Eventually, you’ll try anything to clean your motorcycle parts with. It could be because you’re out of your favorite product and can’t get it locally that weekend, it could be that you’ve finally gotten tired of all the elbow grease needed to get some kinds of cleaners to actually polish chrome or stainless, or maybe you just found out there is another product that promises better results.
Well, the unthinkable happened not too long ago and while moving stuff around in the shop, I managed to puncture my 20-year-old can of ChemTool carb cleaner. You remember the stuff – it came with a little basket inside to drop all your parts into and after a few hours, your metal carburetor parts came out clean and shiny and ready to reassemble?
I had been looking for my carburetor dip to rebuild and clean an old S and S Super E that I’d bought on Craigslist for $25 that was truly funky but not buggered up. As the dip leaked out I was left feeling let down – how was I going to clean this carb and get it spotless?
I found the answer online – Pine Sol floor cleaner – you know the kind – your Mom or Grandmother probably had a bottle stashed in the house (and your wife may, too). I’d seen a couple of posts in forums about it but had never tried it. Well, here was the answer. $4 and a trip to the store later, I filled up an old plastic bucket with a solution of half Pine Sol and half hot water, took the carb apart, and dropped it in the mix.
Now, here’s the key – I left it there for awhile. Two hours of so later, I came back, fished out some parts (I had latex gloves on for this, just in case) and started scrubbing them with an old toothbrush.
The result? The body of the carb was spotless. Air horn was shining like new money. Throttle plate looked like new. All the screws – and the threads – were clean and you could even see some of the machine marks left on the surfaces of the throttle plate.
The best part? The shop smelled clean, too! I was able to put a rebuild kit on the carb in the next hour after I had blown out the passages with compressed air and let the works dry in the sun for a few minutes.
That night it was installed on a friend’s motor and I had made a sound profit on the deal.
I’ve been researching how some folks in the hot-rod world are using this to clean older carbs and the nice thing, if you are moving up into car carbs is that, unlike carburetor cleaners, the Pine Sol won’t damage the gaskets – in some cases, guys are dropping the assembled unit into the mix, blowing it out, and then purging it with fuel. I’m not sure if I’m ready to go that far, but if you encounter an older carb that could use a rebuild kit, first of all, they are a cinch to install and second, with a bottle of Pine Sol, you might be able to make a helluva deal on an old, funky looking carb that needs to be rebuilt.
I’m already thinking about other places to use this sort of mixture, especially when it comes to cases and parts that I’m going to have to repolish anyhow. I’m certain that if you leave aluminum in this mix too long, you’ll get some fade and need to polish it back out, but that is nothing new. If you have some old dirt on a battery case, oiler, or even shifters, this might be a worthwhile trick to start to use.
One hint, though – buy your own bottle – your wife would be pissed if you take hers.