Scotchbrite – An Engine Killer

Standard

USE SCOTCHBRITE PRODUCTS WITH EXTREME CAUTION WHEN CLEANING UP GASKET SURFACES OF AN ENGINE.

This is not a new issue but just a reminder about the use this product. I was getting ready to do a project and I remembered this coming up in a conversation is past years. Even GM released an internal caution referencing the use of this product.

#87-61-24: INFO. USE OF ‘SURFACE CONDITIONING DISCS’ – (Apr 2, 1998) –
WHEN CLEANING ENGINE GASKET SEALING SURFACES, AND/OR CLEANING PARTS FROM AN ENGINE WHICH ARE TO BE REUSED; SURFACE CONDITIONING DISCS (TYPICALLY A WOVEN FIBER PAD DESIGN) WHICH CONTAIN ABRASIVES, SUCH AS A HIGH AMOUNT OF ALUMINUM OXIDE, ARE NOT RECOMMENDED. THE USE OF SUCH SURFACE CONDITIONING DISCS DISLODGE ALUMINUM OXIDE (FROM THE DISC) AND METAL PARTICLES, WHICH CAN LEAD TO PREMATURE ENGINE BEARING FAILURE. THE PRESENCE OF ALUMINUM OXIDE IN ENGINE OIL HAS BEEN SHOWN TO CAUSE PREMATURE ENGINE BEARING FAILURE. IN SOME CASES THIS FAILURE OCCURS IN AS LITTLE AS 1,000 MILES (2,200 KM) OR LESS AFTER THE REPAIR HAS BEEN MADE. SURFACE CONDITIONING DISCS MAY GRIND THE COMPONENT PART MATERIAL AND IMBED IT INTO THE DISC. THIS CAN RESULT WHEN MORE AGGRESSIVE GRINDING OF THE GASKET SURFACE TAKES PLACE.

We all know what this stuff is. Scotchbrite pads are basically discs of nylon fibers with 40 micron particles of aluminum oxide embedded in them. What we forget is that use of the Scotchbrite  leaves these bad boys behind as it does its job. Aluminum oxide is an extremely aggressive abrasive. If it manages to get into the oil system it will end up in the bearings and as a byproduct proceed to eat away what ever surface it is riding on. Many engines failures at the main and rod bearings after a head job or other work…on close inspection of the bearing surfaces can be directly attributed to the use of scotchbrite during the work.  Especially a Northstar engine where the block deck surface cleaning funnels the scotchbrite dust down the oil drain back passages. Cover everything you can to prevent the incursion into the oil system. And clean the area and part down completely before assembly.

Another word of caution. Scotchbrite pads will actually remove metal, especially aluminum, and can cause problems with sealing at gasket areas if you get a little carried away. If you are going to use it .. Go Lightly! And do a good cleanup!

Nuff Said! BzeroB

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