite pads (brown is corse) and wipe in one direction to leave a grain look rather than swirling around and around.
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Old 12-25-2017, 10:05 AM
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Thanks USMC0802 and Randy, I'll get over to the parts store tomorrow and pick up a couple. All I have are the red ones.
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Old 12-25-2017, 03:33 PM
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Randy G.
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Originally Posted by 59vetteman View Post
Thanks USMC0802 and Randy, I'll get over to the parts store tomorrow and pick up a couple. All I have are the red ones.
The brown I mentioned might actually be a little red. They are very harsh compared to the green ones at any rate.
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Old 12-25-2017, 07:06 PM
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The guys above are correct, red will ruin the finish. Depending on how bad the stains and oxidation are, I would go even light than green though. I use the white scotch brights (gray will even scratch a bit) and a little apple cider vinegar for aluminum. It removes most stains with destroying the natural patina and looking "over polished." Just remember, the more you work it, the shiner it is going to get, so work slow and rinse/clean wipe often.
Good luck
Mike
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Old 12-25-2017, 08:41 PM
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Randy G.
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Originally Posted by Old Pervette View Post
The guys above are correct, red will ruin the finish. Depending on how bad the stains and oxidation are, I would go even light than green though. I use the white scotch brights (gray will even scratch a bit) and a little apple cider vinegar for aluminum. It removes most stains with destroying the natural patina and looking "over polished." Just remember, the more you work it, the shiner it is going to get, so work slow and rinse/clean wipe often.
Good luck
Mike
Yesterday I made an aluminum switch bracket for the winch in my trailer. I used green Scotchbrite to give it a brushed satin look and rinsed it off with a Brake Spray cleaner to remove residue. Alcohol will work, too. Cleaned up very nice!
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Old 12-25-2017, 11:15 PM
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Try aluminum jelly. I've used it for years and it works great. Looks just like the day the tank was made. Brush it on let sit for a few minutes rinse with warm water. May have to do it a few times depending how cruddy it is.
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Old 12-25-2017, 11:23 PM
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what about straight vinegar? Would that remove stains but leave the surface alone?
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Old 12-26-2017, 10:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Kerrmudgeon View Post
what about straight vinegar? Would that remove stains but leave the surface alone?
Vinegar was suggested to me about 10 years ago for an old Model A Carburetor ,, i broke the carb down and soaked it over night in vinegar
The results were amazing,, scrubbing it a bit with a tooth brush... just a rinse after

Last edited by Canuck62; 12-26-2017 at 10:59 AM.
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Old 12-26-2017, 11:58 AM
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Thanks guys for all the responses. Sounds like vinegar might be the liquid source I was going to ask about. I had thought of using water, but figured there was something that might preserve or restore the finish so it would not be shiny.
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Old 12-26-2017, 12:35 PM
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jbrun
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Hello. I used Alumabrite on my original 61 expansion tank as well as my front grille. It worked very well. I believe you can get it from Napa.
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Old 12-26-2017, 01:32 PM
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Mike Geary
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Originally Posted by jbrun View Post
Hello. I used Alumabrite on my original 61 expansion tank as well as my front grille. It worked very well. I believe you can get it from Napa.
Yep, I use Aluma Brite on AFBs, intakes, valve covers, expansion tanks, uncoated aluminum wheels, etc.

Other products that work the same can be found at truck stops and boat yards (pontoon cleaner).
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Old 12-26-2017, 07:32 PM
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Vinegar would probably work, although the "old school" solution was to use apple cider vinegar. I would be very careful if experimenting with naval jell as it can stain aluminum. Whatever you use, rinse regularly and thoroughly. If using abrasive pads and/or compounds, always start with the least abrasive and if need be, THEN go to the more abrasive solutions. Your object with aluminum is to retain the natural sheen/patina and avoid obvious scratch marks and over polishing. Have fun.
Mike
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Old 12-28-2017, 08:50 PM
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Hey Old Pervette, got the Scotch Bright pads today. Bought 2 gray ones and the store clerk gave me 4 white ones because he got tired of trying to find a part # or listing for them. The white one worked the best. The gray had a tendency to scratch. Experimented on the rear end of the tank that is not visible on the car. Tank now looks great again. Thanks everyone for the suggestions. Al
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Old 12-28-2017, 08:59 PM
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Great- you have to post a pic!
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Old 07-10-2018, 01:57 PM
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thanks
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Old 07-10-2018, 02:32 PM
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Sounds like you found the solution. I used the red pads and WD40 to put a brushed aluminum finish on my raw Kirkham Cobra. It came out amazing after about 12 hours of work. They are definitely too harsh unless you want the brushed look.
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Old 12-06-2018, 05:57 PM
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If it can be gotten to, a little permanent Sharpie on raised letters can be a God-send the next time a check is needed.
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