Puppeteer

Author Topic: OT: Cleaning an aluminium (aluminum) cylinder head  (Read 4428 times)

AdeV

  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 463
    • View Profile
OT: Cleaning an aluminium (aluminum) cylinder head
« on: August 07, 2015, 12:52:37 AM »
Gents,

I have an off-topic question. Off topic for Listers that is, but it IS an engine question, and I figure some of you guys know more about this stuff than I do...

So - I'm building a Jaguar V12 racing engine. This has an ali block & heads, and cast iron cylinder liners. The engine I'm rebuilding is 38 years old, so there's obviously a lot of crud around. My big parts washer plus some seriously concentrated degreaser + lots of elbow grease has shifted the bulk of the oily contaminants, and the actual portion of the heads which sees combustion have cleaned up very well. However, the part of the head that's in contact with the water, has heavy rust (iron oxide from the liners & other steel/iron parts of the engine) deposits seriously well bonded to the aluminium surfaces.

My question is - what's the best way to shift the rust without damaging the aluminium? Scrubbing with a plastic scrubbing brush has very little effect. I've had some luck using a Dremel & brass wire brush, but it's very slow going (and the brushes disintegrate rapidly).

The heads are (a bit like early Lister heads) almost impossible to obtain except at ridiculously high prices, so I need to clean them without wrecking them. I'm thinking a decent brass wire brush that I can attach to an angle grinder would be the quickest way to remove it - if I can find a suitable brush of course. Brass-plated steel is no good as the steel will score the aluminium, which means it'll need surfacing, and that buggers up the timing (OHC engine).

Any other suggestions warmly welcomed.

Ta!
Cheers!
Ade.
--------------
1x Lister CS Start-o-Matic (complete, runs)
0x Lister JP4 :( - Sold to go in a canal boat.

dieselgman

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3141
    • View Profile
    • Lister Parts
Re: OT: Cleaning an aluminium (aluminum) cylinder head
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2015, 02:37:47 AM »
Two different thoughts come to mind...

1.) We have two different types of alkali cleaner for our cabinet parts washer, (heated and sprayed under high pressure) - one is specifically made for aluminum and will not attack the surfaces like the iron cleaner will. I do not know about removing the iron oxides though.

2.) We used to rebuild VW aluminum alloy heads... often used bead blasting with walnut shell media to clean the exposed outer surfaces. This would shine them up very nicely but that will likely be no good for your deck mating surfaces.

dieselgman
Ford Powerstroke, Caterpillar 3304, Cummins M11, Too many Listers to count...

carlb23

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 529
    • View Profile
Re: OT: Cleaning an aluminium (aluminum) cylinder head
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2015, 11:36:02 AM »
oxalic acid will remove the rust and if i remember correctly is safe on aluminum.

AdeV

  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 463
    • View Profile
Re: OT: Cleaning an aluminium (aluminum) cylinder head
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2015, 12:16:57 PM »
Thanks guys :)

I'd like to avoid alkali (sodium hydroxide) as I know that attacks aluminium - and it's important that the head face remains undamaged (well, no more damaged than it already is). I'd wondered about soda-blasting the head surface, as I'm pretty sure the soda won't damage the surface - but equally I'm not sure if it'd be strong enough to knock the iron oxide off...

Carl - Oxalic acid looks interesting, although in suitable concentrations it will attack aluminium as well. However, there seems to be some consensus that boiling aluminium parts with rhubarb leaves will leave them in pristine condition - rhubarb leaves being high in oxalic acid (but at very low concentrations compared to buying the stuff in powder form). As I happen to detest rhubarb, I don't have any growing anywhere, but my mother loves the stuff so if I can find a pan big enough to stick the Jag head in (it's 2ft long!) I might just give that a go. I've got a couple of spare heads, so plenty of practice material...

Cheers!
Ade.
Cheers!
Ade.
--------------
1x Lister CS Start-o-Matic (complete, runs)
0x Lister JP4 :( - Sold to go in a canal boat.

omweg

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 1
    • View Profile
Re: OT: Cleaning an aluminium (aluminum) cylinder head
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2018, 08:45:29 AM »
Hello, I'm the owner of a ST3 generator and I had the problem of rising oil level so this topic was very helpfull. My only advise would be to set course "5.) diaphragm in the external fuel lift pump" on the first place because this is probably most often the problem.
I'm living in the netherlands and my question is because I could not find a spare diaphragm but I had to buy a comlete fuel pump (the alternative mark was the cheapest). Does somebody know a Lister dealer which still sells parts of the ST.
Thanks

ajaffa1

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1264
    • View Profile
Re: OT: Cleaning an aluminium (aluminum) cylinder head
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2018, 09:32:07 AM »
Hi Omweg,and welcome, when I rebuilt my ST2 I got all the parts I required from Dieselgman, he runs a business called Diesel Electric in the USA. He shipped everything to Australia for me, I`m sure the Netherlands would be no trouble to him.

Rising oil levels are sometimes also caused by a leak in one of the internal fuel pumps or more likely the pipe work running up to the injectors in the cylinder heads. When fitting a new fuel pump please check the clearance on the pump tappet, you may have to fit an extra gasket or you could destroy the new pump.

Bob

glort

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2848
    • View Profile
Re: OT: Cleaning an aluminium (aluminum) cylinder head
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2018, 11:32:54 AM »

Is this in the water passages or on the face of the head?
If it's the face, Just have the head skimmed. Being ally it's probably not completely flat anyway so the skim will make sure it is and leave you with a brand new surface.

AdeV

  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 463
    • View Profile
Re: OT: Cleaning an aluminium (aluminum) cylinder head
« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2018, 06:59:20 PM »
Crumbs, I'd forgotten all about this thread! Reminder to self: Get some rhubarb leaves....

And a big pan  :laugh:
Cheers!
Ade.
--------------
1x Lister CS Start-o-Matic (complete, runs)
0x Lister JP4 :( - Sold to go in a canal boat.

glort

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2848
    • View Profile
Re: OT: Cleaning an aluminium (aluminum) cylinder head
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2018, 11:36:40 PM »
 :embarassed: :embarassed:
Just realised it's a 3 year grave dig.  :embarassed: :embarassed:

Did you ever get the engine built?

AdeV

  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 463
    • View Profile
Re: OT: Cleaning an aluminium (aluminum) cylinder head
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2018, 08:45:51 PM »
:embarassed: :embarassed:
Just realised it's a 3 year grave dig.  :embarassed: :embarassed:

Did you ever get the engine built?

Nope! I got married instead...
Cheers!
Ade.
--------------
1x Lister CS Start-o-Matic (complete, runs)
0x Lister JP4 :( - Sold to go in a canal boat.

glort

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2848
    • View Profile
Re: OT: Cleaning an aluminium (aluminum) cylinder head
« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2018, 11:59:56 PM »


Nope! I got married instead...

Well done!
I hear there is a lot of that going round these days, people getting married.


Railways stations, Fire stations, Pubs and bars and now you have married an engine!
Being the old fashioned type, I prefer women but I can certainly see the upsides to marrying an engine. Each to their own.  I hope you and the V12 or parts there of are very happy together and have lots of little 4.2 straight 6's together!   


 :laugh: