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Old 02-02-2013, 09:54 PM   #1
pritch
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Electrolysis rust remover

I've been wanting to build one of these to see if they really work. I read all I could find about them and decided to jump right in.

1st, I found an empty plastic 55 gallon drum and cut about the top third off:



Next, I built the sacrificial anodes. I used #7 rebar w/ #3 bands. I had these at work, but they are easy to come by. Pretty much anywhere that sells rebar will have these. There was lots of conflicting info on the internets over just how to do this, so I just kinda averaged everything out and came up with this. I welded everything together, since tie-wire will rust away fairly soon:



I had some bare #6 stranded copper wire in the shop, so I split it in two, you know, unwound it so I had two thinner strands. I think pretty much any copper wire will work, and as far as that goes, I'm not even sure it has to be copper. It just needs to conduct electricity. At any rate, I wound the copper wire around the upper band on my anode system:



Place the anode inside of the drum and fill with water. This was the hardest thing of the whole project-getting the hose out of the shed and and all unrolled and thawed out. It is worth noting here that the solution must be a base. I'm sure that there is some optimal PH level, but I couldn't find what it is. Most of what I read said to use Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda. No consensus of how much to use, either. Most said 2 teaspoons to the gallon. A few quick punches of the calculator and I settled on half of the box:





Part 2 to follow.
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Old 02-02-2013, 10:20 PM   #2
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Re: Electrolysis rust remover

Part 2.

No doubt, some of you sharp-eyed guys will notice that I used a barrel that had acid in it and I mixed up a base solution. NEVER EVER MIX ACID AND SODA! IT BLOWS UP!!! I pressure washed the barrel out real good before I started.

Now, take whatever you want to de-rust and wrap some copper wire around it so you can hang it (from something non-conductive. I used a wooden shovel handle) in the solution. I chose this old clamp for the trial run, so as to not ruin one of my valuable truck parts in case this don't work:



It was too long to really hang, so I just propped it against the shovel handle:



Now for what makes it work. It's basically a reverse electro-plating device. With the proper amount of current, the rust will come off the part and plate itself to the anodes. Eventually, these will need to be replaced because they will be too rusty. I don't know how I didn't take a picture of this, but hook the positive side of a battery charger to the anode and the negitive side to the part. Polarity is important! Don't reverse this! Pos to anode, neg to part, and don't let them touch each other.

Turn on the charger. Mine is 10 amps or 2 amps on trickle. I went with 10, because of how big the whole system is. The reaction starts instantly-the part begins to create bubbles. I was really surprised at how fast it started working:



I checked it after an hour and it was doing fine, so I left it alone and after about 4 hours, this is what I ended up with:





I'm amazed at how well it works! All I did to this clamp after I took it out was run water over it and hit it with a wire brush a little. I sprayed some Gibbs Brand oil on it to keep it from flash-rusting. So far, all I'm into this is the box of Washing Soda, since I pretty much had everything else.
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Old 02-02-2013, 10:37 PM   #3
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Re: Electrolysis rust remover

Oh yeah-I forgot to mention-this process creates hydrogen gas, same as charging a battery, so take proper precautions! I put mine outside, so now I have to figure out a way to keep it from freezing. I guess I need to find a water trough heater or something.
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Old 02-03-2013, 12:22 AM   #4
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Re: Electrolysis rust remover

Wow, pritch! That is a heck of a write-up!

Could you put anti-freeze in this?
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Old 08-05-2013, 11:59 PM   #5
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Re: Electrolysis rust remover

There was an episode of Trucks! on Spike that did this on a smaller scale. Pretty cool though.

BTW, mixing an acid and a base doesn't result in an explosion. It creates: 1) water and 2) salt. But the electrolysis process will create hydrogen gas, which IS very flammable.

Link to episode: http://www.powerblocktv.com/episodes...verado-buildup
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Old 08-07-2013, 10:15 AM   #6
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Re: Electrolysis rust remover

thanks , great write up
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Old 08-26-2013, 05:39 PM   #7
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Re: Electrolysis rust remover

I heard about this from a guy at work so I did some looking into and I came found this you tube video on it:
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Old 08-27-2013, 07:53 PM   #8
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Re: Electrolysis rust remover

I wonder how this would work on something big like the bottom of a door! Think how nice it would be to get most of the rust out before you coated inside it (we all know how hard it is to get rust out of these using other methods)
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