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Old 10-17-2016, 12:45 PM   #1
shaefer
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Default General degreasing - any recommendations?

While I've got the head off and the car in the middle of some repairs, I want to also give a really good degreasing to clean it up and also help to identify if/where there are any oil leaks.

Questions are as follows:

(1) What is a good general purpose degreaser? Most of the gunk seems to be built up in that trough behind the bottom of the radiator, but there's also a fair amount on the bottom of the engine and generally all around the undercarriage. The car has been driven almost daily for 15 years, and I don't think we thoroughly degreased/cleaned the undercarriage even then, so I imagine it's a combo of oil and collected road grime.

(2) What areas should absolutely NOT be degreased? (This is more aimed at the undercarriage.) I understand grease isn't all bad, or it wouldn't be there in the first place. What areas should I absolutely avoid removing all of the grease?

(3) After it's good and clean, are there certain areas in particular prone to leaks that I should pay special attention to?


I'll likely have a lot of questions going forward. The car was mine and my dad's and he usually had all of these answers. He recently passed and I'm now the sole caretaker of our beloved Cabriolet (68 C). My son turns 16 when the car turns 100, so it's my goal to get it to there.

I was always the one that excelled at the mechanical and electrical stuff, so I'll be relying on the Barn to fill in the gaps. Thanks in advance.
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I was born in 1982 and in 1989 my father found the perfect '31 Cabriolet. In 1997 he finally bought it and it became our favorite thing to do together. While my friends were buying Playstations and XBoxs, I was saving up for a muffler. 9 years later, while their game systems were gathering dust, I was picking my wife up for our first date in that car. I drive it to this day and I hope to keep it up so my son can enjoy it just the same. That's the joy of a Model A!
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Old 10-17-2016, 12:52 PM   #2
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

leakage from ~35 zerk fittings + engine + transmission + steering column over the last 80-90 years adds up to the undercarriage.

I doubt the factory intentionally smeared grease on any exterior surface

I found the spray degreasers work "so-so" Brake clean + plastic spatula works reasonably well on the caked on stuff.
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Old 10-17-2016, 01:00 PM   #3
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

Amen to that! It's been many many years since I hit all those grease fittings. You just added a big one to my to do list!!!
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I was born in 1982 and in 1989 my father found the perfect '31 Cabriolet. In 1997 he finally bought it and it became our favorite thing to do together. While my friends were buying Playstations and XBoxs, I was saving up for a muffler. 9 years later, while their game systems were gathering dust, I was picking my wife up for our first date in that car. I drive it to this day and I hope to keep it up so my son can enjoy it just the same. That's the joy of a Model A!
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Old 10-17-2016, 01:02 PM   #4
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

http://www.cleaningsuppliesoutlet.co...strial-gl.html

used that stuff at work, would remove years of caked on grease, machine coolant, general grime.

simple green is also very good.

Alot of people use oven cleaner - use outside as fumes are ridiculous haha.
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Old 10-17-2016, 01:03 PM   #5
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

Brake Clean works very well but be Careful as the fumes are deadly.
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Old 10-17-2016, 01:09 PM   #6
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I used easyoff oven cleaner on a model A engine trans a few weeks ago. Spray it on and let it sit (even overnight) then hit with the power wash. Worked well. Did do some of the real caked on spots twice and wasn't shy with the easyoff. Be mindful though that it will remove paint.
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Old 10-17-2016, 01:21 PM   #7
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

Pour charcoal starter in a spray bottle. Spray on the offending area and let it sit for a few minutes then agitate with a parts brush. Do a final rinse with garden hose. Won't harm paint, no noxious fumes and very cost effective.
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Old 10-17-2016, 01:35 PM   #8
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

Use a power washer where practical ! Wayne
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Old 10-17-2016, 01:45 PM   #9
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

Oven cleaner works well, but it also removes paint. I'd use a parts cleaning brush for the caked on junk, or a paint brush for the light stuff and use diesel fuel to soften and remove the dried junk.
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Old 10-17-2016, 04:03 PM   #10
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

I recently used a degreaser called "Purple Power". I bought it at Auto Zone. It comes in a spray bottle and it worked great.
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Old 10-17-2016, 04:12 PM   #11
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

A friend sprays crummy areas for 2 or 3 weeks, with WD-40, before cleaning. I DON'T know if it really helps or not.??? I'm sure it wouldn't harm anything.
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Old 10-17-2016, 04:31 PM   #12
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

For lite to moderate cleaning I use Purple Power. For really caked on grease and dirt I use diesel fuel under air pressure. Get a siphon tube and nozzle at your auto store. A good compressor and a can of diesel will tear right thru the crud. Then follow up with the PP.
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Old 10-17-2016, 06:04 PM   #13
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

Simple Green (the green stuff) not the yellow Simple Green. Usually you can find a gallon jug that comes packaged with a quart bottle that is pre-mixed. I like the quart bottle because you can set it so the spray comes out as a foam that sticks well to things. I use it full strength for de-greasing.
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Old 10-17-2016, 06:17 PM   #14
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

I have used "Greased Lightening ", from BJ's club. Works great, and if you can Rince with hot water, the surfaces are ready to paint.

