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About to jump into my first electrolysis project. Couple questions...

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Forum topic by Holbs posted 03-16-2015 05:27 AM 1018 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Holbs

1372 posts in 1491 days


03-16-2015 05:27 AM

I am in dire need of rust removal for my refurb project of a Jet 15” planer. You can see the rust I am going to go up against:
http://lumberjocks.com/Holbs/blog/52522
I’ll be using Evapo-Rust for the dinky parts (washers, bolts, etc). Electrolysis for the larger parts (rollers, tables, etc).

1.) 2 amp VS 10 amp. My manual battery charger is a Schumacher model SE-12-50. Lowest setting is 10 amp. From what I have researched to date, 10 amps works aok. But there is a concern that so many amps could be ‘too fast’ to put iron back into the part. Can any 10 amp users comment on their success/difference as compared to 2 amp users ?

2.) anodes. I’ll be purchasing some steel rebar this week. I have seen different configurations. 1 rod, 2 rods on both sides of part, 4 rods at corners, etc. It seems to be hit & miss. If electrolysis is somewhat Line Of Sight, would it make sense to have a high number of anodes nearly encapsulating, even considering rods under or over the top of the part?

3.) This might sound stupid… but i’m not 100% sure what material all of my rollers, rods, and columns are. Might have to call Jet and ask. The infeed/outfeed rollers look to be stainless steel…which I know is a NONO for electrolysis. Other parts are so heavily rusted, I can not tell.

4.) tables. if i flip the table upside down so the rusted table is submerged by 0.3mm or so while leaving the rest of the painted body above the water… what effect will this have?

-- Yes, my profile picture is of a Carpenter Bee! The name is derived from the Ancient Greek "wood-cutter"


18 replies so far

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

4216 posts in 1661 days


#1 posted 03-16-2015 05:35 AM

1) 10 amp charger is fine.. it’s what I use and it only uses about an amp.
2) no need to buy anything.. find some scrap metal and use that. Dumpster diving can get you all you need. Throw them in there however you can. If it’s not ideal, it will just take a bit longer. Don’t worry about it.
3) doesn’t matter.. stainless, cast iron, aluminium, plastic, your old pants.. whatever, throw it in. won’t hurt it.
4) none. Dunk as much or as little as you want, let it do it’s thing, rotate and repeat. Although you might have better success (and faster results) by finding something you can stand the table top in on it’s side, so one half is in the bath, other half is sticking out. Old rubbermaid storage tubs work great for that.

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

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Holbs

1372 posts in 1491 days


#2 posted 03-16-2015 05:37 AM

brad… i thought certain metals were not advised for electrolysis: copper, stainless steel, etc. Kept mentioning health hazards like in Erin Brokovitch movie.

-- Yes, my profile picture is of a Carpenter Bee! The name is derived from the Ancient Greek "wood-cutter"

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MrUnix

4216 posts in 1661 days


#3 posted 03-16-2015 05:43 AM

Maybe for the anode which needs to be a ferrous metal (hence the rebar suggestion by many). But for the cathode (the parts getting de-rusted), it doesn’t matter.. throw it in.

This might help you out: http://wiki.vintagemachinery.org/RustRemovalByElectrolysis.ashx

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

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bonesbr549

1176 posts in 2529 days


#4 posted 03-16-2015 01:12 PM

I used a kitty litter bucket and some rebar. It will eat steel pretty quick. Depending on how much you are going to do with determine how much or how many rods. I was doing some reloading dies. I put one piece of the rebar i bought upright on one side of the bucket and attached to the plastic bucket by drilling a couple holes in the upper part of the bucket and fishing some 12/2 wire through and around the bar to fix it to the side so it was vertical and touching the bottom of the bucket with the rod above the bucket about 6”.

I then drilled (on the opposite side of the square bucket), two holes near the top of the bucket big enough to slide another piece of the rebar through both holes so it was horizontal above the liquid.

