If you’re tired of removing rust by hand, you’d be surprised how easy it is to build your very own electrolytic rust removal system!
[James Taylor] is in the process of restoring a very old lathe. Most parts were small enough to simply remove the rust, paint, and grease via chemical stripping and bead blasting, but he ran into a problem with the 40kg lathe bed. It’s painted and if he chemically strips it, he needs to rinse it — which might result in even more flash rusting.
He looked up electrolytic rust removal, and was a bit suspicious of how simple and effective it claimed to be, but he decided to give it a shot anyway. He picked up a big 160L rain barrel, 6 pieces of rebar, some copper wire, and a computer power supply.
The process is simple. Add some soap flakes, fill the barrel with water, and dangle your item to be cleaned inside the solution. Connect the power supply to the rebar (positive) and your part (negative), turn it on, and wait for some bubbles. The rebar acts as a sacrificial material and you will create hydrogen and oxygen gas as the reaction occurs. For a part this large, you probably want the system outside or in a well-ventilated area.
It’s still not done yet, but [James] can already see the paint on the metal flaking off and rust clearing up.