Home Restoration Topics Featured Cars and Trucks About
Left arrow


Right arrow
Author photo

Tour of an Engine Rebuild Shop

Part 2: Cleaning

By Jeremy Wilson

At Portland Engine Rebuilders, identification tags are generated before disassembly and all parts are tagged before they are cleaned.

“Our hot tanking tags can go through the hot tanks, cold tanks, and solvent tanks,” said Ted. “They’re made of special paper--it’s really hard to tear and there’s not a chemical out there that will take the writing off. It’s expensive, but it’s part of our job.”

PER keeps their cleaning equipment in a room called the “Dungeon” where engines get dismantled on a metal table. The iron castings are put in an oven for baking, followed by a shot peen process. Other parts are cleaned in hot tanks, which are kept outside with other chemical-based cleaners.

“The oven bake is like a rotisserie,” said Ted. “It heats components up to 350-400 degrees and basically burns the grease into an ash.

“The next step, at least for iron castings, is the shot peen machine. It has paddles that throw little, itty-bitty steel shot peens at the material. It knocks all the water jackets clean and removes all the rust and scale. I mean, they are CLEAN inside! You can get in with mirrors and look around and there is no rust. So they sparkle when you’re done.

“The third machine is just a tumbler to get all the shot peen out. We have to be very exacting on our wash process because one single steel ball going into somebody’s finished engine bearing is going make a horrible mess and we don’t want that at all.”

Finally, the parts are jet washed to clean out the passages. Because the shot peen machine only handles iron castings, aluminum blocks and heads are particularly difficult to clean.

“We’ve been trying to scrub one aluminum Packard block for weeks now,” said Ted. It was really, really ugly when it came in here. We’ve scrubbed and scrubbed it and now we’re going to hand wire brush the entire surface.”

PER’s shop is organized such that oil can be poured down any drain and it will never reach the sewer.

“Everything has traps and it all collects into a basin where it is pumped into a big holding tank. All of our runoff water drains into a holding tank where it is skimmed. Next it goes through a coalescer and filter. Our discharge water is nothing more than water because anything that is light is removed and anything that is heavy settles out. Any detergents that stay in the effluent are released.

“I invited the DEQ in here to make recommendations and they couldn’t believe it--because I invited them. I want to be on their good side because at the end of my career, I don’t want to be told that we polluted the land and I owe somebody a million and a half dollars.”

After the cleaning process, the parts are sent to a magnafluxing station with a black-light tent. PER uses ultraviolet light and a dye penetrant to discover any structural flaws. Problematic parts are either repaired or replaced.

Continue to Part 3...
Prev Part1 Part2 Part3 Part4 Part5 Part6 Next
Click on any item below for more details at Amazon.com

Troy Bench Top Large Sandblast Cabinet
Blast rust, scale and dirt away in seconds. Take parts down to bare metal with sand, glass beads, or aluminum oxide. Includes interior flourescent light and dust filter.

Chem-Dip Professional Parts Cleaner

Five gallon container. Chem Dip is a fast acting immersion cleaner for all metal parts including alloys. It is non-corrosive to metal and requires no agitation. Removes carbon, varnish, paint, sludge, and grease fast.

Berryman Products
Chem-Dip Professional Parts Cleaner Basket
Parts Cleaner basket for Berryman Chem-Dip 5 gallon pail.

Permatex Naval Jelly Rust Dissolver, 8 fl oz Bottle

Brush or spray on rust remover. Wash off rust with cloth insteald of sanding and scraping.


Dries to an incredible rock-hard, non-porous finish that won’t chip, crack, or peel. Prevents rust from recurring by protecting metal from further exposure to moisture. Use it to coat rusty frames, floor pans, farm equipment, marine equipment, or even a heavily corroded battery tray.

Use Marine Clean and Metal Ready cleaners before applying POR-15.


It cleans and degreases in one application without leaving residues or noxious fumes. Use it to clean canvas, vinyl, nylon, holding tanks, grease traps, auto parts and more.

Use this cleaner for the first step of the POR-15 preparation procedure.

POR-15 Quart Spray Bottle Metal Ready

Use this cleaner as the second step of the POR-15 paint preparation procedure.

Featured Cars
Sponsored Links

Copyright 2008 - 2021 - PopularRestorations.com - All Rights Reserved

Contact information