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Best Method for Removing Rust from Lathe Ways

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  • Best Method for Removing Rust from Lathe Ways

    Alright guys, picked up an old 6-18 Craftsman, little bit of surface rust on the ways. Whats the best way to get this off without damaging the metal.
    • Steel Wool
    • Rust Removing Chemicals
    • Electrolytic
    • Other


    I'm trying to avoid anything that requires full immersion if possible since I don't have a container at the moment to hold the full bed.

    Any suggestions?

  • #2
    Since you can't immerse then electrolytic is out of the question and chemical would be a mess. I would use steel wool. It is not abrasive against the bed but will have a burnishing effect - just don't overdo it and do not try to remove discoloration and staining - just the rust.
    "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel"

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    • #3
      Rust removal

      On guns with a little surface rust I oil and let sit for a few days so the oil soaks into the rust. Then lightly scrub with green Scotchbrite (for pots and pans). Oftentimes I can get the rust off without damaging the blued finish and you can't even tell there was any rust.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by jep24601
        Since you can't immerse then electrolytic is out of the question and chemical would be a mess. I would use steel wool. It is not abrasive against the bed but will have a burnishing effect - just don't overdo it and do not try to remove discoloration and staining - just the rust.
        +1

        If it is very light surface rust use 0000 steel wool + WD40 or similar as a penetrant.

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        • #5
          I don't like steel wool on any precision surface, and, it does not get into the rust pits.

          Degrease with diluted purple cleaner, then use "evaporust". Soak towels in the solution, cover with plastic food wrap, replenish the solution a few times. Wipe off with non-abrasive scotch brite pad.

          Search on "evaporust". Many posts on this site.

          BTW... for immersion, a "container" for a lathe bed can be made from wood and lined with plastic sheet.

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          • #6
            Chemical rust remover is not messy and is the best way to do this job. "Evaporust" works well but is way too slow unless the part can be submerged in it or the solution can be flowed continuously over the rust with a pump. The best way to do this is with Phosphoric acid available at most any building supply under several different brand names for rust removing, just read the label and make sure it is Phosphoric acid. Ospho is probably the most well known and has been around for many years for this purpose but other brands of the same chemical can be found at hardware stores or auto parts stores. Phosphoric acid is mild and is not like handling something like muriatic acid or the like, I don't even wear gloves when using it usually but it probably is a good idea. Phosphoric acid will work quicker than anything else and if the rust is just light surface rust it works almost instantly to dissolve the rust but pitted areas or heavier rust may take some scrubbing with steel wool also. The phosphoric acid will take out rust all the way to the bottoms of pits and any rust it comes in contact with that does not get removed will be converted into a non active form. Phosphoric acid is a safe and very effective way to de-rust those parts and is a very handy chemical to have around the shop because of it's ability to instantly remove light rust from tools, it is the same acid that is found in soft drinks so it is hardly a poisonous chemical to handle.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by lakeside53
              I don't like steel wool on any precision surface, and, it does not get into the rust pits.

              BTW... for immersion, a "container" for a lathe bed can be made from wood and lined with plastic sheet.
              IMO, steel wool is still a quick, effective and inexpensive method to remove light rust. You'd have to rub for some hours with 0000 steel wool to create micron measurable wear on likely hardened ways, agreed, those tiny pits are still going to be there, rust included, however, they will not progress when the way is kept properly lubed, same goes with using Evaporust.

              Good tip on the box and plastic liner.

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              • #8
                I used scotchbrite and WD40 - worked a treat!
                Peter - novice home machinist, modern motorcycle enthusiast.

                Denford Viceroy 280 Synchro (11 x 24)
                Herbert 0V adapted to R8 by 'Sir John'.
                Monarch 10EE 1942

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                • #9
                  Ken_shea : The evaporust will chase the rust completely out of the pits...

                  I also have used various abrasive methods over the years fro very ligh surface rust. The best solution always depends on the extent of the rusting.

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                  • #10
                    Why would you want to get the rust out of pits? It's not doing any harm in a pit and it won't corrode any more once the oil starts flowing.
                    I also find scotchbrite to be a little more abrasive than oooo steel wool.
                    Last edited by jep24601; 08-30-2010, 12:41 PM.
                    "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel"

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                    • #11
                      Because it's there.. I'm in the camp that says rust has no place on machine, covered in oil or not.

                      There are many grades of scotchbrite - from no-grit (just woven nylon) to very aggressive.

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                      • #12
                        You can use the electrolytic method, just sandwich a paper towel soaked in electrolyte between the way and your electrode plate.
                        Paul Compton
                        www.morini-mania.co.uk
                        http://www.youtube.com/user/EVguru

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by lakeside53
                          Because it's there.. I'm in the camp that says rust has no place on machine, covered in oil or not.

                          There are many grades of scotchbrite - from no-grit (just woven nylon) to very aggressive.
                          LOL,
                          Yeah, that's probably reason enough.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by EVguru
                            You can use the electrolytic method, just sandwich a paper towel soaked in electrolyte between the way and your electrode plate.
                            I used a terrycloth towel soaked with a soda solution and a piece of angle iron for an electrode to de-rust a surface grinder. Cleaned it down to the scraping marks and no further, pulled the rust out of the pits too. Worked great.

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                            • #15
                              Phosphoric acid is the quickest simplest way of doing this and is what has been widely used for the last hundred years or so. Evaporust works but is very slow as is electrolytic methods which also would be difficult to do in this situation. Really the Phosphoric acid works so fast and so well there is hardly anything that can compare to it for ease of use and the fact it not only converts any missed rust into an inactive form, plus leaving a rust resistant phosphate coating, makes it about the best choice for rust removal.

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