Grime removal

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Apr 3, 2010
Los Angeles, CA
I think this is about 30 years worth of grease and road grime. The pics are before I manually hit it with a putty knife and some other tools to remove the majority of it. You guys know of anything that will help break down whats left? I bet this have never been serviced.
save yourself a ton of frustration and time, take it all apart and then take all the pieces down to a local machine shop that has a hot tank, it won't cost much and they will all come out nice and clean.

the other option is soaking them in kerosene after you get alot of the initial grime off, but it will be hard to get it all off, especially in the nooks and crannies.

Wow! I've got the same buildup on mine. Post a pic after the scraping so I can see what kind of dent you put in it.
Try cheapo dollar store oven cleaner. It's mostly lye so it'll cut that grease. Spray it on, wait a while, then pressure wash off. Just like shampoo - lather, rinse, repeat (as much as ness.)

Guppy has the right idea. Pull it apart and hot tank it.

If you want to leave it all together, use some spray-on degreaser and a high pressure wand at a car wash. Bring safety glasses. The high pressure spray will often come straight back and get your face. Do not ask me how I know that! :)
I made a big 4 foot dia. pan out of sheet metal for stuff like this. This allows me to capture the splattered liquids and grease, after I just scrape up the sludge.
I start with a scraper then hand wire brush then small wire brush then get it wet.

I have cleaned with gas and engine cleaner. It seems like no matter what I end up with a tooth brush and Q-tips. Big chemical proof gloves and goggles. I hate it.

Normally I use gas once I am about done then go to thinner. Sand and then paint ready.
Been scraping and brushing. Next is either oven cleaner or just complete removal. Im avoiding the gas because I am doing this im my apartment building garage.
First I would use a putty knife and cut away the thick stuff. The absolute best stuff I used to cut grease and grime is petroleum distillates. With a wash pan underneath, pour the liquid over the axle and use a baster to suck up drippings to re-apply. Use a wire brush and brush away while applying more liquid. Once all of the grime has been scraped up and loosened, use carb cleaner to spray away the the residue and you will be left with new looking parts. Always use gloves, eye protection and ventilation is a must! I have an old window fan that I use for stuff like this.

Never thought of oven cleaner before.. Might have to try that!
Yep, x3 on the oven cleaner. Scrape off the heavy stuff, go to the local car wash and use the degreaser, let it soak a while then blast it off. Then apply the oven cleaner and let it sit for about 10 minutes. It works good, You can even clean the engine block with it just make sure the exhaust manifold has cooled off.
I just wrote my thesis on grime removal on page 3 of my rebuild thread. But a putty knife to scrape the heavy stuff, followed by a soaking with WD40 (optional) and wire brushing gets most of the heavy stuff. Then some Dawn dishwashing liquid and hose for the oily residue (optional) then finally brake cleaner. Its messy but effective and won't fume you to death the way over cleaner will if you don't have good ventilation. Old shower curtains or painter's plastic can catch the heavy stuff and won't get eaten by the chemicals with the exception of the brake cleaner. Roll it up use it like a funnel to dump the grunge in the trash. Wipe down or hose off and reuse. Just offering you some options. If you have access to a parts washer, that's a good way to go too. I just like to have things clean before I tear them down.
What "Krusty" said....Works great and is cheap!
oven cleaner and power wash it... if you do that.. you might loose some of the old paint on the diff..
if you want it perfect.. then tear it down and hot tank it paint it and slap it back in..

i usually just power wash and paint... then put it back together..

on a side note... oxy clean works great on tail light lenses and turn signal lenses.. also other little parts...
I always have on hand a garden type pump up sprayer loaded up with mineral spirits. I'll slide a tray or trays under the area then spray while working with a collection of scrapers and brushes. I put the leftovers in with my used motor oil. I'll finish up with a water soluble degreaser then rinse with water or a pres/wash if needed. This method helps me minimize the gunk that ends up in the ground. The spayer along with an oil changing tub also works as my parts washer until I can find room to fit in a real one.
When you say petroleum distillates...what specifically?

I used a solvent that was just called "Petroleum Distillates". Generic square can that I bought at a machine and welding store. I'm pretty sure anything petroleum based would work the same. I once used a friends can of Gunk Carb and Parts cleaner and it worked just as well. There are safer and more eco-friendly cleaners out there that are citrus based, but they take longer to work and still don't perform as well.
I used a pressure washer at a car wash that filters their drain water. worked like a charm! None of the spray on cleaners worked for me...

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