Cleaning aluminium
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  1. #1
    Gone Fishin' Haakon's Avatar
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    Default Cleaning aluminium

    Cleaning aluminium components*

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    The Megane betrays its early years on the Gold Coast by the alloy parts having lots of fluffy white stuff, and rusty steel brackets. Guessing it was parked at the beach a bit! Lot of the nickel plated bolts have been hit too.

    All just cosmetic and I don't really care - but whats a good and easy solution? Something I can just spray on the gearbox/rack/alternator etc and hose off without killing plastics!*

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    Fellow Frogger!
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    For what its worth, I used to use a strong solution of caustic soda with water and a stiff brush to clean my old alloy wheels. I would then hose it off with water. It didn't appear to do any damage to the tyres. Be careful though as caustic soda is a strong alkaline and will burn your skin and eyes.

    However if you clean down to the alloy you may need to put a protective clear coat of some sort of clear paint over the components to keep the sun/surf/sex Gold Coast miasma from affecting the components again.

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    1000+ Posts 504-504-504's Avatar
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    Some products for cleaning aluminium that have been mentioned on aussiefrogs in past posts include:
    AutoSol "Aluminium-Politure" (Aluminium cleaner paste, German)
    Caustic Soda
    SDR made by Revet (dairy cleaning product).
    Jiff creme cleanser and a stiff plastic bristled brush
    pickling pastes and solutions that can be used to wash down bright alloy as on a truck etc
    Mothers Mag and Aluminum Polish
    Chemtech Blitz Aluminium Cleaner .

    Have heard that Phenol also cleans aluminium very well.

    Had good results with powdered washing machine detergent. A strong solution in hot water, gloves recommended.

    Paul.
    Last edited by 504-504-504; 31st December 2012 at 04:16 PM.

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    Contented Peugeot Driver addo's Avatar
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    It's cast alloy; all the caustics and acids will get into the pores to a degree.

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    Default Cleaning Ally ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Haakon View Post
    Cleaning aluminium components*

    The Megane betrays its early years on the Gold Coast by the alloy parts having lots of fluffy white stuff, and rusty steel brackets. Guessing it was parked at the beach a bit! Lot of the nickel plated bolts have been hit too.

    All just cosmetic and I don't really care - but whats a good and easy solution? Something I can just spray on the gearbox/rack/alternator etc and hose off without killing plastics!*
    Hi,
    On another forum it has been suggested that molassas will do this job. I have not actually done it myself but supposedly it removes grease, rust, corrosion, shines it and bolts it back correctly.

    I did chase up some at the local horsey supply place for a rediculeous price, cheap that is, in my own container. It seems it does marvels for horses as well Perhaps it works best if you soak things in it for a while but worth a try.
    Jaahn

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    1000+ Posts renault8&10's Avatar
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    Molasses is what the Mini guys use to bring back rusted iron blocks etc.
    Have not heard it being used on Aluminium but won't hurt it to try.

    The mini guys soak the blocks in molasses for a day or so, hose it off with water, then dry them.

    In your case you could try a small section, leave it on for a few hours (or overnight perhaps) then hose it off. You may have to brush it on as it would be too thick to spray.
    KB


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    The quick and easy (lazy) way to improve the appearance of an engine bay suffering from exposure to salt air is to spray everything with Inox. It wont hurt anything and will stop the corrosion and takes about 15 seconds.


    In relation to the use of molasses the following link is very informative.

    http://www.shopfloortalk.com/forums/showthread.php?t=32668

    I have included pictures of an old Traction head I did in molasses and the bath whilst the head was still soaking.
    A word of advice, don't do this close to the house.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Cleaning aluminium-before.jpg   Cleaning aluminium-after.jpg   Cleaning aluminium-bath.jpg  

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    question: if the molasses technique works because it ferments in the water, and produces acetic acid, when then dissolves the rust, why not just treat the rusty metal with acetic acid out of a bottle?

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    In the army, they used to clean alloy by peeing on it.

    I had a thread on molasses stripping before the Big Crash, showing how it worked on some truck door hinges.

    Got used to the smell soon enough; initially it did have times when it smelled like Bundy that had been spewed up. When done, I tipped the solution onto mulch in the garden - possums ate it down to the dirt, that night.

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    addo, you are so full of it: it is well known that the army us all available urine for pissing on their feet to prevent blisters from their boots.

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    1000+ Posts Andrew Ch's Avatar
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    Default Cleaning aluminium

    How do they prevent blisters on their bum ?

