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Care and Upkeep Let's face it, it has to be done. Have questions of what to do or how to do it, this is the place to talk about it.

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  #1  
Old 01-22-2008
Lodgerhead Lodgerhead is offline
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Lightbulb Detailing the Engine and Transmission on your 'Bird (combined threads)

Has anyone ever had their engine steam cleaned? Is it safe to do? I spent a good part of the day a couple of weekends ago changing out the air dryer and air governer and as usual I came out from under the bus looking a whole lot darker than when I went in (I also found that my sense of rhythm was greatly improved and I could almost dunk a basketball, but I digress). I really find the filth of 18 years of diesel soot and road grime takes a lot of the fun out of these little repairs.

I certainly would not let your average pressure washing dude loose with his high powered hose of destruction. Are there folks out there that could do the job and not damage the bus and its ever so sensitive innards?
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Last edited by Lodgerhead; 01-22-2008 at 03:30 PM.
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  #2  
Old 01-22-2008
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iamflagman iamflagman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lodgerhead View Post
Has anyone ever had their engine steam cleaned? Is it safe to do? I spent a good part of the day a couple of weekends ago changing out the air dryer and air governer and as usual I came out from under the bus looking a whole lot darker than when I went in (I also found that my sense of rhythm was greatly improved and I could almost dunk a basketball, but I digress). I really find the filth of 18 years of diesel soot and road grime takes a lot of the fun out of these little repairs.

I certainly would not let your average pressure washing dude loose with his high powered hose of destruction. Are there folks out there that could do the job and not damage the bus and its ever so sensitive innards?
Dave,

I have never used a steam cleaner, but I do have a pressure washer that I use to help keep my CAT 3208NA clean, I first get the engine warmed up, but not hot and use a grease cutting solution in a spray bottle, like purple cleaner to loosen up any grease or oily residue that may be on the engine, then with the pressure washer I start at the top, being careful to cover the area around the doghouse with plastic sheets and with the wand adjusted at a wide angle to reduce the pressure point a little, then after washing down the top of the engine, I go under the engine, by reaching in from the sides of the 'Bird , this is where the wand can be adjusted to a more narrow spread and that will increase the distance that the pressure will travel and allows me to reach spots further under the engine and transmission without actually crawling under there.

Of coarse the easy way to do this is go to a truck Wash and have them do it, there is usually a price posted on their price list for engine cleaning, as this is done almost everyday to some truck drivers pride and joy somewhere at a truck wash.

Hopefully a PT owner will drop in here and tell you what to watch for as far as areas to avoid with water, but on my CAT I haven't found a critical area to avoid, but I do put some lube on the throttle cable when I'm done.

Keep in mind this will not get all of the dirty areas clean, but I find that it is a big improvement when I work on mine. Some folks like Crit Bliss prefer to not clean their engines, to help prevent rust from the salty roads that may accumulate on the underside of the 'Bird.
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  #3  
Old 01-22-2008
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peteaeonix peteaeonix is offline
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When I had my radiator changed out, I had the shop doing the work steam clean the engine. Now, about 18 months since, it's ready to be cleaned again. (It didn't help that the place were I had a service/oil change over-filled the power steering reservoir -- it overflowed and made a bit of a mess.)

Steam cleaning (with a steam cleaner designed for engines) often uses grease cutting chemicals/detergents in the steam that make it more efficient. The hot steam evaporates quickly, but care should be taken to avoid direct/long contact with electrical components.

If you use a power washer, warm the engine (or let it cool to "not hot" after a run) so that water sprayed on it doesn't 'sizzle' -- then apply a degreaser and power wash. Again, try to avoid getting any electrical components especially wet.

Don't forget the radiator -- PTs tend to collect some oily-dirt that can reduce cooling capacity. Do NOT use the power washer on the radiator, you can easily damage the fins. Use a garden hose with spray nozzle.

Once you've completed the cleaning, start up the engine and let it heat up fully until everything is reasonably dry.
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  #4  
Old 09-28-2010
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Lightbulb Detailing the Engine and Transmission on your 'Bird (combined threads)

First of all, barring any health issues detail it yourself. It's not too hard and if you stay AWAY from a high pressure water nozzle you should be fine.

Here's how I did our coach and previous vehicles I've owned (won my class at SuperChevy years ago). It's proven and looks great:

5 Steps to Detailing a Engine - With Professional Results





Supplys:
  • Windex (3-4 bottles)
  • Armor All (or some other tire/rubber protectant 3-4 lg bottles)
  • A couple of old socks
  • Water hose and low pressure nozzle
Buy extra, you can always use it somewhere else. Naturally stay away from any potentially sensitive areas that are not water resistant. On my car I had a cone intake filter and the distributor but everywhere else was good to go, on the coach there was a couple of areas with fuse blocks and I just stayed away from there. Don't forget the genny if it's an open design.

