[Top] [All Lists]

Re: [oletrucks] Further adventures in rust removal

To: mark@noakes.com, oletrucks@autox.team.net
Subject: Re: [oletrucks] Further adventures in rust removal
From: Cadamsarch@aol.com
Date: Tue, 28 Oct 2003 12:07:11 EST
Hello OleTruckers,

Thanks, Mark, for spearheading the rust removal discussion: very interesting.

Stovebolt dot com     http://www.stovebolt.com/      has an article: 
"Electrolytic Rust Removal: by Ted Kinsey. He presents an alternative to those 
of us 
contemplating driving our OleTrucks into the neighbor's pool, or the Gulf of 
Mexico. (Is rust removal what the Coast Guard was attempting when they sunk the 
Cuban Amphi-AD?)  He suggests using an electrolyte wetted sponge with a 
backing electrode to clean spots on large objects or things that shouldn't be 

He also mentions (I suppose for those times when the power grid misbehaves) 
using Coke-Cola to remove rust. Before dentists used stainless steel for 
braces, did they gave Coke to patients to control rust?

Further info on hydrogen embrittlement (as it affects zinc plating) can be 
found at:
     http://www.finishing.com/2200-2399/2278.html     .

It's not surprising your steering arms aren't made of hardened steel. I don't 
know much about hardened steel, except, it is brittle. When it fails, it 
fractures fast and dramatically--like my continually knocking  chips out of my 
cold chisel's cutting edge. Mild steel is softer. It bends and mushrooms before 
it fails, giving advance warning that it is time to repair or replace. I'd be 
hard pressed to chip a mild steel 16 penny nail the way I chip my cold chisels, 
unless it happens to be a really cold Minnesota winter day, when even Chevy 
AD's won't start, and when a rubber band will shatter when dropped to the shop 
floor. I don't know what steel is in steering arms, but I am happy it's not 

Regards, keep up the good work, and drink Coke for a rust-free mouth,

Culver Adams
1951 Chevy 3100, still above freezing in Minneapolis
In a message dated 10/27/03 9:28:51 PM Central Standard Time, mark@noakes.com 

<< Subj:     [oletrucks] Further adventures in rust removal
 Date:  10/27/03 9:28:51 PM Central Standard Time
 From:  mark@noakes.com
 Sender:    owner-oletrucks@autox.team.net
 Reply-to:  mark@noakes.com
 To:    virtualvairs@corvair.org, oletrucks@autox.team.net, 
napco4x4@yahoogroups.com, Old-Burb-club@yahoogroups.com
 After my prior post on electrolytic rust removal, I got a few more 
suggestions and a
 couple of challenges as to how safe this technique is from various lists and 
so did some
 more checking with the following comments.  The most important thing to note 
is I'm just
 a hobbyist like you guys exploring what my options are and reporting 
results; I'm not a
 professional in this field.  Treat the info accordingly.
 1--White Vinegar can also be used to clean some rust; I haven't tried this 
one but
 others have reported that it works.  It shouldn't have any negative effects 
per below.
 2--A more thorough treatise on electrolytic de-rusting can be found at:
 For some reason, I couldn't get the whole document to print though.  If you 
intend to
 try this technique, read that whole article.
 3--There is one major concern with electrolytic cleaning and that is hydrogen
 embrittlement.  ShopNotes (my experiment reference) didn't mention it at all 
(but in all
 fairness, their interest was in cleaning tools), but the site in item 2 does 
even though
 they treat it mundanely.  After a comment from one email that I had ruined 
my steering
 arms, discussing this issue with a PhD metallurgist specializing in hydrogen
 embrittlement and a little further study, I came up with the following:
 * The issues are embrittlement of the metal due to hydrogen takeup and 
possible stress
 cracks from hydrogen buildup in the material around internal defects in the 
 Hardened steel tends to be susceptible; softer material is not usually.
 * Hydrogen embrittlement is temporary.  it will go away on its own after a 
few weeks or
 can be removed by heating the treated object to about 160C for about 14 
 * Obviously the stress cracking that may occur during hydrogen embrittlement 
would be
 permanent and could lead to catastrophic failure of the object, hence the 
reason for not
 using this technique on safety-related items.
 * Sodium bicarbonate electrolytic cleaning is mild and would not normally be 
a problem
 on any steel for an hour or so.  However the effect is time, material, and 
 dependent; at the very least, hardened steels should not be treated for 
 * Final suggestion is don't use this technique on hardened steel such as 
springs and
 restrict use on any high strength steel components...such as steering arms 
 suspension components, etc.  Stick to good old sandblasting for hardened 
steel.  The
 electrolytic technique is fine for non structural items or anything that is 
not high
 strength steel.  Of course,  my interest in this technique was that I didn't 
have a sand
 blaster, and I have had parts damaged by over zealous commercial blasters 
that I have
 taken parts to. 
 *  Since I had already treated my steering arms, one suggestion to determine 
 was to use a file on a safe portion of the object.  If the file can readily 
 material, then the object is relatively soft and was probably not affected.  
The file
 cut into the one I tried fairly easily...shouldn't these be pretty hard?  
I'll probably
 see if I can get them tested at the local university metallurgy lab to see 
if they are
 ok.  The only way to be sure is not to electrolytically treat critical parts.
 4--I tried another experiment, this time with the center mount tail light 
assembly from
 a 50s era Suburban tailgate; these are very rare and I have managed to 
collect two
 complete units plus most parts for a third. This particular unit had heavy 
rust inside,
 so much so that I couldn't even begin to work the nuts on the internal screw 
studs to
 take things apart to restore it.  Sandblasting would have ruined it.  I put 
it in the
 bath for about 12 hours and it reduced the rust about 80%,  to the point 
where I can
 work with the internal parts.  I'll disassemble it as much as possible and 
and then dunk
 the subassemblies that need it again.  There are no structural issues with 
this part so
 the dunk time is not an issue.  This is the kind of cleaning task for which 
 electrolytic technique is perfect.
 oletrucks is devoted to Chevy and GM trucks built between 1941 and 1959
oletrucks is devoted to Chevy and GM trucks built between 1941 and 1959

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>