View Full Version : Head cleaning discovery!

The Captain
12-29-2007, 11:34 PM
My folks bought a 97 vert with a 5SFE motor. Apparently there was a problem with these engines. They were subject to sludging if they were driven short periods in a humid environment. The condensation would build up in the engine overnight and a short trip would not give the oil enough time to heat up and evaporate all the water out. The PCV system was partially to blame, as it has a very small tube coming out of the valve cover and is prone to clog.

This motor had only 66K miles on it and the car was in south FL.
You can imagine what I thought when I pulled the valve cover! This is going to take years of scrubbing with a brass brush and carb cleaner. Feeling hopeless and wondering if I was looking at at least a head replacement, I called a local machine shop for advice. I thought perhaps they had an acid tub or something they could soak it in. Because the head is aluminum there was nothing they could do, as the stuff they use would eat it.
This is what I found:


OH MY GOD!!!! This stuff was completely baked on, crusty and nasty!


PCV completely clogged!!


Now I'm not one to sell snake oil and I certainly have nothing to gain. The shop recommended I soak it in Purple Power cleaner for a few days. I bought a storage tub at Walmart and two 5 gallon pails of Purple Power ($20 each) at the auto parts store. What have I got to lose? right?

This is the results after 6 days completely submerged in the Purple Power. Full strength. I can't freakin believe it! :bigthumbu :bigthumbu :bigthumbu


No scrubbing, just a quick splash with the hose!




I'm going to pull the valves and replace the seals. The ports and some other places on the head had some strange calcium looking crust on it in places that required a little poke to remove. I'm betting it's some sort of electrolysis/oxidation/corrosion from dissimilar metals in the water based cleaner. But removing this is nothing compared to what I originally faced.

The bottom end didn't look nearly as bad, and a good scrubbing with mineral spirits and kerosene cleaned it up. I'm going to replace the oil pump. The screen for the oil pump pickup was nearly clogged, but a few days in some carb cleaner soak cleaned it out. This 5SFE has a new lease on life. I'll be enlarging the PCV system as well.

Time for an ice cold malt beverage! :)

12-30-2007, 12:05 AM
Purple Power.... I had a bad experience with that once. Had a 5gal bucket filled with it so I could dip a carb into it and scrub it. After about 4 minutes of scrubbing at the carb with my hands submerged my hands started tingling. Pulled them out to discover that the purple power ATE the DOUBLE layered nitrile gloves. It also stained my hands purple. :ugh:

VERY strong solvent, use carefully.

12-30-2007, 12:13 AM

The Captain
12-30-2007, 12:14 AM
Yeah, wouldn't recommend drinking it either!

12-30-2007, 01:45 AM
I know you guys dont have the same engine but i just picked something up for 50 bucks that really helps prevent this! its a PCV pre-filter to stop the excess oil from getting into the inlet track and causing this. Might want to look into considering it takes about 5 minutes to install.

And for the OP thats no fun man, i wonder if you could send it to get machined and rebalanced like that and make THEM Clean it haha

12-30-2007, 02:47 AM

i might need to get some of this since im resealing my 4age

12-30-2007, 03:05 AM
Oh man. Nice work. Gonna have to get me summa that.

12-31-2007, 09:37 PM
big difference!

12-31-2007, 09:49 PM
those type of cleaners (purple power, castrol super clean, etc) work REALLy well for that sort of thing.
just about anything petroleum/oil related.
Including the oils in your skin.
makes the skin on your hands all dry and flaky if you clean stuff without gloves.

12-31-2007, 09:57 PM
That is pretty damn good! I would be concerned about the oil in the block though, even if it looked better.. anything blocking those passages would be immediate engine death.

01-01-2008, 12:22 AM
Purple Power is really great stuff, just don't use it on sensitive surfaces!

01-01-2008, 04:32 PM
Dude, it's not snake oil if it works, and you have documented proof that it does, and you do! I'd say you got uber lucky on the clean up there man.

