Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I made something to clean rust

I was reading a post on makezine.com about electrolytic rust removal. The setup described called for rebar, washing soda, a battery charger, a bucket, wire nuts, wire, and several other parts. Looking over the whole thing though it seemed like the whole setup just needed the charger (or any low voltage, decent amperage power source), an electrolytic solution, the metal to be cleaned, and an anode which could be any conductive metal. I wanted to test it out as cheaply as possible to see how effective it could be without making a big to-do about setting it up.

My materials were as follows:
Salt (1/4 cup or I just poured til I felt jazzy)
Water (the wet kind, not the solid kind)
Baling wire (cheap, metal, and flexible)
6-12v charger (anything more than 10 amps is serious overkill and won't work any better)
Bucket (which you should always has)

Setup is pretty simple. Fill the bucket with water, mix the salt in well, bend a piece of baling wire so it sits in the water down to the bottom of the bucket in a couple places. Next attach the + (red) charger cable to the baling wire and the -(Black) cable to the piece you want cleaned. Set the peice in the water (fully submerged is preferable) and plug in/turn on your charger. You should start seeing bubbles within 30 seconds on both the submerged wire and piece. My scissors bubbled more on the side with clamp because the joint in the middle doesn't connect them terribly well I guess.

After leaving the whole setup in a well ventilated place for about an hour for smaller things, more for larger, you should be able to take a wire brush to clean off any remaining rust, then redipping any parts that weren't under the water before. You can leave it in longer, but I was happy with the results I got with about 1:30. Taking a wire wheel, wire brush, or steel wool to clean the whole thing and then keeping it either clearcoated or covered in light oil will prevent further corrosion. Shabam!, from rusted solid to ready for re-sharpening in an hour and a half. I need to hit up a flea market and get some rusty but awesome old tools to do next.

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