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Removing old grease and dirt?

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Scratch View Drop Down
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    Posted: 04 Mar. 2022 at 6:01pm
What is your preferred method of removing 70+ years of greasy, oily, muddy crud from engines, axle housings,  steering boxes, drag links, transmissions, transfer cases, etc... to get ready for paint?  I've tried sandblasting, pressure washing, wire wheels, screwdrivers, etc... I'm working on some stuff today that my pressure washer just wont touch.  And the sandblaster seems to be taking forever as well. 
My process is to start with a pressure wash first, then use a 1" wood chisel, followed by sandblasting, or wire wheel.

What are your methods?

Here is what I'm talking about, this is after the pressure washer.  I wonder how a hot water pressure washer would work?



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote General Eisenhower Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Mar. 2022 at 8:17pm
I've had luck with parts like your showing by dipping a wire brush in kerosene and just scrubbing away, then wash it down and dry it, followed by paint usually. I only do this in open air for obvious reasons

The chisel looks good for big ideas but the gas and brush help brake up stuff in small or weird areas


Edited by General Eisenhower - 05 Mar. 2022 at 8:42pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote WellFedHobo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Mar. 2022 at 8:18pm
I've heard one of those really hot steam pressure washers will blast it away amazingly. 

I don't have one of those so I do a manual scrape with a putty knife and wire brush, then hose it down with degreaser, let it sit and eat on it for a bit, then pressure wash it off as best you can. For detail work I put a wire wheel on a drill and go to town, then throw the wire wheel away when it becomes hopelessly clogged with clay from 40 years ago.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wfopete Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Mar. 2022 at 9:09pm
See if your local rental center has a steam cleaner.  If that's a dead end buy a few cans of over cleaner (EZ Off) and let that soak in for a bit followed by the pressure washer.  Might take multiple efforts; good luck.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drm101 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Mar. 2022 at 8:50am
paint scraper/wire brush/chisel, then a tooth brush and can of mineral spirits. Finish with grease and wax remover if you're going to paint it. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DMusil Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Mar. 2022 at 9:23am
I had my complete body off frame,engine ,transmission,and differentials Dry Ice blasted. Amazing!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rus Curtis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Mar. 2022 at 10:47am
Originally posted by DMusil DMusil wrote:

...Dry Ice blasted....

Learned something new today.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Michaeltru Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Mar. 2022 at 11:01am
Heard of dry ice blasting being used in houses to remove mold
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Scratch Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Mar. 2022 at 11:10am
Originally posted by DMusil DMusil wrote:

I had my complete body off frame,engine ,transmission,and differentials Dry Ice blasted. Amazing!

I'm in the process of that method myself right now on another drivetrain.  I've been at it for a few months now but I think I'm doing it wrong, I think my dry ice is too wet....



Edited by Scratch - 05 Mar. 2022 at 11:12am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Oldpappy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Mar. 2022 at 1:21pm
Think that engine is stuck yet ?

Years ago I rented a steam cleaner to clean up under the hood and the frame on an old truck we were going to paint. It did an amazing job, came out squeaky clean.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LuzonRed47 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Mar. 2022 at 1:48pm
Please, please, please: Never use gasoline to clean parts! That's a very dangerous recommendation. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fred46 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Apr. 2022 at 9:27am
I too used these methods. Very tedious.  
Try a air needle gun scaler. I just bought a compact one and plan to try it out this week.
If as you describe the built up crud is hardened grease & dirt I’ve heard about and saw video of a fellow using one to clean up a transmission. 
Prices are very diverse. I picked up one at horrible freight for $29.



Edited by Fred46 - 30 Apr. 2022 at 9:30am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jeff J Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Apr. 2022 at 10:56am
I haven’t done a part that big yet but so far I have used solvent, pressure washer, Purple Power, pressure washer, solvent, wire brush on the transmission and transfer case. I am down to the concrete like dried dirt. I have been using scotchbright wheels on the dremel to get the tight places and the discs on the die grinder to finish up. I would just get the parts hot tanked if there was one conveniently located for me. 

I used Easy-Off oven cleaner on a block once. It worked well but burned when it splashed on me when I hit it with the pressure washer. Not too bad on the arms and hands but the drop that landed on my lip got my attention. I am very glad I was wearing my sunglasses. 


Edited by Jeff J - 30 Apr. 2022 at 10:57am
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