Attached some 12/2 (stripped) to the part and around the horizontal rod submerged in the liquid.

attached the bat charger I have that is 10amps and left it in the garage. It started bubbling immediately

I checked it in about an hour and it was amazing how well that stuff works.

I put it back in for a couuple more hours and it was perfect.

Remember that’s nasty stuff and the gas that comes off if in volume is bad news if exposed to spark.

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

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MrUnix

4216 posts in 1661 days


#5 posted 03-16-2015 02:09 PM

Remember that’s nasty stuff and the gas that comes off if in volume is bad news if exposed to spark.

It does create a filthy nasty mess in the container, which is why I try to use evapo-rust whenever possible; much easier and less mess. Whatever you use as the container will be useless for anything else after you are done. The rust/gunk slime that results will be near impossible to clean off:

But I gotta mention the explosion concern… IMHO, it’s way overblown. Yes, the result of electrolysis is the release of hydrogen and oxygen, but in very small amounts which is quickly dissipated into the atmosphere. I have made many HHO generators, which produce copious amounts of the gas… much more than what is produced via electrolysis… WAY more. And they produce lots and lots of very large bubbles, very quickly… with electrolysis, the bubbles are tiny, sometimes barely noticeable until you wait a while for them to build up a bit on the surface. Yet, even with the HHO generators, you can take a BBQ lighter and pop the large bubbles coming up and floating on top of the electrolyte without any fear. You will get a loud pop as it ignites (actually kind of fun), but nothing that would do any damage or cause injury.

Of course, you don’t want to let the gas concentrate in large quantity (unless you are capturing it on purpose and using it for something like a HHO torch – which work really, really well by the way). Doing it in the garage, on the patio, or even in a spare room in the house will have enough space for the gasses to harmlessly dissipate. Most of the warnings are pretty much CYA statements, and if used in a reasonable way, the danger of explosion or fire is pretty much non-existent. It’s only when you are, on purpose, capturing and containing the gasses that a danger exists… use common sense, don’t keep your electrolysis tank covered so the gas can dissipate, and have at it.

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

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Firewood

93 posts in 1096 days


#6 posted 03-16-2015 02:27 PM

The surfaces to be cleaned need to have line of site to the anode for best results. For small parts I set up 4 pieces of rebar in a mud bucket. I used grounding clamps attached through the top of the bucket to attach them.

-- Mike - Eagle, WI

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JohnDon

61 posts in 631 days


#7 posted 03-16-2015 09:05 PM

Re: amps- the higher the amps, the faster rust is converted, but also generates more heat, which could be a factor if you use a plastic container. While electrode size, shape, and distance from each other all affect amps, the easiest way to control current (amps) is by changing the concentration of your electrolyte (washing soda, or whatever you use). Diluting it with water will lower the amps, and adding more powder will increase the amps.

For large cast iron surfaces (table saw tops or jointer beds, for example), an easier way is to make an electrolysis “sandwich”, using a flat steel sheet as an anode and a towel soaked with your electrolyte solution as the “filling”, separating the anode and the rusted surface. That way, you don’t need to wrestle with heavy pieces, or find a big enough tub. Also, you can target specific areas of the surface which might be more rusted, by making the sandwich just in those areas.

You do need to keep an eye on the towel, though, because the heat generated will tend to dry it out. Re-moisten with water (not more electrolyte), or your electrolyte concentration in the towel could get too high. With heat, water evaporates, leaving electrolyte crystals in the towel.

View Greg In Maryland's profile

Greg In Maryland

550 posts in 2460 days


#8 posted 03-16-2015 11:41 PM

Keep in mind thst you do not want a trickle charger.

Also, everything I have read indicated that stainless steel is a no-no witb electrolysis. I risked electrolysis with stainless steel.

Evpo-rust is `safe` on a variety of metals and may be a good solution with questionable metals.

Good luck,

Greg

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Holbs

1372 posts in 1491 days


#9 posted 03-17-2015 02:02 AM

JohnDon… that is a great idea for large surfaces. Will keep that in mind. However, I am seriously thinking of electrolysis all cast iron, eliminating the paint, resealing and repainting. Unsure as of yet.

