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Rover SD1 Forum Snippet #3 - Cleaning Aluminium Parts

# Wax-based polish/cleaner - e.g. Autosol, generic chrome cleaner, et al

# Abrasive polish - e.g. Auto Glym Fine Abrasive, T Cut, et al

# Abrasive cleaner - e.g. Kitchen scouring powder, Brillo pad, Brasso, et al

Any or all of these will benefit from using progressive grades of wire wool.

From plain water to harsh abrasives, the type of cleaning is governed by the finish, degree of soiling, and the size, shape and location of the surfaces. If abrasives are used then the appearance of the Aluminium finish may be altered.

After cleaning wash down thoroughly with water and dry with clean cloth.

If Aluminium is not kept in good condition by regular maintenance its surface finish becomes spoiled over time. Usually this maintenance is no more than periodic cleaning, often overlooked.

It is difficult to prevent dirt and grime from settling on exposed Aluminium engine surfaces but if cleaned frequently then the mildest methods produce very satisfactory results.

The oxide that forms on the surface of Aluminium is a self protecting process and its removal simply allows more to form.

Use Dow Corning DC4 silicon grease to seal the surface, prevent oxides forming and make it really easy to keep clean in future. Available here:

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Question: Anybody familiar with chemical cleaning aluminium? I've seen parts cleaned this way and they almost look like new. What exactly is it and what chemical is used? From my experience, any chemical coming into contact with aluminium makes it go a dark grey.

A simple home-use answer is a solution of baking powder/ soda. Perhaps not for home-use is a weak solution of hydrofluoric or phosphoric acid. Both have their issues, either discoloring or mild erosion, which can be generally be polished off later, but its not easy and may depend if parts are to be cleaned in situ or are available for dipping.

For chemical cleaning take great care with personal safety avoiding splashes, using safety equipment and avoiding spillage onto other car parts. Flood off any splashes with clean water.

Elbow grease plus a proprietary aluminium/metal cleaner is a safer, straight-forward best bet.

Whichever, start with the mildest and progress to harsher methods as required. ie

# Plain water

# Mild soap or detergent

# Solvent cleaning - e.g. paraffin, turpentine, white spirit, et al

# Chemical cleaning - e.g. baking soda in solution or mild hydrofluoric or phosphoric acid solution

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