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Thread: Electrolytic Bore Rust Removal

  1. #21
    Boolit Buddy
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    Used to use this a lot with farm fresh tools. Negative (black) lead from battery charger goes to the item for de-rusting, red goes to the sacrificial anode (I always used a stainless steel pan lid).

    Sent from my LG-H918 using Tapatalk

  2. #22
    Boolit Buddy Rapidrob's Avatar
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    I've been using this method for about 35 years now. I use an old computer power supply where the output can be adjustable from 5-14 VDC and several amps under load.
    You want to avoid stainless steel rods like the virus. A poisonous gas will be released. A common steel or machine steel rod is all you need. I use very small O-rings placed several inches apart to prevent the rod from touching the lands of the barrel and shorting out.The solution will clean the grooves with no issues where the o-rings are.
    I rubber cork the breech end to prevent leakage with the rod centered and 1/2 way into the cork.
    The muzzle end is O-ringed and a plastic funnel is heated up and slipped over the end of the barrel. This provides a water tight seal. If it does dribble, hot melt glue will seal it up and does no harm to the bluing.
    The funnel body acts as a reservoir for holding the electrolyte solution. As it cleans you will clearly see the scum form on the top of the funnel. The funnel also prevents the crud from over flowing and making a mess.
    The start of the process is easy to see as you can look into the funnel and see the gas bubbles almost instantly form and rise to the top. This shows you it is hooked up properly and is working. If you do not see bubbles within 10 seconds, stop. You have a short or the solution with the Washing Soda is too weak to conduct current.
    After a few hours you can add new solution and check the bore rod. The rod should be cruddy black covered from iron oxide that has been plated to it. The barrel and solution will be warmer than room temp. It will never get hot.
    You can add a safe cleaner to the solution to aid in removing non metallic deposits from the bore. Dawn and Simple Green work well.
    You want to make sure other cleaners are bluing safe.
    A small amount of hydrogen will be given off. Just use it in a room with normal ventilation,nothing special with fans is needed.
    You can scale up the process for rusty gun parts by using a plastic bucket, cat litter container or large plastic dog food container.
    The cleaning you get has to be seen to be believed.
    Tap water is fine. Distilled water is not needed at all.
    The instructions for after cleaning posted above should be followed.

  3. #23
    Boolit Buddy pcmacd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blpenn66502 View Post
    Used to use this a lot with farm fresh tools. Negative (black) lead from battery charger goes to the item for de-rusting, red goes to the sacrificial anode (I always used a stainless steel pan lid).

    Sent from my LG-H918 using Tapatalk
    Stainless steel has chromium in it, which makes your resulting solution seriously dangerous. Good old rebar would be much safer.

  4. #24
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Let us know how the barrel looks and shoots after your done.
    Hell, I was there!

  5. #25
    Boolit Buddy pcmacd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swheeler View Post
    I do believe this is backwards. Red+ to the barrel, Black - to the rod is how should be hooked up.https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/s...32&action=viewhttps://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/s...un+barrel+clea

    I built this one decades ago, used it on many many milsurps and it does a fine job, hooks up and runs just like Foul Out III barrel is always the anode +, but I'm removing lead and copper, maybe some rust too.
    If I understand your position, I respectfully disagree with your notion that the positive connection is to the barrel for removing rust.

    Metal ions (i.e. RUST) follow the current flow, from negative to positive.

    --->>> That's just basic physics, sir. <<<---


    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rust

    See section entitled "Treatment."



    If you have had success with the configuration you outline (assuming I understood it? It was a little confusing) I am sitting here scratching me 'head wondering how.

    Everybody gets an opinion. We are not always right, including me.

  6. #26
    Boolit Master

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    Electrolytic Bore Rust Removal

    http://www.frfrogspad.com/homemade.htm
    Bottom of page. Froggy’s info. How to make the device, solutions, even Ed’s Red +.
    Good info.

