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[oletrucks] interesting de-rust experiment

To: virtualvairs@corvair.org, oletrucks@autox.team.net,
Subject: [oletrucks] interesting de-rust experiment
From: mark@noakes.com
Date: Sat, 25 Oct 2003 19:58:26 -0700 (PDT)
I suppose that many of you already knew this but this is new to me...

One of my hobbies other than old vehicles that I also don't have time for is
woodworking.  In my latest issue of ShopNotes magazine, issue 72, they have an 
on using electrolysis to get rid of rust from woodworking tools...so I thought 
I would
experiment on vintage vehicle parts...a pair of never installed Corvair quick 
arms that had some pretty heavy surface rust.  I would normally wire brush 
these to get
them clean...almost bad enough to required sandblasting.  I tried the first one 
for two
hours with about a 90% reduction in rust.  I ran the second arm for 6 hours and
absolutely no rust left...just clean metal with a coat of black oxide-like 
material on
it that scrubs off.  It really works.


Typical car battery charger

plastic tub

washing soda ( I had never heard of it before, but found it easily in the 
laundry section)

tap water

a chunk of non rusty steel


basically fill the tub with enough water to cover the parts to be de-rusted and 
add 1
tablespoon of washing soda for every gallon of water.  hook the positive clip 
from the
battery charger to the donor chunk of steel and put it in the water.  hook the 
clip from the charger to the part to be cleaned and submerge it in the water. 
set the
charger on the lowest current setting; then and only then plug in the charger.  
in a few
minutes, you start to see bubbles coming off the part to be cleaned...this 
verifies that
it is working.  The donor steel part gets really nasty; the water gets pretty 
dirty with
a rust color, but the part to be cleaned loses all its rust and comes out 
covered with
black gunk that scrubs off.  You still need to do something with the bare 
iron or it will soon rust again, but the rust is gone.  I just sprayed these 
parts with
Eastwood cast iron gray.

The bubbles that come off are hydrogen so this needs to be done in a ventilated 

What I'd really like to try it on is rusty exhaust manifolds...I bet it would 
have to
sit for about a week, but it would be interesting to see what can be done 
sandblasting.  I can't see how it could eliminate all the pitting, but it might 
leave more of the real metal than sandblasting would.  I also have some tools I 
want to
try but will need a bigger tub.

Mark Noakes
oletrucks is devoted to Chevy and GM trucks built between 1941 and 1959

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