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Rust Removal

Old 05-23-18, 05:27 PM
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Rust Removal

I think this has probably been brought up numerous times, but I do have a specific inquiry. I'm looking to treat tools, small parts, and maybe more. I've used WD-40 and CLR with limited success. I don't want to use any acid stronger than CLR. I have a small Dremel and plan to use a wire brush with the Dremel. Pretty sure I can spray WD-40 before applying the Dremel, perhaps wearing a mask. My main question is, could I use CLR before applying the Dremel with success, and if yes, should I wear a respirator or other safety equipment? How does the inquired about method compare to other forms of rust removal and paint removal in terms of healthiness? Thank you for your effort.
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Old 05-23-18, 05:45 PM
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Oxalic acid solution 1-2 tsp per gallon. It cleans up rusty chrome very nicely.Will remove the surface rust but is not up to the task for deep rust. For that, I use phosphoric acid. Soak for up to 4 hours (but monitor progress). Rinse with water - no need to neutralize. Safety gear should consist of skin and eye protection. CLR is a mild lactic acid solution and is not worth spending money or time on. Also skip the WD40

Using a wire brush with a dremel works great on small surfaces, but I generally try to take care of the rust by hand first. Those little spinning brushes shed wire needles that will pepper unprotected skin with difficult-to-remove barbs.
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Old 05-23-18, 06:29 PM
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A brass brush by hand works OK. I agree with the poster above that the wire bristles on a Dremel attachment fly everywhere.
My personal favorite method at the moment is a plug-in Dremel and the attachments shown in the picture (thanks to following a link to Amazon in a C&V thread a few weeks ago).

In the past 30 minutes or so- without any particular effort and with the help of some Bar-keeper's Friend that I made into a paste with a little bit of water, these three tools cleaned up to this:

Bearing in mind that these have been rusting away in my grandfather's tool box for probably 60 years, and the afternoon light on my back porch is fading, I'm satisfied with the results so far.
Eye wear at a minimum, with possibly some nitrile gloves if you're cleaning a large number of tools as the Bar-Keepers (which has oxalic acid as a component) can cause some pretty funky dry skin.
Also- sorry for the huge picture, I'm still learning how to edit the sizes with this new format.
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Old 05-24-18, 12:06 AM
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Here is what I do for rust.
My first step is to drop anything that will fit into a container of white vinegar and let sit overnight. This will clean up many small aluminum and steel parts. Often just a wipe down after soaking and the surface rust wipes off. Finish by polishing on the buffing wheel.
If I am in a hurry or if it is a large part like a Raleigh sport steel wheel I will use a tooth brush to brush on navel Jelly. It usually works in about a half hour. First I will use crumpled aluminum foil and/ or 1000 grit wet sand paper to knock down thick crusted rust Then apply navel jelly and wait 1/2 hour. Then take the wheel out in the yard and hose it off. Another rub down with alu foil and maybe some Brasso and it usually looks pretty good. On severe cases (50 yr old Raleigh) I have taped off the braking surfaces and clear coated the chrome rim with Rustoleum clear lacquer. The techs at Rustoleum told me it is an acrylic lacquer and is suitable for outdoor service.

I may be killing myself, but I have found naval jelly to be pretty benign . I inevitably get it on me somewhere and unlike some things I have used , there is no burning sensation or immediate pain and I have not seen any lasting damage from short term contact. I do wash my hands , etc if I get it on me , and I wouldn't want to get it in my eyes .

I have a rather ancient home shop buffing wheel and there is nothing like it to shine up un anodized aluminum and chrome. Soaking pre cleaned brake s in vinegar makes them look factory fresh.
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Old 05-24-18, 02:54 AM
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Crumpled Aluminium foil and water work pretty well for scrubbing rust off chromed steel surfaces. Smaller parts i usually dip into Hammerite.
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Old 05-24-18, 08:45 AM
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Rummaged a bit for prices and found white vinegar (Walmart) at $2.50/gal. Oxalic acid is $10+ for 12 oz of powder, which is ~72 tspns which works out to $0.30/gallon once you have the
container from HD. Sam's cola is dilute phosphoric acid and works well as a rust remover and passivator as the phosphate coating inhibits further rusting. It sells for $0.84/ 66 oz or
$0.013/oz. So for one shot use cheap cola is the lowest cost, for treating lots of stuff repeatedly, oxalic acid is the way to go. Naval jelly is gelled 20% phosphoric acid.

