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Removing rust from rims and spokes?

Old 08-22-13, 12:23 PM
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davey67
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Removing rust from rims and spokes?

How in the hell do I remove rust from wheels and spokes?

I tried metal rescue but could not get enough immersion and could not justify getting enough to get immersion because it cost $25 per gallon!

I tried a spray product (forgot the name) and it seemed to work ok on surface rust on the rims but did almost nothing on the spokes.

Is there a way to remove rust from both the spokes and the rims?

Please help!
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Old 08-22-13, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by davey67 View Post
How in the hell do I remove rust from wheels and spokes?

I tried metal rescue but could not get enough immersion and could not justify getting enough to get immersion because it cost $25 per gallon!

I tried a spray product (forgot the name) and it seemed to work ok on surface rust on the rims but did almost nothing on the spokes.

Is there a way to remove rust from both the spokes and the rims?

Please help!
I just restored two rims off of an old Schwinn. I took aluminum foil and got it a tiny bit wet with water and scrubbed away at every spoke front and back for hours. Yes, it was a lot of work, but they look great and the foil takes off rust but doesn't scratch the rims.

I wanted to get metal rescue but couldn't afford it myself either, on youtube they show a rim being only partially immersed and turned every few hours so that eventually you cover the whole rim.
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Old 08-22-13, 12:35 PM
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Anything you use that removes rust by abrasion will just provide a nice surface for the rust to reoccur unless you coat the surface somehow. Make sure before you put the time into rusted spokes that they turn freely on the nipple!
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Old 08-22-13, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by cny-bikeman View Post
Anything you use that removes rust by abrasion will just provide a nice surface for the rust to reoccur unless you coat the surface somehow. Make sure before you put the time into rusted spokes that they turn freely on the nipple!
Good point, there are rust prevention sprays for metal surfaces that are cheap to buy.
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Old 08-22-13, 01:14 PM
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As much as I like steel, I draw the line at rims. Heavy, crummy braking, rust -- toss 'em and relace the wheels if the hubs are worthwhile.
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Old 08-22-13, 01:16 PM
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I've used #00 steel wool and elbow grease on spokes, Nevr-Dull and elbow grease on rims the last I tackled a job like that. The Nevr-Dull leaves a paste wax-like finish which seems to do a good job of keeping rust at bay. It was such a hassle that next time I will probably just swap the rims for aluminum ones and rebuild using stainless spokes. Rim brakes on steel wheels suck, anyway, especially in the wet.
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Old 08-22-13, 10:25 PM
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I've been doing:

Rims - tinfoil dipped in degreaser, scrub away

Spokes - steel wool, scrub away. I've heard that WD40 on the steel wool helps, but it never seems to make an appreciable difference for me. Skipping it means you don't have to worry about getting WD40's oily residue on the rim's braking surface. Anyway, spokes are really hard to access on all sides without going crazy and removing them, so I usually just settle for "good enough."
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Old 08-23-13, 05:54 AM
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Steel rims - toss.

Rusty spokes - toss. Because you probably won't be able to adjust them, I bet the nipples are frozen.
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Old 08-23-13, 06:34 AM
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I used CLR with one of those kitchen sponges which is two sided, with one side being more abrasive, made out of some kind of plastic I think. It took a while, but between both sides of the sponge soaked in the CLR, it removed almost all the rust from the spokes.

Tom
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Old 08-23-13, 06:42 AM
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Originally Posted by FastJake View Post
Steel rims - toss.

Rusty spokes - toss. Because you probably won't be able to adjust them, I bet the nipples are frozen.
I'd tend to agree with this, except in the case of original wheels on a bike with potential for collectors' value, in which case, scrub away.

I have dipped chromed bits with surface rust in an oxallic acid solution and got good results.
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Old 08-23-13, 06:45 AM
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oxalic acid. Get a powder at a good paint store and mix w/water. Fantastic stuff and inexpensive. Soak any rusted parts for 8-12 hours and the rust is gone. Be mindful of leaving your soaking buckets around pets and kids, and take basic precautions for yourself. It's not terribly harmful when diluted but play it safe and handle with care.
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Old 08-23-13, 09:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Number400 View Post
oxalic acid. Get a powder at a good paint store and mix w/water. Fantastic stuff and inexpensive. Soak any rusted parts for 8-12 hours and the rust is gone. Be mindful of leaving your soaking buckets around pets and kids, and take basic precautions for yourself. It's not terribly harmful when diluted but play it safe and handle with care.
Not sure if you would have any idea/experience but if so, how do you think oxalic acid compares to kerosene for rust removal?
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Old 08-23-13, 11:46 PM
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OA actually dissolves (probably not the correct chemistry term) the rust leaving bare white metal. Remove loose rust, degrease and just soak for 8-12 or 24 hours or more depending on OA bath strength and then rinse. Leaving it in the OA solution too long tends to turn the metal a bit yellow/green.

