Very effective small parts cleaner


Here is a piece of shop equipment that isn’t very expensive, but I have used for more than 15 years as very useful tool. You may not have one, or even an air compressor, but if your friend does, you can purchase some materials and get the same results.


The basic set up is a pneumatic paint shaker, for one gallon cans, just like the one local paint stores use.  You can buy new, empty one gallon cans, put steel parts like rocker arms, guide plates and various bits of hardware in the can, add ceramic media and a quart of simple green, and shake it for 20 minutes. It does a great job of both cleaning and polishing.  You open the can and pluck the parts out with a magnet, wash them off with water, and they are ready for inspection. The best part is you can drink coffee and watch the shaker, and still feel like you are getting work done.



This close up shows “Triangular ceramic finishing media”  You can get 5 pounds from the worlds greatest shop catalog, It’s part number 4918A181, and it only costs $20. Theoretically you can wear it out, but the media pictured is actually 19 years old, so its not really a consumable item.



Above, a regular pneumatic paint shaker. They don’t consume much air, you can run one off a fairly small compressor. This arrangement does a very good job on small parts, and leaves them with a much better finish than other methods. If you don’t have one, just clean the stuff up by hand, but if you have a buddy with a shaker, its a pretty useful arrangement.


You can buy a cheap shaker from Harbor Freight, but it is provided by the same people who brought you Tiananmen Square. You can look for a US made one, or grant yourself a pass on this part, it isn’t a torque wrench.  Even I am a sell out, as I used an iPhone to take this picture, and I’m sure the phone was made by near slave labor in a police state, just so all the staff at headquarters in Cupertino California can make high incomes and bow at the statue of Steve Jobs, the worst parent in history. ( look up the story, he shouldn’t be anyone’s hero.)




About William Wynne
I have been continuously building, testing and flying Corvair engines since 1989. Information, parts and components that we developed and tested are now flying on several hundred Corvair powered aircraft. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics and an A&P license from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and have a proven 20 year track record of effectively teaching homebuilders how to create and fly their own Corvair powered planes. Much of this is chronicled at and in more than 50 magazine articles.

2 Responses to Very effective small parts cleaner

  1. Dan Branstrom says:

    Can it be used with aluminum parts?

  2. Dave Hoehn says:

    FYI. Eastwood sells 2 different paint shakers. One is a Rockwood brand and is currently on sale for $130 (same price as Harbor Freight). It looks very similar to the picture of WW’s but probably is Chinese. The second is not brand identified (probably it is the Eastwood in-house product) for $200. However, its description clearly states that it is imported and therefore it too is probably Chinese.

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