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Help needed for rust removal.

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Ww1 British entrenching tool completely rusted over, any tips for how to remove at least some of if not most of the rust. 




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Have a look at this thread,


Other people prefer citric acid.




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reese williams

I'd recommend electrolysis for that piece. You can rig up an electrolysis set up in a few minutes. A five gallon plastic bucket would be perfect for your e-tool. Water and baking soda, washing soda or trisodium phosphate, some scrap ferrous metal for sacrificial anodes and a power supply that puts out anything in the range of 12 to 30 volts at 1  to 5 amps. A home battery charger is great. Some of the newer battery chargers have a smart circuit that will shut then off and so need to be routed through a battery. I uses laptop pc power supplies. they put out around 19V at 3-4 amps. A couple of pieces of rebar or old lawn mower blades for the anodes. There is plenty of on line info on how to build a set up. The nice thing about electrolysis is you can vary the final finish to suit your needs. When you take it out of the bath, hose it off with clear water and allow to dry. Then clean it with a wire wheel, steel wool or a stiff scrub brush. A very light touch with a fine wire wheel will leave you with a dark grey matte finish. From there you can go as far as you want all the way to a bright shiny polished steel.


I've used electrolysis for 30+ years on all kinds of restorations. I use baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) at about 1 heaping tablespoon per gallon of water. More won't hurt. If the piece has oil or grease on it I add TSP. Remove as much loose rust as you can by wire brushing, steel wool, whatever. Scrub on spot as clean as possible where your wire will clamp on.


Before anyone piles on about references to wire wheels, I use a multitude of grades of wheels depending on the work from coarse cheap ones for things that don't matter to very fine, very expensive ones used for polishing gun bluing. This was a quick and dirty explanation, use and misuse of a wire wheel in restoration is a whole subject in itself.


Alternatively you could use a chelating agent like molasses or the quicker commercial products like Evap-o-Rust. I use and like Evap-o-Rust for a lot of projects. Both electrolysis and chelating agents will remove paint and bluing from items.

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You can also combine methods. E.g. last year I cleaned a dug up steel WWII German 7.5cm Pak 40 cartridge case back to clean bare metal by doing the heavy lifting with electrolysis and then finishing it off with a dip in dilute citric acid.


Also depends how much of a rush you’re in. Electrolysis is the fastest, followed by citric acid and then molasses. If the e-tool head were mine, I’d probably just chuck it in some citric acid as it is cheap, effective and simple.

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