parts cleaner: what fluid to use?

Discussion in 'Tools and Fabrication' started by e9999, Jan 6, 2009.

  1. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    seems like there is a controversy about that from the little I read:
    water-based detergent solution or hydrocarbon?

    I plan to use it to clean bearings, Birfs and the like. Seems like Diesel would do. Cheap and not too flammable. But my cleaner is a big 20 gals and may take quite a bit for the pump to go -although I could put some bricks in there to raise the level. Plus would smell and all. And I would use this only infrequently so storage issues.

    What do you use and why?
  2. KLF

    KLF Frame waxer

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    When I had a parts cleaner, I used a 50-50 solution of water & Castrol SuperClean. Brutal stuff, but it works. It will freeze, so I got rid of the whole thing.
  3. zebrabeefj40

    zebrabeefj40

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    I've used mineral spirits in parts washers with good results. From my reading water based solvents seem to work well only if you heat them up to 150-180 degrees. Hydrocarbon based stuff usually works well at room temps. Most machine shops I've worked for use the hydrocarbon based stuff. Usually from Safety Kleen along with the contract to haul away the nasties in the bottom of the tank.

    Nick
  4. KLF

    KLF Frame waxer

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    We use a product called Agitene in our parts washers at school for the engine building classes. Great stuff, but it's mucho expensive.
  5. zebrabeefj40

    zebrabeefj40

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    An engine rebuilt shop I worked for used a Zep product in the parts washer.

    Zep Superior Solutions : : :

    IIRC it was one of the Dyna solvents. On their web page look under the vehicle care section; mechanical and engine care subhead... Most major cities have a Zep dealer for janitorial supplies. They should be able to hook you up with parts washer solvent too.

    Nick
  6. MOfj40

    MOfj40

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    aqueous cleaning agents are sh*t under 110*F . If your parts washer doesn't have a heater, don't even bother. Agitene is good as stated, but $$. You've already guessed the best solvent for a hobbyist parts washer - diesel. Hard to ignite, stores well, and cuts great. After parts washing, spray with brake cleaner to get rid of the diesel film/smell. If you're planning to paint the part, substitute Xylene for brake cleaner.

    I've got a 50 gallon parts washer in the shop at work - used to be aqueous with heater, but I was unimpressed. Switched to a solvent washer and works well but fluid is expensive. I'm the maint mgr for a FDA inspected food production facility, so I'm limited to what I can bring in. If I weren't, my washer would have diesel - cheaper, cuts as well as most other solvents, and no disposal costs (bonfire starter).
  7. D'Animal

    D'Animal Rescuer of Beagle and Landcruisers Moderator

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    In my tank, I use stoddard solvent. It is a dry mineral spirit.

    A 5 gallon bucket will run you around $35. So far there have been about 12 front knuckle/birf jobs done before I had to drain the tank and clean the sludge out. I let the debris settle from the old fluid and added it back to the clean tank. I added 5 more gallons of the new fluid and it is as good as new. The old sludge and old nasty fluid went in the 5 gallon bucket and back to the jobber that I bought then new fluid from. They charge to recycle it, so I make them recycle it.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2009
  8. roalco

    roalco

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    I use mineral spirit paint thinner (cheaper and virtually the same as Varsol, Stoddard Solvent, Kerosene, all very chemically, and physically similar, main difference is purity, dryness and PRICE) in my old rapid-cleen (about 5gal capacity). Use it well, and if you wipe off most of the dirt and grease on the part before hand it'll last for a long time. When it's time for a change, into a drum and off to the local waste oil recycling bin.
    The handiest thing in my garage!!
    Don't forget, all this stuff is flammable, and although like diesel (basically the same stuff with additives) you won't be able to light a pan of it by chucking a match in it, if you leave a rag or anything that could be a wick in it. it'll burn like a kerosene lamp (yes, even diesel). So don't leave stuff in it, keep the fusible link on the cover, and keep the cover closed when you aren't using it. (Keeping the cover closed also saves solvent from evaporating and dissipating, which is a good thing.
  9. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    well, I just had a better look at the washer. It looks like a Harbor freight one. 20 gals. Eh, it was a freebie! (Paint at the bottom is coming off in big chunks...)
    but there is a sticker that says not to use mineral spirits, diesel etc, says to use only aqueous solvents. Not sure if that's a cover your rear thing or that the pump may not be safe to use (not spark free etc). Thoughts...?
  10. Dirtsquirt

    Dirtsquirt

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    9's

    I just assembled the 20 gallon unit from Harbor Freight.
    I priced mineral spirits.. We used this in our washer 15 years ago
    before there was all this enviromental concern about paper trails on waste. now we use Safetykleen service. It works great.
    I priced some today and havent been able to find 5 gal jugs yet
    but the 1 gallon jugs are around 10.00 ea.:flipoff2:that.

