Author Topic: Engine bay cleaning  (Read 1740 times)

Offline mistertudball

  • Posts: 125
Engine bay cleaning
« on: June 07, 2012, 07:47:56 AM »
I've got a new under-hood insulation pad coming for the 73 Eldo and took a gander at the engine bay, which has not been cleaned since I bought the car in 1988.  Not hugely greasy/oily, just dirty.  How do you go about this safely?  I don't want a black stained concrete driveway, or to damage the paint, or ruin anything in there.  I've seen an "engine cleaner" setting on the wand at a local coin-op car wash but have never used it.  Any advice on how NOT to make things worse would be appreciated!
David Bartosic CLC19619

Offline The Tassie Devil(le)

  • Administrator
  • Posts: 12386
  • CLC Number: 18992
  • Name: Bruce Reynolds
Re: Engine bay cleaning
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2012, 08:40:02 AM »
When using the "Engine Cleaner" setting, whatever you do, don't get any of the stuff on the painted surfaces of the bodywork, or it WILL strip off the polish, and cover the windscreen.

Plus, cover the electrics with plastic bags and cloth to protect their internals.

Bruce. >:D
'72 Eldorado Convertible (LHD)
'70 Ranchero Squire (RHD)
'74 Chris Craft Gull Wing (SH)
'02 VX Series II Holden Commodore SS Sedan
(Past President Modified Chapter)

Past Cars of significance - to me
1935 Ford 3 Window Coupe
1936 Ford 5 Window Coupe
1937 Chevrolet Sports Coupe
1955 Chevrolet Convertible
1959 Ford Fairlane Ranch Wagon
1960 Cadillac CDV
1972 Cadillac Eldorado Coupe

Offline 76eldo

  • Posts: 6648
  • CLC Number: 22443
  • Name: Brian Rachlin
Re: Engine bay cleaning
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2012, 09:28:39 AM »
If you are cleaning off some light grease and dirt, I spray the engine bay down with a mist of water from the hose.

I squirt it down liberally with Simple Green cleaner, and work the cleaner into the dirt with a few different paint brushes that i saved that were no good for painting any more.

It will clean off dirt, dust, and light grease, and can hose away.  Simple Green is somewhat biodegradable.

Here is one result on a very nice original 77 Eldo:

Brian
Brian Rachlin
Huntingdon Valley, Pa
CLC # 22443
I prefer email's not PM's rachlin@comcast.net

1960 62 Series Conv with Factory Tri Power
1970 DeVille Conv
1970 Eldo
1970 Caribu (?) "The Cadmino"
1973 Eldorado Conv Pace Car
1976 Eldorado Conv
1980 Eldorado H & E Conv
1993 Allante with Hardtop (X2)
2008 DTS
2012 CTS Coupe
2017 XT
1956 Thunderbird
1966 Olds Toronado

Offline Gene Beaird

  • Posts: 1069
  • Name: Gene Beaird
Re: Engine bay cleaning
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2012, 10:04:22 AM »
I'd only use those coin-operated wands and 'engine cleaner' settings on an engine/trans/diff I'd pulled from a car and was going to rebuild.  The water pressure is pretty high on those.  They can peel paint, and 'inject' water into electrical connections.  I've had luck in the past:

1. warming the engine.
2. covering the distributor, carburetor, and alternator with plastic baggies.
3. spraying the engine down with Gunk spray cleaner.
4. let it sit a while, working on the thick grease accumulations with a parts cleaner brush.
5. hose it off with a water hose and hand-held spray nozzle.
6. dry things off with a few towels, working on the large flat surfaces (inner fender wells, radiator core support, firewall) first.
7. Uncover the electrical parts and dry/clean them.
8. Enjoy.

I did that for my 72 Trans Am that I daily-drove and showed several times at the Houston Autorama.  It took first in class the last year I showed it. 

I'm about to do the underhood area on our 86 SVO that I'm restomodding.  I plan to try some of Griot's waterless car wash first to see how well that goes.  I'd like to start as gentle as possible, and work toward more-harsh products as the need arises.  I do have some dirt/grease accumulation where the power steering cooler has leaked on the A/C evaporator, so I suspect I'll possibly need something harsher there. 
Gene Beaird,
1968 Calais
1979 Seville
Pearland, Texas
CLC Member No. 29873

Offline kkarrer

  • Posts: 730
  • Name: Ken Karrer
Re: Engine bay cleaning
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2012, 10:27:01 AM »
The Simple Green or similar pre-wash is a good idea.  The steps I recommend are these: Go to the car wash.  Leave the car engine in idle. (never spray down a hot engine that's not running also warm grease is easier to remove than cold grease)  Raise the hood and spray down the engine bay with the pre-wash that you've brought along.  Put your quarters in and fire up the wash wand.  I usually just use the "wash" setting and wash the car and engine bay at the same time, but whether you use the engine wash aspect or not, you'll leave the engine running and just don't directly spray your distributor and coil areas (bad plug wires will show up here and arc to ground when wet).  If you're not sure how tight your coil wire connection is (the main wire from the coil to the distributor), you can tape it and or cover it with saran wrap, but just not spraying it directly usually works.  Switch to rinse and rinse the car and engine bay and you should be in good shape.  Don't get too close to the work under the hood with the high pressure as some of that paint (especially if someone's touched it up) will blast off.  If the engine misses out a bit on the way home from the car wash, you've gotten some moisture into the coil connection and or the distributor cap.  If that's the case you might want to consider replacing the coil wire and the distributor cap as it may be cracked.
Ken Karrer 1941 6227D coupe

Offline waterzap

  • Posts: 912
  • CLC Number: 26896
  • Name: Waldo Du Toit
Re: Engine bay cleaning
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2012, 11:54:19 AM »
I second how Gene does it. Safe and works great.
Charlotte, NC
-1978 Eldorado Coupe

Offline planetcadillac

  • Posts: 45
Re: Engine bay cleaning
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2012, 12:28:56 PM »
I use the coin-op washes all the time. My personal procedure is to spray the engine off with water before I leave the house, drive to the front of the neighborhood to the self-service wash (not far enough to get the engine really hot just a bit warm), soak the engine compartment with a diluted Purple Power (Simple Green and similar are fine) and then use the rinse setting and spray everything off.

