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Old 01-06-2016, 23:53   #1
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Steam cleaning engine ?

I would like to clean up my engine. If it was a car engine, a bit of solvent and a pressure washer would do the job but this engine is in the boat in the salon and I would rather not cover the inside of my boat with engine crud when using a pressure washer.
I tried a toothbrush and soapy water. That works to some degree but there are a lot of nooks and crannies that I just can't get to with a toothbrush.
I had the idea of using a steam cleaner but am not sure how effective they actually are for cleaning engines. If they can be effective, does it need to be an industrial unit or can I purchase a small household unit for under a few hundred dollars and have the same (but slower) cleaning effect?
Has anybody tried this and if so, what make/model steam cleaner did you use and how effective was the cleanup ?
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Old 02-06-2016, 00:10   #2
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Re: Steam cleaning engine ?

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Old 02-06-2016, 02:07   #3
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Re: Steam cleaning engine ?

Over here we have a shop called Autocheap. You would have something similar. There you can buy SCA degreaser in a spray can. There about a $1 here. They are great for cleaning up an engine as the spray comes out in a stream and gets into all those nooks and crannies and the liquid is water soluble.
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Old 02-06-2016, 03:19   #4
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Re: Steam cleaning engine ?

I use a small steam cleaner, it works reasonably well very slow and I end up using degreaser in the end, they are good for removing salt. If you do use degreaser, some can eat your engine mounts or other rubber sail drive seals etc.
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Old 02-06-2016, 04:55   #5
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Re: Steam cleaning engine ?

Steam cleaners suitable for engine cleaning are just as messy as pressure washers so not much to gain there. I'd do what others have suggested - hit it with degreaser, bit of a scrub with a nylon brush and finish with a hose down.
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Old 02-06-2016, 06:02   #6
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Re: Steam cleaning engine ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jd1 View Post
I would like to clean up my engine. If it was a car engine, a bit of solvent and a pressure washer would do the job but this engine is in the boat in the salon and I would rather not cover the inside of my boat with engine crud when using a pressure washer.
I tried a toothbrush and soapy water. That works to some degree but there are a lot of nooks and crannies that I just can't get to with a toothbrush.
I had the idea of using a steam cleaner but am not sure how effective they actually are for cleaning engines. If they can be effective, does it need to be an industrial unit or can I purchase a small household unit for under a few hundred dollars and have the same (but slower) cleaning effect?
Has anybody tried this and if so, what make/model steam cleaner did you use and how effective was the cleanup ?
Depending how much room in the engine room, You can also buy a good thick roll of construction plastic, secure it to cover the engine room around the engine and cabin sole, and pressure wash. I also did the bilge at the same time. However, I have enough room to do this. I hate chemicals especially being washed into my ocean. I wish you luck!
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Old 02-06-2016, 09:02   #7
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Re: Steam cleaning engine ?

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Originally Posted by Reefmagnet View Post
Steam cleaners suitable for engine cleaning are just as messy as pressure washers so not much to gain there. I'd do what others have suggested - hit it with degreaser, bit of a scrub with a nylon brush and finish with a hose down.
That's for sure,done both,both remove to splatter it someplace else
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Old 02-06-2016, 09:04   #8
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Re: Steam cleaning engine ?

Thank you for all the suggestions. I will give the degreaser a try and see how that goes.
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Old 02-06-2016, 09:35   #9
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Re: Steam cleaning engine ?

I am reasonably happy with the purple degreaser and a hose with a nozzle. I let the purple stuff sit for 30 minutes then wash off into the bilge. Got some water around the salon, but nothing a quick dry with a towel didn't take care of. The engine is 35 years old, so I was not expecting a shinny outcome, but it is much cleaner. My hands don't come back black after fiddling with things. I figure a once a year treatment should be enough.


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Old 02-06-2016, 09:37   #10
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Re: Steam cleaning engine ?

Steam and chemicals both emulsify the grease, means it will flow into the Ocean.
It's really that dirty? You have leaks that need fixing then.
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Old 02-06-2016, 12:43   #11
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Re: Steam cleaning engine ?

Bill Seal is exactly right. Super Clean easily cuts baked on oil and grease. Wash off with low pressure water. Use a piece of plywood or plastic sheeting to keep splashes out of your salon.
Steam is just as sloppy as a pressure washer plus causes dirty moisture to form on all your inside spaces.
If your engine is just slightly oily, dish soap does fine.
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Old 02-06-2016, 13:34   #12
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Re: Steam cleaning engine ?

Steam cleaning is an option in the workshop but not on board a yacht.

Try a washdown with diesel and then a degreaser and dispose of the bilge slop by pumping into a container and further to a waste disposal plant.

Cheers Michael
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Old 02-06-2016, 14:20   #13
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Re: Steam cleaning engine ?

Here are some evaluations of Super Clean: Amazon.com: Super Clean Degreaser 1 Gallon: Automotive
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Old 02-06-2016, 14:29   #14
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Re: Steam cleaning engine ?

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I hate chemicals especially being washed into my ocean. I wish you luck!
The Coastguard hates that too. Washing oil and grime into the bilge and then pumping it out with the bilge pump would count as an illegal discharge. From the Marpol label :

1. It is a crime to negligently or knowingly discharge a “harmful quantity” of oil into US waters.
2. Failing to report an oil spill to the government is also a crime. Any “person in charge” on a vessel that has discharged oil must immediately report the spill to the National Response Center.
PENALTIES FOR INDIVIDUALS: Individuals who fail to notify the federal government about an oil spill or discharge can be fined up to $200,000 or up to twice the gross gain or loss and may be imprisoned for up to 5 years.
A negligent violation of the Clean Water Act is a misdemeanor and can result in up to one year in prison.
A knowing failure to report a spill or a leak is a felony and can result in up to 5 years in prison.

So your best bet by far is to remove the grime with a little detergent spray, and some elbow grease. Rags work really well, or a brush. Make sure you soak up any runoff.

I cleaned my entire Jaguar V12 with some Windex, some rags, and some elbow grease.
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Old 02-06-2016, 14:32   #15
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Re: Steam cleaning engine ?

Depending on how baked on the crud is or if you're also trying to remove paint as well some people like oven cleaner. The effective ones I've used all are lye (sodium hydroxide) based. Need to use goggles and gloves and keep away from any aluminum and hoses. One downside is you have some toxic residue to cleanup but there are times this can be the most effective solution. Opinions are all over the place on whether or not this is a safe and sane activity. Definitely not high on my things I like to do list.
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