View Full Version : El Cheapo Parts Washer

Paul Alciatore
06-01-2008, 03:04 PM
I am looking for a way to set up a small parts washer on the cheap. Most of the commercial ones are too big for my present shop. I want something that I can put on top of a counter.

I tried a plastic storage container from Wal-Mart which seemed to be an ideal size. But after two months with solvent and some disolved oil, grease, cutting fluid, etc. sitting in it, the container has distorted in shape. Another problem is evaporation as the lid was not tight to begin and has grown worse with the distortions.

I saw a plastic B&D tool box priced at $10 at Wal-Mart yesterday that is a bit on the large size but would work. It has a nice tight lid so evaporation would be better controlled. But I wonder if it might stand up better to the solvent, etc. mixture than the clear plastic storage box did. It is a black plastic that is quite a bit thicker than the storage box and I would think a tool box would need to be somewhat resistant to oils and solvents. Mineral spirits are sold in plastic jugs. So are motor oils. It seems to be just a matter of the right plastic.

Anyone have any thoughts on this.

06-01-2008, 03:14 PM
Search these forums. I have a vague recollection of David Coffer posting about his "Hillbilly Parts Washer." Seems it ran on compressed air. Looked handy.



06-01-2008, 03:38 PM
I went to the local auto parts store and bought a steel tank cleaner that has a pump (somewhat cheesy "fountain" type pump) and a work tray. it holds just 5 gallons, but is the right size for my purposes and has a hinged lid. Price was $39.00.

06-01-2008, 05:00 PM
I've got one of these from HF and I like it a lot.

06-01-2008, 06:15 PM
I ended up with a spagetti collander that just fits in a 5 gallon bucket.. I lower that down into the soup *simple green.. and air bubble it.. the parts roll around till they are spotless..

I also got a lil giant pump there in the bottom.. SURPRISE.. simple green must be acidic.. cause it rotted the metal barrel out in a week.. I have a food stuffs plastic barrel now there inside the metal one...

I am planning on a inline auto-oil filter to super clean the fluid before washing out critical parts before assembly.. a pair of valves to deselect it. JUST as soon as I make another thread cutter for the lathe.

Always one project holding up another huh??

06-01-2008, 06:46 PM
Always one project holding up another huh??
I should have those words inscribed over the door to my shop. I'm gathering junk for a small parts washer that will utilize a small compressor tank split lengthways and hinged, with a pump off an oil furnace and an auto oil filter filtration system. Got all the aforementioned, now I just need to come up with a motor.

Quetico Bob
06-01-2008, 07:22 PM
Try a used commercial kitchen dealer. I used the vat out of an old deep fryer for the sump on my lathe. Didn't cost me anything except for the time to drill a couple holes for the pump and make some brackets. Holds 5 gallons and S.S. to boot.
Cheers, Bob

Jim Caudill
06-01-2008, 07:47 PM
I have 3 parts washers: one is a big Graymills that holds about 20 gals - it is in storage (too big). #2 is a Harbor Freight job that I picked up a few years ago -real PITA, don't care for it (pump issues, hose, etc). #3 (saving the best for last) is a unit sold/leased by Safety-Klean a number of years ago. It is a metal tub that clamps to a plastic tank that holds about 5 gal of solvent. They sold new for about $150 and has a replaceable filter and an easily serviced pump. I've tried to get away from it, but the darn thing is the handiest one I've seen. I don't know where to find one today, but surely someone still has them.

06-01-2008, 07:51 PM
I bought a feeder pan from Tractor Supply. $8.00


Very thick, sturdy rubber.
Put a steel kitchen trivet in the bottom and I've been cleaning up a dividing head in there.
Been using WD40, Carb cleaner, kerosene, you name it and it's good as new.

That HF model looks pretty nice though too.
Not too big and easily stowable.

06-01-2008, 08:18 PM
A stainless steel spaghetti pot, maybe 8 qts. cost $8 at a dollar type store. For larger parts, I use a big yellow plastic car oil drainer which has an integral pouring spout and the upper lip flares inward for an inch or more. The flare does help to keep liquid in when sloshing around. Den

Paul Alciatore
06-02-2008, 12:30 AM
Well I'm glad I'm not the only going the el-cheapo route. It really is a matter of size more than cost in my case. I have a question in to B&Ds help people so perhaps they can help. If not, there are some good ideas here.

Thanks All.