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My Restoration and Detailing Chemicals

Group A

240 Ninja
Sep 28, 2004
Portland, Oregon
Since I build some of the "prettier" cars/engine bays in our community I get asked A LOT what I use for this or that so I thought I'd do a picture thread so you can see my favorite and usually mandatory chemicals for cleaning and restoring.

The most important and most used, general cleaning chemical. I use Auto Magic #713 "Special Cleaner". I mix it 5:1 so one gallon of this makes 5 gallons of usable product. That makes it pretty cheap which is a good thing because I use a lot of it. It's paint, plastic, aluminum and almost everything safe. I use it to clean dirty wheels and most interior parts. I buy it here: http://www.goodspeedmotoring.com/vi...leaners-1/auto-magic-special-cleaner-713.html

Spray on heavily, use appropriate brush to agitate, rinse or wipe with clean micro fiber cloth (preferably rinse, but somethings are inside of car) and then compressed air dry while wiping/"buffing" with clean micro fiber cloth.

It is important to not let cleaning chemicals dry. This causes streaks, the dirt to dry right back on and sometimes makes it worse than what you started with. If it starts to dry give it another spray or if the area is already clean you can mist water to keep it wet. You MUST be diligent with this.

I soak Badger's entire engine compartment in 713, use a small electric home pressure washer to rinse and then dry with compressed air and a shammy or micro fiber rags every 7-10 days to keep my restored engine compartment looking like it was just finished.


Next up is heavy cleaning and spray paint prep chemical, Castrol Super Clean. I used solely this before being turned onto 713 (I used to dilute it for certain things). This cleaner at full strength will definitely stain plastic, stain aluminum (intake manifolds and white blocks) and strip all wax from paint and sometimes damage it. That being said, it works really great when used in appropriate areas/places. I buy this by the gallon and it's available at most local autoparts stores, Walmart and I think even Target. Some places sell a similar product (Purple Power) that works okay, but I prefer the Castrol brand.

I use it on carpets and cloth seats (out of car and being thoroughly cleaned). I also use it when trying to clean greasy parts. I mostly use it with a wet red or gray 3m scuff pad to final clean/scuff before spray painting. If I am spray painting the part I'm cleaning I use compressed air to dry it and try my best not to touch any surface I will be painting. Once part is dry and any masking is done I start painting immediately. If it sits for any length of time (24hrs+) I always reclean it before painting.

This stuff is terrible on your skin and the mist can actually take your breath away. Use gloves and caution with this stuff.


Turbo and non-turbo ehaust manifold and hot side/cartridge paint: Stove Bright stove paint is what I have used for the past 20+ years. I stumbled upon this by accident when I was restoring an air-cooled VW muffler. I needed a darker gray paint that was able to with-stand heat. My parents hand a can of this in their garage as touch up for their wood stoves. I've never found anything that was anywhere near as cheap, easy to use and held up as well. This stuff is not the same as high heat or bbq paint you get at hardware/auto part stores. It stands up to glowing red turbos amazingly well.

Prepping for painting is fairly simple. You must be painting on the cast iron, you cannot paint over another paint. Bead/sand blasting works best, but just cleaning a used not painted manifold works fine also. Simply remove all grease/oil with super clean and a red 3m scotch brite pad, rinse, compress air dry, mask as needed and paint. Surface rust is okay as long as you get any flaking pieces off and give it a good scrubbing as previously described. The paint is very resistant to fish eyeing and easy to use.

I have only found it at ACE/True Value Hardware stores and it comes in several different colors. I like charcoal best as it looks like a new cast iron part before it rusts. You can also order it directly from the manufacturer here: http://forrestpaint.com/index.php?page=hi-temp-paints


For cast aluminum parts like manifold, motor mount brackets and such I use Dupli-Color Engine Enamel "Aluminum" color paint. This gives them a brand new look and seals the metal making it less likely to stain and hold grease/oil. I also like it on the brake booster.

Part must be thoroughly cleaned/scuffed with Super Clean and 3m scotch bright pad or bead blasted works great as well. I apply light misting coats just to make the part look new and uniform. I use this on cylinder heads and white blocks as well.



Vinyl and plastic dressing and protection. I have tried countless products for this over the years and I still like Stoner brand "Trim Shine" the best. It doesn't contain any harmful silicones like Armor All and similar products (won't turn your stuff white over time). It also nourishes plastic and rubber to help make them last longer.

I clean the part with 713 cleaner and then spray Trim Shine on entire part. Depending on the look I want and to remove access product I either buff it with a paint brush (shiny but uniform) or gently wipe it with a mirco fiber cloth (not as shiney/slippery, more new oem looking) after letting it soak in. The more you wipe it the less shine it will have.

I buy this at the local Schuck's/O'Reily auto parts store.


Tire dressing and protection. Same exact story as the Trim shine, but this product is a little thicker to cling to tire better. I like my tires kinda shiny so I usually buff with a paint brush to remove access and make it look uniform.


Carb cleaner has many uses that most of you know about so I'll just post my favorite brand and a tip or 2. I prefer Berryman's Carb Cleaner. Some auto parts stores and Walmart carry this brand. I've tried dozens and this has always worked the best.

On a stock used engine compartment you are trying to clean up, the head and intake manifold are often stained and stubborn even after the initial pressure wash/cleaning. Using carb cleaner, an old tooth brush on the desired area and then rinsing helps. It will damage/remove block paint and stain or fade painted valve covers so be careful around those and rinse well immediately. I wouldn't recommend doing this on a rebuilt/painted motor, but it works well on your old crusty daily driver. This method will also remove old burnt on cosmoline found on some cars.


