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Engine cleaning

1913 Views 11 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Deez
Hello Hotrodders,
I wanted to give my engine a good power washing to get the grim and gunk off off it. The local car washes have an option for engine cleaning, but I don't even know where to go from there. I dont want to short or mess anything up or take the engine apart....i just want a quick clean..

what steps should I take. what should be covered up or removed?
Let me add that the engine is an old Olds 350.

here are a couple pics....

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All a car wash is going to accomplish on that old engine is blow the dust off and maybe get the fingerprints. Steam is what you need for that kinda grime.

But if your going to do it anyway, I would make up a cap out of an old margerine container for the carb and one for the distributor and pull the whole spark plug harness out when you wash it.

Bring a can of WD40, your probably going to need it. To be honest I wouldn't wash it, not worth the trouble...and backspray in the face. :cool:
our car washes here have hot water and degreaser option.

cleans engines and trannies very well always.

try the truck stop maybe ?

an olds 350 wow never seen one IRL

so rare here

good luck
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Here is what i would do---ya, everyones got an opinion--just like.......

Get a couple of plastic, as thick as you can get, bags and rubberbands, throw one over that air cleaner you have and put a rubber band on it as far down the carb as possible. Put one over the dist cap as best as possible too and rubberband it---removing the plug wires from the plugs and pulling the dist cap, and just putting a bag around the distrib base is an option too---just label it all before you get there so it goes back on right. Then, double bag them again and rubberband again.

Then get some purple power cleaner and spray everything liberly, let sit, and spray agian--oh yea, use it straight and get a gallon of it. Then fire up the carwash and blast away on the engine setting, then use the soap setting, then rinse clean. It will take alot of that muck off--probably some engine paint too---wear old clothes and maybe a hat and eye protection---you ARE going to get wet.

Then unbag everything and it sould fire up---wd40 as mentioned might be a good idea to disperse any water, i personally like brakekleen.
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my question is,is ac belt on upside down or am i looking at picture wrong :confused:
hemi joe said:
my question is,is ac belt on upside down or am i looking at picture wrong :confused:
Joe, must be you've never seen a Gates Top Gog belt before?
no i guess i haven't ,just thought it looked different ;) my bad.
I personally don't believe in pressure washing an old engine. You can knock off all the dirt that is keeping the oil in.
If you do purple power straight, make sure it doesn't touch anything aluminum or painted. It will etch aluminum in a matter of seconds. Ask me how I know. I ruined a brand new Edelbrock intake. I wanted to clean it off before I fogged it with clearcoat for a customer's show car and used straight PurpPower. I had to bead blast it to get it back to vaguely acceptable, and in the end had to buy the customer a new intake.

I strongly recommend you dilute it as per the instructions on the bottle. It will stain paint, etch aluminum, and if used straight it will take forever to wash off.

And, in fact, it won't work as well as if you dilute it properly. Straight surfactants don't work well at all without the presence of water to help things out. Surfactants work by reducing surface tension (emulsifying) oils so they can be carried by aqueous transport. Just like your dish detergent; it does very little alone. It needs the dishwater around it to carry away the grease that you just emulsified.

People often confuse the action of soaps with the action of solvents. Solvents work better in higher concentrations. Soaps and surfactants work best in combination with a carrier... in this case, water.

Here is what I suggest. Buy a few cans of Gunk Engine Brite. Don't get the foamy version. Its the same thing, but with more air. Its basically diesel and kerosene in a can. Its a grease solvent. Spray it on as heavily as you like, wherever you like. As others have said, cover obvious things like the air cleaner before you spray water. The distributor won't be damaged by water, but you may have to dry it before the car will run again.

Then follow up with a surfactant like purple power (diluted properly).
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I really appreciate the responses...

I know some people say its a waste of time to clean an old engine...but its just I just love that engine and it just bothers me to see it filthy and dirty like that...
mathematic said:
I really appreciate the responses...

I know some people say its a waste of time to clean an old engine...but its just I just love that engine and it just bothers me to see it filthy and dirty like that...
Its always good to keep things clean no matter how old it is. :thumbup:
The oxy??alic acid will mess with aluminum like Curtis said. I have always kept my engines clean, new and/or old. It makes life a lot easier when things go bad, and looks way better when you show it off. An old toothbrush or other, and some sticks or other scraper device too, along with patience and some good cleaner/degreaser will get you on your way. Thick heavily soiled and greasy nasty will need more than any engine degreaser stuff and a hose off. Once you get the stuff into a big old mess, then you can go ahead and give it the hoser. Cool water firts time, and then spray it down with your cleaner again and let it soak. If you can get hot or warm water that will help second time around. Once you go that route you should be close to clean. If not, repeat until clean. Be sure not to spray into the alternator carb or other items/places you would not want water or crap getting into and pay special attention not to get your grungy mess or cleaners on your paint. Once your get your engine clean, keep it that way, you will not regret having a clean engine/compartment :pimp:
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