All the pieces of the differential have been removed and separated, but many of them have years and years of gear oil and sludge. After doing some online window shopping, I decided not to get a parts washer. It would be yet another piece of equipment taking up valuable space in the garage and cost more money.
So I did it the poor man’s (read: cheap) way. I got a gallon of kerosene, a metal pail, some throw-away aluminum baking pans and went to work. I already had a box of nitrile gloves and several scrubbing brushes. It took about two hours, but I went through each piece, soaking it in the kerosene, giving it a scrub, and repeating until all the old sludge and muck was gone. Since I went the more hazardous (but more effective) way instead of using a water-based de-greaser, I made sure I was wearing long clothes, the nitrile gloves, and worked with the garage door open to get good ventilation. My skin is very sensitive to petroleum distillates from not protecting my skin when building cars in high school, so I knew I had to be safe.
The kerosene isn’t as fumey as paint thinner, but it does throw off a strong aroma. It was also very effective: I only had to dip, scrub and repeat two or three times on the internals, and even the outside case, with 50 years of dried gear oil and paint, cleaned up very nicely (considering it has been under a car for 50 years).
I made sure to change gloves every 20 minutes or so to make sure I was not getting any punctures in the gloves from the wire brushes or parts. The gloves held out just fine, and now the differential is shiny clean and ready for new parts and pieces. The kerosene is reusable many times, so I poured it through a paint strainer and back into the original container. I lost a few ounces to evaporation and drippage; it’s also a little darker now, but will work just fine for later projects. I am ordering replacement parts from a Triumph supplier out of Kansas City, so I will pick them up when I go up there later this week for work.
Here is a picture of my oh-so-classy parts washing setup. It may not be big enough to clean a crankshaft, but for most parts and pieces it is just fine and takes up very little room.