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Old 01-10-2014   #1
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Aluminium Cleaning

Hi all,
I know this has been discussed in a thread back in 2013, but there wasn't a great deal of suggestions.
What have you used to clean engine / gearbox aluminium parts?
preferably nothing that leaves the aluminium prone to oxidization.


Blasting is great but will go dull within a few days.
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Old 01-10-2014   #2
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Re: Aluminium Cleaning

I tried a suggestion to put the engine block in the dishwasher. It was OK....engineering wise it was clean, but it was nothing like new. My prewar car used aluminium paint to help keep the looks.
If you're going for the standard I guess you will, you might want to lacquer after blasting.
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Old 01-10-2014   #3
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Re: Aluminium Cleaning

I can't see the wife going for that one Peter. I watched a utube video where someone left the parts in a bucket of diesel for a week and then the dirt scrubs off easily with a tooth brush.
Various alloy cleaning solutions available, even brick cleaner suggested.
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Old 01-10-2014   #4
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Re: Aluminium Cleaning

I broke a couple of wheels on the dishwasher tray and had to plead ignorance...20 for a set.
I always worry about acids because some can make certain metals brittle and I don't know which.
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Old 01-10-2014   #5
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Re: Aluminium Cleaning

Hi Sean;
The best way to clean aluminium parts is to use a system called 'Aqua-blasting'---also known as 'Vapour-blasting'. In this technique, VERY fine grit is combined with water at a fairly high pressure, and 1 of the advantages is that 'gasket' surfaces do not need to be masked off as the system leaves these surfaces unmarked. I had a gear-box bell-housing (air-cooled type to go onto a BIS gear-box) Aqua-blasted---my son thought that I had found a new one! Try:- www.aquablastcentre.com ---although they are 'oop north' they will arrange an appointment so that you can wait whilst they clean your parts, or they may be able to advise you who carries out the technique in your area.
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Old 01-10-2014   #6
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Re: Aluminium Cleaning

Cheers Tom,
I remember seeing that process before. I have found a company "down salf" in Tunbridge that carries out this process and they also cover them with a corrosion inhibitor. I might give them a call.
I have spent many hours in the past using different chemicals and hours of scrubbing. Must be getting older and prefer to pay someone else to do certain things, specially if they turn out better than I can achieve.
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Old 01-10-2014   #7
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Re: Aluminium Cleaning

If I remember correctly aluminium always tries to form a thin surface layer of oxidation when exposed to air just like steel forms a layer of corrosion.
So as others have said, you need to use a laquer or inhibitor coating to keep oxidation at bay. For small castings, I've used a brass wire brush on a drill followed by spraying with WD40 but there's probably better sprays available.

Al.
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Old 14-10-2014   #8
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Re: Aluminium Cleaning

Alloy wheel cleaner, I read somewhere. Seems logical.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #9
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Re: Aluminium Cleaning

Wonder if any success was had with this @Franko500 and others?

I am in the middle of further 'renovations' and have all my aluminium door trim and front wings off my D. It is reasonably heavily oxidised and I would like to clean it and keep it clean.

Previously I tidied up the number plate lamp cover with metal polish, which worked very well, however it didn't take long for the aluminium to oxidise and look rubbish again.

I have seen some reports that once cleaned, you can spray a clear coat over them, but I can imagine this yellowing and peeling in the tough australian sun.

Does anyone have any recommendations? Thanks very much in advance.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #10
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Re: Aluminium Cleaning

Get yourself some aluminium foil from the kitchen and some white distilled vinegar from the supermarket. I put the white vinegar in a spray bottle for ease but you can just pour it on. Then rub it into the metal using the foil as a cloth. Works best if you scrunch it into a ball. After this you can then use metal polish but it's usually not necessary. If you want to protect your brightwork you can use some wax polish on them to dispel the water. It worked for me anyway, especially good on cleaning chrome.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #11
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Re: Aluminium Cleaning

I would say don't try to make it like new. On the rare occasions when I think these sort of things need to be refreshed I use very fine grade paint- rubbing compound. This evens things out and gives a lustre but keeps the patina. As Damian says, car wax polish will keep oxidation under control until next time.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #12
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Re: Aluminium Cleaning

We used to leave VW cylinder heads in a bucket of parafin (or diesel) for a week.

Clean, but not "pretty"
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Old 4 Days Ago   #13
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Re: Aluminium Cleaning

As already suggested:
Flat surfaces I have sanded back with fine sandpaper - down to 600 -1000 grit. Then I have used Solvol Autosol metal polish to bring up to a good shine.
Yes you will need to do this on a regular basis unless you cover in a good wax or clear lacquer. I avoided the lacquer method as there will be minimal adhesion unless you have a rough aluminium finish.
Regards to Engine & gearbox?
I have cleaned the best possible with petrol. parafin etc to remove dirt and grease.
I tried using a wire wheel in a drill on the rough casting, it gives it a sheen but also tarnishes it slightly.
Aqua blasting works well, but it will oxidise if not protected.
You can use an aluminium spray paint. This looks too clean and perfect for some aluminium. You also have to make sure the aluminium is clean and keyed with a scotchbright first else the paint doesn't stick.
Some of the early engines and gearboxes had a smoother clean surface compared to the later castings. I prefer to leave the old ones in there natural form, just clean of grease and dirt.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #14
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Re: Aluminium Cleaning

remember the trims etc were not wonderful bright mirror polish silver,
but they probably had a slight anodized finish that would have also made the surface tougher and harder wearing but has now been rubbed away over the years..So if you are looking for that modern 500 Chrome finish, you may have to polish regularly

you can try pure carnauba wax some people have success with that..
I know in the states they have a product called Everbrite I think, I know someone who used it on an air-stream, as you can imagine it takes a lot to keep one of those all shiny..

nice to see Sean back....

update

http://www.everbritecoatings.co.uk/
they even have a distributor in Oz

https://www.everbritecoatings.com/di...ge=page&id=103
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Last edited by Bigvtwin996; 4 Days Ago at 19:26.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #15
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Re: Aluminium Cleaning

Thanks guys, the wax sounds great.

It's true, I'm not really after a polished look, just a tidy look. I did try foil and vinegar but it didn't seem to work.
It scrubs up really nicely with just some autosol metal polish, especially when I put the polishing wheel on the drill


But then a week or so later it seems to oxidise and I end up with white / grey spots all over it again. If I can protect it a bit with some car wax then that's all I need to know! I actually like the dull shine, if that even makes sense...

It's only when you take all the trim off that you realise how much there is! So the plan will be polish it all with metal polish then some car wax to retain the shine / protect.
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Last edited by BambinoClassic; 4 Days Ago at 20:24.
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