Electrolysis Tank Question

Wed Jan 05, 2005 8:21 am

Was wondering what the result is of a part that still has paint on it and rust. Are you suppose to remove paint first? Does this solution remove paint or is the rust the only thing affected? I visited Rudi's server with the 3 examples and didn't pick up on any procedures. Thanks

Electrolysis Tanks

Wed Jan 05, 2005 8:52 am

The electrolysis process tends to remove loose paint along with rust. I add a small amount of Drano to the vat to help loosen difficult paint spots. Some recommend against adding Drano but I have not detected any problems with it. Perhaps someone who thinks that it should not be used will explain why. Dan

Wed Jan 05, 2005 9:45 am

I have not yet tried it myself, but have closely watched to posts about it. From what I've read it will as Dan said remove loose paint, but since it is a reaction with the metal, if the paint is good and tight it may soften it, but does not competely remove it.

Wed Jan 05, 2005 9:45 am


I just pop it all into the tank. I usually let a part sit for a while. Time is of no consequence (or at least it wasn't a while ago :roll: ), so letting the part sit an extra 24 hours is no biggie. The average length of time for a cleaning cycle is 48 hours which is just arbitrary, but I have found that grease, goop, dirt, 99% of the paint and all of the rust is usually gone or removeable with the 4-1/2" grinder and a twisted wire brush.

Judging by your questions, it might be an idea to expand on the topic and put in a how to. This is not the first time and probably will not be the last time this question was asked.

Oh, also, it probably isn't needed. But I sometimes I will top up the tank with an extra cup or two of TSP. There is a point where it will make no difference, but that I doubt would be reached before one needed to drain and clean the tank.

In defference to Dan, I kind of disagree. I would never put Drano in the tank...... Drano is pretty caustic on it's own. Adding it to TSP or Washing Soda is to my mind kind of risky seeing as I regularily have my hands in the tank. Power off of course :roll: :D

Again my friend, thank you for the step. It arrived last night and it is a beautiful example of fine craftsmanship. From one to another - well done!

And the pics on your site are awesome - I am really looking forward to seeing the info on the 3 point hitch.! Just don't be looking at me to build a 6cyl Cub -- awesome !!!!!!

Wed Jan 05, 2005 1:55 pm

Regarding paint removal, I've had real good luck with the "purple stuff" degreaser you can buy by the 5 gal. bucket at most autoparts stores. I just dip small parts in it for 24-48 hrs and it'll take the paint completely off. I've also had good luck spraying it with a spray bottle or hand sprayer on a part followed by a blast from a plain water hose and getting 90% of the paint off. It's basically liquid lye so you gotta be careful with it. Will make you skin slippery and if you have a paper cut, it'll find it! :shock: Safety glasses are a must. I have heard of using lye as the electrolyte in electrolysis tanks and that it removed paint REAL well in addition to rust. Again you'd have to handle with care. Extreme care!

I gotta go ahead and rig my tank up, got some radiator shutters and planter parts for the Super A I want to "electrolysis-ize" I saw a big Rubbermaid tank at the feed store yesterday, I know it's really for watering horses but it would work nice to de-rust my rims..... :wink:


Wed Jan 05, 2005 3:53 pm

I just can't help myself - I gotta build a small tank like the one Jim Becker posted just to see it work...


Wed Jan 05, 2005 6:49 pm

I think I'll go all out and build one like Rudi's. How much voltage is the limit? I don't want to blow myself up. :shock:

Wed Jan 05, 2005 7:25 pm

Rick, a 12 volt charger is more than adequate. Although I would imagine you could safely go higher, I'm not sure the trouble or expense would be justified.

Wed Jan 05, 2005 7:35 pm

Thanks Bigdog. I think I'll keep it at 12 volts and not try to speed things up with 220. :?

Wed Jan 05, 2005 7:40 pm

Rick, don't know if it's on Rudi's website or not, but I've seen a couple warnings not to use the compact eletronic regualted ones that are becoming popular now. It seems they don't last. I think most people have found the elcheapo Walmart type units hold up quite well.

Wed Jan 05, 2005 7:42 pm

Don't forget you use DC. That 220 scared me.

Wed Jan 05, 2005 9:39 pm

I used Electrolysis all last summer on my parts tractor.I even did a block with two stuck pistons in it.They loosened up after six days.If you have something with bolts in it,it will also loosen them.I use a 12 volt battery charger with two settings on it 12volt/2amps ans 12volt/6amps. Make sure you connect your leads up first.Set the charger 12volt at 6amps,then plug in you charger.The charge will drop to almost nothing after it!s work is done.You will be amazed. 8) :)

Wed Jan 05, 2005 10:50 pm

beaconlight wrote:Don't forget you use DC. That 220 scared me.
Wonder if my 225 amp dc welder would speed things up a little? :shock:

Wed Jan 05, 2005 11:26 pm

I have had great fun with my tank. I recently scored a bigger charger (the kind that will start a car) and shifted to a bigger tank. The 'tank' was used to ship plastic and is like a big mouth 5 gallon tank, but about 20 gallons.

I just got done doing the front rims, it was very good for the rust, but again the well stuck paint was still stuck. I did find they would rust up pretty quickly (I only had dinner!) so very promptly wipe it down and grind off the paint and prime it.

Don't remember where I heard it, but the old charger had copper leads and I was always leery of getting them in the bath. The new ones look galvanized? I have some of those electrical 'clamp' connectors that I connect to the part and then the charger to that. I still try to keep it out of the water.

I found a quick wire brush of the rebar (anodes) help the process along.

Seems that most everything takes 2 days. Even the pins in the front axle. I should re-activate the 5 gallon bucket and old charger for doing the lug nuts other smaller parts.

It does seem wrong to pay for rebar.... guess I will have keep an eye out for free scraps from a job site.

I will NOT use my 'smart' charger.... that baby is reserved for the camper deep-cycle battery and vehicles.

Thu Jan 06, 2005 8:15 pm

Hi BillieandMillie,

I keep three/four vats going all the time. If a part has paint on it I just
leave it in the vat 48-72-84-96 hrs or maybe even a week, just depending
on how busy I am.

What I have taken to doing after removing from the vat is use a small
sandblaster. You can get them at Home Depot or Lowes for about $50.oo
and hold 30 lbs of blasting medium. You can also get smaller ones and
for hobby use they are great. I would recommend at least a 30 gal
tank and 2hp motor 2 stage compressor.

The part will be as clean as a new part. All paint, rust, crud, grease, etc
gone in a flash.