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Old 01-20-2009, 04:19 PM   #1
Bread
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Default Cleaning Large Parts

Hey guys,

I'm looking for a good way to clean baked on oil/grease off of large steel parts without laborous scrubbing and polishing. This is an industrial application. I normally clean these parts by spraying on solvent, and using a combination of wire brushes, paint scrapers, scotch brite pads, and polishing pads on a pneumatic die grinder. It's a long process, and I could make better use of my time doing other things. Solutions like brake cleaner will only dry out the burnt on oil leaving a hard crust, but not remove it. I've found that solvent will not dry out as fast, keeping the crusty stuff wet while I'm scrubbing on it.

Most of the parts I need to clean will fit inside a 50gal drum. Some of them are 6' long by 3' wide and would require a bigger dip tank. I've experimented with electrolysis for rust removal on small parts like accessory brackets in a 5gal bucket with pretty good results. I haven't tried using electrolysis to clean grease and grime, but I assume this isn't the correct procedure for this.

What solutions or methods do you use and recommend for making crusty old parts look new again?
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Old 01-20-2009, 05:24 PM   #2
Michael Dimock
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Default Re: Cleaning Large Parts

Hmm, interesting. Take them to your local do it yourself car wash. (imagine, truck load of parts lined up in the bay! ) turn on the engine degreaser and soak everything liberally. Pull truck into bay next to it and wash it (good excuse right?) when done, dump more quarters in and turn on the pressure washer and blast off all the shiz. Repeat if needed.

2nd option for an in shop application. Get a steam cleaner/pressure washer and go to town on the crusty parts. Might want to get a hazmat suit for this as your gonna be covered in the grime from the parts!
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Old 01-20-2009, 06:02 PM   #3
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Default Re: Cleaning Large Parts

My mechanic in the 70's / 80's used a "hot tank" to clean car parts / heads / engine blocks.

But, it has been so long I cannot remember the particulars -- I think some chemical went into the "mixture" -- I think it also used a heater, too.

Probably illegal nowadays, but you could check the yellow pages / internet. One large enough to do 6' x 3' would be prohibitively expensive.

Michael's suggestion to use the car wash is illegal here in kalifornicate (or maybe just sf bay area) as mm lovingly refers to my resident state -- (and probably other states, too???).
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Old 01-20-2009, 06:16 PM   #4
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Default Re: Cleaning Large Parts

To things that have worked for me in the past.

1) believe it or not oven cleaner. Works best hot so I warmed with heat lamps. It is also effective cold , just not as much. I give the parts two good application's then hose off followed by a blast from a power washer.

2) talstrip aviation paint stripper. Same technique as the oven cleaner just cold to prevent the active ingredients from flashing off.

3) in a dishwasher on super hot with tsp (trisodium phosphate) you can buy it at the local mega home center in the paint section. Don't use the one in the kitchen I always run a clean up cycle after to purge the residue.

If that doesn't work take them to your local automotive machine shop and pay then $35.00 or what ever to hot tank them in their commercial washer.

Robert
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Old 01-20-2009, 09:03 PM   #5
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Default Re: Cleaning Large Parts

The old reliable "hot tank" methodology using a caustic solution is no longer an option in many locales. Including my own!

So two weeks ago I re-educated myself to the current level of cleaning technology used around here (and elsewhere) regarding cleaning ferrous engine components before machining and re-assembly. And what I describe is for cast iron components, aluminum stuff can be done much more easily using "new-tek " chemicals in a dedicated washing cabinet, stuff comes out like it's been ceramic coated!

I had a local engine machine shop do a "bake and blast" process onna Ford fe block that was extremely bad in the water jackets!!! Worst I've ever seen, including the real shitty IH blocks we deal with all the time. In prep for that, I removed all core plugs and pipe plugs from the block.

The process starts witha "degrease" using a high pressure "detergent" blasting process inside a vertical cabinet with the block chained to a turntable. High pressure "environmentally-friendly" heated solution in a 15 minute cycle like a clothes washer, about 165* solution.

Then the block is placed in a "oven" (somewhat more complicated than that) and slowly brought up to 650*f for about one hour, then slowly cooled. This turns all surface contaminants, including the mineral deposits and shit in the water jackets to an ash-like substance.

Once cooled down, the block is then mounted into another machine where it is "tumbled" and blasted with ground walnut shell media.

Then one last detergent wash to remove the blasting media dust.

Comes out looking really nice with a kind of "charcoal" appearance for the cast iron.

We then spent about four hours using appropriate taps to chase all threads, and gallery brushes mounted in drill motors to meticulously clean all penetrations and liquid passages that were not threaded.

Next up is a hone job on the cylinders, then it gets majorly scrubbed with powdered abrasive detergent and 170f water, that removes the leftovers from the honing process embedded in the cylinder walls.

Then one final power wash using that "purple stuff" detergent concentrate, followed quickly by a drying with a 200mph leaf blower. The interior of the block gets glyptol'd, the exterior gets rattle can engine paint dusted on for surface rust prevention during reassembly

once the long block is complete, then the final paint work is done using van sickle implement paint.

If we decide to re-use the intake manifold, it will get the same treatment, we clean all the tin here at the shop using the purple concentrate in the power washer.

Would I use the bake and blast process again??? Answer is...a 345 block and intake is going to the same shop for processing next week! I'm sold.

