<VV> Parts Washers & Solvents (for corvair parts :-)

Tony Underwood tonyu@roava.net
Thu, 26 Aug 2004 12:34:37 -0700

At 01:30 hours 08/26/2004 -0400, Mike Shank wrote:
>I'm debating buying a 20 gal parts washer on sale for 69.99 at the local
>HF store.  Noticed that they only sold water-based "solvent" for the
>washer, so I took the thing apart, in the store <g>, to see what the pump
>was made of - PLASTIC!   Called HF Technical Help - they recommend
>AGAINST using petroleum based solvents in their washers.  My first
>thought after I hung up was: "90% of the crud I plan to wash off my parts
>is petroleum based!!!! - how long will that last?"   

Listen and learn, grasshopper...   ;)    

>1) Do any of you have any experience w/ the water-based cleaners sold at

No.   I use something else.    

>Some of my concerns would be: 
>Does it cut thru oily crud, etc., effectively?   (yes, I'll scrape the
>worst of it off 1st)    

What I use does.    

>Is there a problem w/ surface rust due to trapped moisture in clean


>(yes, I can try to blow it dry w/ air, but is that good enough?)

Yes, if you chase the air dry with some spray oil etc to keep the dry metal
from rusting.   I do this anyway regardless of what I clean stuff with,
spritz some Blaster on it and wipe it down with a shop rag.   

>Are there other water-based "solvent" problems that are lurking out

Yes.   Purple Cleaner.   COSTAL sells a version at Auto Zone that's cheaper
than the name brand stuff and it works like gangbusters.   I was actually
amazed at how well it cuts grime and crud from under a 30+ year old top
shroud off an oily Vair engine.   

>2) Do any of you have any experience w/ NON-water based cleaners in a
>cheap parts washer w/ a plastic pump?  

Purple Cleaner.   Only, not a plastic pump...  

>3) Quite a few of you recommended using either Mineral Spirits or
>Kerosene (claimed to be easier on hands).  What kind of pump is in your

I'd still use purple stuff and if I needed something petroleum based
afterwards,  a can of brake klene or carb cleaner works well to spritz
things up.   Don't forget to wipe some blaster on it afterwards.   

>3) There was a very informative thread in 2002 about using "d-Limonene"
>either straight or mixed with mineral spirits - came highly recommended
>from several of you.  Where do you buy it?  (brand names?)  Again does
>anbody have any experience w/ it in a washer w/ a plastic pump?   Can it
>be mixed w/ anything that wont attack plastic but still retain its

If purple will do the job cheap, why look for something else more expensive
that's untried?    

>4)  I'm assuming (that word ASSUME has gotten me before :-)  that mineral
>spirits and plastic pumps don't get along.   Any insight?

Depends...  stoddard solvent (varsol, which is the major component of
WD-40) usually doesn't bother most plastics at all, not even styrene unless
you really try hard.   

>5) A completely different approach - I have an old solenoid-type elec
>fuel pump that puts out way too much pressure for my vair carbs.  Has
>anybody built their own washer out of an old metal wash tub, a sheet
>metal lid, a fuel pump, and a couple lengths of fuel hose?   How long

I know a guy with a home brew washer made from an old square galvanized
wash tub, and a Vega fuel pump submerged in a Jerry can with varsol in it.
  Had it for years.   

>might that kind of pump hold up under those conditions?  Would you

The Vega pump seemed to work OK with nothing more than its original

>6) Would you build your own if you had most of the stuff laying around,

I'm cheap as Hell...  what do *you* think?   ;)   

>or buy a cheap one w/ plastic pump & safety lid, or fork out bigger bucks
>for a better one - if so, which one & where?

Cheap works... I'd get the plastic pump and use Purple stuff and enjoy no
fire hazards and wash my hands afterwards with water and come out clean.   

Then again, I'd likely also have a soak tank someplace, filled with lacquer
thinner...   just in case.    Right now my soak tank is a 6 gallon plastic
deli pickle bucket.    

If you are truly serious about degreasing truly ugly greasy nasty parts...  

I have a plastic laundry sink in the basement that I've used for caustic
soda baths to degrease cruddy parts, works well to strip off paint along
with the crud.  Use hot water to mix the caustic soda, as hot as you  can
get it, won't hurt the plastic laundry tub at all.   It will strip crud and
grease off ferrous metals without as much as a stain on the base work
metal... but  Do Not try this with a Vair cylinder head or anything else
aluminum or pot metal or non-iron!   And don't try it in a galvanized wash
tub either...   smoke happens.   Wear gloves.   Keep a mild acid bath handy
to wash your hands to neutralize the lye (caustic soda) if it gets on you.
 I use photographers "stop-bath" acetic acid, diluted to a mild solution,
cheap  from any Ritz Camera store although I get mine out of my photography
darkroom.    You can get caustic soda from most chemical supply stores or
some of the major hardware chains in pellets or granules.   Or, use a few
cans of Red Devil Lye... and really pay close attention to the instructions
on the container and be VERY careful mixing the stuff with hot water OR

You *will* need to spray down the cleaned parts with Blaster or something
similar after the soda bath and thorough water washing afterwards, which
will leave the metal bare and clean and unoily and unprotected.   It *will*
rust unless it's dried thoroughly and then protected with something.   

I'd still lean towards a simple parts washer filled with Purple Cleaner and
a few stiff parts cleaning brushes.