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  1. #1

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    Best way to clean the varnish off my engine?

    What's the best way to get the brown like varnish off my engine. I've a magnum 40 I've had since I first got interested in the hobby and want to clean it and keep it as a little ornament in my office.

    Ive realised its a pretty poor engine and massively lacks power so a thunder tiger 46 pro is going in its place or an os max 40fp as I have both spare.

    as for the magnum. Can I soak it in cellulose thinners or some sort of strong solvent to remove it? There must be something that works as the os40 I bought as used looks immaculate outside but you can tell by the piston and internals that its got some mileage.

  2. #2
    Moderator j.duncker's Avatar
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    The engine gurus use a crock pot with old style glycol antifreeze. I have used this method and the results are amazing.

    See Crock pot cleaning
    The dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.

  3. #3
    skeeter_ca's Avatar
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    Here's a thread on mine from a few years back concerning crock pot cleaning. Vary good method.

    crockpot K&B

    skeeter
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  4. #4
    RCU Forum Manager/Admin RCKen's Avatar
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    As the others have stated, use the crock pot method. Just make sure you NEVER EVER cook food in it again as the anti-freeze will work into the ceramic of the pot.

    While I don't have any experience with it myself I know a lot of guys who say that Dawn Power Dissolver does a great job of getting the varnish of.

    Ken
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  5. #5

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    I guess a crock pot is what we call a slow cooker over the pond.

    although we have one I don't really want to sacrifice it for the sake of cleaning the engine.

    is there not an easier method? I guess I could use a big pan with say a large candle under it to keep it warm perhaps?

  6. #6
    RCU Forum Manager/Admin RCKen's Avatar
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    Like I mentioned in my post, you can try Dawn Power Dissolver if you can get it in the UK.

    I don't know about the cost of a slow cooker in the UK, but here in the states they aren't priced so high that it's out of the question of buying one just to use for your engines. If you have the equivalent of garage sales in the UK you might want to check those out as well. I found one at a garage sale for $5 that I use just for cleaning my engines.

    I say clean my engines, and with that I mean "when I clean them". There is nothing wrong with leaving the varnish buildup on the engine, it's not going to hurt anything at all to have it on there. I personally take it a sign of pride in some of my older engines, they look like they've been well used and I take pride in it.

    Ken
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  7. #7

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    Thanks ken,

    we have car boot sales here which are similar but everyone is in a field selling on tables. Ill try looking at one.

    ill also look for this other stuff called power dissolver.

    thanks guys.

  8. #8
    biam's Avatar
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    +1 for power dissolver,all I ever use, spray on and use an old tooth brush for the nooks and crannys. Makes em look great!
    Bill.
    It is always better to be under the gun, than in front of it!

  9. #9

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    Just be SURE if you use Power Desolver that you rinse it really good with fresh water. If you don't it will turn it dull . I use it all the time for my engines and suggest it to my students . ENJOY !!! RED

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by biam View Post
    +1 for power dissolver,all I ever use, spray on and use an old tooth brush for the nooks and crannys. Makes em look great!
    Exactly as this guy wrote ... including just a toothbrush! And you don't need to brush hard either! I couldn't believe how easy it was when I first tried this stuff about a year ago. Just leave the Power Disolver on for about 5 to 10 minutes, then brush it off with warm water and a toothbrush. It's really that easy. Dawn Power Dissolver comes in a spray bottle (about 12 oz.), and only costs $2.80
    Best of all, there is no smell to this stuff.

    Forget the crock pot idea ... Dawn Power Dissolver is the absolute best method for cleaning varnish off engines and mufflers. It's fast, easy, and no harsh chemical smell.

    Since this is really meant to dissolve grease from cooking pans, I wonder if a woman discovered that this can be used on engines. Or said to her husband, "Here honey, try this."
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Airplanes400; 09-01-2013 at 03:19 AM.
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  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Airplanes400 View Post
    Exactly as this guy wrote ... including just a toothbrush! And you don't need to brush hard either! I couldn't believe how easy it was when I first tried this stuff about a year ago. Just leave the Power Disolver on for about 5 to 10 minutes, then brush it off with warm water and a toothbrush. It's really that easy. Dawn Power Dissolver comes in a spray bottle (about 12 oz.), and only costs $2.80
    Best of all, there is no smell to this stuff.

    Forget the crock pot idea ... Dawn Power Dissolver is the absolute best method for cleaning varnish off engines and mufflers. It's fast, easy, and no harsh chemical smell.

    Since this is really meant to dissolve grease from cooking pans, I wonder if a woman discovered that this can be used on engines. Or said to her husband, "Here honey, try this."
    Click image for larger version. 

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    While it may be great for the OUTSIDE, I tend to use the crockpot idea for cleaning up the guts of an older engine that is being refurbished. Or like the last one, an engine that had a hard arrival and then got put away for a year or more and the carb totally locked up. Overnight in the pot and it looked and WORKED like new!.

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  12. #12

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    I've seen a product in hobby stores which comes in a can and says on the label that it's for removing varnish. It looks to be identical to oil based paint remover. Both - look like a jelly, are extremely caustic and actually do the job.

    As you can imagine, the hobby shop version is considerably more expensive than the paint store stuff.

    As for being a source of pride to have cruddy looking engines, I suppose it's a matter of personal taste to go that route. I see no advantage in looking like a messy slob and leaving on some gunk which may impede heat transfer.

    Perhaps the manufacturers could slather on a layer and bake it well just for good measure to impart that badge of honour?

    Imagine a new Ferrari or Lambo coming with an oil encrusted engine, right from the factory, no less!!

  13. #13

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    Varnish on the outside of the engine just looks bad, and lowers the cooling ability of engine. But varnish on the inside, particularly on the piston and sleeve makes it harder to achieve a good idle.
    - Supplementary insipid innocuous inane vacuous proclamation

  14. #14

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    A clean engine is a healthy-happy engine.....

  15. #15

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    If nothing else is accessible, soak the engine in plain alcohol (fuel will also do if you feel rich) with the glow plug and backplate removed. After a couple of nights, scrub with an old hard toothbrush in the alcohol itself. The soaking will soften the varnish and other gunk and scrubbing will get most of the varnish off. Then wash with clean alcohol (dont use fuel here as it will leave an oily coat that will varnish again once it heats up) and reassemble

    Best way to remove varnish is to avoid it in the first place- to avoid the fuel spilling onto the engine when filling etc. You can go over the engine with soapy water and a tooth brush once every couple of weekends, depending on how much you fly, to remove any stuff that flies off the carb. Just ensure to dry up all the water with a heat gun afterwards

    Ameyam
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