ADVrider (
-   Old's Cool (
-   -   Cleaning a nasty engine (

Skidmarkart 05-07-2013 05:32 AM

Cleaning a nasty engine
Howdy all,

I just purchased a side-kick for my DR650. A 1998 VTR1000. I will be going through a restoration process on this bike over the next few months. Everything works, but she's a victim of neglect.

I realized after removing the fairing that there is a lot of nasty road dirt, tar, dust, etc. all over the engine (mainly the front behind the wheel). I was thinking to myself that "Old's Cool" would be the perfect place to find out how to remove this stuff. It's really stuck on there... and I want to do an initial cleaning just to find out where all the leaks are.

Can you learned folks tell me what is best to deep clean the engine? I have read everything from Simple Green to PineSol to Oven Cleaner. I an reticent to use some of the heavy duty stuff because of all the aluminum bits on the bike. Any advice would be appreciated.

Canuman 05-07-2013 05:53 AM

Oven cleaner is very bad for a number of reasons, and should be avoided at all costs! If it gets in your electrics, you'll have a very sad time of it indeed! Of the substances you mentioned, Pine Sol would have my vote. Simple Green can be an effective degreaser also, but tends to be somewhat corrosive if not completely flushed out.

There are a number of commercial engine cleaning sprays available, but they are not particularly environmentally friendly, being composed mostly of petroleum solvents. I'd spray Pine Sol on full strength, brush and hose as necessary, and repeat if needed. Elbow grease is as important as anything. A good scrub brush can do wonders.

k-moe 05-07-2013 07:35 PM

Get a soy-based brake cleaner, and some soft bristle brushes of various sizes. Non-corrosive, easy clean up, no bad smell, and works as well as anything.

darmst6829 05-08-2013 06:49 AM


Originally Posted by Skidmarkart (Post 21350446)
Howdy all,

Can you learned folks tell me what is best to deep clean the engine? I have read everything from Simple Green to PineSol to Oven Cleaner. I an reticent to use some of the heavy duty stuff because of all the aluminum bits on the bike. Any advice would be appreciated.

Kerosene or WD40 and a stiff brush works well.

16VGTIDave 05-08-2013 01:30 PM

When I had to do my engine, I put a large baking tray (one that had been retired from baking duties!) under the entire engine and a pan of parts washer solvent under the are I was working on. A couple different stiff brushes dipped into the solvent and scrub, starting at the top and working down. The solvent and grunge that ran off was mostly caught in the pan, and and was reused. The rest landed on the tray. Once I was satisfied, I used a can of aerosol brake cleaner to rinse off the residue.

I used parts washer solvent because it doesn't evaporate quickly and it isn't corrosive. It may swell seals if left on for an extended period of time, hence the rinse with brake cleaner.

dhallilama 05-08-2013 01:59 PM

i spray the thing down with Simple Green or that purple cleaner stuff. let it sit for a day.
load the bike on the trailer and go to the local coin-op car wash...

easy cleanup, the car wash already takes care of the run-off hazard.

davesupreme 05-10-2013 05:36 PM

i like diesel... cheap, and very solvent... and a bunch of brushes, go to harborfreight, they're cheap too... then wash off w/pinesol.... my $.02, cause' i'm cheap....:evil

Stan_R80/7 05-10-2013 05:59 PM

WD40 and Marvel Mystery oil are both surprisingly good cleaners that will do no harm. In fact, one of the ingredients in MM oil is carbon solvent (per the MSDS). Water based cleaners, such as pine sol, do work but are a wet (as in spray hose) technique where the WD40 and MM oil are wiping with a rag approach. The latter generally causes fewer issues with electrics and provides corrosion protection. I have used both and prefer the latter. YMMV.

Skidmarkart 05-14-2013 07:38 AM

All, just thought I would update this in case anyone was curious.

I did a combination of things, mostly influenced by the series "Clean your motorcycle" Parts 1-5 by DrivenandRidden on YouTube. It was a really excellent series for the type of cleaning I was doing. I highly recommend it if you have a old bike that is dirty that you want to clean up, but not repaint, resurface and all that jazz.

Basically, here's the process I used...

First, do a wash with warm water and dish soap. Try to use a toilet brush or something that will let you get in all the cracks. Don't worry about getting it perfect - this is just the initial wash. Now let it dry.

Then look around the bike, and see where the large deposits of oil and grease type stuff are (around the chain, near any oil leaks, etc). scrape these off with a popsicle stick (or something else that is soft compared to you engine). Get the largest gobs off.

Then, come back and spray your engine ( and other offending areas like the swing arm mount, front sprocket cover, rear sprocket, etc) down with some WD-40. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Then come back with several brushes, and scrub the hole thing down. It will not instantly become clean, but the WD-40 dissolves most stuff. Really get into the cracks and crevices with the brushes. I found a small toilet brush and a couple of tooth brushes worked great on my bike. Depending on how dirty the engine is, you may need to repeat this step. DO NOT RINSE with water.

Now get some water-soluble degreaser, like Simple Green (that's what I used). And spray down the entire engine and other bits again. Let it stand for 10-15 minutes. This will dissolve the WD-40 and associated stains. Scrub again with your brushes all over. NOW, get some water and more degreaser and clean everything with your brushes, and water and degreaser. Again, depending on how dirty the engine is, you may need to repeat this step. Be sure you get all the degreaser off... it's not too rough on your engine unless you leave it on there for long time. I did another round of dish soap and warm water.

Remember, this process will strip the oil from your chain and any other exposed bits that need lubrication. So be sure to spray your chain and grease anything else that needs it before you go for a long ride.

This did wonders for my bike. You can actually see the engine pretty well now, and though some parts need a steel brush treatment. Most came surprisingly clean. I may have to repeat the process (I seriously doubt anyone ever cleaned the engine of this SuperHawk), but this did a world of good to make the engine look great and I bet I will be able to see any leaks that are present very easily.

Also, for a more detailed explanation, I highly recommend the YouTube videos. They are really well done, with lots of good info (much better than what I have here).

ttpete 05-14-2013 11:07 AM

I've used mineral spirits for years. Also known as paint thinner. It cleans well and evaporates quicker than kero or diesel. Once the scrubbing's done, a washdown with a hot water hose will leave everything clean and dry.

telejojo 05-15-2013 04:31 AM

Gunk and a pressure washer.....................................

Times are GMT -7.   It's 10:43 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2015, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ADVrider 2011-2015