Electrolysis Tank

8pack

Veteran Member
Lifetime Gold Member
Aug 29, 2007
3,018
Western, MA
I have been trying to decide how I want to get rust off of a bunch of larger parts on my ‘55 F250 like my front axle, spring packs and others as I wasn’t thrilled with the sandblasting solution and the rust removers like rust 911 are too expensive for larger parts. I thought this might be interesting and useful to the folks on here.

I decided to build an electrolysis tank. It is less than a 1/2hr effort if your have scrap wood and sheet plastic laying around. I just started today and in about 15 minutes am this far….see pic below.

18” wide 7” deep and right now 7ft long but I can adjust it to be shorter so I don’t need as much water.

Fill the “tank” with water. Get several pieces of 3ft rebar or longer if your like. By some washing soda or baking soda and google how much to add per gallon, what I have seen online is about 1 tablespoon per gallon. You also need a battery charger. Put whatever part you want to remove the rust from in the tank and attach the negative lead of the battery charger to the part to be cleaned and the positive lead to the rebar or sacrificial anode. THIS IS JUST A HIGH LEVEL DESCRIPTION. GOOGLE to get detailed instructions.

Work in progress. I need to lay the plastic in and screw it all together so it doesn’t fall apart. Just some 4x4 s and other scrap wood laying around. It is in the garage at the edge of the door so I can just drain it out the door when done. I didn’t want a mosquito factory outside. That said, the door needs to be open when running or lots of ventilation as hydrogen gas is created in the process.

This is a cheaper and easier way to remove rust from parts that can be submersed. It just takes a little extra time as you probably need to let it run about 6 hrs in most cases and possibly repeat the treatment for heavy rust.

Will post again when it is up and running.

This is the very early stages of construction.

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Coadster32

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Lifetime Gold Member
Oct 2, 2013
2,328
Milford,CT
The process is very effective. I used to do this when I restored old Wheel Horse Tractors. I used a plastic garbage can as my tank.
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Below is a tractor frame in the tank. You can see the sacrificial metal plate in there also.

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Plater Tom

Veteran Member
Feb 2, 2003
1,526
Mt Pleasant, Pa. USA
I have done this with very good results also. When my electrician brother in law saw what I was doing, he cautioned me to be very careful. Wear Rubber Gloves and TURN OFF THE BATTERY CHARGER WHEN YOU ARE PUTTING PARTS IN OR TAKING THEM OUT.
 

8pack

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Lifetime Gold Member
Aug 29, 2007
3,018
Western, MA
For those of you who have done this, does the part have to be suspended in the tank or can it lay on the bottom? I assume it would need to be flipped over at some point. Kind of hard to get a 9 leaf 3/4 ton spring pack suspended in there although I do have an engine hoist if necessary.

If it does need to be suspended can I rest it on some wood blocks?

I have read that baking soda is not caustic but Washing soda is and both achieve about the same result. So from a safety perspective it sounds like baking soda is the way to go.

Yes, turn off battery charger before disconnecting from the cathode and anode so there are no sparks!
 

Coadster32

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Lifetime Gold Member
Oct 2, 2013
2,328
Milford,CT
I used washing soda..back then, didn't hear about using baking soda. I suppose it would work.

Mostly I suspended my smaller parts mostly, and got good results. The bigger ones, like in the picture, I just flipped over.

Know that when you pull your parts out of the tank, they'll have a tendency to "flash rust". I pulled them out, washed them with dawn, blew them off with compressed air, and then hit them with primer right a way. If you look at the finished rim in my picture above, you can see a slight ting of flash rust on it.
 

8pack

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Lifetime Gold Member
Aug 29, 2007
3,018
Western, MA
Locked all the wood up so it won’t fall apart when I add water and put the liner in. Need to get rebar and baking soda and dig out some copper wire to connect up the rebar. I am going to put large nails in the tops of the tank sides to attach the electric clips to and run copper wire from the nails down to the rebar and to the piece being de-rusted.

Will be a couple of days before the next update. Tied up all day tomorrow and Weds.

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70lt1z28

Veteran Member
Gold Member
Oct 3, 1999
4,727
Beavercreek, Ohio, USA
About what amperage of battery charger works for this? I want to try it on my seat frames. I have a 12 amp charger. Does lower amperage just take longer to work?
 




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