The tenacious crackling noises, signature fumes, and touch of ultimate realism of a glow engine can instantly give life to any RC model it graces. However, just like real engines, they can (and will) get very nasty if not properly serviced. Not only is it unsightly, but it may also affect the performance of your RC model.
You have probably tried (in vain) to remove the thick crusty layer of oil, the muck, and the lacquer off your glow engines – however, they just won’t budge. Don’t worry, we have a simple formula to rectify all your wasted efforts. In this blog, we will look at what works and what doesn’t when it comes to cleaning out your glow engines.
What Doesn't Work
The Petrol Dip
This is perhaps the most common advice you'll get: simply dunk your glow engine into a bucket of petrol and wait 24 hours. While this may work on an automotive carburetor - a subcomponent of an IC engine - it definitely didn't work for us.
The Oven Cleaner
Another common piece of advice is to wipe down your engine with oven cleaner. While it did take away some stains, this method actually backfired on us as the sodium hydroxide in the oven cleaner reacted with the aluminum and left our engine in a dull grey tone - we also noticed some small pits and tarnishes throughout the engine.
Sandblasting is also touted as a great way to clean the surface of your glow engines; however, most people will not have access to a sandblasting gun and there are still much better options to employ.
What Actually Works
Safety Warning: The method and chemicals discussed in this article are highly toxic and may cause serious injuries and even death if not used with caution. Make sure to do your cleaning outside in a well-ventilated area and keep the area closed off to any children or pets. Always keep your gloves and safety goggles when on-premise.
We found one secret ingredient that "actually" works when it comes to cleaning out your glow engine: Antifreeze. That's right, your common engine coolant that is used for automotive. All you need for this method are the following:
- 1 x Automotive Antifreeze with Ethelene Glycol (Engine Coolant)
- 1 x Crock-Pot (Slow Cooker); it can never be used for food again
- 1 x Rubbing-Alcohol; preferably methanol or isopropyl
- 1 x Bucket
Preparing the Engine
To achieve a deep cleanse and remove the grease, oil, burnt carbon, and other contaminants thoroughly, you'll need to first disassemble your engine. Make sure to use the right tools when doing so, otherwise, you may damage your engine. For example, if you try to remove the cylinder-head machine screws with a flat-blade screwdriver that's too wide, it can break or damage the surrounding cooling fins. If you substitute a needle-nose plier for an open-end wrench or nut driver of the exact size needed to remove the carburetor's retainer nut, you'll end up with ugly, rounded corners.
Once you have disassembled your engine (muffler, carburetor, glow plug, propeller nut, and washer) remove the rear cover and set aside the screws in a tin so you don’t lose them. Take off the cylinder head and remove any o-rings and/or other gaskets - you are ready.
Rotate the engine so that the piston is in the lowest possible position in the piston combustion chamber and place all your parts into the crock-pot. Fill the pot with antifreeze and turn it on at the lowest heat setting. Securely place the lid over the pot and leave it overnight.
After a good nights' worth of soaking, turn off your crock-pot and transfer your engine parts into a bucket. Fill the bucket with warm water and rinse off any left-over chemicals. Drain and dry your parts and finally, give your parts a last wash in rubbing-alcohol to remove, and draw out any residual water from the engine case.
Reassemble your engine and you are good to go. As a rule of thumb, you only really need to clean out your engines once a year if you are a frequent flyer or basher. If you have recently just returned to the hobby and have left your engines sitting stale for quite some time, then we would also recommend doing a deep cleanse before firing them up.
If you find yourself with a lot of free time during the winter break, then try this out and let us know how it worked out for you in the comments section!
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