If you followed along with the EngineLabs’ shop remodel, you know that even though we achieved our goal of maximizing floor space, that space is still at a premium. One of the main tricks we are using in the shop is mobility and portability. Being able to move things when not in use is a key to efficiently using a small space. We have been looking at parts washers for a while, but when we came across the mobile 16-gallon parts washer (P/N: SUM-909022) in the Summit Racing catalog, we knew we’d found our winner.
Being able to move the washer when not in use is the feature that makes this parts washer work in our space at all. The sturdy closable lid means it will be used like every other horizontal surface in the shop — have things stacked on top of it — when not in use, and then can be cleared off and wheeled next to the benches when it’s needed. Thanks to its four casters (two of which are locking), it can even be wheeled outside and run off of an extension cord for particularly splashy items (like the giant Four-Valve Modular cylinder head castings we have sitting on the bench right now.
Portable Parts Bath
The core of the parts washer is the 16-gallon tub, measuring 22.5 inches long by 20 inches wide, so it will contain most V8 cylinder heads. You can wash a crank standing up, but will have a little bit hanging over if you lay it on its side. No biggie for us, as the compact size outweighs the slight length limitations. There are rails on the side of the tub that engage with the included platform to keep parts from being submerged in your cleaning solution. That will take up some liquid capacity, allowing the tray to sit within the tub itself, keeping the work surface below the rim of the tub. The powdercoated-steel tub also features a threaded drain hole for easy draining of the used solution.
Also housed in the 16-gallon tub is the 120-volt “solvent” pump. “Solvent” is in quotation marks because Summit recommends the parts washer be used with water-based cleaning fluids, but we’ll discuss that more later. The pump moves up to 50 gallons per hour for a healthy flow rate and comes outfitted with a flexible metal hose to be able to direct your parts cleaning fluid wherever you want it. The pump is fitted with a heavy-duty waterproof toggle switch to power the unit on and off, and convenient cord-storage hooks on the side of the cart.
The cart itself is constructed from powdercoated square-tube steel, with two extremely sturdy shelves acting as structural components in the design. The middle shelf is a drain shelf with a formed shape designed to funnel any fluid from draining parts to the central drain holes and into the removable plastic tub. The bottom shelf is a deeper, heavier-gauge shelf that can house all manner of accouterments. As mentioned earlier, the cart has four smooth-rolling casters, two of which are locking.
As Summit recommends a water-based parts cleaner, we decided to take the easy road, and give their house-brand parts-washer-specific degreaser (P/N: SUM-941245-1) a try. Designed as an all-purpose degreaser, it contains no petroleum products and has been formulated to have a low odor, which is especially appreciated in the confines of a small shop.
The cleaning solution comes in concentrated gallon jugs; at full-strength it is a powerful degreaser and can be diluted with water up to 50 parts water to 1 part cleaner. In a parts washer application, Summit recommends a 1 part cleaner to 4 parts water ratio. That five-gallon number sits well in the parts washer, as it submerges a significant portion of the pump pickup while not “flooding” the parts tray.
In our use, we used a 1:5 dilution ratio instead of 1:4. Not because of any intentional thought, but rather, because we miscounted how many times we filled up the jug with water. However, it still performed well, thoroughly cleaning the valvetrain components of at-least-13-year-old oil residue after a thorough bath. We would have checked the progress at closer intervals, but after putting the basket of parts in the solution with the pump aimed directly at the parts, we started working on the cylinder head again, and flat-out forgot that it was running since it was so quiet.
This parts washer is going to be a great addition to the shop and make life a lot easier as it replaces the galvanized metal tub from the farm supply store, and bottles of the usual green and purple spray-degreasers. Besides the convenience, it’s going to be more economical in the long run, as we’ll be able to get more than one use out of the cleaning solution now.