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MG MGA - Cleaning the engine

I have the engine out of my 59 coupe. I want to clean it up and repaint.It has lots of grease build up. what is the best solution to use to clean the engine and then do I have to do anything to neutralize it before painting.
I checked the archives but could not find anything definitive.
Thanks for any help.
Bud white
S.A. White

If you want to do a good job, and still be environmentally safe, use "Simple Green"....
First wash it down with plain water, then spray Simple Green on all over the engine, and let it stand for a few minutes....
Have a long-bristle brush in a bucket, with more Simple Green, but diluted about 25% chemical, 75% water....
Start brushing it down with the Simple Green mixture.
When it's really sudzy, rinse it with plain water....
You may have to do the whole operation more than once, but it will clean it, and it won't poison the ground.
Just my 2 cents.
Edward Wesson 52TD


For my two cents, I recommend taking it to a coin wash that has a degreaser solution and working the wand a over with some wire and bristle brushes to remove the grease. Get it clean. Maybe two or three rinses with an array of nylon and metal brushes might be required to rid all the grime. If there is rust use a suitable naval jelly to neutralize it. If you want to remove old paint that is an arduous chemical treatment and scraping job. Then I would consult with a local automotive paint shop for an etching solution and neutralizer as well to clean off the remaining residues. A good etching primer should set the motor up for a proper color repaint.

In the lack of such a coin wash alternative, you must use a degreaser solution and you can place a paper drop cloth beneath the motor to catch the residues. I would do this until you see clean metal, painted or not. There is an old expression that says, "Fight fire with fire." In this case you need to fight grime with more degreaser and brushes until you see it clean of grease and grime. Any good painting finish is the result of a proper prep. That is what takes time, so be patient and persistent before you prime or paint. A clean block will provide the 'bite' you need for new primer and paint.

Best of luck.

Stephen Lofaro

Back in the "old days" of engine rebuilds, I use to have an engine steam cleaned. This was often a service found at gas stations, when they were real gas stations. If you could find a steam cleaner at a repair shop nearby, that's the way to go.
G Goeppner


For some more suggestions, there is a discussion of this in the midget/Sprite Technical section.

C R Huff

You might find steam cleaning at the after market rust oil sprayers.
Art Pearse

Bud and Ed,
I read a report some years back that said that Simple Green was not actually environmentally friendly. Good old fashioned Gunk, a parrafin mixture, will get most of the grease off, or at least it will soften it so you can srape or brush it off. It may need two or more applications, between hosing it off, to get it really clean.
Let it dry, and then wipe it over with a cloth soaked in paint thinners. When it has dried again, you can paint it with an engine paint aerosol. MOSS sells the right maroon colour, and one aerosol will do a complete engine. Of course you will have to do the valve cover separately, and blank off the inlet/exhaust manifold and other parts. Depending on year, your water pump pulley and fan should be yellow.
P. Tilbury

Caustic soda solution is very effective at getting the grease off. It also strips the paint if you want to get back to bare metal.

It will attack aluminium and some yellow metals but is fine on cast the iron block and head.
Dan Smithers

My vote is with Peter - I always use Gunk over here in UK.
Cam Cunningham

Thanks fellows for the advice on cleaning the engine. I am hoping to do this in the next week or so. I will let you know what I used and how it turned out.
Bud White
S.A. White

The "new" Gunk doesn't work as well as the "old" Gunk...
In the "old" days, we would heat up the block, spray it with gunk, and then rinse it off....
The new stuff doesn't seem to work as well....
I have done whole bare blocks and cylinder heads, in Simple Green, and it did a great job....Either way, you will have to work at it....
If you don't care what hits the ground, mineral spirits, will work very well, also.
Edward Wesson 52TD

This thread was discussed between 15/05/2013 and 17/05/2013

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