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Old 01-27-2013, 05:49 AM   #1
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Engine Detailing--Products and Techniques?

Would like to hear some recommendations for engine detailing and good techniques. About to purchase an SVT in dire need of clean-up. Thanks.

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Old 01-27-2013, 07:41 AM   #2
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Depending on your experience and comfortability; you could use stuff like simple green to mist the engine bay and use warm or hot water in a pressure washer (being uber-careful to avoid electrical connections, modules, and housings) to wash and rinse the buildup of dirt away. You'd also want to keep a good distance with the wand, too close and the force of the water could damage what it touches or easily force water past waterproofing measures at the aforementioned electrical connectors.

There seems to be two camps to having the engine on while doing this: more often than not folks perform the job with the engine on so any water that may end up where it shouldn't be gets heated quickly and turns to steam before it can seep in. Two ideals on water temperature as well... I go with hot/warm water as the temperature differential between an engine at operating temperature and spigot water could affect the metals (a la Mr. Wizard's can demo). Better safe than sorry.

If you don't feel right about going that route, bust out the rags, cotton swabs, old chopsticks/bamboo sticks; 'cause your gonna be getting in there! It's much more time consuming, but 100% better for a shaky ego. Avoid armor all or any kind of oil-based dress up sprays. They break down your underhood rubber parts and they'll wear much faster than they would normally. Tire shine is also a no-no. If you clean properly, rubber should look fine without dressups... if you just gotta use something; wipe it off before you call the job done! Those products when sprayed and left, are kind of thick and will attract dirt/dust and 'undo' in rapid fashion, all your work. If you remove components to clean around them, do so a few items at a time so you don't lose your place and stumble on the locations when reinstalling them, too. Hope that helps!

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Old 01-27-2013, 09:23 AM   #3
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simple green way to go
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Old 01-27-2013, 11:04 AM   #4
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Simple Green for the first major cleaning if it's really bad. The real trick is maintaining it underhood. Everytime that I wash the outside, I get underhood also. I just use some dish soap with hot water in a pump-up garden sprayer and hit everything underhood. I wrap open element air filters in a plastic shopping bag, and am carefull around obvious electrical components. I let it soak for a couple of minutes, agitate especially grungy areas, then hose off with a garden hose. Lastly, I use the blower attachment for my ShopVac to blast the majority of the water out, then final wipe-down with a synthetic chamois.
This isnt' a great pic, but this is an underhood pic of my 9 year old, daily-driven Ranger.
And this is an award that I got at a car show this past October that I'm pretty proud of--Best Under-hood Detailing. 200+ cars at this show, most were truly show cars, very few daily drivers.
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Old 01-27-2013, 11:25 AM   #5
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one tip for cleaning underhood is to use mechanic's hand soap.
Not the kind with pumice

Gojo or similar on a rag is great for wiping off muck, and the lanolin leaves it shiny.
Been using this on spark plug wires, hoses, etc for decades.
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Old 01-27-2013, 01:15 PM   #6
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NO NO NO stay away from Simple Green is not safe for aluminum it will turn your aluminum black over time
Read up on this first
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Old 01-27-2013, 01:46 PM   #7
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Old 02-02-2013, 10:23 PM   #8
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There are several ways you can detail an engine bay, and many products you can use. I personally would stay away from Simple Green since it can leave stains on bare metal. At our shot we use Optimum APC and Meguiars APC, but of which are safe on metal, especially when diluted. If you want to pick up something locally you can grab Zep Citrus at your local Home Depot. You can dilute it up to 10:1 with water and still have it work very well at breaking up dirt and grime under you hood, and it's much safer than simple green. You still need to be careful and not let it dry on hot components, but it won't stain if you use it properly.

The first thing you want to do is cover whatever you don't want to get wet (ie open air filter element on intake, distributor cap, ecu connections etc). You can use aluminum foil for this since it can be molded over things with different shapes. Some have also used plastic bags and duct tape with great success.

After you have those things covered you can use a light stream of water to get everything a little wet. Then spray on your APC of choice and let it dwell for just a couple minutes. You want to get a good brush (we use Raceglaze brushes) and aggitate the areas with built up dirt and grime. Once everything is good to go, you can use another light stream of water to rinse it all down. Be sure to nit use high pressure water since the last thing you want to do is force water into places it shouldn't be under the hood.

After you have rinsed off all the dirt and cleaners you want to dry as much as you can. At our shop we use a Master Blaster blower to blow off the water, you can also use a normal leaf blower if you already have one. If you don't have one, you can use a couple MF towels to dry as much of the water off as possible. Finally you can apply your favorite dressing to the plastic and rubber parts. We use Sonus Tire and Trim Kote, because it has great durability and you don't need to wipe it down, it cures all on it's own. I would personally stay away from spraying super shiny tire dressings on your engine bay since they seem to attract more dust.

Hope this helps!





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Old 02-06-2013, 07:49 AM   #9
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Great message and information, and thanks for the photos!
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Old 02-25-2013, 09:34 AM   #10
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I do the same thing as Dave and it turns out very well. well enough that FSWERKS asked to use my engine bay pics on their site(=
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