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Thread: Build your own Electrolysis Tank

  1. #1
    Senior Veteran Noskov's Avatar
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    Build your own Electrolysis Tank

    After doing some searching on how to treat the rust on the FAL I found this old thread on surplusrifleforum.com.

    I might give it a try after I get the go ahead from the FAL owner to try. This looks very promising, bad news would that the asking price may go up if it cleans up well.

    All credit goes to Gunfreak25 for the pics and step-by-step tutorial!

    ALSO...MAKE SURE TO FOLLOW SAFETY PRECAUTIONS SINCE THIS DOES DEAL WITH A LIVE CURRENT AND WATER!

    You will need

    -Wall charger (cell phone charger works great)
    -Tub large enough to submerge your part being worked on (or half submerged)
    -Copper wire
    -Baking soda
    -Steel rebar or plain steel rods, a couple of them atleast 4 or 5 inches in length will do

    Instructions.

    First take your wall charger, and cut the end off the wire, then strip an inch or two of the insulation off. Most of the time but not always, the positive wire has a white strip on it, or a red strip, something to signify it's positive. The negative is usually the single colored wire.

    Next take your tank and begin to fill it up with water, enough to completely (or half) submerge the part being derusted. Approximate how many gallons your filling to the tank with, and add 1 tablespoon of baking soda per gallon of water. The baking soda helps give the current something to move on.


    Next, lay down your steel bars or rods on the bottom of the tank. Keep them about 4 or 5 inches away from the part being derusted. Make sure all your rods are connected with one another using the copper wire, drape the extra wire off the side of the tank like so..


    Then, take the part that is going to be derusted and put it in the tank, make sure it makes no contact with the steel rods and the wire they're attatched too. Here is my rusted Gew 88 barrel jacket.


    Now take the wires of the wall charger (unplugged of course) and attatch the positive to the wire leading to the steel bars, and attatch the negative to the wire attatched to the part being worked on. Just make sure they do not touch or you will short out your charger.

    It should look like this when properly setup..


    So just plug it in and let the electricity do the work for you. After 5 minutes here's what my tank looked like. You know it's working when you see the bubbles coming off the wires.
    When the bubbles hit the surface, they are full of hydrogen gas. Not enough to start an explosion, since this is being done on a very small scale.


    After 2 1/2 hours my part was done. I unplugged the charger, and removed the barrel jacket from the tank. I immediately take this part to a running source of clean water such as the bathtub or the hose, and I use 0000 steel wool to wash off the black grime that comes off the cleaned metal. If done right the rust will be all gone, leaving behind your blued finish (if left in long enough it will eventually remove bluing).

    The amazing part is before putting my barrel jacket into the tank, I didn't do a single thing to it. It was covered in hard thick cosmo, grease and dirt. The electrolysis removed all of the cosmo which floated to the surface. So Electrolysis DOES remove cosmoline, how I don't know. But it does.

    Here's the jacket and receiver after electrolysis.
    Last edited by Noskov; 07-19-2010 at 02:07 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Veteran Noskov's Avatar
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    Some "Before and After" pics from members who used the same process.
    Last edited by Noskov; 07-19-2010 at 01:54 AM.

  3. #3

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    I work in copper plating and this called reverse or strip plating, the reason why the Cosmo is leaving is because it is carrying somewhat of a current and becomes a free ION that would rather go to the opposing voltage source..
    I love this kind of stuff!
    "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."
    Thomas Jefferson


  4. #4
    Senior Veteran bladeworks123's Avatar
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    This works pretty good, I have done it a number of times. There is one thing that you need to know in addition to the above. Make absolutely certain that the wall transformer puts out DC voltage and not AC. There are some AC wall warts out there. And they will cause your parts to either oxidize black on top of the rust, or add to the rust instead of removing it, depending on what grade of steel rods you have. In oxide marking and etching of parts, DC current is used to strip and AC current is used to deposit or plate.
    BATTLEMENT ARMS
    www.battlementarms.com

  5. #5
    holescreek's Avatar
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    Forgive me if I already posted this here, but this fellow has taken rust removal into the realm of science. Alot of good info:
    http://www.machinistweb.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1149

  6. #6
    Senior Veteran Noskov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by holescreek View Post
    Forgive me if I already posted this here, but this fellow has taken rust removal into the realm of science. Alot of good info:
    http://www.machinistweb.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1149
    Very nice. My dad has a bunch of rusted tools I can test this with instead of me having to sandpaper them.

    I would have to say though is to avoid Naval Jelly, I had read several bad experiences with it because it's rather strong. It'll eat through it's container after a while.

  7. #7

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    We use DC current to plate our copper plating, reverse current just strip plates reversing the IONS, the chemical sampling machines work the same way to test the bath Chems..wouldn't the same bath from a bore cleaner work the same ammonia and vinegar?
    Last edited by Buddymack; 07-20-2010 at 12:02 AM.
    "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."
    Thomas Jefferson


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