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Bench top parts cleaning

What do you guys use for engine parts cleaning - cam towers, cylinders etc? Solvents? Detergents? Doing a top end job and want clean parts to reassemble.
Thanks, Tom
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Old 03-22-2012, 05:01 AM
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Cam towers are a pain to clean due to their tight spaces that are hard to get into with cleaning brushes. Use a medium sized plastic tub with parts cleaning solvent in it and soak the towers for a day. I've used Berryman parts cleaner with good results. You may be able to get it at your local auto parts store like Autozone. They sell it in one gallon cans with a dipping tray inside it.

I soaked my pistons overnight in the Berryman and it did an awesome job of killing the carbon buildup. Their most recent formulation is also less toxic. So you still need gloves but it doesn't stink up the whole garage. The previous stuff was some yellowish nasty stuff that worked good but you couldn't get the stink off the parts.


There's lots of solvents to choose from. Many people just use carb cleaner but that stuff is nasty stuff in terms of fumes. I have had good results with citrus based cleaners (Xenit) and also soy based from Franmar. The soy one is not necessarily aluminum friendly in terms of long term soaking. So you have to clean & scrub manually, then rinse the parts clean with a soapy rinse (like dawn dishwashing soap) with plenty of water.

The gasket sealant is a pain to get off. Permatex used to make a great spray can gasket remover that kicked the shiznit out of the dried sealant. But the new low VOC formulation is weak. I tried a couple of other gasket remover solvents and found that Loctite's Chisel Remover works good with a few applications of it and plenty of scraping with a razor.

Others have recommended MEK solvent with metal bristle brushe. I tried that but its nasty stuff. Its also very evaporative so you can't apply the stuff and come back later & scrape off the softened sealant. It evaporates too fast so you have to soak it. Plus, the MEK is NASTY stuff. Need to wear heavy solvent resistant gloves (not just the typical nitrile mechanic gloves) and definitely a respirator frogman sort of mask.

Honestly if you're in a hurry, having your parts media blasted is the way to go. Blasting gets them much cleaner than solvent. Just have to be cautious of what media is used and avoid some of the sensitive/critical sealing areas. You can blast heads and cam towers quite easily. Cylinders can be blasted on exterior but don't mess with the bores of course. I'd be careful of the mating surfaces between the cylinders and heads. Pistons should only be blasted on their tops.
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Old 03-22-2012, 06:27 AM
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You can get a 5 gallon bucket of parts clean solvent for $70 at NAPA. It's basically mineral spirits, and has relatively low odor and a high flash point. This is what is used in most parts clean sinks.
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Old 03-22-2012, 09:27 AM
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I had my case and cam towers soda blasted... took less than an hour and they looked new after... did it over lunch at Chipolte
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Old 03-22-2012, 10:11 AM
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Hey Michael, where did you get your parts soda blasted?
Tom,
Jupiter, fl
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Old 03-22-2012, 10:18 AM
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A basic parts washer with biodegradable mix works fine, and even better if you stick an aquarium heater in it...turn the heater all the way up to 90deg and leave the pump/filter in overnight.
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The cam towers go in the dishwasher when the wife isn't looking.
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Old 03-22-2012, 01:15 PM
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I have an arrangement with a transmission rebuilding shop nearby.... They have a giant dishwasher type parts cleaner... all the case components go through it..

The parts are then given another inspection and cleaning with carb cleaner prior to assembly..

The guy wont charge me when I drop parts off.. so I send a pizza over when I need to bring some things in for cleaning..
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Old 03-22-2012, 04:23 PM
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I use CHEM-DIP from Napa for pistons, valves, etc. Cleans anything with a good overnight soak. The case, cam towers, and such get sprayes with parts cleaner and then I use a soda blaster on them. bought one at Harbor Frieght for 40 bucks, hooks up to the air compressor and does a great job. Once blasted I hose them off then dump them in a bathtub of hot water to soak for a bit and they are clean without any debri at all.
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Old 03-23-2012, 07:27 AM
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I use a parts cleaner with a generic biodegradable solvent in the tank.

Something like the cam towers though, I sent out to the machine shop to clean and check. It's easier and for the minimal cost, worth it in the time savings alone. $60 to clean the crank case and then I only have to do a basic once over with brake cleaner once it comes back. Fine by me.
Old 03-23-2012, 09:15 AM
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Just be sure to double check the cam towers after they've been cleaned. Most machine shops might not be aware of the cam spray bars. Those should be removed or spend a little while making sure the cam feed line fitting and hex plug at the opposite end are removed and you flush the spray bar out. The pinholes in the spraybar are easily clogged and that'll mess up your cams & rockers in no time at all.

I got a set of nice cam towers from a friend who had them in storage for a long time. I debated whether or not to remove the spray bars. Glad I did. Look what I found in one of them- a big hunk of......... dirt/mud? I heard something rattling around in the tower and couldn't shake it out. So I removed the M12 fittings and that's when I found the chunk of dirt in there.


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Old 03-23-2012, 09:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KTL View Post
Just be sure to double check the cam towers after they've been cleaned. Most machine shops might not be aware of the cam spray bars. Those should be removed or spend a little while making sure the cam feed line fitting and hex plug at the opposite end are removed and you flush the spray bar out. The pinholes in the spraybar are easily clogged and that'll mess up your cams & rockers in no time at all.

I got a set of nice cam towers from a friend who had them in storage for a long time. I debated whether or not to remove the spray bars. Glad I did. Look what I found in one of them- a big hunk of......... dirt/mud? I heard something rattling around in the tower and couldn't shake it out. So I removed the M12 fittings and that's when I found the chunk of dirt in there.
Yup, that's why all my parts were shipped to Ollie's. There's some things with a 911 engine any machinist should be able to do, but I feel safer sending it to someone that specializes in our cars.
Old 03-23-2012, 09:46 AM
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