Good Luck;
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Old 10-17-2016, 08:00 PM   #15
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

My car had a rock-hard crust of dust and grease covering all the mechanical parts, and nothing worked at all to get it off. Then I tried Easy-Off, and it did a great job! But it will absolutely remove all the paint!

Doug

Quote:
Originally Posted by Licensed to kill View Post
I used easyoff oven cleaner on a model A engine trans a few weeks ago. Spray it on and let it sit (even overnight) then hit with the power wash. Worked well. Did do some of the real caked on spots twice and wasn't shy with the easyoff. Be mindful though that it will remove paint.
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Old 10-17-2016, 08:09 PM   #16
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

Purchase a steam cleaner at Walmart.com or Harbor freight for about $100 bucks before discount. McCulloch steam cleaner. Cover distributor, generator, alternator or other electrical components first.

Dawn dishwashing liquid. Cleans grease off ducks, cars and hands very well.

Purple Power. Easy Off. Simple Green.

MINERAL SPIRITS as shown in this video below:

https://youtu.be/jttcGiGPzR4

Last edited by coupe1942; 10-18-2016 at 06:12 AM.
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Old 10-17-2016, 08:16 PM   #17
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

What happened to Varsol and a scrub brush? Then scrub with soap and water and rinse. Still works well for me.

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Old 10-18-2016, 01:33 PM   #18
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

Putty knife and wire brush! I have used some of the GUNK degreaser from the parts store. I also like simple green. I try to scrape or brush most of the junk off before I use the chemicals. Less junk on the parts the better the chemicals soak to the metal. There is no substitute for elbow grease. I just wish I could find a good supply of that.
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Old 10-18-2016, 01:57 PM   #19
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug in NJ View Post
My car had a rock-hard crust of dust and grease covering all the mechanical parts, and nothing worked at all to get it off. Then I tried Easy-Off, and it did a great job! But it will absolutely remove all the paint!

Doug
In my case, that was an added bonus as I was repainting the engine anyway. When I only want to degrease and leave the paint I use brake clean that I buy in 20 litre pails using one of these http://www.sureshotsprayer.com/SteelSprayers.html They are not cheap but work awesome. They can also be filled with fuel and used to prime an engine that has sat for a long time or just isn't getting fuel for some reason rather than dumping gas in the carb. It puts out a nice fine spray.
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Old 10-18-2016, 02:11 PM   #20
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

I like the purple power also. The best part is that it does not leave a residue, so you can paint item immediately after the part dries up.
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Old 10-19-2016, 12:46 AM   #21
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

Here you can see what I did using WD-40, gas, and a soft paint brush. The car has good original paint on the firewall under all the grime.
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Old 10-19-2016, 02:57 AM   #22
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

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What happened to Varsol and a scrub brush? Then scrub with soap and water and rinse. Still works well for me.

John Poole
John, you and I think alike (post 7). Charcoal starter is essentially Varsol which is also dry cleaning fluid.
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Old 10-19-2016, 07:19 AM   #23
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

Vegetable oil ( cooking oil) is supposed to be very good for softening hard, caked grease. Apply liberally, let soak-in, apply more, let soak until softened, then scrape and wash with warm soapy water.

Purple Power, Super Clean, Awesome Stuff, etc. do work, but they are all caustic ( akaline ), and will do a whammy on your hands / fingernails, and any paint or aluminum.
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Old 10-19-2016, 11:09 AM   #24
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

Some of our brethren on the H.A.M.B. are proponents of a spray called Gibbs Brand. It's very good penetrating and rust preventative. Second to ATF/ acetone it's the best penetrant I know of, and one guy coated his bare-metal roadster with it and drove it that way for a year.
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Old 10-19-2016, 01:15 PM   #25
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Foster View Post
Some of our brethren on the H.A.M.B. are proponents of a spray called Gibbs Brand. It's very good penetrating and rust preventative. Second to ATF/ acetone it's the best penetrant I know of, and one guy coated his bare-metal roadster with it and drove it that way for a year.
Fearless
I like Gibbs, but don't know where to pick it up anymore. I used to buy a can at the threshing shows, but don't see it there anymore. Due to the expense I'd only use it as a rust penetrant though.
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Old 10-19-2016, 01:29 PM   #26
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Be careful using spray carb or brake cleaner, it can RUIN plastic glasses lenses!!!
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Old 10-19-2016, 02:45 PM   #27
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

I guess I'm too impatient, I'd just fire up a pressure washer and let er go, bag up/tape off all electrical and holes into the cab, put on my rain suit and goggles and get it wet, let sun dry for the rest of the day and grease everything and change the oil, but I'm probably still to young and dumb.


