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Re: Thermal Cleaning at Home?

To: Dave Williams <>,
Subject: Re: Thermal Cleaning at Home?
Date: Fri, 03 Mar 2006 15:10:34 -0500
At 08:19 AM 3/3/2006 -0600, Dave Williams wrote:

> My only experience with thermal cleaning was with a shop that destroyed a 
>pair of antique Pontiac heads that way, then they tried to claim they had been 
>cracked before they baked them.  Since I'd just ported them, then paid them to 
>Magnaflux the heads, I wasn't too receptive of that idea.  I had taken the 
>heads in to have a valve job done, and they were squeaky-clean already.  They 
>said they always baked valve job heads.

I would think that if a block or head could stand the normal thermal stresses 
of operating, being
baked to a uniform temperature would be no big deal.  Maybe these guys toss it
in a tub of water right after they take it out of the oven?

Anyway, I tried a larger-scale experiment: the flywheel housing of my '31 A.  
This part goes
between the block and bell housing, and is a fairly thin casting.  Mine was 
quite gunky on
the outside with road crud, and on the inside with clutch and oil crud.

So (when my wife was out) I put it on the oven, turned on self-clean, and 
waited.  About
25 minutes later the (gas) oven started smoking heavily.  The vent hood fan had 
little effect,
and I to open windows and grab a couple of box fans to clear out the smoke.  

At that point I turned the oven off, but I let it cool down with the door 
closed. (Don't want it to crack!)
Smoke kept spewing out of the oven, and I was lucky all the smoke detectors in 
the house did not go off.

When it finally cooled off, the crud was only half-baked since I had to abort 
the mission early.
But it was not greasy any more:  I could scrape most of the gunk off with a 
putty knife and vacuum it up,
without getting the putty knife and vacuum cleaner all greasy.

The kitchen was rather smelly for a day or two, but it is OK now.  When my wife
came home, she was amused as much as annoyed.

The bottom line:  don't try this in your kitchen, but if you have something like
a powder-coating oven that you can let smoke without fear, it might be the most
practical way to clean big, slimy engine parts.  Maybe you could use
a big barbecue grill, but the open flames might cause too much thermal stress.


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