IF you have access to compressed air, you can clean, degrease and restore the finish on automotive parts (and anything else really, not just DSMs) using the simple, inexpensive tools and supplies I demonstrate in this video.
AUDIO TRACK BY: ROJODELCHOCOLATE*
Some things don't fit in a parts washer. Sometimes you can't remove them from a vehicle. Sometimes you need to bring your parts washer to your project instead of the other way around. This INEXPENSIVE method for parts cleaning solves all of those problems. Caked-on grease, grime, carbon and oil are no match against this simple solution.
For between $6 and $30 you can purchase a siphon-feed blow gun... spray gun... whatever you want to call it. NAPA sells an American made unit that's more expensive (like I used here) that occasionally suffer from quality control issues, and Harbor Freight sells one for $6 that I have no experience with. The tool is so simple that I can't see why it would work any differently.
Mineral spirits (coal oil) is a highly-refined petroleum-based, low-odor, low-volatility solvent that can be used for many purposes from thinning paint to serving as thread cutting oil. Automotive professionals found that it actually lifts oil out of metal. This makes it an ideal choice for engine parts cleaning. Because most fluids in your car are petroleum-based, it's the ideal thinner to cut through the grease and wash away the funk. It has a much higher flash point than other solvents that are effective at cleaning up grease and oil. It's very similar to Kerosene.
No special breathing aparatus is required. Gloves and googles are recommended. Because of its rapid evaporation, only minor preparations need to be made to your workspace to deal with the run-off. Vaporized mineral spirits evaporate completely just a few feet away from the blow gun, and drippings evaporate leaving only what washed off of your parts behind. If cleaning requires the use of brushes to break up soiled areas, use brushes that are appropriate for the materials you're cleaning.
All in all, this solution costs about $10 for tools, and about $15 a gallon for mineral spirits. NO auto parts store solution like degreasers, or stinky, hazardous, toxic chemicals like brake cleaner will deliver these results. If you do this once, you'll be spoiled rotten. You will keep coming back to this mobile parts washer again and again whenever you need to degrease something. It's that good.
Machine shops will clean your parts for you. You can do this without leaving your garage. Bring your own air compressor, and the bigger the better because of recovery time... but the siphon action isn't physically complicated, and anything from a pancake air compressor on-up will work.
Oh... one more thing... Oil the &$^% out of cast iron parts when you're done. When stripped of oil, they will rust nearly instantly on contact with water or acids from your skin. Oil them. Soak them in clean oil afterwards.
Tools you'll need...
Siphon-feed blow gun:
***** In the UK, Mineral Spirits are called White Spirits. *****
In China, White Spirits is pronounced "bok WHY?" with emphasis on why. Literally translated, that's "white ghost". It also means "egg" but I believe it's said a little differently.
ba kwai is a derogatory slang term that Chinese use to describe white people. I'm not kidding. Either way, being called an egg might possibly bother a white person somewhere? Perhaps this is why I forgot to mention it in the video? It's too funny of a fact to leave out of the description. So, go make breakfast and have fun with your cheap, racist parts washer... no matter what color skin you're wrapped in.
Mineral Spirits can be bought at your local hardware store.
Mineral Spirits MSDS sheet (for the stuff I used in the video):
Paint trays, wire brushes, and empty paint cans are also available at your local hardware store. I found that a 1 quart can with the lid cut off is the perfect size for cleaning pistons. Yes, you did see me bust out the Farberware can opener in my garage. A garage is simply a man's kitchen, so I see nothing wrong with this. Of course, it can be a woman's kitchen too... it just needs appliances that are appropriate for use near flammable liquids IF I'm going to be preparing any food while she fixes my car. I would never change my car's oil in a kitchen, though. I also wouldn't use cookware to catch automotive fluids. Just sayin'.
* The man made me an 18 minute song in a day. Maybe some of you write music? Words can't describe how grateful I am to receive a quarter of an album from somebody on such short notice, or to explain my gratitude for his contribution.