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Old 01-07-2022, 18:15   #1
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Tips for cleaning a diesel engine

I noticed the other day that my engine could use a decent cleaning.

I would be very interested to hear everyone's tips and advice for cleaning diesel engines.

What cleaners do you use?
Rags, brushes or both?
What do you do to keep from making a mess.

Thanks!
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Old 01-07-2022, 18:39   #2
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Re: Tips for cleaning a diesel engine

Use the search engine, there’s a long thread on the subject.
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Old 01-07-2022, 18:52   #3
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Re: Tips for cleaning a diesel engine

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Use the search engine, there’s a long thread on the subject.
I looked, but couldn't find what I was looking for.

I scanned the first ten or so pages that the search engine delivered. I found several threads on fuel polishing, cleaning fuel tanks, replacing engines, but nothing on cleaning the exterior of a diesel.
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Old 01-07-2022, 20:56   #4
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Re: Tips for cleaning a diesel engine

Truck wash and paint brush. Aerosol degreaser and brakeclean for the tough bits. Use ventilation and plenty of absorption pads.
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Old 02-07-2022, 17:58   #5
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Re: Tips for cleaning a diesel engine

My favorite concoction for an engine cleaner is a 50:50 mix of kerosene, and a cleaner like Awesome or Greased Lightning. Mix it up, spray it down, let it sit a few minutes and rinse it off. Pay particular attention to tight places.

I actually use the hose and nozzle - set to spray - to rinse things off. I cover the alternator with clear film wrap. I use the nozzle 'jet' setting sparingly on tight places. When that's done, I take an old towel and wipe the over spray off the ceiling and walls, then take a scrub brush to the 'floor' of the engine compartment and rinse that down. When done, I shop vac out and thoroughly clean the bilge, so I don't get any oily discharge from the bilge pump.

After it's all done, I run the engine until it warms up. That shakes the water out of the tight spots and the heat helps dry things out.
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Old 02-07-2022, 18:37   #6
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Re: Tips for cleaning a diesel engine

WD-40 is an awesome engine cleaner, a much better cleaner/penetrant than a lubricant. Spray it on, wipe with paper towels. No bilge residue to worry about!
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Old 02-07-2022, 19:21   #7
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Re: Tips for cleaning a diesel engine

I have had excellent luck with KrudCutter. Spray it on, let it soak. Wipe of as much as possible, then rinse. Do not pump the rinse water overboard, collect and dispose of in a responsible manner...
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Old 03-07-2022, 02:59   #8
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Re: Tips for cleaning a diesel engine

Several good tips already mentioned. I use the same purple (or pink) degreaser wash I’ve used on my Harley, car or boat. Cover electrics (alternator), turn off bilge pump, spray it down, let sit for the recommended time, spray off, check for bits that may need a toothbrush or just more attention, finish that and begin wet vac. I use an electric leaf blower to dry it off. Vac again if needed, uncover electrics, turn bilge pump back on and start engine.
Mine only had 3200 hrs, but I think they look pretty clean.
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Old 03-07-2022, 08:51   #9
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Re: Tips for cleaning a diesel engine

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turn bilge pump back on and start engine.


I'd be leery of that.

Discharge of Oil Prohibited
The Federal Water Pollution Control Act prohibits the discharge of oil or oily waste upon or into any navigable waters of the U.S. The prohibition includes any discharge which causes a film or discoloration of the surface of the water or causes a sludge or emulsion beneath the surface of the water. Violators are subject to substantial civil and/or criminal sanctions including fines and imprisonment.


3 years ago a guy in our club spilled maybe a teaspoon (his claim) of oil into the bilge during an oil change. Then he turned on the bilge pump. The result was the fire department (hazmat) and the DNR showing up. When all was said and done, his wallet was $1500 lighter...

A little oil goes a long way, (on the water).

Best thing is: do a thorough bilge clean, vac it out, and dispose of properly.
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Old 03-07-2022, 09:13   #10
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Re: Tips for cleaning a diesel engine

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Snip, snip, snip……………
I'd be leery of that.
[i][b]Discharge of Oil
Best thing is: do a thorough bilge clean, vac it out, and dispose of properly.
I agree; that’s why I turn them off before the cleaning and vacuuming twice. There’s nothing left when I’m done.
My note to the OP was a reminder to turn them (it) back on.
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Old 03-07-2022, 09:19   #11
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Re: Tips for cleaning a diesel engine

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I agree; that’s why I turn them off before the cleaning and vacuuming twice. There’s nothing left when I’m done.
My note to the OP was a reminder to turn them (it) back on.
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Old 04-07-2022, 05:43   #12
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Re: Tips for cleaning a diesel engine

A year or so ago I had cause to respray 2 x 400HP Cummins diesels in a commercial boat. Before I cleaned them, I brought a pile of old sheets from a recycling store for close to nothing. I lay a couple of them under the engine but above the bilge while I cleaned it.
Before I did this, I lay oil absorbent mats fully over the then still dry bilge floor. Also hung sheets around the engine itself to catch splashes. I degreased the engines then hosed them off, letting everything drain into the sheets, then through them and then through the oil absorbent mats. The water freely ran through but the oil, grease and paint was caught in the sheets.
Once done, I simply folded them up and threw them out. My bilge had clear water in it, which was drained overboard into a marina with zero oil slicks. The sheets had filtered the water and had absorbed most of the oil, then the oil absorbent mats soaked up any residue that went through. Of course, we tested the waste water first but it finished up better than a typical bilge pump. Took a bit of time to prepare but I had virtually zero clean up and the boat engine room came out unscathed. I just drained it of water. The system worked well for all, I believe.
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Old 04-07-2022, 11:02   #13
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Re: Tips for cleaning a diesel engine

My engine had baked on salt and lots of dried oil. Put a plastic sheet under.and on top of that lots of absorbent pads. Oil will come off easy with engine degreaser and toofhbrush. Rinsing with water not possible so wiping with lots and lots of rags or paper required. For the salt I used descaling product like CLR in a waterpick the kind you use for teeth. Obvjously wear goggles, mask, gloves.. Finished with acetone wipe. Ventilate!
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Old 05-07-2022, 19:07   #14
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Re: Tips for cleaning a diesel engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by LeeV View Post
...
Mine only had 3200 hrs, but I think they look pretty clean.
Very clean I would say.

Thanks for the advice.
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Old 06-07-2022, 02:17   #15
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Re: Tips for cleaning a diesel engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by RexSnr View Post
A year or so ago I had cause to respray 2 x 400HP Cummins diesels in a commercial boat. Before I cleaned them, I brought a pile of old sheets from a recycling store for close to nothing. I lay a couple of them under the engine but above the bilge while I cleaned it.
Before I did this, I lay oil absorbent mats fully over the then still dry bilge floor. Also hung sheets around the engine itself to catch splashes. I degreased the engines then hosed them off, letting everything drain into the sheets, then through them and then through the oil absorbent mats. The water freely ran through but the oil, grease and paint was caught in the sheets.
Once done, I simply folded them up and threw them out. My bilge had clear water in it, which was drained overboard into a marina with zero oil slicks. The sheets had filtered the water and had absorbed most of the oil, then the oil absorbent mats soaked up any residue that went through. Of course, we tested the waste water first but it finished up better than a typical bilge pump. Took a bit of time to prepare but I had virtually zero clean up and the boat engine room came out unscathed. I just drained it of water. The system worked well for all, I believe.
Some great ideas; just added them to my “next/last boat” maintenance procedure list. Thx! 👍
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