Greg. My battery charger is not trickle, nor automatic: it’s a manual 10/30/50 amp fast charge power booster. I, of course, will just use the 10 amp selection. Luckily, it was sitting in my garage unused for a couple years so comes in handy now. I will have to read up more about a stainless steel for the part, not anode. Also luckily, found Evapo-Rust at Harbor Freight today.

-- Yes, my profile picture is of a Carpenter Bee! The name is derived from the Ancient Greek "wood-cutter"

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macatlin1

78 posts in 2405 days


#10 posted 03-17-2015 09:34 AM

When I needed to clean rust of my 60 year old table saw top I made a simple frame out of 2×4’s and set them on my temporary assemble table (old door on saw horses). To water proof my “tank” I used several layers of painters tarp being careful not to hit (and puncture) the tarp when placing the heavy top in position. To hold the re-bars over the table I drilled holes along (what was to be) the top edge and then ran the re-bars through the holes and then connected everything with #12 wire and band clamps.

Once I got the tank filled with water and washing soda I simply clipped my battery charger to one of the re-bars and applied power. If I remember correctly, I needed to use the 6V setting because the charger was getting warm.

Then It was just sit back and wait. To avoid building up an explosive gas cloud I opened the garage door about 4 inches and opened the attic hatch. Natural convection fueled by a hot attic pulled air through the garage and exhausted it out the roof.

Rust removed. Note there will probably be some blackened areas where the rust had eaten below the surface where brushing and sanding won’t reach. It will just add character…

View Greg In Maryland's profile

Greg In Maryland

550 posts in 2460 days


#11 posted 03-17-2015 05:50 PM


Keep in mind thst you do not want a trickle charger.

Also, everything I have read indicated that stainless steel is a no-no witb electrolysis. I risked electrolysis with stainless steel.

Evpo-rust is `safe` on a variety of metals and may be a good solution with questionable metals.

Good luck,

Greg

- Greg In Maryland

Oh my, Sister Christinia would smack me for such poor writing and spelling. I mean to say:

Keep in mind that you do not want a trickle charger.

Also, everything I have read indicated that stainless steel is a no-no with electrolysis. I have not risked electrolysis with stainless steel so I do not have personal experience with that.

Sorry for the complete lack of coherence.

Greg

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

4216 posts in 1661 days


#12 posted 03-17-2015 06:32 PM

Stainless should not be a problem as long as you don’t use it for the anode (although, many people do as it lasts much longer.. there are some grades that are better suited for the task than others IIRC). Stainless as the cathode is not a problem, however it should not be very rusty due to the ‘stainless’ nature, and is usually pretty easy to clean/polish without electrolysis… bar keepers friend, stainless polish, nevr-dull, etc…

As a side note.. I’m pretty sure that you need to ingest chromium in order to have any health effect. It’s been used for thousands of years in metallurgy, dyes and pigments, tanning leather, wood preservatives, etc… so if you do use it for the anode… don’t drink the electrolyte after use :)

Of course.. if you are concerned or just don’t want the risk… don’t use it. YMMV.

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

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daddywoofdawg

1010 posts in 1037 days


#13 posted 03-18-2015 02:21 AM

From what I have read,if you hook your charger up to a 12V battery and the battery like you would with the charger you get a even flow and better results.

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MrUnix

4216 posts in 1661 days


#14 posted 03-18-2015 02:42 AM

From what I have read,if you hook your charger up to a 12V battery and the battery like you would with the charger you get a even flow and better results.

From the VM wiki (http://wiki.vintagemachinery.org/RustRemovalByElectrolysis.ashx):

Never tried it, so I don’t know if it works any better or not. Seems like more hassle though (and not everyone has a spare battery sitting around!).

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

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MNclone

187 posts in 1046 days


#15 posted 03-18-2015 02:46 AM

I didn’t find that putting a battery in the circuit made a difference, but it may depend on the charger.

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