Electrolytic De-Rusting Tank Project

Share pictures of your workspace/garage/shop, as well as any information about tools, tips and tricks that you have/use around your shop.
User avatar
Jeff Rice
Global Moderator
Posts: 4902
Joined: 15 Jan 2004, 08:48
Location: Brooklet, Georgia,USA,Earth

Post by Jeff Rice » 16 Mar 2007, 08:59

You are quite right.
My tank is outside.
The vapors can be dangerous (if you stand over the tank and breath the fumes).
(But probably nowhere near as dangerous as using my welder as a power source :shock: ...)
Jeff 8)

Sudsy wrote:<snip>
By the way Jeff, i have read on another forum that using stainless as the other metal on the electrical setup you have apparently causes toxic gasses. I don't know if this is correct but worth checking out. Probably o'k in well ventilated area.

User avatar
Tom Osborne
Studebaker Racing Team Member
Posts: 1699
Joined: 30 Oct 2005, 16:07
Location: Port Alberni British Columbia Canada

Post by Tom Osborne » 17 Mar 2007, 02:09

Molasses, yes indeed, this is terrible stuff , and If you are constipated it will clean you out like a new born baby,, make you cross eyed ,,,, dont jump or watch scarry movies for atleast a week.
"First by far with a post war car"

User avatar
Lon Miller
Studebaker Racing Team Member
Posts: 34
Joined: 09 May 2006, 13:37
Location: Walla Walla, WA

Re: Electrolytic De-Rusting Tank Project

Post by Lon Miller » 17 Mar 2007, 02:30

Jeff Rice wrote:Spent a few hours yesterday building something I had scrounged parts for for over two years. I found a place shutting down that had about a dozen of these fiberglass tanks that were used for something... Beats me what for... But I thought they would make great trash cans. They do, but they hold water.
Last time I was at the scrap place I bought a end cut off of a roll of stainless steel sheet.. Yesterday I trimmed and bent up the sheet metal to make a four sided liner for one of the tanks. Image
The wife had bought me a box of washing soda from the store a few months ago... Put about two cups of soda in there and filled it up. Image
I hooked it up to a battery charger I had, but the charger I had is an automatic one and needs to see a charge before it will turn on, so I just hooked up a battery to it with the charger hooked up to the battery. Hung a rusty old Stude head in there and hooked it up.... Had to re-re-read the internet to make sure the polarity was correct (neg on the part, pos on the tank wall).. Started working right away. Took the head out and hosed it off after an hour or so and it was amazing to see how much rust had come off (and how nasty that head really is) But the battery charger isn't up to the job. Reading further on the internet, someone was using power supplies from computers, and one guy even hooked his welder up. Screw the power supplies from computers, I've had to replace them on computers, so this contraption would fry it quick :roll: . Soo,,,, I hooked up the welder on the lowest setting and tried that. That worked great. Won't actually contine to use the welder, but wanted to know if the concept was plausible.
Anybody have a suggestion for a cheap-ass power supply to use?
Jeff 8)


Don't know of a really low buck power supply. Possibly an alternater off a truck driven by an electric motor. I have a feeling you can hussle them things without severe payment. I use a 60 Amp battery charger. Have been doing this for some time. It will heat up and burn the insulation off a #10 copper wire because we use a real heavy amount of additives to the water. I use a 55 Gal. plastic drum. There is only one word of caution. Do not use stainless steel for cathodes. It will produce hex type chromates in the solution. You don't want to make any of that stuff. The tank itself is nice to have in stainless and is not a problem. Use mild steel for cathodes. Best to to use carbon or graphite blocks. This is what I use because I have access to really big pieces. Got them from a nuclear facility that was being torn down. As our tank is not used to clean aluminum the solution is a heavy concentration of lye. Laundry detergent is also dumped in, to help attack the grease that has turned to tar, along with the soda. A guy I know that had a chrome shop says that it is difficult to use too much. The set up is a real labor saver for the really tough jobs. The other day it was used to clean up some diesel engine parts. The engine dates from 1922 and had never been cleaned. Did not even bother to use a steam cleaner or even a putty knife on the 1/2 inch thick encrustation. Have gotten that lazy. It takes only a few hours even for parts like these. But if you don't use lye it will take longer. The more amps the better. I believe that heating the solution would be highly benificial. I use the rig for cast and steel parts. Also never had a problem with brass and copper although I watch them carefully. Have never hurt a part.

-53 Studebaker Champion. A/GCC Land Speed Car.
-70 Chevelle LS-6. Stock with build sheets.
-71 Camaro. With Baccus built 502, alloy rect. port hds, trans brake and air locker.
-41 Harley Knucklehead.
-1907 Majestic
-1911 Ideal

User avatar
Nick H
20 - 59 Posts
Posts: 56
Joined: 15 Jan 2006, 01:03
Location: Twin Cities

Post by Nick H » 10 Apr 2007, 22:10

Here's a terrible idea. Instead of using a 60 amp 12 volt battery charger (60A * 12V = 720 Watts) I was thinking about hooking up my Onan Generator (6500 Watts). That should do it in about a tenth the time.


User avatar
Jeff Rice
Global Moderator
Posts: 4902
Joined: 15 Jan 2004, 08:48
Location: Brooklet, Georgia,USA,Earth

Post by Jeff Rice » 11 Apr 2007, 09:54

While fun to watch, after cranking up the welder, I got kind of nervous seeing how hot the cables were getting...
I do think there is a point of diminishing returns...
A point that I do not wish to explore..
Jeff 8)

Nick H wrote:Here's a terrible idea. Instead of using a 60 amp 12 volt battery charger (60A * 12V = 720 Watts) I was thinking about hooking up my Onan Generator (6500 Watts). That should do it in about a tenth the time.

0 - 19 Posts
Posts: 2
Joined: 26 Aug 2007, 08:34

Post by leyrret » 31 Oct 2007, 06:49

I derusted my entire car body using this method. Built a anode gride to reach
into tight areas. Lowered into tank I built out of plastic and plywood. I use
PH increaser for a swimming pool(sodium carbonate) with 12 volt battery charger. More current seems to speed it up but don think it"s necessary.
Some references say better to do it slow. Adding more sodium seems to speed process a little.
Picklex is expensive and as I understand it's Posphoric acid based.
I use concrete cleaner and rust remover(also phosphoric acid) from Home Depot at about 13.00 a gallon to prevent to remove flash rust and coat it until I paint it.

Post Reply