That electrolytic process is a major pita, I'd much rather remove rust and shit with appropriate abrasives and power tools!

I do alotta slushbox 727 tranny work, those units get powerwashed with purple before disassembly, the case gets powerwashed after stripdown, the internals get washed inna solvent parts washer with solvent. I've given up on this so-called "water base" parts washer shit, only thing it's good for is breeding mold.

Carb components, and small ferrous and non-ferrous items that will fit inna five gallon pail get dipped for three hours in a "cold parts cleaner" made by crc known as "tyme". Then those come out and go right into a laundry sink and scrubbed with 170f water and detergent, then blown dry with the leaf blower...far more effective than any compressed air source!

Tyme is the finest metal cleaning product I've ever used and the odor is relatively pleasant with no after smell once it's rinsed.

There's times for diy cleanup, and there's times to call on the pros, depends upon how ya charge out your labor!
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Old 01-20-2009, 10:05 PM   #6
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Default Re: Cleaning Large Parts

That bake and blast sound like the hot ticket!! Great find.

Now if you have a few months on your hands. I put a bunch of parts in a sealed bucket with some paint thinner. Somehow the bucket was left out all summer. Those parts came out all nice and clean.
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Old 01-21-2009, 07:11 AM   #7
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Default Re: Cleaning Large Parts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Craig View Post
that bake and blast sound like the hot ticket!! Great find.

Now if you have a few months on your hands. I put a bunch of parts in a sealed bucket with some paint thinner. Somehow the bucket was left out all summer. Those parts came out all nice and clean.
"paint thinner" is a petro-base solvent, more commonly known as a variation of mineral spirits and depending upon the "cut", the common variation is naptha. A common commercial version is known as "varsol". And paint thinner is not the same product as turpentine. Naptha or stoddard solvent is a much "cleaner" solvent for parts wash than paint thinner.

Depending upon the "source" of the paint thinner, it can leave a slight oily film that will inhibit paint adhesion. I do use it for rough cleaning/degreasing right from a jug with a siphon gun and compressed air. But it's not the final cleaning solvent used on engine parts just before installation.
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Old 01-21-2009, 09:29 AM   #8
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Default Re: Cleaning Large Parts

I can't really do any kind of pressure cleaning or anything that will wash chemicals into the drains or osha will be all over us. I'd like to try the tyme cleaner, but it will cost over $1000 to get enough to mostly fill a 50gal drum. Costly experiment, but I'll pick up a gallon of it and see how it works before continuing. Dip and let it sit is what I'm hoping for

a little more background. I work at a machine shop in the georgetown area of seattle. We're a job shop, and do a lot of small production runs, and one off jobs. But we also do a fair amount of repair work. One of my duties is rebuilding large rotary vane compressors. I probably shouldn't be posting pictures on the web, but I'd like to show what I'm working with.

Here's a picture of one of the compressors I work with. This is a 300 size, but they go up to 608. The largest units spin at 500 rpm, moving over 3000cfm at 42psi.



This is the nasty rotor I pulled out yesterday. This particular rotor is from a waste water treatment plant. So yea, it smells not so good. Soaking it in solvent for cleaning tends to reactivate those lovely scents



I have to check these in a lathe for runout, at which time I usually run some sand paper and scotch brite pads over the surface to clean the od up. Makes a mess of the machine though. Once it's removed, I have to go over each slot with various scrapers and brushes to clean out the grit. Takes hours. Even then it's probably never 100% clean. So you can see now why I would love to simply dip these suckers in a tank overnight and pull them out sparkling clean before further inspection.
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Old 01-21-2009, 07:29 PM   #9
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Default Re: Cleaning Large Parts

Jason...lyle wiese here on the forum (and a good friend and guardian of the IHSTO treasure chest), works for cornell pump in clackamas. They manufacture and rebuild exactly the type products you are working with, he's told me some real stories regarding handling that wastewater plant apparatus, especially after the katrina event down in nawlins!!!

Why don't ya ring his bell and pick his brain about how he handles this little deetale???

Also...do some research on soda blasting:

soda blaster-baking soda-media blasters
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Old 01-23-2009, 02:07 PM   #10
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Default Re: Cleaning Large Parts

I used to take all my bigger parts to the local community college machine shop (my Dad was the instructor). They had a hot tank for aluminum and one for steel, plus a hot wash cabinet, media blast cabinet, pressure wash bay, etc. If the students weren't using the equipment, it could be used by others. Might be worth a shot.

We used to have (here in redding, CA) an auto resto shop that had a dip tank big enough for a whole car. I'm not sure if they're still around. Anything like that where you are?
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Old 01-23-2009, 02:18 PM   #11
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Default Re: Cleaning Large Parts

A "whole body" dip tank is an "acid dip" process and highly damaging to machined parts, it removes metal dimensionally. Not the same thing as a caustic soda solution that used to be common in "hot tanks".

We used acid dip to lighten steel race car bodies by up to 50>75lbs. In about an hour with clean solution.

Quality resto work for body/sheet metal prep is now done using the soda blasting methodology.
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Old 04-17-2009, 06:37 AM   #12
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Default Re: Cleaning Large Parts

Kind of on the same topic how would I clean the axel on my truck while it is attached? Need to get some numbers off of it to try and find my gear raion!
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