    I remember back to my Automatic transmission rebuilding days.
    and Simple Green was the cats meow back then for cleaning Tranny parts . It required rinsing with hot water and air gun blow drying after the fact but worked pretty good.
    My garage has an attached bathroom that the washer can live in.
    So I am gonna try the Purple Simple Green HD product.
    there is no doubt this will be less effective than mineral spirits
    but at 15.00 (SG) vs 120.00 (mineral spirits)
    I can live with a little extra effort.

    I will post up in a month if the stuff ends up being absolutely useless.
  11. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    I have a tea water heater, the kind you put in your cup when travelling. Wonder if that would warm up some water detergent solution in my washer...? :)


    [I'm a little spooked by the idea of putting some flammable stuff in a machine that says not to....]

  12. zebrabeefj40

    zebrabeefj40

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    IIRC two things happen while using hydrocarbon fluids in that washer: the paint peels and the pump doesn't work for long. No need for paint in the wash area and new pumps are pretty cheap. I'd rather have a solvent that actually works than pretty paint on my parts washer. I wouldn't waste my time with a tea heater. Not near big enough for the volume you're trying to heat.

    Nick
  13. D'Animal

    D'Animal Rescuer of Beagle and Landcruisers Moderator

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    Probably has a Cal-EPA sticker on it.

    Per Cal-EPA, you can only use soapy water.

  14. D'Animal

    D'Animal Rescuer of Beagle and Landcruisers Moderator

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    I totally though he was kidding about the Tea Heater.
  15. Cruiserdrew

    Cruiserdrew SILVER Star

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    Eric-For small things, the dishwasher works surprisingly well, not that I would know about that....:D

    Plus if you run it a second time, it cleans up most of the evidence. Just be sure to get your parts out immediately while they are still hot and dry them so they don't flash rust.

    For the really gunky stuff--a 5 gallon bucket and 3 gallons of diesel fuel and long chemically resistant gloves are the poor man's solution. Those harbor freight units suck.
  16. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    :doh: :)
  17. e9999

    e9999 You want to do what...? Moderator

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    so you guys think there is no serious risk of explosion or fire if I were to use Diesel in that cheap unit?

    I'm starting to think this all may not be a great idea. For one thing the pump is poorly designed. The inlet is like 2 or 3" from the bottom so you need a huge amount of fluid unless you put bricks or something in there. Of course the height may help with sludge. I just thought I could let it rip at Birfs and the like and it'll be a breeze but the cleaning of the cleaner and all may be a pain... So maybe the bucket is the way to go indeed?
  18. nuclearlemon

    nuclearlemon not an addict Moderator

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    i'm on my second hf unit. first one lasted six cruel years. i did god knows how many front ends in there, i would take the scankiest transfer cases and leave them in there. don't ask what scraping the crap off the bottom was like.

    finally, the pump puked and the lift for the top exploded on me. found a barely used one for $25 to replace it.

    i was buying solvent at shoco (sam hill oil company), but am currently looking for more affordable options, so i'm no help on how things like diesel react, but shoco's solvent was considered highly flammable, and i never had an issue.

    you are right about it sucking having the intake for the pump so low, but i think it helps after a bit when the skank starts to build up on the bottom. the "filter" material they put in there sucks and you will most likely have to pull the pump and clean it out every year and a half or so. you will need 10glns of fluid minimum to get it to pump worth a crap. i never bothered with more than 10 gallons.
  19. D'Animal

    D'Animal Rescuer of Beagle and Landcruisers Moderator

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    e9999999


    Posting on a world wide forum on the best stuff to use in a solvent tank will just frustrate you.


    The stuf that works, you can't buy in California anyway.


    :cheers:
  20. nuclearlemon

    nuclearlemon not an addict Moderator

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    lol:flipoff2:

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