remove aluminum off of crankshaft? lye??

I am trying to clean up a crankshaft from a briggs & stratton engine. It has aluminum melted on to it from a low oil condition and thrown rod.
I learned that Lye can be used to safely dissolve the aluminum and not hurt the steel. I also kind of understand that muriaic acid can do the same thing, but if left too long it can damage the journal.
Here's the problem, I can't find Lye anywhere (home depot, walmart, lowes, CVS) and I think its cause druggies use it for meth or something like that.
If I can't find lye, will the muriatic acid be ok? is there another chemical that attacks aluminum but is safe for steel?
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Trisodium phosphate, used for cleaning should work, I believe it is available at HD. Some dishwasher detergents used to be TSP, check on the label. Use boiling hot water to speed the process and frequently check that the crankshaft is not being chewed up. Are you sure the engine didn't use Babbitt bearings (http://www.americanbabbittinc.com/history_of_babbitt_bearings.htm ) which looks similar to aluminum?

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Jeff wrote:

I many areas it has been banned for environmental reasons.
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It's exceedingly unlikely to see babbitt metal in any small equipment like this. Small engines either have ball bearing or bearing bronze sleeves.
Their normal operating temperatures are too close to babbitt's melting point, and it'd wear too fast at the high RPMs these motors generate.
Babbitt metal use is largely limited to _very_ large open bearings on large and old equipment. Eg: very old and large scale machine tools like industrial lathes of a few decades ago, large scale shafting (eg: ship driveshafts), steam engines and the like.
You can usually tell a bearing is babbitt, because the housing is designed so that you can pour molten babbitt into it, and sometimes even remelt the babbitt. Babbitt bearings are cast in place and are usually quite large beasties with oil cups etc. As the babbitt wears, you need to periodically remelt it to reduce bearing slop.
It's cool stuff, but most people are unlikely to ever encounter it these days, except in antique steam engines at museums and country fairs.
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On Wed, 15 Feb 2006 14:30:32 -0000, snipped-for-privacy@nortelnetworks.com (Chris Lewis) wrote:

Or small bearings like in Ford Model T and A's and many many older automotive engines that did not have insert bearings.

In small engines, babbit bearings are not poured "to size". The babbit is bored to size after it's been placed. Usually, after the babbit is poured and before boring it to size a thick shim pack is installed and as wear progresses, shims are removed.
http://users.michiana.org/rosss/modela.html

Or in those other places I mentioned above.
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replying to Jeff, alex wrote: You can get lye at home harrdware. They might have to order the small container from the warehouse
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Lye is the active ingredient in some drain cleaners. Look for the word "hydroxide" in the ingredients.
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Sodium Hydroxide to be specific but unless there is just a thin film of Aluminum, nothing is going to etch Al at any rate that is useful (at room temp). If there are large chunks, it should not have alloyed with the steel and should just chip right off. Smaller spatters might be removed with a scotch brite cleaning pad.
Seriously, the poster that suggested a torch is probably right on, the melting point of aluminum is far lower than steel. Heat it just short of cherry red and bang it on the ground or scrape with wire brush.

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It wouldn't have alloyed. Just stuck on. Rather like the way aluminum fouls up abrasives (like grinding wheels). The way to get it off is to chip/abrade it.

A torch is likely to deharden the shaft. You don't want to deharden it any more than the sticking on of the aluminum already did.
I'd try various things like emory paper, a wire brush or a metal scraper. Or even a fine file lightly wielded.
The shaft may be scored.
In some cases, you may need to take it to a machine shop (eg: some automotive engine repair places) to have it touched up on a lathe.
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Are you sure of that? I have a vague memory of watching HCl go through aluminium foil like a sneeze through toilet paper. OP should be warned though, that ferrous metals that have been exposed to HCL, even the fumes, REALLY want to rust.

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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Try a hardware store -- think Ace or TruValue -- or a grocery store. Ask specifically for Red Devil Lye.
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On 14 Feb 2006 12:28:49 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Yes, I think they do. I would just love to take some drugs made with lye..
Maybe you can find some druggies who use Lye and buy some from them. Don't involve the police, or do this when the police might know.
As I pointed out several months ago, there are now products called TSP that don't use Tri-sodium phosphate. I don't know if that makes a diference to the suggested method, nor do I know if the suggested method is a good one.

Remove NOPSAM to email me. Please let me know if you have posted also.
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mm wrote:

Humbug. He can't find lye because he doesn't know that it is called Sodium Hydroxide. Of course Oven Off is just lye in a pressure can. You find lye in grocery stores and at hardware stores. I think the can I have came from Lowes a bout a year ago.
As for drugs with lye, how about food made with lye. Eat those black olives? Well they make them by soaking them in lye. Course they wash it out afterwards.
There is nothing illegal about lye.

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Sodium hyrdroxide, also known as lye, is contained in many drain cleaners, Draino crystal version being one of them. As I recall, they even had some small amounts of aluminum shavings in it to get the reaction going and generate heat. Sodium hydroxide will definitely eat away aluminum very effectively.
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Propane torch...or try some oven cleaner.....oven cleaner will destroy aluminum foil...but I dont know what effect it will have on thicker aluminum.....also if it was the bearings its most likely not aluminum...so torch...or chisel it off...might just knock right off and clean up with sanding cloth.
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On 14 Feb 2006 12:28:49 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Lye might work, stay away from the acid. Red Devil lye is available at Ace Hardware.
But, why don't you do the right thing and have the crankshaft reground and buy an undersize rod?
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Lye is the main ingredient in Oven Cleaner. Whether it's in the concentration you need, I don't know, but I do remember experiments back in HS where you spray oven cleaner on a bunch of aluminum foil, and Hydrogen gas is given off as a byproduct as the aluminum "dissolves".
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