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Old 02-05-2010, 04:02 PM   #1
Drew Merrick
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Default What to put in the parts washer

There is a thread here that starts to talk about cleaning products (by bread) but it fails to go into detail on one part I am interested in.

I have a parts washer I picked up for around 70 bones from a harbor freight joint down the road. And now I am wondering what kind of solvent or mix of solvents I should put into it or any modifications on the stock setup to help performance. How long should those solvents last untouched?

I am currently using some kind of bio green cleaner from the home depot to fill it mixed with a bit of purple power. I am not so impressed with it.

For modifications I was thinking of building a large volume metal box to displace the volume in the sump so that I did not need to fill it with 10 gallons of solvent.

What are you all using in your parts cleaner? (brand, name, or chemical composition. No general labels please)
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Last edited by Drew Merrick; 02-05-2010 at 04:08 PM..
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Old 02-05-2010, 04:17 PM   #2
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Default Re: What to put in the parts washer

Hey,
I think I got the same parts cleaner form hf. I have 100% mineral spirits in mine. The spirits work pretty good at eating away grease and oil.
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Old 02-05-2010, 04:24 PM   #3
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Default Re: What to put in the parts washer

Most of the time I let my parts soak in marine clean. It woks really well with grease/dirt/oil. I use other chemicals sometimes but I cant think of any of the top of my head. Ill let you know when I get back to the garage.
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Old 02-05-2010, 07:28 PM   #4
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Default Re: What to put in the parts washer

Mineral spirits is a slightly different grade of naptha. That's the old standby and the best stuff of cleaning action vs. Flashpoint but not "legal" in most areas today if that matters. In the old days, we used humble (now exxon) oil "varsol" which was naptha, that evolved into stoddard solvent, that in turn became the original safetykleen product around 1968.

You can buy just the bulk safetykleen solvent off a service truck but the stuff is real pricey. Brooks auto parts in glenwood sells parts washer solvent in 5 gallon cans for $48. Or, you can take your own container in and pump it out of a barrel for $7.50 a gallon.

I'm currently using a proprietary version of solvent similar (if not the same) to safetykleen. A guy in harrisburg runs a route serving parts washers at about half the monthly charge as safetykleen. I bought a 15 gallon dose of the stuff and bought the barrel from him also, when I need to change out the hf machine, I'll drain it into the barrel and take it to him for exchange. He doesn't run a route up the valley here.

I'll have to find his name and phone number, it's on a card somewhere, wes May know the guy, his family has a large dairy operation there in harrisburg.

I've now used the stuff 18 months in the hf pump with no problems at all.

This "water-base" solvent is a scam and fraud, shit ain't worth a dam except for rusting bearings and growing algae!!! Some of the stuff that is designed for use in an enclosed machine that is heated May work ok, it's also continuously filtered! But water-base solvent in an old fashioned parts washer is shit (and after two weeks it smells like it too)!!!
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Old 02-06-2010, 09:26 AM   #5
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Default Re: What to put in the parts washer

I use mineral spirits and buy the 5 gallon jugs at ace....... Bad Robert the stoddard replacement is to dam expensive for me.

the bottom of my tank gets cleaned bout once a year by draining the solvent and scraping the crap out. I have only added a couple of gallons in three years because I seal a big trash bag over it to inhibit evaporation. Gota be better than the total loss situation you get by cleaning parts in a bowl.
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Old 02-08-2010, 09:34 AM   #6
Drew Merrick
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Default Re: What to put in the parts washer

Thanks for the response guys. This is exactly what I was looking for. Last time I bought petroleum by-products for solvents the prices were not so high. Naphtha and mineral spirits were not $15 bucks a gallon. I will just drop the $100 bucks to fill the 10 gallon parts washer and be happy knowing that I can filter out the crap a few times a year.

