Draft Cycle Works

Monday, May 17, 2010

LEMON (juice) PARTY!!! Cleanin' Green and Cheap

We all want to do our part to save the world right? Save the environment? Save the whales? Ok fine, save some money. Damb! Well here's a little trick to save some greenbacks, avoid using funky chemicals, and clean the bajeeezus out of your grimey aluminum parts. John brought this up to Jeff at Saint Motorbikes a little while back and his results were spectacular.

Here's what you'll need:

Lemon Juice
(I went through 3.5 of these bottles)

Warm soapy water and a scrubber

Pipe cleaners
(if you're working with carbs, this is helpful)

Outdoor redneck stovetop
(this can get a bit smelly, so outside
or risk a beating from a cohabitant)

A good friend to keep you company

Some nasty parts
(vm29 smoothies will suffice)

More nasty parts
(RC distributor housing)

Now getting started is pretty easy, but let's lay down some ground rules:
1. Watch your fluid level
2. Watch your heat and monitor for boil overs

3. Move the part occasionally so that it doesnt get too hot from sitting on the bottom.
4. Don't drink the bath water.

To get started, heat up enough lemon juice to cover your part as much as you can. I should have used a larger pot, but this is all I had. I you too have a small pot (nothing to be ashamed of) just make sure you dont fill it to the top. This stuff foams up quite a bit.

Once you have a boil, place your part in the pot and bring the lemon juice back to a boil. Move your part around and let it boil for about 30 minutes for a really good clean.

Continually check your fluid level. If you begin to get low, you can add water or more lemon juice. After I was finished with the RC distributor housing, the fluid was full of crap, so I chucked it and put in new lemon juice.

While the second part is boiling, you can rinse off the first part. Boiling in lemon juice brings all the grease and fuels to the surface of the aluminum. It is acidic enough to clean, but not acidic enough to eat away at the aluminum. Once you are finished boiling, you are left with a film all over your part. Rinse it and scrub it in soapy water and then dry it off.

What is the sound of clean?

Here's a comparison between a boiled carb and a carb that has only been scrubbed and doused with carb cleaner. The surface of the boiled carb is much smoother.

To see that the lemon juice actually removes the residues from the aluminum, take a look at the fuel stains that have been removed from the top carb.

Now I tried boiling the carbs with the paper gaskets still glued to them. I did this just to see what would happen to them because under the jet block on VM29 carbs is a really thin gasket that is a pain in the ass. Everything turned up Milhouse! (that means good) The top cap has been boiled in lemon juice and the bottom cap has not. The boiling removed some of the loose pieces from the gasket, but it is still intact and in good working order. It actually became a good bit softer.

While I was waiting for the other carb bodies, bowls, and caps to boil, I cleaned up the internal bits as well.

The whole process took about 4 hours since I didnt have a large pot to do them all at once. The end results were worth it. If you do have a large pot and are going to do a number of parts at the same time, I do recommend doing anything with a gasket separately so that you can check it easily and it wont get damaged by the other parts. Ohh and avoid rubber gaskets if they can rest against the bottom of the pot.

Beautiful Carbs!

Now go find some parts and have yourself a Lemon Party. FYI, don't search lemon party on google.


  1. is that where jeff got that idea?

  2. Yes, John told me about the Hot Juice trick, best thing ever for cleaning carbs short of a sonic cleaner.

    I mean........no, I invented this :-)