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I used a brass brush by hand to clean the carbon off the aluminium head of my BMW R80GS 1991. The valves however are very stubborn, a brass dremel head won't do it either. I started using a soft steel dremel head which works a bit, but I'm afraid of damaging the valves. I believe the valves are hardened steel and not so easily damaged? Also I would be careful and not get to close to the valve seats. There I use a brass brush by hand. I've also taken some of the chunks off the valves with a small screw driver (very carefully). Is that OK?

I've considered ovencleaner but cannot find anything not containing sodium hydroxide (aggressive for aluminium).

  • Have you considered using something like Techron or a similar fuel injector cleaner? Possibly pour some in a jar and let your valve soak in it, then try using your brass brush on it. I would guess it's safer for your engine parts than oven cleaner. Note: I haven't done this myself, but it seems reasonable to try. – TMN Jun 24 '16 at 18:06
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It is OK to used a metal tool on the valves. They are very hard and difficult to scratch. It is also OK to use oven cleaner on the valves. The steel is a relative of stainless and will be little affected by harsh cleaners. This is not true for the aluminum head and the valve seats are usually softer than the valves but are still hardened steel.

  • thank you very much. I'll try carefully applying oven cleaner to the valve faces only and then go at them with hard tools. Thanks for the answer. – Max Jun 24 '16 at 8:20
  • Before you try oven cleaner try some liquid laundry soap cut 1:1 with water. That stuff is readily available and works surprisingly well. – zipzit Jun 24 '16 at 23:09

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