Friday, January 25, 2013

One of those posts I promised: a cleaning method

Had an idea for cleaning parts coated with old, dried/caked grease and oil; a way that might avoid some of the scrubbing.  And, in some cases, flushing out things you don't want to detail-strip

Here’s the materials list:
2’ piece of 3” diameter PVC pipe
One end cap for pipe
Solvent to install cap
One aquarium air pump
One package air hose
One pack of bubbler stones(come in pairs)

Permanently install the cap on one end of the pipe.
Bend a piece of wire so it’s a bit of a spring-fit into the pipe, and has a loop or ‘bump’ to hold the air hose; this is to hold the bubbler on the bottom.
Use the wire to put the bubbler and hose in.
Eventually I’ll make a better stand to hold this upright, right now it’s sitting in a bucket.  Which turned out to be a good thing, get to that later.

First effort was with mineral spirits.  Pour in enough to submerge the piece being cleaned.  Hang the piece on a wire and put in.  Plug in pump and let sit a while.
I tried the spirits on several things, first being the 15-22 bolt.  Which hadn’t been actually cleaned since I bought it(wiped off, but that’s all).  Left it sitting in for about half an hour*, pulled out and hit with brake cleaner to flush it off, then let it dry.  Result was, the actual powder fouling, some of it was off, the rest required some rubbing with solvent.  But every bit of oil on the bolt, extractor, spring & plunger was gone. 

Second, friend had some hold Hi Power magazines with old grease on them.  They got about an hour total(all three in at the same time, and we were busy with something else), and this removed every trace of grease(which revealed that they weren’t painted like he thought, but parkerized; yes, he greased them right after drying).

Third , he had a shotgun trigger group that was fairly nasty with old oil and powder fouling.  That got about an hour, and it removed all but some crud on the trigger spring.  This is a coil spring around the trigger/pin assembly, somewhat buried down inside.  A couple of good blasts of brake cleaner seemed to take care of that.

So far, so good.  Then had an idea.  I’ve mentioned this stuff before

as a really good degreaser, so, why not try it?  If it worked in this, it’d be a lot cheaper(a buck a bottle at the dollar store) than mineral spirits.  So I poured a quart in the pipe, added a little water for volume, and turned in on.  First result:

Man, this stuff foams up!  Which is where being in a bucket came in handy.

The parts this time came from a Marlin levergun that had been inherited by a friend; it hadn’t been used in a long time, and when it was taken down the bolt, locking block and sides of the floorplate were caked with old, dried oil or grease(said when first tried to work the action, the bolt didn’t want to move, the stuff had actually glued it and the block in place).  So hung them in and left them a while.

About a half-hour later pulled them out to check.  Results:
The crud on the locking block was mostly gone; the heaviest deposits still there, but noticeably thinner and just wiped off.
The bolt was a LOT cleaner, and liquid- cleaner and dissolved grease- was dripping out. 
Stuck both back in for a while longer just to really flush the bolt, then flushed them with brake cleaner and hung to dry.  After which hung in the floor plate assembly, which had caked old oil on the sides; about twenty minutes, and what was left just wiped off.  Flushed it, and when all was dry oiled all the parts.

And yes, we watched them for a couple of days before reassembly to see if any signs of rust/crud/galloping whatsits; nothing at all.

So that's the cleaner idea.  Seems to work pretty well.

*Had planned fifteen minutes, but got busy in the kitchen


USCitizen said...

Alternate Method:

1) Blast with Easy-Off Oven Cleaner in a well-ventalated area - preferably outside.
2) Step inside and have a beer or watch the football game.
3) Use the garden hose to rinse cleaner off (safety glasses will be handy for this step).
4) Have another beer. It's done!

Worked for me for engine blocks, transmission housings and differentials.

USCitizen said...

ventilated ?