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Old 10-19-2016, 04:29 PM   #28
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1930 coupe View Post
I am very surprised that nobody uses Gunk engine degreaser any more.
It cleans very good and you can get it at Walmart. It has been around for 50 or 60 years.
I like using Gunk. However it doesn't seem to work as well as I remember it used to. works best if most of the grease is scraped off before you apply the Gunk. I always let it soak for quite a bit before I go with the rinse.
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Old 10-19-2016, 04:39 PM   #29
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I like Gibbs, but don't know where to pick it up anymore. I used to buy a can at the threshing shows, but don't see it there anymore. Due to the expense I'd only use it as a rust penetrant though.
I bought two spray cans online when I was working on a Tudor body; still have some.
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Old 10-19-2016, 06:13 PM   #30
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

Scrape off the thick stuff then use Dawn liquid dish washing detergent and HOT water. Gets the stuff off and doesn't hurt anything. Just cover parts that can't get wet.
Oh yeah, mix it up in the kitchen so you don't get Momma's Dawn bottle greasy.
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Old 10-19-2016, 10:07 PM   #31
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

I used to buy GUNK concentrate by the gallon from NAPA. But they do not seem to carry it now. I still have a half gallon left but will keep it for removing oil and grease from the garage floor.

For Model A parts I use putty knives, wire brushes, etc. to scrape off as much as possible and then follow up with Varsol or paint thinner. Final wash is with a product called Fast 505 from Home Depot and then a rinse in Dawn laced water. I am lucky in having a very hot water supply in the garage and find this helps a lot.

For general under carriage cleaning I use a pressure washer to get rid of most of the mess and then hit specific areas as per above.

One trick I saw at a local dealership used on a truck thickly coated with dried clay mud was to set a lawn sprinkler going underneath. I saw the result some hours later and it looked good. Do not know how it would work on a heavy grease layer.
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Old 10-19-2016, 10:14 PM   #32
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

when i re did my AA rearends i got a big tub and filled with about 10 gallons of kerosine andlet them soak overnight. in the am a stiff scrub bush got most of it off. some nooks required a screwdriver but it eventually all came off. Local gas station you can buy it by the gallon so wasnt too expensive.


Whatever you do cover the tub or put it somewhere dry where rain wont get to it... Rain got to mine and even though there was a lid it eventually filled up the rest of the bucket and overflowed to the patio... That was brown stained and waterproof for months! Worst part is every time it rained it kept washing off and eventually killed the grass that was downhill.....

Dumped the rest on the log/burn pile and lit it off...
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Old 10-20-2016, 12:02 AM   #33
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

"I used to buy GUNK concentrate by the gallon from NAPA. But they do not seem to carry it now. I still have a half gallon left but will keep it for removing oil and grease from the garage floor."

In 1969 I heard about an Army Sargent that ordered the guys to use a bucket of gas and mops to remove all the grease and oil stains on the shop floor. I guess it worked good until the fumes reached the gas water heater.
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Old 10-20-2016, 01:39 AM   #34
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

I have also had good luck with a product from the dollar store called awsome orange.
It comes in a spray bottle and in a refill thats about 1/2 gallon for a buck a piece.
I kept spraying it for 3 days before using the pressure washer on it and it worked great.
Anything the emulsifies the oil and grease will work. My Uncle used to say the most important ingredient any any cleaning product was the elbow grease....
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Old 10-20-2016, 07:08 AM   #35
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

A Guy had a can on the shelf, labeled, "ELBOW GREASE"! "Maybe" that would help Mitchs' popping THUMB or my knee, that goes, "T-KLUNK"????
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Old 10-20-2016, 07:18 AM   #36
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pinesdune View Post
I guess I'm too impatient, I'd just fire up a pressure washer and let er go, bag up/tape off all electrical and holes into the cab, put on my rain suit and goggles and get it wet, let sun dry for the rest of the day and grease everything and change the oil, but I'm probably still to young and dumb.


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15+ years of grease and grime! X2 for power washer!
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Old 10-20-2016, 06:49 PM   #37
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

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Pour charcoal starter in a spray bottle. Spray on the offending area and let it sit for a few minutes then agitate with a parts brush. Do a final rinse with garden hose. Won't harm paint, no noxious fumes and very cost effective.
I thought you were going to say: "throw a match at it"
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Old 10-20-2016, 07:29 PM   #38
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

https://www.amazon.com/Permatex-0140.../dp/B000HBNV76 Hand cleaner,DL is not as strong as before but let it sit over night hose off, works real well. Pete
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Old 10-20-2016, 07:50 PM   #39
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Default Re: General degreasing - any recommendations?

Red Devil Lye and water. Can be heated to work faster. Horse trough or pint. Caution will remove eyes, skin, hair, mucous membranes, pretty much any tissue, grease, oil etc. Same ingredient is in oven cleaner.
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