Step 1: Liberally spray Armor All EVERYWHERE you can, don't be stingy. It'll act as a penetrating agent and is safe for every surface i can think of. You want it to cut the grime.

Step 2: Close the compartment then Start and run the engine to warm it up. The heat will help the Armor All penetrate the accumulated grime. Apply more ArmorAll anywhere you see soaking up and drying out. After 5 minutes of running warm (doesn't need to get to full temp). Turn it off.

Step 3: Apply the Windex EVERYWHERE. This will cut (dilute) the Armor All. Start and run for 5 more minutes (close the hood you want it to be steamy if possible).

Step 4: Take the water hose and gently wash away the grime and stuff from years gone by. There's not much thats not waterproof on a engine but stay away from high pressure.

If you still have pockets of heavy grime you can spot treat directly, scrape it away, etc... or repeat 1-4 again.

Now you can stop here if you want and the results will actually be quite good. Subsequent Windex treatments are needed if you are going to touch up the paint anywhere, as the Windex doesn't totally remove all of the ArmorAll. But to take it to the next level try the socks and a little more ArmorAll.

Step 5: With the socks on your hands spray a little more Armor All lightly and wipe down everything in sight. This will even out the protectant and get rid of dry spots on the hoses. They will look ,ike NEW. Be careful of sharp edges. The results generally will make the engine, hoses, paintwork look FACTORY FRESH. Better results than any I have ever seen from a "Detailer".

One last note: Don't do this in the driveway. The road grime coming off is disgusting and will stain your concrete and possibly garner the DW's wrath. Do it at the curb if possible. And don't forget the Generator as well.

Time? 2-3 hours by yourself. Get help, there's a lot of room to cover in a pusher.

Repeat Annually and you'll be proud to show off the mechanicals at any time. And your mechanic will love not working on a grimey, slimey motor.

+++++++++++++++++++

On our pusher I had to run a hose in through a side window and lift the pedestal bed to get at the engine. Then hang over the opening with several feet of empty air while trying to get at everything. Took me 4 bottles of ArmorAll and 3 bottles of Windex to do the Safari's Cummins 8.3L inline 6 and transmission.


Any comments are welcome. Just posting this as it came up in a different thread and thought people might want some easy steps.

I would also point out that if you have a REALLY gunked up engine with INCHES of oil grime then you need a Commercial Degreaser first. But be careful. Grab the wrong thing and it can etch metal, turn plastic clamps and hoses milky white, etc... if you get a weird chemical reaction going on. The 5 steps above don't have this issue at all. Perfectly safe.
__________________

Ken - Austin, Texas - keeping Mom on the road in her '94 34' Safari Serengeti
- 250hp Cummins 6CTA 8.3 Turbo Diesel (#6 fuel plate, straight pipe, 3K Gov Spring, Timing @14.25°, Boost @21psi, Isspro gauges)

(HDT Coach or BMC & Stacker for me in the future.)

Last edited by iamflagman; 04-10-2013 at 10:18 AM. Reason: edited title
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  #5  
Old 09-28-2010
Jim Harvie Jim Harvie is offline
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I have a 3,000 PSI pressure washer, but if I was to use that on my FC, I'd have grime everywhere so I made up a nozzle using 3/8 copper tubing, and a faucet valve, I crimped the end of the copper somewhat flat so it has pressure, and then formed a 90* bend so I can get up and under the engine parts.... works great!
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  #6  
Old 09-28-2010
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Rob Robinson Rob Robinson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Driver View Post
First of all, barring any health issues detail it yourself. It's not too hard and if you stay AWAY from a high pressure water nozzle you should be fine.

Here's how I did our coach and previous vehicles I've owned (won my class at SuperChevy years ago). It's proven and looks great:

5 Steps to Detailing a Engine - With Professional Results



Supplys:
  • Windex (3-4 bottles)
  • Armor All (or some other tire/rubber protectant 3-4 lg bottles)
  • A couple of old socks
  • Water hose and low pressure nozzle
Buy extra, you can always use it somewhere else. Naturally stay away from any potentially sensitive areas that are not water resistant. On my car I had a cone intake filter and the distributor but everywhere else was good to go, on the coach there was a couple of areas with fuse blocks and I just stayed away from there. Don't forget the genny if it's an open design.

Step 1: Liberally spray Armor All EVERYWHERE you can, don't be stingy. It'll act as a penetrating agent and is safe for every surface i can think of. You want it to cut the grime.

Step 2: Close the compartment then Start and run the engine to warm it up. The heat will help the Armor All penetrate the accumulated grime. Apply more ArmorAll anywhere you see soaking up and drying out. After 5 minutes of running warm (doesn't need to get to full temp). Turn it off.

