Test - Best Way to Clean Cast Aluminum Parts - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums
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post #1 of 41 (permalink) Old 04-08-2019, 10:09 PM Thread Starter
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Test - Best Way to Clean Cast Aluminum Parts

Was cleaning the pumpkin on a differential and a gearbox case this weekend. Slow process. But with aluminum one has to be careful about what cleaning products are used since aluminum reacts badly to many chemicals.

I did a bunch of research and came up with 3 products that folks seem to like for cleaning cast aluminum car parts: Napa Aluminum Brightener, Eagle One Etching Mag Cleaner (similar to the Napa one, I think), and Original Gunk. I had two goals: 1) degreasing/degriming, 2) brightening the aluminum.

Net result...all these products were pretty useless as "spray on, wash off" products as far as I can tell. So I went back to Simple Green, Dawn, pumice cleaner and brushes. Did the job, albeit very slowly and with a lot of labor.

There has to be a better way. I know some go for soda or media blasting, but then that means you have to seal the now "raw" aluminum to keep if from oxidizing. I didn't want to go that route. Some also do vapor blasting, but that is not available locally here, AFAIK and pretty spendy.

Others' ideas welcomed, but thought I'd report on what didn't work that well at least.

Products used:

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Before & after with each - no difference:

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--Scott
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post #2 of 41 (permalink) Old 04-09-2019, 05:56 AM
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The "before" photo looks a lot better than the ones on either of my 2 Alfas.
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post #3 of 41 (permalink) Old 04-09-2019, 06:25 AM
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There has to be a better way. I know some go for soda or media blasting, but then that means you have to seal the now "raw" aluminum to keep if from oxidizing. I didn't want to go that route. Some also do vapor blasting, but that is not available locally here, AFAIK and pretty spendy.
I wouldn't worry about the oxidation of aluminum. The oxidation layer is extremely (microscopic) thin. I'd be more worried about what it does the finish (I've heard it looks odd).

Have you tried a dishwasher?

Mike
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1966 Super
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post #4 of 41 (permalink) Old 04-09-2019, 07:16 AM
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A dishwasher with dishwashing detergent will turn aluminum black. Ask me how I know this.
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post #5 of 41 (permalink) Old 04-09-2019, 08:13 AM
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A dishwasher with dishwashing detergent will turn aluminum black. Ask me how I know this.
Yes, you should not ever put anything aluminum in a dishwasher. The dish washing detergent is caustic. It might work ok if you use something like Dawn, but then you'll get foam spewing out on the floor.

Any sort of media blasting has the potential of affecting the finish, even if it does remove the dirt and grime. A parts washer is the best way to go if you want to clean those things up.

Industrial parts washers that use water and a degreaser are available. These are similar in function to a dish washer. They have heating elements to get the water really hot and do a great job.

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post #6 of 41 (permalink) Old 04-09-2019, 09:22 AM
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post #7 of 41 (permalink) Old 04-09-2019, 01:59 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah hot water/forced I think is key. Unfortunately, I didn't have access. Also couldn't get a rear axle in the dishwasher despite how many time I tried to fold it. ;-)

Funny - there are Youtube videos that swear by the dishwasher method.

Zep from what 6alfas posted...that I haven't tried. I think that is concrete cleaner if memory serves.

--Scott
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Past: 65 Giulia Sprint GT, 77 Alfetta, 79 Alfetta, 87 Milano Gold, 74 GTV (Euro)
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post #8 of 41 (permalink) Old 04-09-2019, 03:04 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah hot water/forced I think is key. Unfortunately, I didn't have access. Also couldn't get a rear axle in the dishwasher despite how many time I tried to fold it. ;-)

Funny - there are Youtube videos that swear by the dishwasher method.

Zep from what 6alfas posted...that I haven't tried. I think that is concrete cleaner if memory serves.

--Scott
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post #9 of 41 (permalink) Old 04-09-2019, 03:48 PM
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All of the Zep products are awesome. They used to be only industrial use and have become a bit less effective since they became a shelf product. Still use many of them with great success. I guess I just can't see getting it clean being an issue but to get I higher luster is just elbow grease. I have used a paint remover pad that goes on a drill to smooth out the cast surface some and then if you want to see yourself use a good polishing compound. I found a really good one that also has a sealer for after you reach your desired sheen. The brand escapes me right now but if you are interested I can go look in the garage. I have a motorcycle that is basically all aluminum, even the frame and use it with great success. Some parts are indistinguishable from chrome.
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post #10 of 41 (permalink) Old 04-09-2019, 03:54 PM
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All of the Zep products are awesome. They used to be only industrial use and have become a bit less effective since they became a shelf product. Still use many of them with great success. I guess I just can't see getting it clean being an issue but to get I higher luster is just elbow grease. I have used a paint remover pad that goes on a drill to smooth out the cast surface some and then if you want to see yourself use a good polishing compound. I found a really good one that also has a sealer for after you reach your desired sheen. The brand escapes me right now but if you are interested I can go look in the garage. I have a motorcycle that is basically all aluminum, even the frame and use it with great success. Some parts are indistinguishable from chrome.
Home Depot sells the Brilliant Metal Polish - is that it? I haven't used it but pretty reasonably priced (1 gallon for $23). https://www.homedepot.com/s/brillian...cleaner?NCNI-5
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post #11 of 41 (permalink) Old 04-09-2019, 04:16 PM
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It's called Metal Gloss and Sealer Gloss, they come together. They are made by Masterrrrr........ something.
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post #12 of 41 (permalink) Old 04-09-2019, 04:26 PM
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It's called Metal Gloss and Sealer Gloss, they come together. They are made by Masterrrrr........ something.
You got it: https://www.amazon.com/Master-Formul.../dp/B00EHYOVKU
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post #13 of 41 (permalink) Old 04-09-2019, 04:30 PM
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That's the stuff! Works very well on aluminum and I have tried many products. To maintain the shine don't forget Nevr-Dull..... used that a lot in the Navy.....
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post #14 of 41 (permalink) Old 04-09-2019, 06:31 PM
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First the coin-op car wash degreaser, then a brass wire brush on the plenum. Not bad for the effort expended.

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post #15 of 41 (permalink) Old 04-09-2019, 09:02 PM
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Awesome Cleaner doesn't hurt aluminum. Individual spray bottles for $1 each at dollar Store like places.

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