Kerosene and other solvents just act as lubricants to help free the loose stuff.
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Old 08-24-13, 07:14 AM
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When I first read the claims about oxalic acid, I thought they were too good to be true. Not so! The stuff works great on chrome plated surfaces, and not too bad on other platings. 1 tablespoon per gallon of water and dip for a few hours - even overnight. The rust is gone and the chrome looks great. Don't try it on aluminum though.

Rusty spokes should be replaced except if they are chrome plated and have mild rust you may want to try the oxalic acid dip.
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Old 08-24-13, 08:43 AM
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I have never tired kerosene but imagine that it will get things very clean but not chemically dissolve the rust. What's nice about OA, is that you can dip things like vintage rubber handlebar grips, stickers, etc...and they come out like new.

Don't forget to wax or treat the freshly de-rusted bits to protect them..

Also, 00 steel wool does a pretty nice job cleaning and polishing chrome. You would be amazed.

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Old 08-24-13, 09:55 AM
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Submerge in white vinegar for a day or two. It's so cheap and it works. $3-4 for a gallon at your local grocery.
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Old 08-24-13, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by dsbrantjr View Post
I've used #00 steel wool and elbow grease on spokes, Nevr-Dull and elbow grease on rims the last I tackled a job like that. The Nevr-Dull leaves a paste wax-like finish which seems to do a good job of keeping rust at bay. It was such a hassle that next time I will probably just swap the rims for aluminum ones and rebuild using stainless spokes. Rim brakes on steel wheels suck, anyway, especially in the wet.
+1 on the steel wool. I used this technique (minus the nevr-dull) to restore an old .22 rifle I inherited from my dad recently. It worked quite well and didn't scuff the metal at all, or remove any of the bluing. It takes the rust off pretty quickly too, especially if it's just surface rust, which IME most of the rust usually is. I'm always surprised at how little the metal is usually damaged.
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Old 08-24-13, 11:03 AM
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This will come with caveats but you might consider electrolysis,

https://www.google.com/search?output...Oeqc0QW0noHQAg

Washing Soda, Car Battery and other bits along with a sacrificial bit of steel/iron. Negative on the bit you wish to remove rust from and positive on the sacrificial bit of steel/iron.

Some articles claim it converts the rust back to iron whilst others claim it removes the rust.

I have used it successfully with surface rust on wheel axles, a freewheel/sprockets and small washers/nuts. For the small stuff I 'bag' them up in an aluminium cage made out of the mesh used to fill holes in car bodies. I haven't tried it extensively but it does do the job.

The caveats are effects on other metals. In the above the aluminium does not appear to be affected but other metals might not be so happy.

One of the big warns is anything involving Chrome. In my, limited, experience as connected above Chrome is not removed from the target piece. Connected the other way around it will be and that results in Hexavalent Chrome in solution. It is carcinogenic and subject to regulations for disposal.

Perhaps best left alone...
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Old 08-24-13, 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by bobn View Post
Submerge in white vinegar for a day or two. It's so cheap and it works. $3-4 for a gallon at your local grocery.
-1 for me.

I've tried this and it dissolved the chrome on chrome plated parts. The acetic acid in the vinegar also ate away at the steel of many parts making them very rough (like steel sand paper). I would NOT recommend this.
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Old 08-02-15, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by FastJake View Post
Steel rims - toss.

Rusty spokes - toss. Because you probably won't be able to adjust them, I bet the nipples are frozen.
How can ya toss out a set of 1959 schwinn traveler rim is beyond me.
Before 200 grit Sand paper



After 200 Grit S.P.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg
rustyyy.jpg (96.0 KB, 265 views)

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Old 08-02-15, 11:44 AM
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  • Removing rust with abrasives requires some sort of coating afterward to prevent rust from reoccurring, and may remove some of the chrome.
  • Removing/converting the rust with chemical methods at best leaves plain steel (which can rust) or a paintable surface (black, grey, white). Nothing will restore the chrome, so the rim will never look as good as new.
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Old 08-02-15, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Jumpa View Post
How can ya toss out a set of 1959 schwinn traveler rim is beyond me.
Before 200 grit Sand paper



After 200 Grit S.P.

Sandpaper on chrome?
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Old 08-02-15, 01:17 PM
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Yep - grit in sandpaper is harder than chrome. The most aggressive thing you should use is steel wool.
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There's no such thing as a routine repair.

Don't tell me what "should" be - either it is, it isn't, or do something about it.

If you think I'm being blunt take it as a compliment - if I thought you were too weak to handle the truth or a strong opinion I would not bother.

Please respect others by taking the time to post clearly so we can answer quickly. All lowercase and multiple typos makes for a hard read. Thanks!
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Old 08-02-15, 01:26 PM
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SOS pads always worked great for me.
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Old 08-02-15, 02:04 PM
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Yes that's steel wool plus soap.
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There's no such thing as a routine repair.

Don't tell me what "should" be - either it is, it isn't, or do something about it.

If you think I'm being blunt take it as a compliment - if I thought you were too weak to handle the truth or a strong opinion I would not bother.

Please respect others by taking the time to post clearly so we can answer quickly. All lowercase and multiple typos makes for a hard read. Thanks!
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