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How do I clean Aluminum?

Discussion in 'Technical Q&A' started by lou staller, Jan 6, 2004.

  1. lou staller

    lou staller Formula Junior

    Dec 21, 2002
    373
    Orange County Ca
    Full Name:
    Lou Staller
    What's the best way to clean grease and grim off of the front engine bulkhead/firewall? It's in perfect shape but is really grungy with 20 years of crap build up. Should I use something like Simple Green or is there a better commercial product available? The engine is out so the panel is easily accessible. Any suggestions?
     
  2. jmillard308

    jmillard308 F1 Veteran
    Silver Subscribed Owner

    May 29, 2003
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    John Millard
    Lou
    I don't know whether they market in your country but a company called ENJO, which has a variety of cleaning products for domestic use, has a product called marble paste. It is a very fine abrasive, but after you remove the gunge with "Brand X" gunge remover, this stuff restores the aluminium with a minimum of effort (important!). So easy that I also used it on my undertray. Just moist cloth and rub. No scratches.
    John
     
  3. ScuderiaRossa

    ScuderiaRossa Formula 3

    Mar 22, 2001
    2,076
    I've used Never Dull on the firewall of my 328. Removes dirt/grime, and leaves a very clean shine. Ordered it through www.performanceproducts.com.
     
  4. gabriel

    gabriel Formula 3

    Hello.

    In aircraft maintenance, almost no one will use Simple Green around here because it is suspected by many to have a corrosive effect on aluminum.

    There are a number of products used in aviation for safe cleaning of aluminum. I don't know that the materials used in auto manufacture are quite the same, but I use the same stuff to clean my autos as I do my aircraft.

    You can find them in the Sportys catalog or AircraftSpruce. Both are online, as well.
     
  5. pete04222

    pete04222 Formula Junior

    Nov 1, 2003
    613
    Maine, USA
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    Peter Cyr
    Gunk foaming engine degreaser to get the grease and grime off, then Mother's mag and aluminum polish to make it shine.
     
  6. ernie

    ernie Two Time F1 World Champ
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    Nov 19, 2001
    21,821
    The Brickyard
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    I had some very heavy build up on my engine from oil mixxing with dirt. It was as thick as icing on a cheap cake. You could scrape a big gob off with your finger. I tried Simple Green, and the crud just laughed at it. Anyway what I found worked very well to get to heavy stuff off was plain old WD40. I was using the WD40 to loosen some bolts on the subframe, and some of the over spray got on an area of the engine that had the junk on it. I noticed that it broke up the grease. So I tried it on the really heavy area and it almost melts the crud off. You can also use an old tooth brush to scrub with to help get the dirt off faster. How ever DO NOT get the WD40 on your belts. You can also used carburator cleaner. It leaves the aluminum looking brand new.
     
  7. Spasso

    Spasso F1 World Champ
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    Feb 16, 2003
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    Land of Slugs & Moss
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    Han Solo
     
  8. Spasso

    Spasso F1 World Champ
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    Feb 16, 2003
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  9. thecarreaper

    thecarreaper F1 World Champ
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    Sep 30, 2003
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    SPASSO, your car is stunning, i dont know how i missed those pics. i have always used auto store engine de greaser ( engine brite?). as with any liquid or chemical i do not get it on belts or in the alternator or distributers. simple green has eaten several aluminum trim tags up as well as acid- etching some wheels to the point i discarded them. perhaps if is diluted it may be ok, but if it were my ferrari i would not use it.
     
  10. Spasso

    Spasso F1 World Champ
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    #10 Spasso, Jan 7, 2004
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    To Gabriel and Michael (Carreaper),
    Thanks to both of you for the heads up on the Simple Green. During the process of doing the underside and engine bay of my 308 last year I didn't notice any discoloring or etching in the aluminum I was cleaning.

    Michael, could you elaborate on the aluminum trim tabs, what they were used for etc...?

    I have also used it extensively on my 240Z and didn't see any problem. Maybe because I didn't leave it on that long and buffed it out after it was clean. On the 308 I applied the Simple Green to aluminum that was coated in oil and dirt which was then blasted off with a moderate pressure hot water spray 12 hours later. Of course ALL sensitive items and electronics were either removed from the car or bagged in plastic.

    Most of the aluminum I have used it on is open pore aluminum and not the highly buffed polished aluminum found on wheels.

    It seems I will need to be more careful in th future.

    Here is a detailed account of the process I used on the 308,

    http://www. ferrari-talk. com/discus/messages/30/756.html?1067951871

    Here is a shot of my 240Z engine using the same process.
    Image Unavailable, Please Login
     
  11. lou staller

    lou staller Formula Junior

    Dec 21, 2002
    373
    Orange County Ca
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    Lou Staller
    Thanks for all your input. In the next few weeks I'll experiment with a few different cleaners on the back of the panels. I'm also thinking about finishing with a brushed look instead of the semi polished look from the factory. Easy enough to do with a Scotch-Brite pad or wheel. I'll decide once I get the panel clean. I'll post some shots when I finish. Thanks again...
     