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    Default Cleaning aluminium

    Teamwork

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    VIP Sponsor 59 Floride's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alexander View Post
    Teamwork
    And help from the Navy.
    Every day when I wake up I reach up in the darkness with my eyes shut and if I cannot feel anything that resembles a wooden lid I know it will be a good day. No lid today.

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    I have an old wheely bin with 20 parts water to 1 part molasses it works quite well, as for cleaning the pores of aluminium after polishing the parts for our familys race boats we would wash the ally with kerosine and hose off with a garden hose , it was amazing how much brighter it came up i now do this with alloy wheels when i polish them.
    Cheers Peter.

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    1000+ Posts schlitzaugen's Avatar
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    Alkalies will eat aluminium. Don't use. You'll never wash it off. I just spray degreaser and hose off then go over with wd40. Inox is more expensive but probably better.
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    Gone Fishin' Haakon's Avatar
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    I like the Inox notion - not least because it was cited as the lazy method

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    Icon14 Thanks for the tip on the Aluminium Molasses clean up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter J Kent View Post
    I have an old wheely bin with 20 parts water to 1 part molasses it works quite well, as for cleaning the pores of aluminium after polishing the parts for our familys race boats we would wash the ally with kerosine and hose off with a garden hose , it was amazing how much brighter it came up i now do this with alloy wheels when i polish them.
    Cheers Peter.
    Interesting Peter

    Ive used the molasses to clean cast iron parts and steel parts, rusty spanners and it does a fine job. but I have never used it for cleaning aluminium parts, so looking forward to trying that.

    I also wonder about the inox, is that a disolved lanolin base? Lanolin was used in Australia during WWII as a tropical protection barrier. Bearings were dipped in Hot Lanolin and it did an excellent job of protecting the bearing from rust and contamination - Aussie ingenuity as we didn't have access to the cosmoline that others used (so i was told!!)

    A little bit of pure Lanolin goes a long way and was very cheap if you could source it direct from the guys that mix up dairy herd treatments - they had it in bulk 44 gallon barrels. I got mine from a Preston source probably 40 to 50 years ago and still have a half a tin!!

    I had good success cleaning pistons with one brand of stove cleaner - really good at removing burnt on carbon but you had to make sure you hot washed the residue - forget the brand I used in those days.

    Ken

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    1000+ Posts robmac's Avatar
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    HF (hydroflouric acid) is (or was) used in industry to clean aluminium. But only under very controlled conditions. It has a nasty habit of dissolving glass and the aluminium at the incorrect concentration.

    Not recommended at home due to unfortunate side effect that HF has on human tissue and bones. It tends to "melt skin" and leach calcium from bones turning them to jelly.

    On a serious note Ive used "blitz aluminium cleaner" available form Super Crap and Bunnies. It's not as fast a HF but much safer. It works best if applied and rubbed in gently a "brown" scotchbrite scourer. Hose off for a sheen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by robmac View Post
    HF (hydroflouric acid) is (or was) used in industry to clean aluminium. But only under very controlled conditions. It has a nasty habit of dissolving glass and the aluminium at the incorrect concentration.

    Not recommended at home due to unfortunate side effect that HF has on human tissue and bones. It tends to "melt skin" and leach calcium from bones turning them to jelly.

    On a serious note Ive used "blitz aluminium cleaner" available form Super Crap and Bunnies. It's not as fast a HF but much safer. It works best if applied and rubbed in gently a "brown" scotchbrite scourer. Hose off for a sheen.
    I tried that stuff Rob, wasn't that impressed, but then I didn't use the scotchbrite scourer!. I have seen a few aluminium engines etc that have been cleaned with hot caustic solution, and they look terrible unless you like a mottled matt finish!!

    Ken

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    1000+ Posts robmac's Avatar
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    Caustic cleaners are a no no on aluminium or aluminium alloys. Sodium hydroxide (the basic ingredient of most caustic cleaners) actually dissolves aluminium.

    The matt finish and pock marks is because the aluminium is being dissolved.

    The sodium hydroxide slowly dissolves the aluminium to form aqueous sodium aluminate!

    The hot bath aluminium cylinder head cleaners are HF based I understand.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Haakon View Post
    Cleaning aluminium components*

    The Megane betrays its early years on the Gold Coast by the alloy parts having lots of fluffy white stuff, and rusty steel brackets. Guessing it was parked at the beach a bit! Lot of the nickel plated bolts have been hit too.

    All just cosmetic and I don't really care - but whats a good and easy solution? Something I can just spray on the gearbox/rack/alternator etc and hose off without killing plastics!*
    I think I am late to reply. I have read in many forum electrolysis is good way to clean rust. Just want to ask you guys is it true?

