BMW Aluminum motor and jugs, what do you use to clean?

Discussion in 'Old's Cool' started by mfp4073, Aug 29, 2010.

  1. mfp4073

    mfp4073 Long timer

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    I need to do some good cleaning. Been riding in the rain way too much lately (fl in the summer, at any given time its 30 minutes from a rain shower). The flat aluminum parts of the motor are not as bright as when I got it. Obvious start is soap and water, but what can I use to brighten it up? I have seen threads talking about using paint and a scotch pad. I can think of stuff like barkeepers friend and other "abrasives", but am concerned about making it too bright or scratching. I dont want to polish it bright either! I have used choke and carb cleaner on my aluminum high rise car manifolds in the past. Next, is there anything I can use to protect it from dulling and staining so fast (other than not riding in the rain)?

    Thanks guys and girls!!!! :freaky
    #1
  2. matman1972

    matman1972 Lost in the woods.

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    I thought they were like old furniture or guns, If you clean the patina, you destroy the value. i have just used simply orange degreaser on mine. i did go and put together a soda blaster for smaller parts like valve covers and float bowls and it cleaned them up nicely
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  3. Hawk Medicine

    Hawk Medicine Coyote's Brother

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    If you keep up with the aluminum cases and parts you can use mild stuff like Bartenders friend or an acidic cleaner but once you've let it go, you have a real problem. I'd say try soda blasting it.

    At least then you wouldn't have to take the bike apart.

    Oh... For most of us,when it comes to grungy engine cases, patina has no resale value. All it does is collect oil and dirt.
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  4. matman1972

    matman1972 Lost in the woods.

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    Agreed on the patina, it is just an excuse I use to ride rather than wash..

    Mymindsok, do you know if the soda blasting is a problem on gasket surfaces? I know sand and bead blasting are. The soda worked really well on valve covers, and when I rebuild my wiring harness, and replace base and head gaskets this month, I thought about doing the front cover, cylinders, and heads. Would I be better off doing all those while assembled to protect the mating surfaces?

    Thanks, and sorry for the hijack.
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  5. mfp4073

    mfp4073 Long timer

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    Its not far gone at all, but just dulling with a few stains here and there. To give you an idea:

    several months ago when I bought it
    [​IMG]

    2k and 1.5 months later!
    [​IMG]
    #5
  6. Lornce

    Lornce Lost In Place

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    Creeks, rivers and rain, mostly.


    [​IMG]




    [​IMG]




    [​IMG]


    :thumb
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  7. matman1972

    matman1972 Lost in the woods.

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    here is what I am using for media

    http://www.harborfreight.com/50-lbs-medium-grade-armex-soda-blast-media-65929.html

    harbour freight also sells a blaster

    http://www.harborfreight.com/15-lb-portable-soda-blaster-66742.html

    but I made my own like this
    http://www.aircooledtech.com/tools-on-the-cheap/soda_blaster/

    not my link, but it is where I got the info for mine. It really does spruce up the aluminum nicely. Since I have just acquired a second basket case r90 and am about to begin working on that engine, may purchase the harbour freight blaster. it looks like it may handle larger surfaces better.


    http://www.rapiddog.net/BLOG/GSWHEELS.html
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  8. woodgrain

    woodgrain In-Dented Savant

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    ...and the occasional killer mud hole.

    Woodgrain
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  9. Lornce

    Lornce Lost In Place

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  10. matman1972

    matman1972 Lost in the woods.

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    So far it comes in very handy. I am not worried at all about trying to keep it looking polished or new. I want to ride it. The reason I appreciate clean aluminum is I need to see where new leaks are developing, and what repairs might need to be done. For example, right now, I have new oil on my right carb. Need to check the breather valve, as I do not believe the newer reed type was ever put in. I know I have a new leak on my right cylinder becayse it was clean enough to see the oil stain develop. For me the soda gives me a fast, easy way to get grunge and stains off the metal. One drawback is it tends to leave a dull patina behind. (that is a concern if you want siny cases)
    #10
  11. Lornce

    Lornce Lost In Place

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    I've been trying to forget that day.

    :patch



    [​IMG]
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  12. schneller

    schneller Adventurer

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    How about that orange hand cleaner? Has anyone tried that?
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  13. mfp4073

    mfp4073 Long timer

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    I have used the "cream" style hand cleaner on stuff in the past with good success. Now that you mention it I wonder about the other "abrasive" hand cleaners.


    edit:
    I just tried some of the cherry gojo and didnt have much in the way of results.
    #13
  14. mfp4073

    mfp4073 Long timer

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    btw, I saw that pic yesterday for the first time and REALLY love it!
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  15. zenben

    zenben all roads are one

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    You are giving some good advice, as I restore bikes as a regular sideline, and use both processes WITH GREAT CAUTION !
    These processes aren't always mild, and I think that you forgot the appropriate warnings.

