Cleaning Pistons

Wed Apr 03, 2013 10:08 am

Hi All - what is the preferred method for cleaning the carbon deposits from the top my pistons? They are out of the block, numbered oriented and on the shelf waiting to be shined up with new rings on order.

Thanks once again for your help, Ken

Re: Cleaning Pistons

Wed Apr 03, 2013 10:48 am

I have a 6 inch bench mounted grinder with a fine bristle wire brush wheel on it that I use. Of course it does make a mess on the bench around it. :o

Re: Cleaning Pistons

Wed Apr 03, 2013 11:16 am

John *.?-!.* cub owner wrote:I have a 6 inch bench mounted grinder with a fine bristle wire brush wheel on it that I use. Of course it does make a mess on the bench around it. :o


Thanks John - I swing up past the farm and borrow the Delta 8' bench grinder that I gave my Dad a few years back :D - he won't miss it. After your post I realized this will also help remove rust and paint from some of the smaller parts....as that will be easier than the Makita hand grinder with parts in my vice.....One of many - just ask my blushing bride of 36 years...... :)

Re: Cleaning Pistons

Wed Apr 03, 2013 11:22 am

Ken:

That is why I really like my electrolysis tank. Haven't put too many engine parts in it yet, but I imagine it would clean it up nicely. I am hoping I can find a really stuck mill someday and run it through the tank to see what happens. Electrolysis works really nicely. Lot less mess.

Re: Cleaning Pistons

Wed Apr 03, 2013 11:26 am

The top of the pistons are easy to clean, but it's the grooves that are more difficult to get at and far more important that they are spotless. Use a groove cleaner for that, or a lot of patience with a scribe.

Re: Cleaning Pistons

Wed Apr 03, 2013 1:50 pm

Ken, Everything mentioned above is the way I have cleaned many a piston.
Just would like to add that if you will soak the piston in a solvent ie; carburetor dip tank for an hour or two, or soak in some diesel fuel. I have found his helps soften the carbon for easier removal especially in the ring groove area. If carbon build up is really heavy on the tops I have used a plastic putty knife to remove the bulk after soaking, before brushing to limit the amount of dust and residue.
Bill

Re: Cleaning Pistons

Wed Apr 03, 2013 3:46 pm

Again - thanks to all - Gladly the ring grooves are pretty clean. I will be using my illuminated/magnified shop light, to do a careful inspection of the ring grooves after the tops are clean.

Re: Cleaning Pistons

Wed Apr 03, 2013 4:35 pm

Way back in the day, my high school auto-trade teacher said that the correct way to remove carbon from a piston was to scrape it with a flat scraper being careful not to scratch the pistons. He said that using a wire wheel can make small grooves that will attract and hold carbon in the future. That being said, yeah, I use a wire wheel too. :lol:

!!!!!Ken, be careful when wire wheeling paint and rust from your Cub parts. That old paint may contain a lot of lead which can lead to serious health problems. Always wear some sort of respirator to keep that debris out of your mouth and lungs!!!!!

Re: Cleaning Pistons

Wed Apr 03, 2013 5:42 pm

ricky racer wrote:Way back in the day, my high school auto-trade teacher said that the correct way to remove carbon from a piston was to scrape it with a flat scraper being careful not to scratch the pistons. He said that using a wire wheel can make small grooves that will attract and hold carbon in the future. That being said, yeah, I use a wire wheel too. :lol:

!!!!!Ken, be careful when wire wheeling paint and rust from your Cub parts. That old paint may contain a lot of lead which can lead to serious health problems. Always wear some sort of respirator to keep that debris out of your mouth and lungs!!!!!


Thanks Ricky - I worked 31 years in the chemical industry with HCHO (50% Formaldehyde), Phenol, Xylene, Ketones, Cresol, Lutidene, Cresylic Acid and you name it - so I take no chances with airborne, fumes, vapors or particulate. It's a sure thing that the '48 paint has lead in it.

Re: Cleaning Pistons

Wed Apr 03, 2013 6:27 pm

RaymondDurban wrote:The top of the pistons are easy to clean, but it's the grooves that are more difficult to get at and far more important that they are spotless. Use a groove cleaner for that, or a lot of patience with a scribe.


Ken you can find these groove cleaner tools Raymond mentioned at places like AutoZone or O'Reilly's Autoparts.

Re: Cleaning Pistons

Wed Apr 03, 2013 7:36 pm

Break an old ring in half and you can use it to clean the groves in the pistons, good idea to wear gloves to do this so you want cut your hand.

Re: Cleaning Pistons

Wed Apr 03, 2013 8:10 pm

Ditto to what Boss said, and I have also scraped the bulk of the carbon off the top with that half ring, as well.

Re: Cleaning Pistons

Wed Apr 03, 2013 8:34 pm

Awesome Gents - thanks so much....I'll post pix....

Re: Cleaning Pistons

Thu Apr 04, 2013 9:15 am

Hi Ken, Sounds like a great project you're into.
RaymondDurban wrote:The top of the pistons are easy to clean, but it's the grooves that are more difficult to get at and far more important that they are spotless. Use a groove cleaner for that

To reiterate what Raymond and Cubguy47 said, very important to have clean ring grooves, the rings need the inside clearance so as to not put undue pressure on the cylinder walls. Even though they may look clean you'ld be amazed how much more carbon comes out with a proper ring groove cleaner.

Re: Cleaning Pistons

Thu Apr 04, 2013 1:32 pm

Smokeycub wrote:Hi Ken, Sounds like a great project you're into.
RaymondDurban wrote:The top of the pistons are easy to clean, but it's the grooves that are more difficult to get at and far more important that they are spotless. Use a groove cleaner for that

To reiterate what Raymond and Cubguy47 said, very important to have clean ring grooves, the rings need the inside clearance so as to not put undue pressure on the cylinder walls. Even though they may look clean you'ld be amazed how much more carbon comes out with a proper ring groove cleaner.


Ray et al, I've seen posts saying bust a ring and use that clean the ring grooves - balanced by a ring groove cleaning tool. Honestly I did know such a tool existed. For those of you who've used a tool do you have a preferred brand or supplier? For those of you who've used the broken ring methodology - have you had any issues after reassembly?

Oh happy day - 54 degrees and sunny..... :D
Ken