View Full Version : Good way to clean cylinder heads?

11-12-2002, 10:55 PM
What is a good chemical to use for cleaning up some junkyard cylinder heads for porting? I'm too cheap to spend $20 having the machine shop hot tank them.

I've heard of using oven cleaner or toilet bowl cleaner, and pre-cleaning the heads with spray cans of engine cleaner first. I'd just like to find out an effective way BEFORE spending money buying all kinds of things.

Slant Cecil
11-12-2002, 11:06 PM
Tim, I've used oven cleaner and like it. It's caustic so don't get it in your eyes. Let it sit and soak as long as you can to get the full effect of each coating. It seems that water neutralizes it so apply it dry, even on second coat. Of course scrape off the worst of the grunge first. Never tried toilet bowl cleaner but I will. I have never found anything that beats oven cleaner.


11-12-2002, 11:27 PM
it seems you may spend the same amount on oven cleaner and not get as good of results as the 20 dollar hot tank. I don't know how much oven cleaner costs but if it were my builder I would spend the extra 5 - 10 bucks. just my opinion

11-13-2002, 12:16 AM
I would hot tank, as well. The hot tank will also clean all of the oil and coolant passages. Oven cleaner will not.

11-13-2002, 12:16 AM
Out here in CA, we got these things called AQMD and EPA and OSHA and a few others that have degraded our hot tanking to warm soapy dishwater. My machinist (?) told me a deep sink full of DAWN and a couple hundred SOS pads and a few hours of elbow grease will get almost anything clean. He also swears by VANISH toilet bowel cleaner for carbs, but he cautions not to leave the carbs in too long, or they will start to VANISH....I think oven cleaner will etch aluminum parts with a permanent black stain.

11-13-2002, 03:24 AM
VANISH for carb cleaning? That may be just the ticket! Last time I wanted to rebuild a carb, I went to the parts store to buy a can of carb cleaner. Not the spray can crap, but the kind with a dip tray where you submerge the whole carb in the can. I was told that it is now ILLEGAL in California! Any other states suffering from this kind of govt. interference?

11-13-2002, 03:51 AM
You can't get Berryman B12 chemdip, in California anymore. That sucks.

I remember buying a big can of that, many years ago. Iwas was living in the dorms at Mather AFB and rebuilt a carb in my dorm room. The chem dip stunk up the entire floor that I lived on. The hallways cleared after about two days. My dorm room stunk for about a week.

Good stuf.

I was looking at their website and it is no longer called B12 chemdip. It is now B12 Chemtool and no longer comes in a bucket. It now comes in a poor can.

As far as I can tell, as long as the prop 65 cancer warnings are there, it is legal to sell this in CA. If you can't find it anywhere, give Berryman (http://www.berrymanproducts.com/) a call at 1-888-447-6990 and ask if you can order this over the phone and have it shipped to you.

11-13-2002, 04:03 AM
Okay, just got back from checking out their web site. Besidees all the broken links, the B12 Chemtool seems to be a pour-in-the-tank type carb cleaner. One interesting thing is that when I did a search for Professional products, they show Chem-Dip cold immersion cleaner - just what I'm looking for! Now to call them in the morning (and probably find out they won't sell it to me).

I'll let you know what happens.

11-13-2002, 04:04 AM
My mistake. The more I read into it, the more that I see that the chemtool is just an additive and not the good old chemdip.

Here is the TRUE B9 Chemdip information:


Fast acting immersion cleaner for all metal parts including alloys. Non-corrosive to metal and requires no agitation. Has a chemical seal to retard evaporation and to aid in emulsification. Removes carbon, varnish, paint, sludge and grease fast. Use for cleaning transmissions, carburetors, valves and other hard to clean parts.
Sizes Available:
0901 NET 1 Gal. Can (Replenisher)
0902 NET 1 Gal. w/basket PROFESSIONAL
0905 NET 5 Gal. Net Pail
0950 Basket for #0905 PROFESSIONAL
0996 NET 96 fl. oz. w/baske

11-13-2002, 04:06 AM
Yep. Just what I need. Thanks!