One modification I did to the parts washer was to stick a ball valve onto the drain fitting with a barbed hose fitting on the end. What I didn't think about at the time was that any container with volume enough to hold even half the liquid sits higher than the base of the parts washer. I am curious, for those of you with a parts washer, what process do you use to drain and filter your solvent from the sludge at the bottom?
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Old 02-08-2010, 04:33 PM   #7
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Default Re: What to put in the parts washer

Use the pump to pump it overboard until it starts sukkin' air! Then tip it up on the right side and it will continue to pump until the pickup is exposed. You can pump all but a gallon out if ya hold your mouth right.

Then simply pull the drain plug with a funnel underneath and drain it into another container.
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Old 03-09-2010, 10:05 AM   #8
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Default Re: What to put in the parts washer

The absolute best cleaner (that was) out there is trichlorofluoromethane. This will cut grease and oil like no other just the fumes from it is enough to cut. I have seen oil start to drip off parts when I get it close enough to the fumes. And it is safe to use, companys that build air planes would wash all the parts in it to make sure that there was no oil or grease before painting.

But the epa step in and has decided that is a contributing factor to greenhouse gases. So they have stopped production of it. Although you can still purchase it, it is rather expensive and you need a license. But it truly cleans like nobodys business. The other problem is that it evaporates at 75f

when I purchased my parts washer from hf; I had the intentions of using it as a solvent. I was going to cut a 8x14x8 inch hole in the bottom and and build a sump and install a evaporator in it to maintain around 60 to 70f. So that it wouldn't boil off as quick when not in use. But never have done that.

Now since the epa has banned the production of it in the us. The replacement is dichlorotrifluoroethane which is a little harsher solvent. This stuff takes paint off and boils a little higher temp (82f) but it really dries out the hands. But it cleans with same amount of force. One of the things that I like about it is after you have cleaned the parts there is no residue to wash off. The solvent evaporates and the parts is clean ready for paint.

But as with the previous chemical, dichlorotrifluoroethane requires a license to purchase. If you haven't figured out what the are here it is.


Trichlorofluoromethane = r11 a low pressure refrigerant used in chillers.
Dichlorotrifluoroethane = r123 the replacement refrigerant for r11. If I get some time I was see if I can post up a video of cleaning something for ya.
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Old 03-09-2010, 01:23 PM   #9
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Default Re: What to put in the parts washer

R-11 is still used in closed loop mobile hvac flushing machines where it's circulated and filtered. The filtration cartridges have to be treated as hazardous waste, just like filter systems on r-12 recovery/recycling units.

R-11 for "mobile" use comes under the same clean air act section (609) that deals with elimination of r-12 (and many other useful chemicals) from the planet.

Nowadays. The so-called flushing machines simply use whatever refrigerant as a solvent that is run in the system and the filter cartridge is supposed to be changed after every use as it's designed to completely remove the lubricant. A vacuum is the pulled on the system to boil off any residue and the cartridge is sealed before removal/replacement.

I don't think there is any way that the throwaway harbor freight pump will hold up to any solvent stronger than naptha/stoddard/etc. Those solvents have been the standard of the automotive parts cleaner bizz forever, but that entire industry was crippled by the epa "rules" years ago.
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Old 03-09-2010, 05:29 PM   #10
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Default Re: What to put in the parts washer

Quote:
the replacement is dichlorotrifluoroethane which is a little harsher solvent. This stuff takes paint off and boils a little higher temp (82f) but it really dries out the hands.
Hands? A little hard on the liver too; and why it's classed a b refrigerant.
Stoddard(mineral spirits) is way safer and easier to get.
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Old 09-02-2010, 02:50 PM   #11
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Default Re: What to put in the parts washer

I have been using diesel fuel in the washer for years. When it gets really black and gritty, we would use it to burn brush piles at the ranch.
If the part has to be oil free, spray it with brake cleaner afterwards and let it dry.
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Old 09-04-2010, 03:33 AM   #12
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Default Re: What to put in the parts washer

Quote:
Originally Posted by drew merrick View Post
for modifications I was thinking of building a large volume metal box to displace the volume in the sump so that I did not need to fill it with 10 gallons of solvent.
I just throw a antifreeze jug filled with water in the bottom to take up space
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