Step 3: Apply the Windex EVERYWHERE. This will cut (dilute) the Armor All. Start and run for 5 more minutes (close the hood you want it to be steamy if possible).

Step 4: Take the water hose and gently wash away the grime and stuff from years gone by. There's not much thats not waterproof on a engine but stay away from high pressure.

If you still have pockets of heavy grime you can spot treat directly, scrape it away, etc... or repeat 1-4 again.

Now you can stop here if you want and the results will actually be quite good. Subsequent Windex treatments are needed if you are going to touch up the paint anywhere, as the Windex doesn't totally remove all of the ArmorAll. But to take it to the next level try the socks and a little more ArmorAll.

Step 5: With the socks on your hands spray a little more Armor All lightly and wipe down everything in sight. This will even out the protectant and get rid of dry spots on the hoses. They will look ,ike NEW. Be careful of sharp edges. The results generally will make the engine, hoses, paintwork look FACTORY FRESH. Better results than any I have ever seen from a "Detailer".

One last note: Don't do this in the driveway. The road grime coming off is disgusting and will stain your concrete and possibly garner the DW's wrath. Do it at the curb if possible. And don't forget the Generator as well.

Time? 2-3 hours by yourself. Get help, there's a lot of room to cover in a pusher.

Repeat Annually and you'll be proud to show off the mechanicals at any time. And your mechanic will love not working on a grimey, slimey motor.

+++++++++++++++++++

On our pusher I had to run a hose in through a side window and lift the pedestal bed to get at the engine. Then hang over the opening with several feet of empty air while trying to get at everything. Took me 4 bottles of ArmorAll and 3 bottles of Windex to do the Safari's Cummins 8.3L inline 6 and transmission.


Any comments are welcome. Just posting this as it came up in a different thread and thought people might want some easy steps.

I would also point out that if you have a REALLY gunked up engine with INCHES of oil grime then you need a Commercial Degreaser first. But be careful. Grab the wrong thing and it can etch metal, turn plastic clamps and hoses milky white, etc... if you get a weird chemical reaction going on. The 5 steps above don't have this issue at all. Perfectly safe.
I just have one question.....does Armoral have silicon in it???
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  #7  
Old 09-28-2010
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Any rubber protectant will do the job. Use whatever floats your boat, the last time I used STP brand that came in a yellow bottle becasue it was the cheapest on the shelf and there was so much to cover.


Jim I would NOT use ANY sort of high pressure washer. Typical water hose with a garden nozzle is more than sufficient to wash away the grime, if you have to use pressure to blast it away then you aren't using enough degreaser or elbow grease in that spot. Not to mention water pressure can force it's way past seals and into electrical connections so I just stick with a gentle spray to get rid of it. Think of you taking a gentle shower, not peeling paint off a car.
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Ken - Austin, Texas - keeping Mom on the road in her '94 34' Safari Serengeti
- 250hp Cummins 6CTA 8.3 Turbo Diesel (#6 fuel plate, straight pipe, 3K Gov Spring, Timing @14.25°, Boost @21psi, Isspro gauges)

(HDT Coach or BMC & Stacker for me in the future.)
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  #8  
Old 09-29-2010
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peteaeonix peteaeonix is offline
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These are good instructions, especially for a gas-engine automobile.

With the '95 (and I presume later) 42-43' wide bodies, there is no opening between the engine compartment and the interior, so there's not much risk of soaking the inside while cleaning the engine.

Twice during my annual services, I had the service facility steam clean the engine _and_ radiator using low-medium pressure steam/hot water with detergent. When I had a servicing done at CCW (in Riverside) I also had them do the underside of the coach starting in front of the drive axle to the rear. (They used a 6-post jack to raise the coach up by about 6 feet -- that gave some weird feelings to see the coach up like that!)

However, after the second time a service provider over-filled the hydraulic fluid canister (the blue thing on the right side of the engine compartment) -- with a resulting spray of hydraulic fluid (oil) everywhere, I had to do something on my own.

I had finally acquired a low-priced pressure washer (to help with washing the exterior of the coach) -- so I decided to tackle the engine compartment.

With the '95-42' the critical areas are all on the right side of the engine -- you do not want to soak the electrical stuff (accessed mostly from the curb side door) nor do you want to soak the DDEC box mounted on the lower, curb side of the engine. The DDEC box is reasonably sealed from weather, but a pressure washer could easily push water through the seals, especially if the screws holding it together had loosened up over time.

I purchased a commercial degreaser from an auto parts store -- and supplemented with an "engine cleaner" solution that the pressure washer manufacturer sold to work with their device. My pressure washer had a 'low pressure' function (where it would (also) siphon cleaning solution into the water stream and a high-pressure function where it only provides clear water.

After running the engine so that it was moderately warm (not hot)...

