Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
David asks: Back in the day, (way back), I used Berryman’s carburetor cleaner. It had a parts basket in the can. It worked really great. Just don’t get your finger in it. The revised product today is not worth a darn. I think lacquer thinner is actually better. I even bought another can of Berryman’s out of the state of California and it was no good either. (Perhaps they are protecting us from ourselves in case someone’s dog drinks the stuff and there would be a lawsuit). Anyway, I did a preliminary search to see if someone out there has their own formulation, but this was not very successful. I used to buy M.E.K. and now this is gone (from stores in CA). I believe that this solvent was once a component of most carburetor cleaners. Have you any suggestions? I love your column, and have tons of other questions. BTW, my hobby is restoring old farm tractors. Been tinkering with “things that go” all my life.
My reply: Once again, direct your applause toward our friends in the government – who’ve done the same thing to diesel fuel, gasoline, paints and so on. Environmental regs have made it necessary to reformulate these products such that they are effectively no longer the same product.
I’ve worked around this with regard to carb cleaner by getting the stuff in liquid rather than aerosol form and leaving the parts to soak for a while. I often us PB Blaster, incidentally – which isn’t technically a carburetor cleaner but is an excellent solvent/crud-cutter. You can also boil a carb (not the plastic parts, obviously) to deep clean it; then a toothbrush and elbow grease. If you get a carb really clean, it is easier to keep it clean.
The main hassle these days is ethanol – which will gunk up in the bowls if the carb is left to sit with fuel in it for long periods (an issue with most carbureted vehicles, which are so old now most are no longer daily driven vehicles). If you can, run the carbs empty at shutdown – this is usually easy with a motorcycle/gennie/power equipment that has a fuel valve. If it’s a car, it’s probably going to be necessary to install a T fitting in the fuel line to be able to do this.
Don’t you just love the government?
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