Engine cleaning: DON’T use this product!

Model Airplane News - RC Airplane News | Engine cleaning: DON’T use this product!

Q: I have a 180 Saito that I ran for a 1/2 gallon of fuel and decided to go with a larger engine. It had some brown residue around the muffler port, thinking I would clean it up I sprayed oven cleaner on it. Now it is a dull gray and looks 100 years old. My plan was to sell it and now that doesn’t look to promising. Is their any thing that will bring back the shine of new aluminum? Thanks for any help you can offer.

A: As you have found out, about the worse thing you can use to clean diecast aluminum is oven cleaner. I’ve spent quite a bit of money over the years trying just about everything on the market claimed to clean aluminum and have yet to find anything that will brighten diecast aluminum. Shops that do metal plating, i.e., chrome, nickel, etc., have special solutions that will brighten aluminum, but these involve electrolysis and are not available to the general public, due to special equipment being required. If you check the yellow pages for a shop in your area that does glass bead blasting, they can make the case look like new. However this will be a mate finish, as used by many of the engine manufacturers, not shiny. If any of our readers knows of a chemical that will make stained die cast aluminum shiny again, please let us know.

As a side note, back in the 1960s when I was building the Veco 61 prototypes, I took the cases to a shop that sand blasted the smaller Veco cases. The operator said they had a new process that they were using for some Lockheed parts that I might want to try. This was glass bead rather than sand. The Veco 61 cases were the first model engine cases to use this process which is now pretty much universal among the model engine manufacturers.

Updated: July 7, 2011 — 11:29 AM


  1. It’s really good to clean with environmentally friendly products.

  2. Dilute Hydroflouric Acid cleans Aluminium very. well indeed. Some car wheel (Alloys) cleaners contain it but beware as some also contain Hydrochlric or Sulphuric acid as well and are not as good. It is also great on stainless steel and is used to clean up stainless welds.. Great on the wife;s pots and pans especially the burnt ones. You may have a bit of a job obtaining this acid as unless very dilute is extremely corrosive on flesh and bone. It just doesn’;t stop

    1. Unless you are a chemist and really know what you are working with I strongly suggest you stay away from hydrofluoric acid. It will go right through skin and attack the calcium in your bones and more importantly your blood before you see any burn on your skin. As little as 4 square inches of skin contact could be fatal with the concentrated acid. I also saw that some car wheel cleaners contain the diluted acid and could not believe they were selling something so dangerous to the general public. I am a chemist and i’ve learned to treat this acid with a lot of respect.

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