A great article for you this month, because we are crossing the divide here, with an enquiry forwarded to the ATIS (Antique Tractor Internet Service, in case you were wondering) Stationary Engine Mailing List from a GEM reader, in the hope that we could come up with some answers. That is exactly the reason why we began sharing some of the information which appears on the List with the readership of GEM, to give those without computers the chance to enjoy and benefit from the email discussions.

Richard Backus, editor of GEM, received a letter from John Edgerton of the Northwest Antique Power Association in Montana, asking if the list could come up with any ideas to help him.

* How does one clean out the dirt and crap that has packed itself in and under the cylinder of a spark plug-fired 3 HP International M? At this time I do not want to remove the cylinder liner, for obvious reasons. Is there a chemical that will loosen up the dirt? I have tried blowing air through a copper line and have gotten some dirt out, but there's places I can't reach with the copper line. What about drilling holes through the outside water jacket, under the cylinder and then plugging the holes up?

John, it's a pleasure to offer the combined advice of engine collectors around the globe!

* I restored the same engine for a gentleman last year. In this case, I found lots of scale mixed with years of dirt and spilled oil.
My solution was to don old clothes, goggles, hat, etc. and borrow a high pressure washer and a thin piece of steel that I could jam into the mess and work partially around the cylinder from the hopper.
Now, I'm not talking about a small 3-5 HP home unit type pressure washer, but a serious 10 hp Honda, 3500 psi etc animal that gets you concerned about your toes...
About a full hour later, hopper was clean. Unfortunately, everything within a 20 foot radius was covered with tiny, gooey pieces of gunk that crunched and smeared when touched.
My Lovely made me strip in the garage.....


The same advice came from a different source, with further details:

* You can use a pressure washer to get a lot of it out. Be sure and put on a rain suit and full face shield when you do it as you are going to get nasty. This is a good start, but will not insure complete removal especially the head jacket.
Your best bet is to remove the head, and using rods, stiff wire, etc., drag as much out as you can through the water holes and then use air hose, water hose and pressure washer to remove the remainder. Do the same thing to the head.

* One key point is what sort of access he has to the crud. When I was cleaning the water jacket on my Bessemer half-breed I had access to the open end of the water jacket when the head was off. I was dealing with a good 10-14" depth back along the cylinder of what was nearly like concrete. A combination of rust and lime scale built up over the years.
What worked for me was using long masonry drills to drill long holes in the concrete-like crud. I then used a series of home-made chisels to cut between the drilled holes. Some of the looser crud I was able to knock loose with a length of old speedometer flex cable in a drill. The key is lots of patience. That crud didn't build up overnight and you're not
going to get it out overnight either.
One final point, rust formation in a confined space like a water jacket passage can crack a casting just like water freezing can. So be gentle and look for cracks as you work.

* Once you get an area open all the way under, I wonder if a coarse toothed bandsaw blade might work. Cut it and feed it under the cylinder from above and work it back and forth. I've never tried it, but I wonder if that would work.
You might want to leave well enough alone though. Sometimes this stuff will cause the water hopper to crack as has been suggested, but quite often it will seal the crack. If you don't need the water flow, you might want to clean it out just enough to get to the drain plug.

* The solution you apply is muriatic acid , but the garbage may be all that's holding the water back so you have to decide how bad it bothers you , and if its going to split the bottom side of the hopper or not .


There were several suggestions for tools which might be useful in these situations, and the odd work of warning for using them.

* That suggests another "tool" to add to the kit. One of those "cable saws" with a finger ring on each end. Might be handy for some crud situations.

* I would worry about cutting into the cylinder with that particular tool. At least the saw blade would lie flat.

* One of the best things to do is open a can of patience.
Than poke around with self made tools that reach each corner of the hopper. Connect a two foot long sturdy tube 3/8" dia of brass or hydraulic tube to a blow pistol and poke and blow around. Remove the debris and make a solution of two gallons hot water and two pounds soda, pour it into
the hopper and let it sit overnight. Than do the same poking again and ultimately you got a clean hopper.
It worked for me.

* I tried to clean a gas tank using the electrolysis technique. I put the electrolyte in the tank and suspended the positive sacrificial electrode in the tank. It did not work too well because I could not get enough sheet metal surface area into the tank through the little filler cap. But, this approach might work on a water hopper with a big access hole at the top. You would need to be a little creative in making a coil of sheet iron to fit the opening.

