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How to Clean Outboard Motor Parts

The first day on the water is a poor time to learn that your outboard motor engine is not at its best. And now with spring approaching northern climes, smart freshwater and saltwater fishing enthusiasts are thinking about getting their outboard motors tuned up.  What could be a relatively messy task is made faster, easier and more thorough when an ultrasonic cleaner is used to clean outboard motor parts.

Marina operators offering engine maintenance services also rely on the thoroughness of sonic cleaning to quickly and completely remove deposits of grease, rust, carbon, varnish and other contaminants from outboard motor carburetors, pumps, crankshafts, gears and other components with the added advantage of minimal disassembly.

Outboard motors are restored to top performance without using environmentally unfriendly solvents, brushes and sprays. Moreover, manual cleaning cannot match sonic cleaning’s ability to reach all surfaces immersed in biodegradable ultrasonic cleaning solutions to safely blast away contaminants from cracks, crevices and blind holes unreachable by hand scrubbing and brushing.

Ultrasonic Cleaners for Outboard Motors

Ultrasonic cleaners are available in a variety of tank sizes and cleaning solution capacities. Cleaning tank dimensions must be able accommodate the largest parts being cleaned by being fully immersed in the cleaning solution.

When selecting a tank size remember that parts to be cleaned are placed in baskets, the dimensions of which are slightly smaller than the tank dimensions. Another important point is called the working depth of the cleaner. This is the distance from the basket bottom to the surface of the cleaning solution.

Neighborhood lakeside and seaside fishing clubs wishing to share in a unit may choose a benchtop system such as the 7.5-gallon capacity 37 kHz Elmasonic EH750EL ultrasonic cleaner with a lid and an optional basket 17.9 x 9.8 x 4.5 inches deep. This unit is equipped with a heater, timer, a convenient drain and a “sweep” mode that provides even distribution of sonic cleaning action throughout the bath.

Marina operators cleaning outboard motor parts on a regular basis might better select an industrial ultrasonic cleaner. Ask us about the roller-mounted 50-gallon capacity Tova Super Pro with tank dimensions 34 x 18 x 20 inches deep. Larger and smaller capacities are available in the Tova Pro series, all equipped with a sweep mode, digital timer and temperature controls, and low liquid level sensor.

Models in the series are also equipped with a weir and spray bar to skim off floating oil particles and other residues. Cleaning solution life is extended thanks to the dual cartridge filtration system. All units are furnished with a hinged stainless steel cover and work area.

An Ultrasonic Cleaning Solution for Outboard Motor Parts

Unlike most wash tank solvents, today’s ultrasonic cleaning solutions are biodegradable, most of which are available as concentrates. An ideal formulation for cleaning outboard motor parts is mildly alkaline, demulsifying elma tec clean A4 for all metals, plastics, ceramics, glass, quartz and rubber. This formulation causes oil or grease to separate and float to the top surface where it can be skimmed off. It is available in 2.5, 10 and 25 liter containers. Recommended dilution with water is to 1 to 5%. If rusting is a concern ask us for elma KS concentrate to add to the bath at 0.05 to 0.5% for temporary corrosion protection.

Cleaning procedures are similar regardless of the ultrasonic equipment used and are covered in user manuals shipped with the unit. Here is a brief:

Prepare the bath by filling the tank half to ¾ full of water, adding the correct amount of elma tec A4 cleaning solution concentrate for a full tank then continue to fill the tank. Activate the ultrasound for approximately 10 minutes to both mix and degas the solution. Remember that parts being cleaned will displace solution. If so, drain off and set aside the excess. When you are ready:

- Set the heater to 70?C and the timer to 30 minutes. Cleaning time depends on the condition of the parts. With experience you’ll establish a routine.

- Place parts in the basket and lower the basket into the cleaning bath and close the lid. The lid cuts down on solution evaporation and helps reduce noise.

- As oil and other contaminants rise to the surface skim them off and set aside for disposal. Skimming is handled automatically by the Tova Pro units.

- At the end of the cycle remove and examine the parts. If satisfied let them dry or rinse them in water to remove cleaning solution residues.

The cleaning solution should be replaced when cleaning efficiency drops off. Drain the tank and dispose of the solution and skimmed residues in a locally approved manner. Clean the tank following user manual instructions, prepare and degas a new solution and you’re ready to continue.

For answers to your questions or to discuss other ultrasonic cleaning equipment for outboard motor parts contact the iUltrasonic cleaning professionals at 973-440-2191.


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