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Thread: Electrolysis or Elbow Grease?

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Electrolysis or Elbow Grease?

    You guys are gonna get sick of me and my questions...

    The Bailey No. 3 that I'm cleaning up was lightly rusted. Tonight I got the bulk of it off with steel wool, Simple Green, hot water and WD-40. I also hit the machined surfaces with a wire brush on the drill press. I still have a few isolated posts of rust in nooks and crannies that I can't get into with the things I've tried so far. (I haven't' resorted to the mini wire brush in the Dremel yet.)

    I'm considering setting up a small electrolysis tank to get the remaining rust, but (as usual) I had a few questions. These minor rust spots are not going to affect the operation of the plane. Should I even worry about them? If I do go with electrolysis, will that remove the japanning (which is in pretty good shape)? Instead of electrolysis, are there any other methods you'd recommend? I'm assuming Naval Jelly is out, since it will discolor the metal. Is that a correct assumption?

    Thanks for any advice you can offer.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  2. #2
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    Vaughn,

    IMHO I say save your arm and go with one of the other very effective methods. Electrolysis is a good way to go for de-rusting. There are also some formulas that you can purchase that are quite effective. Over on another wood forum there are a bunch of fellows that have been talking recently about Evapo-Rust for rust removal. They say it works wonders.

    http://www.woodworking.org/InfoExcha...ic.php?t=19730

    Link to the manufactures site
    http://www.evaporust.com/evaporust.html
    Last edited by Alex Reid; 03-10-2008 at 09:43 AM.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Reid View Post
    ...Over on another wood forum there are a bunch of fellows that have been talking recently about Evapo-Rust for rust removal. They say it works wonders.
    It does! I bought a couple quarts of it from Lee Valley a few weeks ago, and tried it for the first time last week on a very rustu #5. I just put the plane in a shallow plastic tray, poured about an inch of the solution in it abd left it overnight. Next morning, there was a nice clean line along the sides of the plane where all the rust had been removed. I laid the plane on each side in the solution for a few hours and it was done. Easiest de-rusting I've ever done!

    Next time - especially for smaller planes - I'm going to put the plane in a plastic bag so I can form fit the bag to the plane and cover the whole thing with solution at once.
    Jim D.
    Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!

  4. #4
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    Electrolysis is the most (or one of) effective means of getting rust in hidden places. On small parts I usually just wire brush it because I can do it just a few minutes. It would take me longer to get a tank up and running.

    If it were mine, I would rather have the japaning. If I wasn't going to recoat it, I would just use the wire brush on the grinder and go to town. It does an amazing job.
    God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,
    the good fortune to run into the ones I do,
    and the eyesight to tell the difference.


    Kudzu Craft Lightweight Skin on frame Kayaks.
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  5. #5
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    El Paso, TX
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    Know a biker ?

    Drop it off at your local biker shop and have 'em bead blast it. 10 bucks and its a done thing and also a bit of a break for both of you.

  6. #6
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    As it turned out, with 0000 steel wool, some Simple Green, WD-40, and a wire brush on the drill press, I got it all pretty clean in about an hour or so. There's still a little surface rust in the nooks and crannies, but all the important surfaces cleaned up nicely. The plane lived most of its life in arid New Mexico, so any rust was superficial. I still need to lap the sole and hone the new Hock A2 blade that arrived today. Still waiting on the new chipbreaker, though.

    I'll post pics when I get it done.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  7. #7
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    Vaughn asked, "I'm assuming Naval Jelly is out, since it will discolor the metal. Is that a correct assumption?
    "
    Yes, Naval Jelly is basically phosphoric acid. It will give the steel a 'blueing' effect. The actual color will depend on the type of steel. You might get more of a purple or mottled effect. Actually, I have not found it particularly effective at rust removal on guns and kept around for quicky blueing touch-up on guns I was planning to sell.

  8. #8
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    I sure do like the results i get with electrolysis. I just fired up the tank again this weekend and was really amazed at the dramatic results i got with thickly scaled rust on some cast iron parts.
    That said, i tend to save up a few "projects" before hooking it up - makes it more worth the while of mixing up a bucket of solution.
    One thing i like about it is that it arrests the rusting process. Acidic products do the same thing (chemical rust removers). Abbrasion does not. If you're wire wheeling rust off and miss some, the eletrical action of the rusting process. It may slow down depending on humidity and storage conditions, but it will continue even if it's painted over.
    Paul Hubbman

  9. #9
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    Electrolysis is "line of site", that is the electrons zipping through the soup take the shortest distance between two points. Why a lot of area is needed for the anode. That being said, hidden nooks and crannies that are not in direct line to the anode will not get current flow from them to the anode.
    Jerry

    http://www.sawdustersplace.com

    "If politics wasn't built on careful deception it wouldn't need its own word and techniques. It would just be called honesty, education, and leadership."
    Bob "Phydeaux" Stewart one day on Woodnet

  10. #10
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    One other method is Citric Acid. Purchase this in powder form from the cookery section of a supermarket. Mix with luke warm water and soak for 24 hours. It can be re-used, and is environmentally friendly. It will loosen and dissolve rust, which can be wiped off with fine steel wool.

    This is the result after cleaning up a very rusty Stanley #46:



    Regards from Perth

    Derek

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