I would recommend NOT using the SOAP setting as the residue from the soap can leave white stains on the engine. Or if you do thoroughly rinse the engine compartment before letting dry.

I don't like using aftersprays that make the engine "shiney". A good clean engine should speak for itself.

Craig Seman #17308

Offline 76eldo

  • Posts: 6648
  • CLC Number: 22443
  • Name: Brian Rachlin
Re: Engine bay cleaning
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2012, 12:53:12 PM »
Not hugely greasy/oily, just dirty.  How do you go about this safely?  I don't want a black stained concrete driveway, or to damage the paint, or ruin anything in there. 

Gunk is basically kerosene.  He said he didn't want to leave a big grease stain on the driveway, and the engine compartment is NOT that greasy.

Soap and water and a brush and mild hose pressure will do the trick.  No need to bag anything if you can avoid directly hitting it with the hose.  Taking the nozzle off eliminates a lot of pressure.

Good Luck,

Brian
Brian Rachlin
Huntingdon Valley, Pa
CLC # 22443
I prefer email's not PM's rachlin@comcast.net

1960 62 Series Conv with Factory Tri Power
1970 DeVille Conv
1970 Eldo
1970 Caribu (?) "The Cadmino"
1973 Eldorado Conv Pace Car
1976 Eldorado Conv
1980 Eldorado H & E Conv
1993 Allante with Hardtop (X2)
2008 DTS
2012 CTS Coupe
2017 XT
1956 Thunderbird
1966 Olds Toronado

Offline Ed

  • Posts: 99
  • CLC Number: 23765
  • Name: E. Nieves
Re: Engine bay cleaning
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2012, 02:06:21 PM »
I like Simple Green and and ECS degreaser. Cover all electronics and do a section at a time for detailing.

« Last Edit: June 07, 2012, 02:08:00 PM by Ed »
Ed Nieves
Member #23765

Offline planetcadillac

  • Posts: 45
Re: Engine bay cleaning
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2012, 03:04:08 PM »
One thing I do when I go to the spray booth is DISCONNECT the battery. Covering electronics and what not is good but by disconnecting the battery ensures that there are no live electricity that could cause sparks or shorts.

I don't know what ECS is but Simple Green is like Purple Power a common household degreaser.
Craig Seman #17308

Offline Ed

  • Posts: 99
  • CLC Number: 23765
  • Name: E. Nieves
Re: Engine bay cleaning
« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2012, 04:32:18 PM »
Craig, and others, I'm sorry, I misspoke, it's ECP-99 degreaser.  :-\
Ed Nieves
Member #23765

Offline mistertudball

  • Posts: 125
Re: Engine bay cleaning
« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2012, 12:05:24 PM »
Some great ideas.  Looks like I have a weekend project!  Thanks for all the feedback. 
David Bartosic CLC19619

Offline mistertudball

  • Posts: 125
Re: Engine bay cleaning
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2012, 06:58:53 PM »
Done! 

I went with covering the distributor/coil with a bag, gentle garden hose, and Simple Green.  I bought a refill jug of the stuff and didn't know how to dilute so I did about half/half.  Used an old paint brush, disconnected the battery, thanks for the ideas, and a scrub brush.  After drying in the sun for a while, the Eldo started right up; not even a screech from the belts.  I really was going for cosmetic here, and can't fathom getting the  WHOLE engine/transaxle spotless; my hat's off to you show folks.  The blue valve covers are a little rusty but brightened up a bit.

And just as I was getting ready to start it up, the FedEx truck arrived with the new hood insulation pad, which I installed almost without a hitch.  Someone watching would have found it comical; put in a retainer, run to the other side to put in another one, first one pops out, run over there, the one you just put in pops out.  But eventually it all worked.

And now it's the cocktail hour!
David Bartosic CLC19619

Offline Ed

  • Posts: 99
  • CLC Number: 23765
  • Name: E. Nieves
Re: Engine bay cleaning
« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2012, 09:18:11 AM »

You may want to try some Zymol are those valve covers. Apply it with a jumbo cottonball. Rub and buff. This stuff is great.  :)
Ed Nieves
Member #23765

Offline TJ Hopland

  • Posts: 10182
Re: Engine bay cleaning
« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2012, 11:13:24 AM »
Im not sure what the active ingredient in simple green is but most of the purple cleaners its lye.  Purple is about all I use anymore on engine parts.  I dont think I would want to get it on paint and I usually run about a 25% purple and rest water mix.  That seems plenty strong.  Use well ventilated area and wear gloves. 

How about steam cleaning?   You see those mini home steam cleaners they sell for doing drapes and such.   Seems like something that would work but not be too hard on things.
StPaul/Mpls, MN USA

73 Eldo convert w/FiTech EFI
80 Eldo Diesel
90 CDV
And other assorted stuff I keep buying for some reason

 

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