11-13-2002, 09:02 PM
Scrap and wire brush the heads real good leave the in the sun to get them warm/hot what ever the weather will give you spray the heads down with Gunk engine cleaner go to the car wash and use the hot soapy high psi hose to wash the heads do'nt forget the h2o passages. Or do like my buddy 1) go to the restaurant supply get 2 gals concentrate oven cleaner,2) run the bath tub 1/3 full very hot water put in heads and cleaner3) call attorney to defend him in divorce procedings. This head clean job just cost 50% of all you own + child support until you youngest is 18. HOT TANK THE HEADS better cleaner and cheaper in the long run unless you think your time and energy is worth nada and if that's the case I got some yard work and other honey do's I would like to farm out.

11-13-2002, 11:15 PM
Honey Do's and yard work...classic...

Slant Cecil
11-13-2002, 11:19 PM
Yeah Tim, you can spend $20 for the hot tank, a round trip to the machine shop to drop off the heads, another round trip to pick up the heads so you can get the BEST way to clean your heads. Then your two days behind in your porting project. But since you asked of a GOOD way to clean heads, spend $5-$8 on oven cleaner, an hour of time and you can be porting the heads that morning. Oven cleaner is caustic, somewhat like hot tank solution, just no heat. It will clean oil passages. Some people recommend muratic acid for water passages. This will get them clean enough to port since after porting the heads will need to be cleaned anyway.


George G. Leverette
11-14-2002, 12:28 AM
The best thing I have found is Simple Green, it is enviornmentally friendly, bio-degradable and non-caustic. I have an old restaurant stainless sink that is partically filled with undiluted Simple Green, purchased from Costo in gallon sizes. If a painted part is left in the straight solution over night the paint will peel off in sheets, the longer in the solution the more effect. 1 quart spray bottles are also effective on areas and parts that cannot be dipped. Suggest you give the simple green a try.

11-14-2002, 12:42 AM
Simple Green is great stuff. Chemdip is great suff. Oven cleaner is pretty dang good. For my engines, I will have nothing less than a hot tanking, and then afterward a good bath in some hot water & Tide, and some quality time with brake parts cleaner, bottle brushes and compressed air. It is the only way to clean iron engine parts that you care about. If filth and contamination don't bother you, then just hose down with some oven cleaner and ride on. I used it to clean my heads off just so I could do some work to them, but they will see the machine shop hot tank before they see my engine.

11-14-2002, 06:58 PM
I used a wire wheel on a drill motor for my block and heads. I also used bore cleaning brushes( like for rifles or Boiler tube brushes) for the channels and small holes. It took a lot of time but it was a labor of love. Then a thourogh cleaning/flushing. with solvent. Last.. a soap and water brushing and rinse. Dry with cloths and put alight coat of lube on cylinder walls...

Probably not the preffered way to clean engines,but, I now have 25,000 plus miles with NO problems or oil useage at all.

11-14-2002, 10:21 PM
We are fortunate enough to have a local shop with a real good cleaning tank. The charge is $20 for the entire engine (disassembled of course) including oil pan and valve covers. Not a speck of oil or carbon remains on anything. A little rusty crusty can be found in the water jacket, but what a deal for such a good cleaning.

But, in places where the hot tanks are no better than a ....., I would use gunk for the heavy stuff followed by Oven cleaner or Paint remover to clean the remaining oil, paint, and carbon. This can get expensive also. Paint remover is $5 a can and it usually takes several applications before I am satisfied. The parts should be warm and dry for each application of paint remover, so time starts to add up. The end result will be a part that is just as clean as a good hot tanked part, but many hours of work and lots of wet clothing, wet shoes, skin burns from the paint remover, and a messy stained driveway. Thank goodnes for a local hot tank guy!


11-15-2002, 02:01 PM
on cast iron parts, if you use oven cleaner, rmember that it was actually designed to be used HOT!, so it will do a really good job if the parts are hot, about 350 degrees, but will do a fair job cold too. as far as aluminum parts are concerned, use air conditioning coil cleaner or a citrus cleaner, the parts should turn up nice and bright like new aluminum. also, get a dremel or die grinder with a wire brush, it will remove a lot of built up stuff like carbon and gunk, be sure to wear safety glasses and use gloves with ALL this stuff!:shades: