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Cleaning burned oil out of valve cover?

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Hello everyone.   Figuring  fairly straight-forward job of changing the valve cover gaskets to fix typical chronic oil leaking on my white 1978 bus.   However, there is quite a bit of jet-black, rock-hard burned oil on the valve cover "face" that the gasket sits on.     I just have to believe if I leave it there, I'll never get a decent seal.  I've attacked it with brake cleaner (no effect) and several engine degreasers.    I'm brushing away till my arms hurt with a brass brush (to not scratch the valve cover) and letting the cover soak in degreaser for 15-20 minutes at a time in between each attack with the brush.  I've now done this cycle 4 times and while clearly, I have removed some of the black burned on stuff, the lionshare still remains.    I suspect if I kept this up for a day or two, I'd eventually removed it all, molecule by molecule but surely there is an easier way?    I wondered if oven cleaner would work or if it might damage the metal surface, just being aluminum?   I don't have access to a sandblaster (or glass blaster) or anything like that.    From everything I've read, people are against putting in a layer of gasket maker to help seal it so I don't want to do that either.   

I've attached a picture.  I realize most valve covers have all that black inside the cover itself and I'm not particularly worried about cleaning that.   What I want to do is get rid of that black burned oil from the actual edge face that the gasket goes on.   

Anyone have a magic cure or at least a chemical that eats it/loosens it better than regular old engine degreaser?


Oven cleaner won't hurt that steel rocker cover, giddy up!

buddy boy:
Soak over night ! And yes giver with the oven cleaner

Richard Kuczko:
Carb cleaner

I did not have any carb cleaner handy today but I did have some Easy Off oven cleaner as suggested so I went with that.   3 cycles of spray and wait 15 minutes and at it with the brass brush.   Each time lots came off and it got better and better.   After the 3rd blast of oven cleaner and 15 minutes "soaking" and then with the brush and this was the result (see picture).    Freaking awesome.   

Rinsed off with lots of water then brake cleaner and wiped all clean.   On with the new cork gasket and everything back together.   Cleaned up and adjusted the rear right brakes while at it.  Of course took some time unsticking the badly rusted star adjusters.   

Thanks for the helpful advice all! 



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