Kovkov: what is hammerite in Switzerland? In US it is a paint optimized for rusty surfaces but also a brand of many types of paint sold by ICI.

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Old 05-24-18, 09:09 AM
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"EVAPO RUST" is also very good for soaking away rust without damaging other plating's or paint. Not the cheapest but not too expensive. Be careful with white vinegar as I've had it remove some metal plating (Nickel or chrome?) in as little as 3 hours of soaking.
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Old 05-25-18, 07:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Crankycrank View Post
"EVAPO RUST" is also very good for soaking away rust without damaging other plating's or paint. Not the cheapest but not too expensive. Be careful with white vinegar as I've had it remove some metal plating (Nickel or chrome?) in as little as 3 hours of soaking.
+1 on Evaporust. I use it on vintage woodworking hand tool restorations. It's very safe and if you leave a part in it too long, the part won't be damaged like it could with acid. Evaporust only attacks the iron oxide. To a certain extent, it is reusable and when it's no longer usable, it is chemically safe so you can simply pour it on the ground, but I wouldn't recommend pouring it into city drainage/sewer systems.
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Old 05-26-18, 12:24 PM
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Another tool is Ballistol. (

From the website: "At the turn of the 20th century, the German Imperial Army began looking for a multipurpose oil that could be used to clean and maintain the metallic parts of a rifle, while also protecting its wooden stock and a soldier’s leather gear."

It is non-toxic and if you let a tool or metal part soak in it the rust will just come off with a plastic pot scrubber. I have used it on antique tools, parts, and deep sea fishing reels with great success, It also successfully cleaned the rust from a set of old Rigida chromed bicycle rims, and a chromed seat post.

Good stuff. As with many items, the larger can is far, far cheaper..
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Old 05-26-18, 01:06 PM
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Electrolytic Rust Removal Aka Magic
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Old 05-26-18, 01:39 PM
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Good to see everyone successfully removing rust from their bikes. Allow me to offer a little of my recent experience.

I usually use acid, and because I don't have a safe/ appropriate way to soak something as big as a frame, I saturate strips of paper towel to wrap around the frame on the rusty parts and it works a treat. But, it's a massive pain in the arse, so I decided to try something different. This:

In the products defence, I didn't follow the instructions to the letter. On the package it says 'won't damage paint' so I went to town on my rusty forks and smeared the rusty bits with a good layer of this (bright green) filth. Instead of removing it after 20 mins and re-applying, I forgot all about it and it was left overnight. Next morning I washed it off only to discover my not-yet-rust-free forks now also had bright green stains where the product had been applied. Nothing has shifted these stains so far - my last resort tomorrow will be to apply some t-cut and see if that helps. I'll post an update if I have any success.

So. Acid. And paper towels. And if it's warm. some plastic to wrap over it so it doesn't dry out. Sometimes I wonder why I don't just ride it rust and all...
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Old 05-26-18, 02:25 PM
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I have used a polish I found called Quick-Glo, it's a white paste in a small tub, a bit gritty, smells next to nothing. Grime, tarnish and rust comes off very easily on most metals I've tried it on. It works differently than most other polishes I've used. That said, sometimes you have to try different things to get staining and rust completely off.
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Old 05-27-18, 12:05 PM
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Another vote for Ballistol. It has been a multi-purpose go to for years. Very handy when working on my vintage BMW motorcycles.
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Old 05-27-18, 12:08 PM
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except for srtipping and repainting or re chroming, its more abatement than removal .
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Old 05-27-18, 07:56 PM
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I learned about soaking parts in diesel fuel from an old Russian gunsmith. It's amazing on aluminum alloy parts. It also effectively dissolves iron oxide rust off steel alloy parts. And, it's dirt cheap.
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