    I'll take these in order:

    Barkeepers friend is great, but it is oxalic acid. Tenacious and corrosive. Unless neutralized, you can kiss all the zinc plating goodbye, and you'll still be dealing with residue months later.

    Soda is corrosive. It gets everywhere. Soda is corrosive, and gets everywhere.
    Soda is corrosive, and it gets everywhere.
    Any questions?

    Don't have to take the bike apart? Are you mad?
    Six trips to the pressure car wash wouldn't be enough to get it out of every spoke hole, bolt hole, and recessed crevice. See above.
    I run soda blasted parts through the dishwasher on rinse, and sometimes they need to go through two or three cycles.

    Patina on a classic or antique motorcycle has become far more negotiable than (god knows what) somebody did to clean it up for resale.If you have a cool story that goes with the patina (full history of the bike), you can often see double the price.
    I've been restoring bikes for decades. (not renovating or re-muddling).
    I don't even glance at concours wannabe restos anymore. Its all about original (or period modified) and regularly ridden hardware.
    I am not alone in my views.
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  16. matman1972

    matman1972 Lost in the woods.

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    So the real question is... Is soda corrosive?:rofl


    I have used it on small pieces and they have turned out well, but have been concerned about larger pieces with more places for the soda to hide from the neutralizer.
    what about blasting pieces like heads and cylinders, Is it better to assemble them to protect gasket surfaces, or does soda not eat into those?

    I have seen bad results with using it on cars because the neutralizer is corrosive too, and it just seems hard to get everything clean. I will be living on my bike if I try putting any parts through the dishwasher, so I have been using a warm bath of mild soap and water after blasting, then rinsing several times.

    What about some alternatives for smaller stuff? walnut? I have a blasting cabinet that I have used for paint removal, etc...

    And I have seen several people here use the aluminum paint and scotchbright pad. Does this just cover the discoloration?
    #16
  17. anonny

    anonny What could go wrong?

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  18. zenben

    zenben all roads are one

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    Yo Matman. Intelligent questions are cool.
    Walnut is great for knocking off dirt, but not very aggressive. Soda does a better cleaning, and walnut has been attributed to more than one aircraft crash due to the dust that tends to clog oil galleys and other small orifices.
    Walnut is really best in a polishing tumbler, where it polishes more when you leave it longer.

    With any blasting, thorough post-cleaning is the key.
    A few granules of glass bead are all it would take to destroy a complete engine rebuild. I hate the stuff. Beautiful results, but a noticeable change in surface finish: unsuitable for a true 'restoration'.
    Not unlike any aggressive abrasive; Scotchbrite, alumina, iron, silica....

    I like your 'leave it alone' approach. I have a great one owner G/S that got acid washed and soda blasted due to the overzealous machinist who did the heads.
    Shiny heads on an aged copper roof looked silly, and it cost me several weeks to make the rest of the bike match the same brightness.
    May cost me on resale price as well. Already two sale fails, and the bike is nearly perfect.

    Cases of bikes I ride just get wiped down with lacquer thinner. Unbelievable what it'll remove, and with a nylon brush, you are close to new.
    There are a few 'miracle' commercial cleaners out there (not divulging what they are). Most smell orangeish, and will decay all the rubber they touch.
    Also will take the skin right off your fingers, but the aluminum usually looks like new.
    #18
  19. Hawk Medicine

    Hawk Medicine Coyote's Brother

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    before I really got started on my bike build, I took a huge pile of parts to the local soda blast guy and 90% of the stuff came back looking better/cleaner than when it left the factory. No corners were rounded off and all of the mating surfaces were perfect. (As in PERFECT!) It's very hard to screw up using soda.

    After getting my aluminum parts back, I simply rinsed them off with water and used compressed air to dry em. Truthfully... I didn't spend a lot of time or trouble with the blasted parts, it worked out fine and next time I'll setup my own blaster and try doing it myself.

    What didn't work so well, was removing the paint from the frame. For some reason (Probably because he was blasting round tubing.) that BMW factory paint really wanted to stick and I had to hand the painted metal parts off to a sandblast guy.

    Also: Soda isn't great for cleaning up heads. If your heads need a good cleaning, take em to your local hot rod engine shop.The drag race engine guys here do all of the motorcycle stuff in town, the work is flawless and the price is much lower that taking it to one of the BMW mechanics, who'll tell you he does the work himself and then farms it out to the same shop!
    #19
  20. McHaven

    McHaven Been here awhile

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    I've been told brake parts cleaner and a wire brush is best for polishing up the case. It doesn't always get spots out, but it can make it shine. You need to do it long strokes though, or you'll end up with one shiny spot. Its quite handy for getting the oxide off, and restoring some shine.
    #20