* Something which worked for me on a 5 hp Witte that had a lot of mineral buildup in the hopper: fill the hopper to cover the cylinder with water and add a quart of muriatic acid, fire it up and run to a boil for a while. The problem was neutralizing the brew and disposing of it, but it really cleaned out the hopper.

* Out in the country, the best way to neutralize the partially neutralized muriatic acid is to pour it into a plastic bucket of limestone gravel and let it sit 'til it quits fizzing. What's left is mostly gunk and isn't harmful in small amounts.

Although it will probably give it a nice, tangy flavor, I don't advise using the gunk as a seasoning for your taco, though.

Of course, the use of chemicals throws up a whole new set of problems, and I REALLY don't want the EPA to go to all the trouble of coming across to England to arrest me, so I'll assume that those of you who can play with engines without losing too many limbs are also capable of handling chemicals safely.

* In a book I have entitled "Operating Engineer's Guide Book", full of questions commonly asked by engineers, one of the questions is
"What solution can be used for cleaning the scale from the water jacket of a gas engine"
and the answer they have is
"The scale usually consists of lime deposited out of the circulating water and can be removed by a solution of one part commercial muriatic acid and four parts water. As soon as the solution had done its work, the water jacket should be thoroughly washed out with clean water to prevent unnecessary corrosion"
Now I don't know how that would work on a really extensive buildup, but I would imagine it's worth a try. I use muriatic acid from time to time to clean soft metal parts, and as long as you are careful, it works fairly well. It shouldn't, however, touch any surfaces that are painted, such as in my case where I had a lacquered knife switch. The acid breaks down the lacquer.


* When I tried to clean the scale out of my 1.5 HP M, I prodded, chipped, soaked in vinegar and tried to power wash with no success. The crowning glory was when I found that the cylinder oil pipe was eroded through just where it threads into the cylinder sleeve. In order to replace the oil pipe I found that it was necessary to pull the sleeve. A tractor owning friend of mine with all the correct tools pulled the sleeve using an air over hydraulic puller. The sleeve surprised me when it came out with no difficulty leaving most of the scale firmly attached to the hopper sides and bottom. I then found that it required a hammer, chisel and a lot of patience to remove the scale that was as solid as concrete and almost irreversibly fixed to the hopper. Because of the tenacity of the scale and the lack of clearance between the sleeve and the hopper walls I think that it would be close to impossible to chip out a significant amount of scale by access only through the top opening. New sleeve seals are available from several sources. You should check your oil pipe to be sure that it is intact before you spend too much time trying to decrud through the hopper opening.

I used a hacksaw blade when clearing out the water jackets on the Jaeger. It was about the only thing I could find that would go along the bottom ( I didn't have access to a band saw blade - or I would have tried that too). I could put a slight curve to the hacksaw blade and it would hold its shape to break out all the crap I had wedged in the bottom.
I could only poke and pry so much from the head side of the cylinder. The problem was that there was no WJ port at the very bottom. I slid the hacksaw blade from the top, swiping my way to the bottom. This engine had been on a cement mixer so you can imagine - it being on a construction site - that it was not all that well maintained (lots of
nails used for cotter pins).
I found what looks like a chunk of keyway stock, the screw portion of a positive pressure grease cup, and 19 of the casting 'jacks'. Add in sand and cement all vibrating together, and it was a formidable force - but I did prevail!


While hunting down all the contributions to this discussion, I found that the same subject had been mentioned last year, with a List member asking for advice:

* I'm cleaning out the water jackets on the block of a Novo Rollr, hopper cooled, double lunger. Most of the deposits are coming out nicely, but the two outside water jackets next to the exhaust valves are really plugged and the deposits are very, very hard. So hard that a cheap carbide drill bit will barely touch it. Common sense cranked in and I stopped and thought I'd better ask. This is kinda like drillin' JB Weld, but seems harder than that. These water jackets line up with the one's in the hopper/head, so I'm assuming that they should be cleaned out.

The response was similar to those we had this time around, but with some extra information which may be of help.

* Try pouring a little muriatic acid on the deposits. When it stops bubbling, rinse off and apply more. It should dissolve all the deposits. Protect your eyes and skin, also best to do it outside as the fumes will rust all clean metal surfaces in your shop.

John, I hope this helps with your cylinder jacket problem. Thank you for thinking that we may be able to offer useful advice; it makes a neat collaboration between GEM and the SEL.


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