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electrolytic rust removal


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This is a process I have started to use on some rusty Datsun parts. It does work, slowly, and it is not a cure all for any and all rusted parts, but it does help quite a bit. I like it because I can leave parts in the process for a while, and it does not remove any good metal. Rusted metal steel is gone. It will not replace it. It is fairly safe, no highly corossive chemicals are used. It uses a plastic bucket or tub, a battery charger, some Sodium Carbonate, the "Super Washing Soda" in the picture, and a sacrificial piece of steel. the process seems to work better for me if the sacrificial anode is larger than the parts being derusted. Do not use stainless steel for the anode, the chromium in the stainless leaches out into the solution and it makes it quite toxic, from what I have heard. I have not tested this, I have not seen a need to. I just do not do it. You will end up with a fair amount of sludge, but it is mainly iron oxide, and not really that harmful. The sodium carbonate solution can be washed down a drain, it is a washing additive, and it also occurs naturally in some deserts.



The parts need a wire attached to them. You can use a screw and a nut to hold the wire on the parts, the screw will actually be derusted along with the part you are removing the rust from.


This process works best on a line of site basis, if you put a sacrificial anode on only one side of a part, only one side of a part will be derusted.


picture shown the anode bent to fit in the bucket, and the four marker light bases suspended inside the anode.


The parts you want to derust are hooked up to the negative lead of the battery charger, the sacrificial anode goes to the positive lead.

This picture shows the cell working, and about four amps flowing in the electrolysis cell.

You can control how much current flows in the cell several ways. If you dissolve more sodium carbonate in the water, more current will flow. The greater the surface area of the parts, the more current will flow. The closer the parts are to the anode the more current will flow.

The process seems to remove some paint from the various Datsun parts I have used it on. If there is any rust under the paint, it seems that the paint will be lifted.

I also used the process to free up the parts on two upper hood catches i recently got. The various bolts and nuts on the hood catch were frozen together with rust, and the safety catch on one would not move. it took about four days in the process, but all the parts of the two hood catches now work freely.

When the parts are done derusting you have to rinse them with water, and get them dry quickly. They will rust again very quickly, if you do not protect them.

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this will definately work on a 510 tank, just remember the whole idea of putting the bolt thru the spray can lid is to not let there be any metal to metal contact between whatever is hooked up to the possitive and whatever is hooked up to the negative on the charger. i also did a terpentine wash after dumping the baking soda, to wash all that crap out the tank then put a quart of 2 stroke oil in the tank, and shook it around to make sure it hit all areas to keep rust from jumping right agian. then rinse out with gas a few times and you are ready to go. it works

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This is a process I have started to use on some rusty Datsun parts.




Do not use stainless steel for the anode, the chromium in the stainless leaches out into the solution and it makes it quite toxic, from what I have heard. I have not tested this, I have not seen a need to. I just do not do it.







Stumbled on this old post, just as I did last month the process elsewhere online describing said stainless steel nasties. Thought I better chime in just in case somebody might think "I wonder what would happen....?" DONT DO IT. I don't remember what the chemical name is for the outcome of this combo~ but I do remember that not only is it real bad for you, it's a federal offense to dump it out ANYWHERE (ground/sewer/septic/etc), and will get you jailtime if you do. It's that nasty~

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  • 6 months later...

shit, i did it with stainless and with rebar... the rebar worked way better anyway,,, half the "how to's" out there use stainless cuz you can just wipe off the rust and go again. good on you for giving us the heads up,

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  • 2 months later...

i know its an old thread, but for once i have knowledge that may help! this process is essentially a steel only process. i work in a plant that does electroless nickle plating, and was taught how to run the line a few months ago. all of our steel parts go through a process similar to this, but with a stronger cleaner in it (not sure of the name) and is done on a larger scale (4'x4'x4' tanks) we also use a muriatic pickle to help so that we dont have to leave things in the tank for a few days, it'll work better if you can figure out a way to send alternating anodic and cathodic current, 45 seconds a piece. this helps to draw out any contaminants in the steel, including the rust. the pickle just helps break up and eat off the rust better/faster. dont know how simple it would be to do a homegrown alternating current. and as for the shit thats made by stainless, its the chromium in general. we have a chromium strip tank, and any runoff from it, or when we have to dump the tank, gets put into a big ass tote and picked up by a chemical disposal company.to clean up. as to the aluminum, if you can find some kinda caustic etch it'll come off easy. otherwise, try soaking it in coke?

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How weird my old thread popped up tonight. I used another rust removal process, molasses solution. I tried this a few months ago, but it did not seem to work for me. So, I thought I just did not leave the parts in molasses long enough. I just left some parts in the bucket for about two months, and today, I decided to look at them.

I opened the bucket, It had a plastic lid on it, and was greeted by a layer of off white mold floating on the solution. I took the mold off the top of the solution, and then got the parts out, without rust on them.

Now to paint them.

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