Degreasing an Engine Compartment

I’ve decided to spend the next couple months doing some much overdo maintenance in my engine compartment. Over the following weeks, I’ll be documenting my activities doing some serious fiberglass repair and engine tuning. The first step however, is degreasing the engine compartment. I’ve decided to document the process because these are common activities that every boat owner needs to do, and new boat owners are often times apprehensive when tackling these chores for the first time. While not nearly as dirty as fixing marine toilet systems, this job will get you dirty.

My engine compartment is dirtier than most. My starboard engine has a slow leak in the transmission, which has lead to a serious buildup of gunk under the engine. Also, the bulkhead above that engine has massive dry-rot which has been throwing small pieces of rotten wood into the bilge, making it even dirtier.


Oil Eater Degreaser

First I got all the big stuff out of the bildge with a combination of paper towels and wet/dry shop vacuum. That left the greasy engine gunk that clings tightly to the fiberglass hull. The best engine degreaser that I’ve found is Industrial Purple. Heavy duty cleaning supplies like this really cut down on the elbow grease required to cut through thick gunk. I got this cleaner at Home Depot, but you can also purchase it on Amazon.


Using this power oil eater degreaser and a sponge with a scrub pad, I was able to clean the compartment very quickly. After getting most of the grease up, I like to follow up with warm water and a new sponge or paper towels to clean up the last little residues. I wanted to be especially thorough, because I am preparing to do some fiberglass repair and it’s important to get all dirt and grease cleaned up around any repair sites. Even the residue left over from heavy duty cleaning supplies can prevent new fiberglass from adhearing correctly to the old fiberglass.

Use disposable gloves when working with a powerful degreaser like Industrial Purple. Beyond removing the grease in the bilge, it will also remove the natural oils that the skin on your hands need to prevent cracking and drying out.

gunk engine cleaner

Degreasing an engine compartment (before)

best engine degreaser

After – grease gunk is gone!

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