01-01-2008, 05:18 PM
Soda, Purple stuff,...SUNNY D! Allright!

That was the purple stuff they were talking about!!!

01-01-2008, 06:13 PM
That is as good as a commercial. You should send them a picture and a description, maybe they could/would use it. You could be to Purple Power what Jared is to Subway.

01-01-2008, 06:49 PM
I know you guys dont have the same engine but i just picked something up for 50 bucks that really helps prevent this! its a PCV pre-filter to stop the excess oil from getting into the inlet track and causing this. Might want to look into considering it takes about 5 minutes to install.

And for the OP thats no fun man, i wonder if you could send it to get machined and rebalanced like that and make THEM Clean it haha

Sounds similar to an oil catch canister, how exactly does this thing work? I'm all about keeping my vehicles happy and healthy

01-01-2008, 07:32 PM
damn that came out good man

01-02-2008, 10:30 AM
omg man.... and that car is a 97? shit... well, part of why there is so much is because it came from a humid state right? i wonder how bad mine is seeing as its a 91. but i live in a dry place. AZ. hmmmmm

01-03-2008, 04:55 PM
Yep The 5S-FE is famous for this problem there was a recall that involved engine replacements due to it. I would recommend cleaning the oil pan out. I used to use that purple cleaner to clean the kitchens top to bottom in KFC's and if you've ever seen a KFC kitchen it's a more impressive demonstration of it's cleaning abilities than this head cleaning. KFC's are absolutely discusting. Food is good tho.

01-03-2008, 09:38 PM

Its like Seafoam but for cleaning.

01-04-2008, 12:31 AM
^Uh, off topic...but when did your car become so freaking rad?^

01-04-2008, 12:39 AM
damn! nice job on the cleaning. and yeah that sc looks dope

Corey Darling
02-02-2008, 04:50 PM
Would it be a good idea to use this to remove old head gasket material from the block and head? and to help scrape off carbon deposits from the pistons?

Maybe best to mix with some motor oil?

The Captain
02-02-2008, 05:02 PM
No. It only works against oil. Guess you could try it.

02-02-2008, 06:50 PM
how u making out with that project gt4rcdude?

02-06-2008, 05:40 AM
wonder if it works on pistons?! (out of the block)

02-06-2008, 05:58 AM
I bought purple power spray and it seems to be great stuff for engine cleaning and what not.

02-06-2008, 06:01 AM
yeah i remember reading this thread and it did a great job. but i was wondering if it would slightly eat at the pistons? i dont think it will. just wanna make sure. =)

01-08-2009, 03:07 AM
did this happen cause your PCV clogged?

wonder what mine looks like

01-08-2009, 04:05 AM
it can eat aluminum if left in too long...be careful

01-08-2009, 05:03 AM
early style 5sfe guys dont have to worry about this, also later 2rz an 3rz engines had a similar issue

in 97 the 5s head was revised making it run hotter for better economy, the downside is oil sludging

ive seen many o sludge rebuilds when i worked at toyota, a few 1mzfes did it as well

01-08-2009, 05:46 AM
Heh, I used to soak the head and pistons in castrol super clean when it was available to me.

One day I decided to try scrubbing the pistons WHILE submerged to avoid long term soaking. I put on 3 layers of delco nitrile gloves and reached in. About a minute later my fingers started tingling. I assumed because it was quite cold after sitting overnight and because I was gripping the piston fairly tightly. Another 30 seconds or so later I decide to take a look and see how clean they are and pull them out.

My gloves are GONE from the wrist down and my hands are purple! Three layers of heavy duty nitrile melted in under 2 mins :eek4:

The pistons were pretty clean. :hehe:

01-10-2009, 09:17 PM
Damnnnnnnnn! That worked pretty good. Ill have to give that stuff a try.

Although Ive always had amazing luck with diesel.