Cleaning a well-used engine?

50 year old Ford truck’s engine has never been cleaned. Pretty good shape considering. But noticing signs of a valve cover leak & thinking engine compartment needs a sprucing up as part of the job. Built up layers of greasy gunk at a few locations, especially the under-side, is the main problem. Suggestions for products? Methods?

The best is a dry ice blast but that is pretty expensive.

So spray engine cleaner (Gunk works) and a high pressure wash and the self wash place. Assuming they allow you to do that at your favorite quarter wash or in California in general.

Really nasty crud might take oven cleaner from the dollar store.


Mustangman beat me to it. LOL

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Dry ice? How does that work?

Dry ice works like a sand blaster. The machine has a chipper inside that chips the ice. Compressed air blasts it out a nozzle. Since dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide, it becomes a gas after hitting the surface and just leaves the dirt on the floor.

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Gunk and Seafoam have been around a long time and should work well, another option is a Super Degreaser by Meguiars (Meguiar’s D10801 Super Degreaser),

would need to either have a spray gun or a spray bottle but comes in a gallon size and gets good reviews.

Yeah dry ice but it is very expensive I am told. The guy that bought the mclarin just did it. Also Sara something or other bought the equipment and used it. Seems to me the base unit was in the $5 to $20,000 range plus the ice. I have always just used gunk and a sprayer. Another old duffer though used oven cleaner. Precautions noted. Probably kills grass too.

This was Sara’s dry ice project, but there are lots on youtube

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I would cover the carb, coil and distributor with a plastic bag to keep water away.

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It won’t take oil and grease off unless the CO2 is treated with chemicals to remove them. The way it should work is that the CO2 in the pellets freezes and fractures oil and grease but the moisture in the air freezes on the surface and inhibits cleaning. This can be avoided by heating the substrate, but I haven’t seen that work in practice.

@George_San_Jose1 Why did you not just use the site search feature like you tell other people to do ?


Cleaning off all that gunk will create a lot of nasty waste. Are you sure it’s worth that?

And the alternator. Especially the alternator.

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Agree and just use gunk. I connect a hose to my shop faucet in the garage so that I can use hot instead of cold water. Since it is soft water have to be careful the run off doesn’t kill plants though. I don’t know if thi is even legal in cali though. I think you are supposed to dam up the driveway and collect the run off or end up in jail.

Good ideas above. I think I’ll try the Gunk/coin-operated-car-wash spray wand approach first, see how that goes. I used to wash the engine inone of those places on a routine basis, so I learned I have to cover the distributor, coil, and alternator with plastic bags first. For this initial clean I’ll be focusing on the underside, so the plastic may not be as critical.

Got a wet suit?