Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Cleaning rusty wheel/handle with electrolysis

Yesterday I found a couple of neat items in a cellar hole.  Both were badly rusted, so I thought I would try electrolysis to clean them up.  I had seen videos and instructions on the web on how to do it, and gave it a try with this handle/wheel off of a piece of equipment that looks very steampunk.  The results are quite pleasing.

I used a solution of white vinegar and added baking soda then let it sit for several hours.  I used a 12V 1.5Amp power supply with the negative wire attached to the wheel, and the positive to a steel bolt used as an electrode.  By the way I learned it's a BAD idea to use stainless steel as it can produce toxic fumes, same goes for using table salt in the solution - it can produce chlorine gas.  Here are before and after images of the process.

As you can see a lot of nasty scum had formed after about 3 hours.  It is mostly rust that has come off the wheel.  After I washed it off, there were only a few small rust spots remaining that chipped off easily.  Then I coated it with Renaissance Wax to preserve the finish.  I'm quite pleased with the result, and this opens my mind to digging odd rusty stuff in future.

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