  12. Chiaro_Slag

    Chiaro_Slag F1 Veteran

    Oct 31, 2003
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    Jerry
    Look forward to seeing your results Lou - I am still searching for a good product to clean my door sills with.
     
  13. f355spider

    f355spider F1 World Champ
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    May 29, 2001
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    Well here is an interesting post I just saw on a gun list I subscribe to....

    "Simple Green. It is cheap, nontoxic, and good at getting rid of the gunk" (quote)

    response:
    Be careful using Simple Green if your weapon has any alloy metal. Simple Green has been proven to slowly "eat" away at the metal. Talk to anyone that ever used Simple Green to clean alloy wheels about the pitting and dulling that started after it's constant use.
     
  14. Spasso

    Spasso F1 World Champ
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    Feb 16, 2003
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    Thanks Dave,
    This is the first I've heard about all of this.
    Thanks to this site I'll know better than to use this around alloys.
    DJ
     
  15. Bryan

    Bryan Formula 3

    Here's the military position on Simple Green...

    Navy
    //www.safetycenter.navy.mil/media/ashore/issues/winter00/pdf/fromourreaders.pdf

    Air Force
    www.avweb.com/other/usaf0020b1.pdf

    Don't use it on Al.

    FYI.. Suppliers of HF-based aluminum cleaners. No direct experience with any of these, however.

    http://www.ankosales.com/aluminum-brightener.html
    http://www.pressurewashersdepot.com/pages/cleaning-products.html
    http://www.ritekem.com/autocare.html
    http://www.infinish.com/products/alumabrite.html


    BEWARE.
    HF is one of the most most corrosive material to skin known. It will etch glass. HANDLE WITH CARE!!

    However, Spasso's experience is spectacular!! THANKS!
     
  16. LSU348

    LSU348 Formula 3

    Dec 19, 2003
    1,032
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    Once you hit it with simple green finish the job with Mother's Aluminum poish. Works great on my Vrod. Aluminum everywhere on it.

     
  17. tuttebenne

    tuttebenne F1 Rookie

    Mar 26, 2003
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    Once you've used the degreaser and aluminum polish, there is another step you can take. There is a product made here in upstate NY called Ball Buster that takes aluminum that has been polished and brings it up to a finish that could pass for chrome. I have English motorcycles with lots of polished aluminum and this stuff just makes it look awesome. Its easy to use and about $15.00 for a pint bottle. I doubt its a secret formula and would imagine there are other versions of it out there. Its mostly a liquid with a suspension of grey material that settles to the bottom of the bottle. Frequent shaking keeps the stuff mixed up. Has anyone tried it?

    Andy
     
  18. Verell

    Verell F1 Veteran
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    May 5, 2001
    6,951
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    Verell Boaen
     
  19. Chiaro_Slag

    Chiaro_Slag F1 Veteran

    Oct 31, 2003
    7,731
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    Jerry
    I have tried cleaning the door sills with all sorts of products - Seems like there are some old water spots there I can't seem to get out.
     
  20. XcellR8

    XcellR8 Rookie

    May 9, 2006
    5
    I use this stuff called simple clean. My wife bought it at a dogshow, its the best stuff since elastic waistbands for your underwear. Plus its safe on everything except for primer, even aluminum. It is really some good ****. I was mad when I found out that she came home with a gallon of this ****, but now I'm REALLY glad to have it. they have a web site at http://www.simpleclean.org but I always deal with the people direct, their phone number is on the top of the web page, the wife is real nice, and the husband will talk your ear off.

    This stuff will literally clean ANY THING. I used it on what I thought was a CLEAN STEERING wheel, and well I was wrong, not to mention the shine it gives my rims. I still like to wax after I use it even though they say you dont have to. LEather, anything!
     
  21. XcellR8

    XcellR8 Rookie

    May 9, 2006
    5
    Mothers and simple clean, they are to me what rice and chopstics are to the japanese.
     
  22. don_xvi

    don_xvi F1 Rookie

    Nov 1, 2003
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    Actually, Simple Green will corrode Aluminium if not used carefully. Referenced here on Fchat in a handful of threads. Some even contain links to the US Air Force report. Not recommended for Al for this reason.
     
  23. teak360

    teak360 F1 Veteran
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    Nov 3, 2003
    9,153
    Boulder, CO
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    Scott
    Simple Clean = just another citrus based cleaner like many others. Are you from Florida by the way?
     
  24. GarnetRedCoupe

    GarnetRedCoupe Formula Junior

    Mar 21, 2004
    788
    Maryland
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    Steve
    Simple green, if that doesn't work try oil flow. Once you have cleaned it touch it with some Mother's Aluminum polish.
     
  25. GarnetRedCoupe

    GarnetRedCoupe Formula Junior

    Mar 21, 2004
    788
    Maryland
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    Steve
    I haven't heard of this. I used simple green and oil flow on the Porsche over 8 years ago and have not had problems corrosion.
     

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