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Discussion Starter #1
I'm getting ready to put a new engine in my 68 Fastback, and will be painting the engine compartment, and patching up some extra holes that have been cut in the firewall when the aftermarket ac was put in. Anyone find tips on cleaning up the firewall? It isn't a show car, but I do want to clean it up as nice as possible without replacing the whole thing. Thanks in advance.
 

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There's a hundred ways to do it and I find that a combination of methods yield the most effective and efficient results.

Start with a small putty knife and a wire brush, this gets the bulk of the gunk off.

Now add some rags and some cleaner/thinner to the brushing efforts. Mineral Spirits is a good "mild" thinner and will cut the grease very well and products like Simple Green will work well too. They are not as aggressive as mineral spirits however, but won't be as hard on your skin.

NOTE: in areas that you don't intend to paint, use a plastic bristled brush instead of a wire one (old tooth brushes are great for the crevaces).

If you are dealing with a lot of surface rust and gouging/scratches and intend to repaint the area, you might skip the thinner/cleaner step and go directly to wire wheeling with an angle grinder and wire wheel. In the absence of the grinder or in the tight spots, an asortment of heavy to medium grit sand paper will work. Start with 80 grit and finsih with 100 or 200 depending on how fine of a finish you want.

I prefer to take a project to bare metal if at all possible and sandblasting is my method of choice. Sandblasting practically eliminates the wire wheeling, but the area should be grease free for the most part because sandblasting does not work very quickly on glues, greasey gunk, plastics, or rubbers. I would not recommend sandblasting on an assembled car because sand get everywhere and can be damaging to the finish.

There's some ideas the may apply to your situation. I'm betting that you are merely cleaning up the engine bay for a new motor and the follwoing steps would suffice...

1.) Putty knife and wire brush.
2.) Clean with spirits or Simple Green to keep from slinging grease build up everywhere.
3.) Wire wheel.
4.) Sand and rusted areas.
5.) Weld up your extra holes.
6.) Grind your welds smooth.
7.) Scuff the firewall with 100 grit.
8.) Degrease with lacuer thinner.
9.) Prime.
10.) Paint.
 

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Sick467 pretty much covered it all. This article might help with some good tips:

1966 Ford Mustang Grinder Photo 10

I'm in the process of cleaning up my engine bay at the moment also. So far for the firewall I've scraped it with a razor scraper, cleaned it with degreaser and mineral spirits, sandblasted it, and now I'm just getting in the hard to reach places/corners with sand paper. Next up will be some self-etching primer.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks to both of you, very helpful.
 
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