I’ll be honest about my doubts regarding one hand cleaner’s advantages over another, but two samples of Muck Daddy’s hand cleaning products landed in my garage the moment I was reinstalling heads and an intake manifold on my Blazer, and they couldn’t have arrived at a better time.
A little background: The work on the Blazer started out as a slight exhaust leak from the gasket where the cast iron manifold meets the exhaust flange. I took it to my favorite exhaust guy and he gave me the news: the studs on the exhaust manifold were rusted to the point where they looked like toothpicks.
I got 8 out of 12 exhaust manifold bolts out without an issue. Two of worst came out with a bolt extractor, but the last two (above) just weren’t coming loose. One snapped off in the head. I could have worked on extracting that bolt from the head, but my arch-nemesis Brian Lohnes over at BangShift offered up a set of more modern heads that had just gotten a five-angle valve job instead.
When we put the Blazer on the dyno last spring, it turned a weak 152 horsepower at the rear wheels. Part of that is down to an exhaust that looks like it could’ve been used as electrical conduit, but a lot of it lays at the feet of the original heads.
They’re Chevrolet 468 642 heads with puny 1.72 in. intake and 1.50 in. exhaust valves. They’re generally regarded as some of the worst heads Chevrolet ever produced for a small-block V-8. The heads Lohnes provided are cast iron Chevrolet pieces that originally came off “Buford T. Justice,” his 1987 Caprice 9C1, the cop car version of the box-era Caprice. These casting numbers (14101083) are some of the better Chevy heads of the 1980s and found their way onto many GM Performance budget crate motors that could support about 350hp.
“They’re basically an iron version of the heads found on L98 Camaros and Corvettes back then,” Lohnes tells me. “They’ve been ported, shaved down, and given a competition multi-angle valve job. They have factory valves that have been milled and COMP Cams beehive style valve springs.”
By the time we got around to putting the heads on, I’d scraped and scrubbed and pried off as much 37 year old grime as I could from my aging 350 block. It’s only got 65,000 miles, but most of that has been with the valve covers spewing motor oil all over the place. What results is a situation where hand cleaner is an absolute necessity if I expect to be welcomed into polite society at any point in the future.
I don’t think much about choosing a hand cleaner, opting for what’s cheapest in the hand cleaning aisle at the parts store. GoJo works pretty well, but the reason it works is because it’s essentially using the same active ingredient as the stuff on your hands: Petroleum.
First off, it was created by Amyris Biotechnologies, a company that first hit the news when it attempted to produce a “drop-in” synthetic replacement for petroleum fuels produced with plant sugars. Since then, it’s branched its technologies out to develop sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based products.
Muck Daddy is derived from 100% sustainably sourced sugarcane. Amyris’s Myralene 10 is a sustainably-sourced, VOC-exempt solvent with superior degreasing power, low odor, no color, and ready biodegradability. It also features Squalane, which the cosmetic industry uses as an emollient and a skin conditioner.
We tried two of Muck Daddy’s products: The straight-up hand cleaner, which Muck Daddy enhances with a pumice additive to get the hard stuff scrubbed off. (Soon, the company is introducing a smooth version of the same product without the pumice.) We also tried the scrubbing wipes.
The hand cleaner made quick work of the decades worth of accumulated grime left on my hands from the Blazer, which is the opening ante for any hand cleaner. Anything from high-tech stuff like this to a bar of Lava should do that.
What’s key is what comes after you’ve wiped it off. You can use Muck Daddy without water, which means that there’s a chance you could be left with a greasy residue or an overpowering stink, but you get neither. It wipes off easily, and doesn’t leave any grease behind. There’s a pleasant odor, but it’s not the kind that’s going to get you tossed out of a Fragrance Free environment. The hand cleaner has moisturizers and conditioners to help reduce the skin cracks you’re almost sure to experience working under the hood in a New England January.
What I really liked, though, were the dual-textured Scrubbing Wipes. One side has a scrubbing surface, and the other has a smooth surface, so you can attack grease and grime and wipe off using one towel. They work great on your hands when you’re looking to quickly clean up to answer the phone or make yourself a sandwich, but they’re equally effective cleaning up your tools. I found them particularly effective as I continued to clean up the Blazer’s engine bay before I paint anything under there.
Muck Daddy hasn’t rolled out across the country in retailers yet, but you can order the products online at the website. The pumice hand cleaner comes in 13.5 oz or one gallon sizes ($8.99 and $39.99, respectively) and the wipes are $24.99 for a 70 wipe canister.
The bottom line is that this stuff works, and you’re not cleaning your hands with the petroleum you’re trying to get off of them.