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Parts Cleaner

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I've owned a Clarks floor standing parts washer for probably 15 years, but only ever used it a few times. Main reason is the fluid I used was a water based degreaser, and nowhere near as effective at removing old congealed oil and grease, as paint brush, cellulose thinners and an old baking tray. 

I like the idea of the parts washer, nice and deep with a continuous flow of fluid, but ineffective. Am I missing something? I've seen engine builders use them. Anyone had good results, and if so, any suggestions of the best cleaning fluid to use.

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  • 1 month later...

No experience but I've often thought the same Mark. Not sure I see the point if you have a utility sink that can be used, as these parts washers can't be putting water put at particularly high pressure?

I'm not keen on cellulose thinners as they are quite hazardous to health, but the screwfix desgreaser in a washing up bucket and an old toothbrush always seems to work for me. For more intensive cleaning of things like coked up engine parts I've had some success with the 'pink stuff' cleaning paste they sell at Aldi.

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  • 9 months later...

Thought I would give this another go with a modern day water based cleaning fluid to see if there is any improvement. Dug out the old parts cleaner that had been buried at the back of a shed. I had emptied the cleaning fluid out into a container before storing, then remembered I had last used it with Jizer a strong solvent de-greaser. There was about quarter inch of dried out old oil at the bottom of the tank that I soaked with some of the old jizer to clean out.

This is the another reason I stopped using it, you soon get a build up of sludge in the bottom of the tank and using the tray that sits above the level of the fluid means that larger parts stick out above the tank and make a real mess when using the flow of fluid and brush to clean.

There's a few videos on Youtube where these type tanks are modified so that the fluid drains into a couple of containers under the unit, so the tank stays empty.  The pump is relocated into the second barrel, the tank drains into the first barrel where its filtered, and uses the siphoning effect to fill the second barrel and then pumped back up to the hose in the tank. 

Thought I would do something similar. First checked it was still working, flicked the switch and it just fell apart. New switch is about £5. Bypassed the switch and the pump just buzzed, clearly jammed. Took the pump out and went to undo the outflow pipe and the bottom of the pump housing just crumpled, the plastic body felt like a soft Easter egg.

In the short time I had been using Jizer it must have affected the plastic.

Same pump on Ebay is around £40. They sell the whole 20 litre parts cleaner on ebay complete for around £115 delivered, looks the same as mine, cant tell if its made fro thinner metal,but probably not.  I bought the parts washer from machine mart, years ago so would have paid a premium.

Is there a better cheaper pump alternative, I'll only be using water based cleaners, thinking aquarium type pump, or should I just bin the old parts cleaner, or turn it into a small stand/work surface,  and buy a new one to modify or give up on the idea all together?

Got a couple of Straight six engines to rebuild, and Spitfire running gear. Managed without a parts cleaner up until now, just trying to make life easier.

Whats your thoughts?





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I use an old deep fat fryer (the wire basket is great for leaving small stuff in soak) and can clean most stuff in that. I use white spirit or paraffin. For big stuff I have a tray that I clean stuff on, then pour into a can to allow the big stuff to settle out.  I was tempted to heat the white spirit up, but decided that was too daft even for me so chucked the heating part away so I was never tempted again.

And I do the final clean with a squirt of brake cleaner and a blast from the airline. 

I have thought about filtering the fluid through a scouring pad or wire wool, maybe get more stuff out. But then again what I do now seems to work well. So I will keep it simple. 

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I have the benefit of a "Bristol" sink in my garage/workshop, with hot and cold taps.    Rough, glazed earthenware, it's about nine inches deep, wide and long enough to take a block, and I degrease those and other parts there, with no objection from 'er indoors.   On a rebuild, I'll get the worst off there, then take the block to be chemically cleaned.  I use an 'engine cleaner', a powerful detergent with an additive that prevents flash rust, cheaper I think than Jizer or Gunk that you wash off with clean water.  All the muck goes down the drain!



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Can't help on the parts washer front. I tend to just wash stuff along the lines of what Clive does.

1 hour ago, JohnD said:

I have the benefit of a "Bristol" sink in my garage/workshop, with hot and cold taps. 

Very handy that. Got one in the outhouse/washhouse but unfortunately cold tap only.

Interesting you call it a 'Bristol' sink. In Scotland they're called 'Belfast' sinks

There is also the dishwasher. Works a treat but a bit small for a 6 cylinder block. Among other issues...

Edited by Escadrille Ecosse
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I think I mixed my Brissle with my Belfast!   Also called a 'Butler's' sink, AND a very similar 'London' sink.

And I see that there is a manufacturer calling themselves "Belfast & Butler", so maybe they are named from them, unless they are a modern innovation.

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Hello All

             I used to use and old engine sump with a drain into a 5 gall oil drum and an old SU pump to pump it back up and the shallow part of the sump was like your kitchen draining board and an oil filter in the line and kept replacing it with the one from an oil change(until the SU packed up)

Then bought a small Clarke type one


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Not much to add beyond my discovery that muck off chain cleaner, a biodegradable degreaser which is a pleasing dayglow yellow, worked really well.  When I first picked up my new engine it would cover everything in black oily deposits just by looking at it.  This muck off stuff was just briliant. It was better than the other (aging) products I had to hand and was tried on a bit of a whim, so there might be more effctive/cheaper stuff out there nowadays.


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