Using the low-pressure I dampened down everything, except for the critical areas. (Most of the greasy-dirty build up was on the rear and lower parts of the engine.) I sprayed on the degreaser (following instructions on the spray can) on the dirtiest parts of the engine and let it sit for the recommended time. Then I did a first rinse using the high-pressure setting, followed by a low pressure application with the engine cleaner solution (some kind of detergent) from the pressure washer mfg. Then did a final rinse with the high pressures setting using clear water. (Our local water is relatively soft, so mineral content was not a concern.)

I then ran the engine some more to warm it further, and dry every thing out thoroughly.

This made the engine compartment relatively presentable and certainly more desirable to do the light maintenance items that I generally took on.

I note that the relatively cheap electric pressure washer I have develops about 1/2 the maximum pressure as some of the more expensive electric units and well less than half the pressure of the gasoline powered pressure washers.

I further note that the pressure washer's pressure comes from compressed air being used to accelerate the water out the nozzle, so the actual quantity of water is quite a bit less than you'd get from a "city pressure" garden hose. This helps avoid really soaking anything inside the engine compartment.

I focused most of my cleaning effort on the rear and lower parts of the engine with some greater attention to the area near where the "slobber" tube exits.

If you clean the radiator, it's best to do that from the outside (with the external grill opened up) and keeping the sprayer wand back 18 to 24 inches from the CAC (you absolutely do not want to bend the fins and a pressure washer can easily do that).

Spraying some Simple Green (or other _gentle_ grease solvent) on the radiator (from both sides) before using the pressure washer will help remove the build up that commonly affects the rear engine radiators.
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(former) 95 WBDA 42'
(now) 2011 Roadtrek RS-Adventerous
Ridgefield, WA
aeonix1@me.com
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  #9  
Old 09-29-2010
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Some engines with a few considerations can be run submerged, it's not water that gets you into trouble, it's the pressure that does. Thus my reluctance to EVER use pressurized water on any engine. With even the thinest particles under pressure water can force it way past seals and into electrical connections. For all the people that get away with it on a regular basis there's some out there that have problems with it. Reminds me of my fathers 5.9 Cummins which actually has a vent in the side of the block, just a big open hole in the side of the block for blowby. High pressure could easily put water into the crankcase.

Re: Steam. I'd never steam clean an engine. Too many places it can get into that I don't want it going. Some firewalls aren't completely sealed and some components may have hidden vents that would otherwise stay dry (ie: my PCM in my Chevy had 2 on the bottom). One thing to use heat from the engine to do so, no different than driving in the rain and it's designed to tolerate that, but professional steam cleaning uses, what was it? Oh that's it, HIGH PRESSURE steam. And the connector it forced it's way into won't fail immediately (although I have seen that happen, car wouldn't start), it'll take months, even years to become intermittent and then you have a big ticket fee to diagnose the issue. Then there the unprotected metal and hoses you just blasted the only thing off them that was keeping rust at bay. So you still need to apply a protectant on it (which rarely happens after steam cleaning unless it's being sold). Not a big deal for someone that trades a vehicle out every 3-4 years and only does it once or twice under warranty, HUGE deal if you plan on keeping it for 10-20 and pay out of pocket. It's a risk, one I just am not willing to take.

YMMV (your mileage may vary).


PS: All this is not to say I haven't used a high pressure washer on an engine. I have. Many of times. Would go to the car wash and have at them, both in and out of cars. Usually right before/after we stripped it out to rebuild the engine and it was going to be acid washed anyway. Would never do this to a vehicle I plan on living with myself. And vehicle systems have become a LOT more complicated than some V8 Pony car of the 60's. And I know several people(mechanics in their own right) that have bought flood cars to their own detriment. Unchecked it can be a serious issue and the issues go on forever it seems.
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Ken - Austin, Texas - keeping Mom on the road in her '94 34' Safari Serengeti
- 250hp Cummins 6CTA 8.3 Turbo Diesel (#6 fuel plate, straight pipe, 3K Gov Spring, Timing @14.25°, Boost @21psi, Isspro gauges)

(HDT Coach or BMC & Stacker for me in the future.)
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  #10  
Old 09-29-2010
davidmbrady
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peteaeonix View Post
Spraying some Simple Green (or other _gentle_ grease solvent) on the radiator (from both sides) before using the pressure washer will help relieve the build up that commonly affects the rear engine radiators.
I don't use anything but cold water on my CAC/Rad stack, but if you are compelled to use a product, be sure it doesn't attack the aluminum of the CAC. Simple Green makes an FAA approved aluminum degreaser. This is the stuff:

http://www.simplegreen.com/products_extreme_motor.php

Last edited by davidmbrady; 09-29-2010 at 04:11 PM. Reason: Added url.
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