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  7. #27
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcmacd View Post
    If I understand your position, I respectfully disagree with your notion that the positive connection is to the barrel for removing rust.

    Metal ions (i.e. RUST) follow the current flow, from negative to positive.

    --->>> That's just basic physics, sir. <<<---


    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rust

    See section entitled "Treatment."



    If you have had success with the configuration you outline (assuming I understood it? It was a little confusing) I am sitting here scratching me 'head wondering how.

    Everybody gets an opinion. We are not always right, including me.
    Yes I have had much success using it the way described to remove copper and lead, cupro nickle too I believe. I did post two youtube links also. I'm not a big wiki fan

    Like the picture shows RED to BARREL- BLACK TO ROD. You know sacrifice a little copper or lead to the cathode ROD
    Last edited by swheeler; 05-26-2020 at 11:26 AM.
    Hell, I was there!

  8. #28
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Hell, I was there!

  9. #29
    Boolit Buddy pcmacd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swheeler View Post
    Yes I have had much success using it the way described to remove copper and lead, cupro nickle too I believe. I did post two youtube links also. I'm not a big wiki fan

    Like the picture shows RED to BARREL- BLACK TO ROD. You know sacrifice a little copper or lead to the cathode ROD
    Indeed, SWHEELER, you are correct here about polarity. Apparently I just boiled off rust with the agitation of the hydrogen/oxygen bubbles.

    Wrap your brain around this (wikipedia, "current" was the subject I hope?) : Click image for larger version. 

Name:	charge flow.jpg 
Views:	6 
Size:	51.3 KB 
ID:	263443

    I posed the polarity and electrolyte question in a forum haunted by chemists, and here's what I got back:

    <begin quote>

    What you are attempting to do is to ELECTROPOLISH the metal. In an electropolishing setup, the work piece is always the ANODE (+) while the cathode can be any number of different conductors. There are as many varied combinations of anode & electrolyte as there are metals to electropolish and so what you are attempting to do can get very complicated. However, I will point out that, as the kids say nowadays, "you're doing it wrong..." - steel electropolishing should always be done at low pH and typically using a concentrated acid mixture of phosphoric and sulfuric acid. Doing it a high pH is going to evolve a lot of hydrogen at the work piece which will not only fail to properly reduce the metal surface but also likely cause hydrogen embrittlement. Hopefully this rifle barrel will never actually be used....

    The first step in any electropolishing process is to physically CLEAN the metal surface of any rust, smut or dirt. This usually requires a stiff brush, a cleaning solution (typically containing a surfactant) and, if necessary, a very light polishing clothe. Then the steel surface should be PICKLED in concentrated hydrochloric acid to reduce any oxides. The pickling process can take several minutes to several hours depending on how heavy the build up is. Finally the part should be rinsed (multiple times) and dried. Once the surface is prepped, you then attach the work piece to the positive (+) anode and your cathodes (-) to the negative terminal.

    Depending on the geometry of the part, it is often good practice to have multiple cathodes surrounding the workpiece. This will cut down on current density variations. Electropolishing is typically done at a constant voltage to avoid overcurrents and "burning" the part. You want to apply enough voltage to remove any remaining oxides and begin polishing (dissolving) the metal but not so much voltage that you electrolyze the water in solution thus forming hydrogen gas. If you are getting lots of hydrogen evolution at the work piece, your voltage is set too high and that will tend to cause surface roughness variation well above tolerance.

    Concentrated sulfuric and phosphoric acid mixtures are used because they are very viscous and high conductivity solutions that help to remove metal at a decent rate without evolving too much hydrogen gas. If the part is stainless steel, the current will eventually reduce in magnitude as the chromium reforms the passivation layer. Low grade steels will tend to over etch and so you must visually inspect the workpiece. After the piece is sufficiently polished, you want to immediately remove the part and rinse it thoroughly in flowing deionized water baths. Finally, if passivation is required, one typically finishes the part in a concentrated nitric acid soak to help fully form the oxide passivation layer (and, of course, rinse and dry the part when you are done).

