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bofusmosby

Best and safest method of oil/grease removal?

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It looks like nothing was ever done to my car underneith as far as cleaning, and because of this, there is 73 years of caked on grease and oil that I want to remove. There is very little rust on the chassis, and I would like to paint a protective coat there as well. Also, the engine is loaded with caked on grease from many years, and I would like to remove this as well. I know that for the most part, this caked on grease is protecting the metal, but it could also be covering up/hiding problems that exist, ie front end assemblies.

What is the safest and best method of grease removal? I know that if grease removal is used, one must be careful to keep this stuff away from engine seals, but is there a way that is less harmful, but at the same time very effecent in doing the job. Perhaps steam-cleaning?

I would appreciate any and all opinions on this, and thank you!

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I start by spraying on a good strong detergent and then hit it with a pressure washer. The detergent cleans the cars surface, but more important, it dissolves the oils and keeps the floor clean if you hose it down while washing the car. To me this is most important as I hate a greasy floor.

After it dries, then it is time to put it up on jack stands and get out the putty knife and wire brush. At this point, you, as a person stay relatively clean now that the messy grease and oils have gone away to that grease pit in the floor.

Next step is to repeat steps one and two above, as many times as needed.

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To each his own, but I wouldnt recomend using a torch to remove grease and undercoating,esp. not for a new comer with a possable lack of experance. A naighbor tryed to unthaw frozen house pipes with a torch and darn near burnt the house down. Spray it with EB1 non foaming gunk brush it in a little let it set a little and hose it off with high pressure.As mentioned befor, wet the floor down first and the junk wont stick to it.:)

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I lay cardboard down, use a putty knife and kerosene (K1). When all is clean then I use a strong detergent. The floor stays clean.

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I am a new comer to owning and working on an old car, but not new at all to using various tools, including a torch. However that being said, I wouldn't want to use a torch for this purpose though. What about the degreaser? Don't you have to watch where on the engine its put? Isn't it possible to damage oil seals if this degreaser gets on them? Also, what about the assemblies with the grease fittings? Will this degreaser do any harm to them? I would just hate to cause any problems while preforming a task. You know, create a bigger job than I started with. I understand that cleaning the chassis and cleaning the engine are two different things. I could always use a brass wheel/brush on my drill to get any surface rust off the chassis after using the degreaser, but I wouldn't want to use it on the engine. What about steam-cleaning? Years ago, there was a place in town that did this service. Will this remove the "gunk" without causing any damage?

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Steam-cleaning / pressure-washing will remove paint as well, and possibly the cloth insulation from your wiring harness.

I have had some luck warming the engine up, then shutting it down and spraying things down with kerosene from a hudson-sprayer, getting the caked-on stuff saturated as much as possible; several sprayings may be required. Then let the kerosene soak for a day or two; then you can work at scraping the thick clods off, re-soaking, etc.

I have also used Castrol "Super-Clean" and "Purple-Power" full-stregnth on heavy accumulations; it will cut the grease, but it is a strong akaline solution and will attack your skin and soften your finger-nails, so wear very heavy rubber gloves. It too will soften some paints...

I have found that suspension / frame grease is the most difficult to remove; that stuff gets as hard as black-top after 50 + years !

This will take time; do the job in sections... and work safely !

Good luck !

PS - stay away from torches for "cleaning"... too risky !

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What about the degreaser? Don't you have to watch where on the engine its put? Isn't it possible to damage oil seals if this degreaser gets on them? Also, what about the assemblies with the grease fittings? Will this degreaser do any harm to them? I would just hate to cause any problems while preforming a task. You know, create a bigger job than I started.

That's exactly why I use kerosene...........it's harmless to those parts.

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If there is any paint after 73 yrs. the scraper will prob. take it off. My vote for the kersoine too. Also vote for the cardboard layed down. Would go w/ pressure sprayer first. My contributation is remember you're going to be doing this upside down. Your arms will get heavy fast. Suggest small can and old paint brush. Get an area damp then scrape,repeat as needed. The paint brush will put it where ya want it. Good luck.

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:) Hey,ALL good advise,please include eye protection and an old pair of coveralls.diz

Diz, I found an old welding mask works great, without the dark lens of course. That way the splatter from the paint brush doesn't make your face look like a holloween costume....:D

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i just use putty knives, small screw drivers, different size wire brushes, i really like the new wire brushes that have the crimped wires, there usely $1.50 at any auto parts store, for the most part old dried up greese will fall right off.

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I really appreciate all the feed-back on this topic. I don't remember when the last time I saw Kerosene for sale. Now mineral spirits is another story. I use that all the time. I have some of that "Purple stuff" I bought the other day. When I pulled the generator, I used that to get all the caked on grease/oil off. Geez, it took me a couple of hours to finally get it half-way cleaned. I ended up using a putty knife (like has be recommended) to get the caked on stuff off. Throughout the front suspension, it is a real mess. I know that this mess can protect the metal, but the problem is, if something is about to fall apart, I'd never be able to tell until things broke loose. I just want to make sure that I don't do anything to cause damage to all the various bushings. I am planning in time to paint the engine, so I need to make sure that there is no oil or grease left there. Thats going to be a real job.