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    Inox and degreaser did the trick for me. My Megane spent the first 6 years of its life on the Gold Coast, and it showed - but the Inox and degreaser shifted the fluffy stuff off the alloy casings nicely, and gave the iron/steel bits a nice coating of hydrocarbons to prevent further degradation. Good enough for me, good enough for the relatively dull consumer product the megane is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by micheljamesss View Post
    I think I am late to reply. I have read in many move out cleaning brisbane forum electrolysis is good way to clean rust. Just want to ask you guys is end of lease cleaning brisbane it true?
    Ok thanks I will surely try to use inox and degreaser to solve rust problem.

  24. #24
    1000+ Posts schlitzaugen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robmac View Post
    Caustic cleaners are a no no on aluminium or aluminium alloys. Sodium hydroxide (the basic ingredient of most caustic cleaners) actually dissolves aluminium.

    The matt finish and pock marks is because the aluminium is being dissolved.

    The sodium hydroxide slowly dissolves the aluminium to form aqueous sodium aluminate!

    The hot bath aluminium cylinder head cleaners are HF based I understand.
    I wouldn't think so. My engine building shop tells me they use phosphoric acid bath as did another shop I used in Adelaide.

    HF is criminal. We used in the mass spec lab to dissolve hard to dissolve rocks (with a squirt of HCl) but it's really dangerous stuff because of its reactivity. The way it kills is actually getting in the bloodstream and destroying everything in its way, and then recombinning so that it can react againand again and again which basically means even a small amount is lethal. On our wall in the lab there was this paper cut from a while back which reported the story of a guy who spilled 100ml on his hand but had the presence of spirit to take a dive into a pool immediately. Still didn't save him. Our HF (15M) container had a dispenser which only allowed 3ml to be poured in a "bomb"- a little teflon vessel where we dissolved the powdered rocks. Still had problems with most silica-aluminate compounds.

    As far as I know the sale of HF is restricted anyway, so not sure how you'd get your hands on it.

    Re Alex's question above, the reaction that forms acetic acid (more precisely the foaming that ensues) is what cleans the aluminium (if the process works as described) not the acetic acid end product as such. Kinda like hydrogen peroxide cleaning wounds by foaming the invading pathogens/dirt to the surface.
    Last edited by schlitzaugen; 17th March 2013 at 06:23 PM.
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    1000+ Posts robmac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by schlitzaugen View Post
    I wouldn't think so. My engine building shop tells me they use phosphoric acid bath as did another shop I used in Adelaide.

    HF is criminal. We used in the mass spec lab to dissolve hard to dissolve rocks (with a squirt of HCl) but it's really dangerous stuff because of its reactivity. The way it kills is actually getting in the bloodstream and destroying everything in its way, and then recombinning so that it can react againand again and again which basically means even a small amount is lethal. On our wall in the lab there was this paper cut from a while back which reported the story of a guy who spilled 100ml on his hand but had the presence of spirit to take a dive into a pool immediately. Still didn't save him. Our HF (15M) container had a dispenser which only allowed 3ml to be poured in a "bomb"- a little teflon vessel where we dissolved the powdered rocks. Still had problems with most silica-aluminate compounds.

    As far as I know the sale of HF is restricted anyway, so not sure how you'd get your hands on it.

    Re Alex's question above, the reaction that forms acetic acid (more precisely the foaming that ensues) is what cleans the aluminium (if the process works as described) not the acetic acid end product as such. Kinda like hydrogen peroxide cleaning wounds by foaming the invading pathogens/dirt to the surface.
    Phosphoric acid is ideal for metallic engine parts. It' commonly called"rust converter". The rust is converted phosphate salts via a redox reaction (three separate reactions from memory). The reaction with iron is very, very minimal. However it oxides aluminium and then dissolves aluminium oxide.In effect, the aluminium cylinder head turns in aluminium phosphate, ie baking powder, with the water it makes a good antacid as well. This of course dependent on the stoichiometric ratios.

    Whereas aluminium is pretty tolerant of HF. Forming aluminium oxide and brigtening. The HF is pretty good on carbon, gaskets, and the odd finger in the bath.

    A cylinder head shop that does both iron and aluminium heads will have two baths. Phosphoric acid (hot) and dilute Hydrofluoric acid (definitely cold). Please note the correction from the last post. At least the cylinder head shop I used has both.

    As to your assertion it's not used, well Workcover think it is used: http://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/worksa...uoric_acid.pdf

    I'm in total agreement that it is very nasty stuff. I've used it for etching lab glassware as preparation for repairs in a glass manufacturing situation, but that was in another life.

    Not something you want to use a home and best to avoid whenever possible.
    Last edited by robmac; 17th March 2013 at 08:03 PM.

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