Have bolts and parts(crank gear, shaft-end, bolts).

Which solvents can I use to clean them up a bit? And do I need to lubricate any of these?

I have Zylene-based wax, parafin, turpentine, motor oil, vinegar, dishwashing liquid, bleach.

Any tips of what to/not to use?

2 Answers 2


I put a brass wire wheel onto one of my bench grinders. This cleans them easiest/fastest/cleanest of any method I've ever tried. It doesn't matter if it's rust or grease, it gets them sparkly clean and shining. The brass wire doesn't scratch the surface of bolts, but will take everything off. You may need a rag to clean off any residue, but it will come off with ease afterward because the hard stuff will be all broken up.

If you don't have a bench grinder you can do this with, then get a brass bristle brush and use it the same way. It takes a little longer than the wheel, but it will work just the same.


Metal engine parts go in the parts washer.

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In those, you typically use aggressive petroleum-based solvents - that's why the parts washer has a lid that flops down - to suppress fires! Companies like Safety-Kleen will even supply you solvent and exchange/freshen your solvent from time to time and dispose of it properly.

Myself, I like the idea of using B-100 Biodiesel, which is at least semi-green. Though the stuff you are soaking off the parts isn't slightly green. It also isn't much of a detergent and that is a property you want.

I generally have a coffee can and a tray inside the parts washer, which I fill with solvent as needed, and leave parts to soak for a few days if possible. Then I use non-metal (nylon) brushes and dish-gloves to hand-clean.

I would not use metallic brushes on any critical surface like gear faces, certainly not using a power tool! Once the parts washer has done all it possibly can, I have been known to wash off the solvent with thinner or carb cleaner and let them dry, then clean up non-critical surfaces with metal wire brushes or a beadblaster, and even prime and paint. However I do this quite reluctantly, because I do not want to destroy any factory treatments or anti-corrosion coatings. Going to town with a wire brush on a plated bolt will get you a rusty bolt.


Lubricants have two roles. #1 to keep it from rusting while in storage, and #2 to protect it during assembly and initial engine startup. If you don't know what to do here, then that is a "red flag" that you need to do some more learning on the subject of engine rebuilding - maybe get an actual book, which will serve as a well-rounded primer on the subject. Google only answers questions, it doesn't tell you which questions to ask.


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