I definately will be wearing eye protection while under the car. The cardboard is a great idea as well. At least this will give me the ability to at least get the "chunks" up before getting in the yard or street.

Since mineral spirits has been mentioned, I think I'll try using this first. The hardware store down the street has ample supply for all that I will need. Oh, one thing though, will the mineral spirits cause any harm to any engine oil seals, or any of the rubber bushings?

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When I have to clean underneath or in a engine bay, I pick up a cheap and large plastic drop cloth at Walmart. I spread it over the garage floor and tape it down, drive the car over it. then I clean and scrape as needed. I usually dry scrape first and sweep all that into the center ahead of myself so I don't get too filthy. For regular dirt without too much grease I use a strong solution of Spic and Span floor cleaner in hot water and a toothbrush. For heavy grease or oil I use Super Clean - works great with no solvent odors or dangers. You do have to protect yourself from it and be sure to rinse it off thoroughly with water or it will attack aluminum and painted surfaces. when you are all done cleaning, back the car out, pull up the plastic and throw it away - garage floor is still clean!

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Since mineral spirits has been mentioned, I think I'll try using this first. The hardware store down the street has ample supply for all that I will need. Oh, one thing though, will the mineral spirits cause any harm to any engine oil seals, or any of the rubber bushings?

Use mineral spirits instead of paint thinner. Paint thinner is basically half-strength mineral spirits.

I use mineral spirits to clean the whitewalls on my cars. Actually, it doesn't clean them, it literally removes the top layer of discolored latex. Getting mineral spirits on rubber parts will remove the top layer, but as long as you don't keep the part soaked in it there will be little rubber removed.

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Give Purple Power a try. That stuff is amazing and at just over $4 a gallon

unbeatable. It made the 70 year old gunk on parts of the Stude just run off.

You can get it at Kmart , etc.

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I've had good luck with Simple Green. The fumes are not as bad as some cleaners out there.

As you are saying, most of this buildup is going to be like scraping asphalt off of the car; and some of it may actually BE asphalt!

I've also used a common screwdriver to get into the tight areas, in addition to a small putty knife.

As for really big jobs, well, there are some people at BP and in DC that would like to know the answer to that one....

Joe

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Scrape off as much as you can with a putty knife and blunt screwdriver. Then scrub in Gunk degreaser with a stiff parts washing brush and wash with a pressure washer. This will shift any kind of greasy dirt.

I often use one of those cheap syphon sprayers. The kind that you can buy for $10 or so at flea markets that connect to your air hose and don't do squat.

The secret is to scrub the Gunk in and loosen the dirt, then use boiling hot water. I use a 2 liter pop bottle with the hottest tap water I can get. Lay an old piece of carpet under your motor, with the syphon sprayer hardly any water reaches the floor. You can do this in the garage without making a mess.

Now if you have a real good pressure washer and don't worry about the mess, that's the way to do it. The cheap syphon sprayer is handy for cleaning things that aren't too dirty or if you don't want to make a big mess.

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Note to self.........Get pressure washer........Get air compressor with hose..:o

Thanks guys for all the info. I'll start with the screwdriver and putty knife, then use some degreaser and a brush. I'll have my hose ready for the wash/rinse. I have a cheap drop-cloth to catch the chunks. This will get me started. When I had my wheel off today, I was scraping big chunks off. Geezzz, there is a lot of crap built up.

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hello

since the big guys took all the cool cleaning products away here in calif,i have used oven cleaner with great results,sounds crazy but i guess the epa hasnt thought about screwing that one up yet,give it a try if your in a garage or building use a good fan for ventilation

dave

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On Sunday, I replaced both of the front wheel cylinders, and while I had the wheels off, I used a putty knife to "try" to expose some of the metal. I must have spent at least an hour on each wheel, and even though I must have removed at least a pound of junk per wheel, I barely made a dent. It looks like I'll be having some work done on my car shortly (king pins) so it looks like I've got a lot more work to do as far as cleaning goes before my car goes in the shop. I'll scrape as much off as possible before I use any degreaser and a brush.

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If you can remove the parts you are trying to clean, your best bet would be to buy a disposable aluminum roasting pan, and soak the parts overnight using carburetor cleaning solution.

Most of it is still available in one or 5-gallon cans, designed to soak the body of a carburetor for several hours. If your part is too big to go in the can, use the throw-away aluminum pan like the type many chefs use for cooking a Thanksgiving turkey. If you are going to soak the parts for several hours or longer, you will need to use it only in a well-ventilated area and enclose the top of the pan in aluminum foil; that liquid really stinks, and some brands can be very flammable.

After the parts soak long enough to soften the grease, dirt and tar, it should come right off with very little effort.

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