It’s Outdoor Power Equipment Tune-up Time

Ultrasonic engine cleaning extends the life of outdoor power equipment
Ultrasonic engine cleaning extends the life of outdoor power equipment

Thinking about tuning up outdoor power equipment may seem a bit farfetched in mid-winter. But many small engine repair shop operators will be quick to agree that getting outdoor power equipment ready now will help avoid a long wait when spring arrives and you need your mowers and garden tractors ready now, not in two weeks! That’s why ultrasonic cleaners are the best friend of small engine repair shops and professional landscaping and lawn care service providers.

Why Ultrasonic Cleaners Work Best

When cleaning and tuning up outdoor power equipment speed and thoroughness are keys to fast turnaround and excellent results. Carburetors especially but all small engine components are subject to accumulations of varnish, gum and carbon deposits as well as soil grit and other contaminants that both reduce engine efficiency and increase wear. Aerosol sprays or brushing with potentially dangerous solvents are no match for fast, safe cavitation action in an ultrasonic cleaner.

And cavitation action is the reason. It’s caused by the violent but safe implosion of millions of minute bubbles when they contact dirty engine parts immersed in a biodegradable ultrasonic cleaning solution. The bubbles are created by generator powered ultrasonic transducers vibrating at frequencies such as 37 kHz. The bubbles work on all areas contacted by the solution – including small cracks and orifices unreachable with manual cleaning. This is another reason why ultrasonic cleaners are so efficient – minimal disassembly is required for complex parts such as carbs.

Setting up an Outdoor Power Equipment Ultrasonic Cleaning System

Ultrasonic cleaners for small engine servicing are available in a variety of cleaning solution capacities. Examples are the benchtop ultrasonic cleaning units available from Tovatech in different capacities from approximately 0.5 to 7.5 gallons. These cleaners are equipped with a lid, a sweep mode to provide uniform distribution of sonic cleaning energy throughout the bath, a heater and timer. The microprocessor-controlled generator maintains constant ultrasonic power, sensing and adjusting for light or heavy loads in the tank. Digital operation ensures reproducible performance from run to run.

While many biodegradable ultrasonic cleaning solution concentrates are available a great choice for cleaning outdoor power equipment is mildly alkaline, elma tec clean A4. This demulsifying solution is formulated especially for engine parts, gears, bearings, carburetors, fuel injectors and similar components. Extremely effective, it is also economical at its recommend dilution with water to a 1 to 5% solution depending on the condition of parts being cleaned. It is safe when in contact with plastic or rubber components.

If rusting is a concern, a small amount of elma KS rust inhibitor also available from Tovatech can be added to the cleaning solution.

A Simplified Cleaning Sequence for Small Engine Parts

The cleaning solution can be prepared in advance, but before cleaning:

  • Remove gross contaminants that reduce the effectiveness of sonic cleaning action.
  • All parts to be cleaned must be wetted by the cleaning solution. This may entail providing access to certain sealed components such as carburetor float chambers.

The Cleaning Cycle:

Cleaning cycles are developed with experience. Here’s a suggested start:

  • Fill the tank half full of water and add enough elma tec clean A4 for a full tank. Then continue adding water to the fill line. Activate the ultrasound to mix and degas the solution. Degassing, which can take 10 to 20 minutes depending on tank capacity, drives off air that inhibits cavitation in fresh cleaning solutions. Note that parts being cleaned will displace solution, which can be drained off and set aside for future use.
  • Set the thermostat to 60-70⁰C and start the ultrasound. While the solution is heating
    arrange parts in the optional cleaning basket taking care that they do not contact each other.
  • Lower the basket into the solution, replace the lid to mute noise and reduce evaporation, and set the timer for 15 minutes.
  • At the end of the cycle remove the basket, place it on the inverted lid that serves as a drain and examine the parts. If satisfied allow them to air dry or use a hot air drying gun.

Maintaining the Cleaning Solution

Skim off and set aside grease and other contaminants that rise to the surface. When the solution loses its effectiveness the tank should be drained and the solution and skimmings disposed of according to local regulations. Clean the tank as instructed by the user manual, then prepare and degas a fresh batch.

For more information please contact the ultrasonic cleaning professionals at Tovatech for advice on equipment and cleaning solution selection. We also invite you to download our guide to 10 critical factors in selecting ultrasonic cleaners.

About Bob Sandor

Bob began working as a chemist in 1987 and remains a science geek to this day. After his PhD he worked on the bench in materials and inorganic chemistry for 10 years. He then took on a love for marketing and sales. He combined his passion for science and business and took entrepreneur general management positions in large corporations like Hoecsht Celanese now Sanofi Aventis, Bel-Art and Smiths Detection. There he learned what it would take to run a business and finally Tovatech was co-founded in 2006. Bob’s hobbies include playing, listening and composing music, skiing, working out, the internet and all things science. Read More