I picket up a 1918 chassis and motor. What is the best way to clean out the inside of the motor? I have a pressure washer, but was unsure that it may cause more rust. The motor has a lot of dried oil inside and looks good for being 96 years old. Water inlets full of dirt and trash. I have heard you do not want to give it an acid bath because it eats up the bearings. Thanks!
Ive seen really crusty engines soaked in drums of diesel fuel, and they cleaned up nicely.
On my '26 which sat forever before I got it, I setup a pail of Varsol underneath the pan after taking out the drain plug. Then I dropped a small 110v pump into the pail and the hose from it went into the oil fill. Plugged it in and let it run for an hour. Varsol pumps into the oil fill, runs through the pan, and drains into the pail ... etc.etc. It worked wonderful.
I would see if you have a machine shop nearby that can hot tank it.
Hot tanking will kill the bearings. Most shops will not hot tank anything with babbitt in it. It some how contaminates the hot bath solution ... Not sure what it does, but the shops around here will not do my engines if the bearings are still in them ...
On my TT I drained the old oil and replaced it with diesel. After I pulled the head I cranked vigorously almost daily over a period of several weeks. I also squirted Marvel oil along the cylinder walls. After draining the diesel I dropped the lower pan cover and pulled the valve cover. There was still a sort of slimy oil coating on the crank case walls and some heavy sludge on the crank case lip, but all in all it was cleaner than expected. Varsol would probably work better.
Have no answer, but an additional related question: anyone see a problem with using a pressure washer to clean an engine (externally) that is remaining in the vehicle? The obvious issues with wiring, commutator aside, is this a safe thing to do with head gasket, transmission felt, hogsheads in general? Good experiences and bad with a pressure washer would be of interest.
Remove the lower engine pan and the oil drain plug at the bottom of the main engine pan.
I would remove the head also.
This should let you remove any excess chunks of congealed crud in side the motor.
Replace the oil drain plug and the lower engine pan. Get you some diesel or kerosene. Diesel is a little cheaper but Kerosene is better. You can get it at TSC stores.
Fill up the engine and let it sit for a while and slowly start to try to turn the engine. It will eventually free up and continually doing this will clean it up pretty well.
I like Varsol as well. I perfer to stick with something non flammable.
My local old-time engine-building shop will hot tank my T blocks overnight. I tell them when I want to re-use the main bearings (which is most of the time) and they hang it upside-down partially submerged in the tank. That boils out the water passages without damaging the bearings.
"I like Varsol as well. I perfer to stick with something non flammable."
Whoever told you that varsol is non flamable is a XXXX liar.
On the Varsol container it says: CAUTION keep away from open flame or spark.
We have had several Model A blocks done by hanging in the tank. It's not just that the hot tank will destroy the babbitt, it messes with the chemicals used in the hot tank. Any part that that we send for hot tanking where we don't need to save the babbitt, we remove the babbitt. You could also have it cold tanked or if they have a hot water washer they could use that. We had a hot water washer at the shop I use to work at, no chemicals involved, just hot water. I used it on by block and seemed to do a good job.
Ken, the Varsol I use says poison on the label. It does not say flammable which seems odd. Nevertheless I believe you. It certainly smells like something that would ignite. I will look into it. Makes me wonder what kind of close calls I might have had in the past. Thanks.
I have started using a product called black maxx, water based and biodegradable. It is inexpensive and dilutes with water, I usually go 4 to 1. They say don't use full strength on aluminum. Best stuff I have bought in a long time, spray it on let it set for a while then pressure wash. I have no connection to the product or company that makes it. KGB
White metal bearings will kill the chemicals in a hot tank, necessitating a complete refill. Not only that, any other customers' components in the tank will be "plated" with a thin layer of white metal like material. I know this because the small amount of white metal left in the drillings to locate the bearings in a block was enough to coat the block and the crankshaft. Fortunately, the tank did not require a refill and no-one else's stuff was affected.
Hope this helps.
Allan from down under.
Wow! A lot of great stuff. Will any of this hurt the transmission that also needs cleaning?
Dave, now that it has been suggested that Varsol will ignite, it probably will next time you use it!
It all depends on what you want to do with the engine. If you are planning to rebuild it, the hot tank is the way to go. If you want to save the babbit and the cylinder bores and just re-ring and do a valve job, then a lot of scraping and wire brushing with mineral spirits and laundry detergent with water and a high pressure nozzle will get a lot of the dirt out. You will also need to clean out all the oil holes in the mains and rods. The water jacket can be cleaned by running something like a plummers snake or an old speedometer cable through the passages and also using high pressure water and compressed air.
If do the cleaning yourself, be sure when you get the engine running to use water first, and maybe some vinegar and run for a while before flushing it out. clean it several times until the water runs out clean. You will also need to run it for a short time and then change the oil. After that it should be quite clean.
If you are going to do a complete rebuild get the machine shop to tank it. They can also magnaflux the block and crankshaft for cracks and bore the cylinders and turn the crank bearings. They can also grind the valves and put in insert valve seats. If you turn the crank be sure to get the radius at each end of the journal ground round, not straight across. Look at the old crankshaft. It should have been ground round at that location.
Dave, in the days before recycling became popular (mandatory in some places) we used to burn old, well used cruddy varsol (solvent) to get rid of it.
What chemicals are used in "hot tanking" these days?
Used to be caustic soda (lye), do they still use that?
I guess I'll be working outside with the Varsol from now on. I'm just trying to visualize how many times I worked near an open bucket of the stuff with torches and grinders. The container should be marked flammable if there is even the slightest chance. I'm sure somebody somewhere paid the price and yes Marvin, now that I've been warned, it is certain to ignite because that is how the world works.
Marvin, the trans is safe to hot tank. No white metal. The gears,drums and bronze bushes come out squeaky clean.
Allan from down under.
I was thinking that Varsol is as flammable as laquer thinner.
If it is that's pretty sensitive stuff!
Allan, does it take out the dried up oil everywhere inside too? Overall the transmission isn't too bad, just mostly dry oil, a little grit.
Left in the tank long enough, parts will come out as clean bare metal. Your engine re-builder should be able to advise you.
Alan from down under.