Basic glass cleaning. I like Stoner brand "Invisible Glass" and a non-lint surgical towel. I like the buffing nature of how the Invisible Glass works. Lightly spray it on entire surface and keep wiping until it evaporates. I usually fold the towel into a square a little bigger than my hand and do one big heavy scrubbing wipe to remove most dirt/light film, then flip towel to clean side and buff to a clear dry shine. If you missed a small streak you can often just buff it right off with the towel. For some reason this product doesn't like to dry on it's own or it will streak badly and you have to basically start over. You must continue wiping until it's all dry and clear much like you are removing wax from paint.

Most auto parts stores and several Walmart/Target type stores carry this product. The foaming glass cleaners would be my 2nd choice and work well also. To me the Invisible glass seems to be a bit shinier and clearer somehow though. Almost like a wax for glass I guess. :-P

I buy the towels from Goodspeed Motoring here: http://www.goodspeedmotoring.com/gl.../non-lint-surgical-glass-cleaning-towels.html

On glass that is heavily soiled (smoke/light overspray/boogers) I spray generously with Invisible Glass and scrub with super fine 0000 or finer steel wool. I use an old rag or towel (not a dirty/greasy one) I don't care about to remove the steel wool debris and majority of the glass cleaner, then clean windows again as normal.


Hinge and latch lubrication. I love Wurth's HHS 2000. Sprays similiar to WD40 so it penetrates well, but then solidifies into a light grease. A must for hood, trunk and door hinges. Works well on latches and any other moving assemblies also.


Next up is SEM products...
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You mix 5:1 with what, Dr. Pepper? :)

Thoughts on Kleen-Strip Prep-All degreaser? I used that when we painted the race car and I was pretty impressed with what it will get rid of. Recently used it on an aluminum intake that had been in a fire and had extinguishing agent baked onto it. 15 mins with a toothbrush and the gunk and blackness was gone.

Really fun in a poorly-ventilated environment, too.
The brake kleen is actually in the Dr.Pepper!!!

How do you think he stays up until the wee hours of the morning?


Joking aside, Pat does know what works, and he is really a stickler for clean. Not normal person clean but Pat clean.

posting in an epic thread.
and we used to buy 5 gallon buckets of purple power at sears and used it to clean the shop floor, and even if some idiot dumped the entire contents of a bmw crankcase on the ground :-)oops:) it would clean the floor great and leave no greasy residue.
it ate the sealant off the floor though :lol:
Amazing to get that kind of clean-up (before/after) with just a little spray. Gotta git me some of that!:-P

There really is an art to clean and prep - and Group A is one of the finest artists around. Thanks for the tips.
very nice.. i do mine by taking motor/tranny out then sanding down and then repainting... but thats just me.

very nice work. will try with my DD as soon as weather brakes.
I see them bars, your not fooling me!:lol: but it looks nice man!
Do you think that's not the same car? Click on my sig pic for the build.

very nice.. i do mine by taking motor/tranny out then sanding down and then repainting... but thats just me.

very nice work. will try with my DD as soon as weather brakes.
This is a restoration and cleaning chemicals thread, car above is restored (see red highlighted quote below). Picture doesn't actually do it justice. It's kinda something you just need to see in person really.

I soak Badger's entire engine compartment in 713, use a small electric home pressure washer to rinse and then dry with compressed air and a shammy or micro fiber rags every 7-10 days to keep my restored engine compartment looking like it was just finished.

That being said, a good pressure wash and cleaning on an unrestored engine compartment goes a long way and will always look nicer, be easier to maintain and work on.
i actually have Purple Power and Super Clean in my garage now.. i might give it a go. looks good. but i cannot do every 7-10 days... you must have the system to a down . awesome advice good thread. i will check up soon (could help me out at PA meet coming up)
i actually have Purple Power and Super Clean in my garage now.. i might give it a go.
If you are going to wash your engine compartment with super clean I would suggest diluting it. Full strength it will stain your aluminum intake and strip all painted surfaces of their shine. If you rinse before soaking with cleaner then cleaner doesn't work as well, but is less damaging to finishes. You will have to judge for yourself which route to take. 1st cleaning I usually soak with cleaner before water, but if your engine compartment is not too bad, rinse before spraying cleaner. You can spray heavy areas before rinsing to help cut the oil/grease. They will need to be waxed if you do that. Obviously be careful around key electrical components. Usually you will get some moisture in dist cap. Make sure to clean it after. Wd40 displaces moisture and I've used it to clear out moisture in dist caps several times when compressed air is not available.

I highly recommend the 713 cleaner over super clean/purple power as its much safer.

I wash mine every 7-10 days because it's a daily driver with a show quality engine compartment restoration and I show it off a lot so I like to keep it spotless. Once a regular engine compartment is clean, you shouldn't have to clean it that often. Once every few months to keep it clean looking. It's less dirty each time you clean it so it gets easier after the initial cleaning. It's also very important to run a stock splash tray. They really help keep it cleaner and improve mpg.
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It's also very important to run a stock splash tray. They really help keep it cleaner and improve mpg.

This is so true. I've seen many cars run for years without one and it makes a real mess of the engine bay. It also seems to reduce accessory belt life without one, and makes them squeal on a steady basis with all the crap that gets thrown up at them.

Nice writeup on the detailing products, the engine bay looks great.