Cleaning engine block gasket surface

Tiny
RPKILGOR
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  • VOLKSWAGEN
This question is not VW specific, but that happens to be the car I'm working on.

I am preparing the block in my 89 VW Fox for installation of a new cylinder head (the last one was slightly warped, head gasket was blown when I got the car, apparently due to overheating).

I am having trouble getting all the old head gasket material off the block. What is the safest way to get the deck clean without damaging the surface? I have tried gasket removers and various solvent, but am not making much progress.

I have read all kinds of different suggestions online about this. Some simply say, use a scraper, be careful not to gouge the surface.

Others say they use abrasives of some sort, but without removing the block from the vehicle, dissassembling it and flushing it out, this method seems dangerous.

How is this usually done by professionals?
Besides plugging up the holes and stuffing rages in the cylinders, how can I be sure that the engine is free of debris before I fire it up for the first time.
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Sunday, May 6th, 2007 AT 11:19 AM

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Tiny
AACPLUS
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With steel, using an abrasive pad on a highspeed revolving tool is fast, but for aluminum, I personally use razor blades, (you can buy up to 100 packs at most parts stores for resonable price, holding upright and careful not to gouge or scrape the surface, or cut the hell out of your fingers.
Clean all grease and debris prior to installing gasket. This can take some time and patients is a virtue. I also use copper gasket spray on the head gasket (unless otherwise specified), which can improve the bond (imperfect areas mostly) and I have never had one fail. Just be careful.
Also, if manufacturer calls for replacement of head bolts, I recommend to replacing the bolts as per manufacturers instructions.
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Sunday, May 6th, 2007 AT 1:58 PM
Tiny
BRASSMONKEY
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Razor blades from a utility knife is one way, and the most dangerous to remove old gaskets from aluminum blocks! Try using diesel fuel or similar safe solvent and a tooth brush size wire brush, preferably aluminum or brass bristles so it wont damage the block. Take precautions to stop any fluids or debris from getting in motor. It will just take time and patients to do it right the first time. At least you will still have all your all fingers and no stitches after the job. But I do agree about the copper gasket spray, works like a dream.
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Monday, October 19th, 2009 AT 11:31 PM

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