Engine Cleaning

Last updated: April 5, 2000

Date: Sun, 13 Feb 2000 11:41:47 -0500
From: "David Lane" (dlane@peabody.jhu.edu)

There are traditional products like Gunk for heavily gooped up engines. This post is not about that.

As I do every couple of years, I would like to recommend a product called S-100. It is an "all over" motorcycle cleaner used by the BMW motorcycle factory, so it is safe for everything--paint, rubber, wiring, and metal. It is also biodegradable.

It is sprayed on to a cold engine and immediately hosed off with an assertive stream of water. It is great on dust and dirt, very good on fresh oil, and pretty good on old oily dirt spots built up over time (but probably not as good as Gunk).

It is a sister product to P-21, a highly touted wheel cleaner. S-100 is less costly than P-21, and I can see no difference when used on wheels. I wrote the factory, and they said something about P-21 being more formulated to deal with brake dust, but motorcycles produce brake dust too, and the S-100 (even the factory agreed) is just fine. As a wheel cleaner, it is excellent on any surface, although it does take a little light brushing. I use it on uncoated aluminum with excellent results.

One benefit of S-100 is that it leaves some kind of protection on metal parts. I didn't realize how effective this was until I took my car to a local, informal "car show" at an accessory dealer. Most of the cars were tricked out Hondas, but their engines were badly pitted. I have also used S-100 on our '90 Civic Si, and with 200,000 miles on it, the engine looked darn near new compared to the more recent engines on these show cars.

Being lazy by nature, my total care of the engine from the time both the cars (Honda and '85 RX-7) were new is to wait until the paint in the engine bay is getting dirty. They I spray S-100 over everything and hose it off. Sometimes (like with belt goo slung on the underside of the hood), a little work with a soft brush helps. I generally do this two or three times a year, and rarely spend more than about ten minutes each time. There is a photograph of my engine compartment at the web site noted in my .sig line.

The only bad part of all this is the cost. S-100 is about $12.00 per liter. You can also get it in 5 liter containers--which I do. It is handy for a lot of things and generally good to have around. You will get three or four cleanings out of a liter.

S-100 is available at most motorcycle shops

I am not affiliated with the company (can't even pronounce their name). I am just an enthusiastic user of the product.


Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 07:41:26 -0500
From: jelkil@interaccess.com

Re: Simple Green

It's Simple -- Don't Use This To Clean Aluminum

A well-known aviation magazine this month published a feature article on cleaning one's aircraft and getting it ready for spring flying. Only one problem -- a product the article recommended as safe for aviation use has been proven corrosive to aluminum. The product is Simple Green, a popular household cleaning liquid. According to the magazine's May issue -- which included a photo of Simple Green and other products -- the liquid "does an admirable job for a fraction of the cost of the aviation cleaners." While that may be true as far as it goes, both the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army have conducted tests of Simple Green and strongly urge that it not be used to clean aluminum structures. In one test conducted by the U.S. Air Force, results from which were published in 1989, aluminum alloy samples were immersed in Simple Green for a week then removed, cleaned and weighed. The results indicated that the approximately 3.5-gram aluminum alloy samples experienced a material loss of about 31 milligrams in a diluted solution and a whopping 295 milligram loss after spending a week in the undiluted liquid. The Air Force report summed it up this way: "We do not recommend the use of this product on Air Force equipment containing aluminum." Good advice, that.

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