I may seekout a vapour blasting service nearby however, - I have a large pan, deep enough to emerge my Command MK3 cylinder head and it will sit comfortably on my gas cooker. I am sure that gently simmering the head for a few hours, with an appropriate cleaning agent will work well.
I would welcome feedback in particular hear what degreasing agents (ideally household product) member's recommend and the mix ratios. Thank you in advance for any feedback!
Have you considered putting it in the dishwasher when SWMBO is not about?
If you do use the dishwasher, do not use the normal dishwasher tablets as they will send any alloy parts a very dull dark grey (HMS Dreadnought). Did this myself many years ago on a BSA B44 barrel - very clean, but didn't look like aluminium any more.
Vapour blasting is very kind to aluminium as it lightly peens over the surface and leaves it gleaming, a bit of ACF sprayed on as a protectant and it will stay clean for months.
I put my Atlas head in for vapour blasting and when collected was told "we don't do that ,we just bead blast as its better!". I'm still uneasy about whether I cleaned it out enough. Why do the "professionals " always think we know nothing !!.
In the days (years ago, )I used to 'boil' the head in Daz washing powder for a few hours, and from my distant memory it did a fantastic job.
Thats interesting.....Chris Rooke mentioned this in his Norton Restoration Book...
I think I'll give some washing powder a go........!
So the general option is that a dishwasher or simmering with household detergent is not going to cause any issues other than discolour the alloy - which can of course can be buffed up!
The dark discolourisation caused by dishwasher tablets is aluminium phosphate from the phosphate chemicals in the tablet reacting with the alloy, so you can use other detergents as long as you make sure they are low phosphate and then no deposit (well no dark one, there may be other chemicals that create other deposits). To get rid of it once it appears then citric acid or oxalic acid will remove it but its hard work with nylon scouring pads needed to really remove it, between fins is worse, I use a ultrasonic cleaner with a weak citric/oxalic acid solution to do it the easy way, a 30L tank and it takes most items.
I put a cylinder head into a Birko boiler tea urn, and used non biological washing powder similar to daz and got a very good result.
Needles to say it was not in use for teas anymore.
The last head I had done was bead blasted and came out superb, as already said you need to be sure it is spotlessly clean before reassemble.
Hi John........thanks for the picture! If it showed the results of non bio, blasters would be out of business!
That was a picture of a bead blasted result.
Our Atlas head was a very scruffy casting with a porous look, steps in the fins ,spare flash and odd texture.I spent some time with a smooth file trying to improve the look. The unwanted bead blasting improved it a lot ,so I did not make a big fuss. John,your head looks clean enough to eat off, Is that why its on the dining table and possibly the dishwasher Currently wondering if I can get someone to modify the clutch basket to the Kegler design.
I've used soda blasting. The advantage is that the soda can be dissolved rinsing in water. It can be tricky to remove other blasting media.
The head has to be really well cleaned by the blaster, when I collected it the blaster told me to immerse the head in soapy water when I got home and yes I did get the odd beads out of it. Robert don't tell the wife, also had the barrels in her oven while she was out.
Soda cleaning I have not tried but sounds interesting, I was told the finish is not as bright?
Aluminium oxide will reform as a protective layer but also dull the finish which will be closer to factory finish so not an issue.
I hope these heads are totally stripped of steelworks. Even then you'll get rusty valve seats.
David, that is exactly what I was wondering.
What do the valve seats, guides, studs, etc look like after boiling/soaking in a washing powder solution?
I have a head and aluminium cylinders with liners that could certainly do with a clean, but I would not want to risk it if the result was corroded steel.
Not good! I tried putting some spark plugs in the dishwasher. I had low hopes...entirely justified. The black bits were just as black, but now they were also rusty.
Don't use caustic soda...that's the important thing! If you do, the only thing you will be left with is the steelwork.
Probably the only thing that would clean todays plugs would be an old fashioned sand blast. Tried oven cleaner ,steam blast and gas torch .
I do believe that Anna (remember her) suggested that a very large pan of boiling water full of Rhubarb stalks worked well for her.
I tried the dishwasher method once and as noted above got a mix of grey alloy and rusty steel finish. I also tried alloy wheel cleaning liquid but nothing seemed to change the finish.
In the end I headed for my local Vapour Blast Man who did the crankcases and head for just £20. The results were stunning and lasted years. See attachment. Note the interesting front wheel. This was a NOS hub taken to Wheel Rebuild Man, near Salisbury, for new rim and spokes. 3 months later I got it back with the very interesting complementary Patina finish. Obviously his ready for dispatch section is the Duck Pond.
Where is Anna? How is she? Please come back, Anna! We miss you so!
Rhubarb produces oxalic acid, as well as good for cleaning alloy it also derusts chrome on steel without affecting the chrome.
To stop the rust appearing on steel items from the dishwasher open the door as soon as the final rinse takes place and oil all the steel items. The head or whatever you have diswashered will be hot and the moisture will evaporate quickly, so wear gloves, apply the oil and get the items out of the dishwashers moisture filled environment.