    If the work piece is attached to the cathode, you will get plating of metal onto the surface. But what likely is happening is not polishing or plating but oxygen evolution essentially blowing off all the junk on the surface. By doing it in reverse, you risk plating out contaminants onto the surface which will make the mar the work. Electropolishing is a very complicated process and so you should investigate it a little more so you don't damage anything you value. There are metal workshops out there that will electropolish to order but you usually have to give them a large enough order or wait a long time until they can add your part to a batch process.

    Look up "metal finishing services" and you might be surprised what you find...these guys are local to me and they do some pretty cool custom work (including rifle barrels....) -

    >end quote<

    Note that "low pH" means an acidic environment. Why in the world is Borax a favorite, as it is the opposite, a "base" or "caustic???"

    I have SERIOUS reservations regarding CONCENTRATED SULFURIC, HYDROCHLORIC, OR PHOSPHORIC acids inside a barrel to "pickle" it? They do that with 20 ton steel ingots before they heat them red hot and roll them. I don't think this applies to the insides of a gun barrel... but who knows???

    In intend to try this again with the correct polarity using a mild phosphoric acid as the electrolyte. Coke is good for that, as is the CLR product for removing mineral and rust stains from sinks and such. CLR might be a better bet, as Coke is so dark it might be difficult to find what one is bringing off the barrel (I learned in the sixties that Coke was awesome for removing rust from bumpers. Nobody could say why, but it has scads of phosphoric acid in it. Good for teeth? Well, what do YOU THINK????)

    In fact, I have read multiple posts on using CLR for a carbon and rust removal solution in rifle barrels in conventional cleaning scenarios

    mac

    The guy wrote the above was domiciled in Tucson. http://www.cmf-capitalmetalfinishing...lishing-photos

    Thanks again to y'all.
    Last edited by pcmacd; 06-09-2020 at 08:07 PM.

  10. #30
    Boolit Grand Master

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    pcmacd; I have used a brass cleaner made by Birchwood Casey that is a solution of phosphoric acid and soap, might be perfect for your use inside a barrel? I also have some "aluminum boat cleaner" it is in the shed so I don't have the name right now, but it is Formic acid and may also work for you, I'm careful not to get it on my skin when using it but removes tarnish instantly, just spray on/ hose off. Scot
    Hell, I was there!

  11. #31
    Boolit Buddy Rapidrob's Avatar
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    Most caustic acids will remove gun blue.
    Phosphoric Acid and Citric Acid will remove most deposits and not damage the bore of the firearm.

  12. #32
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcmacd View Post
    Indeed, SWHEELER, you are correct here about polarity. Apparently I just boiled off rust with the agitation of the hydrogen/oxygen bubbles.

    Wrap your brain around this (wikipedia, "current" was the subject I hope?) : Click image for larger version. 

Name:	charge flow.jpg 
Views:	6 
Size:	51.3 KB 
ID:	263443

    I posed the polarity and electrolyte question in a forum haunted by chemists, and here's what I got back:

    <begin quote>

    What you are attempting to do is to ELECTROPOLISH the metal. In an electropolishing setup, the work piece is always the ANODE (+) while the cathode can be any number of different conductors. There are as many varied combinations of anode & electrolyte as there are metals to electropolish and so what you are attempting to do can get very complicated. However, I will point out that, as the kids say nowadays, "you're doing it wrong..." - steel electropolishing should always be done at low pH and typically using a concentrated acid mixture of phosphoric and sulfuric acid. Doing it a high pH is going to evolve a lot of hydrogen at the work piece which will not only fail to properly reduce the metal surface but also likely cause hydrogen embrittlement. Hopefully this rifle barrel will never actually be used....

    The first step in any electropolishing process is to physically CLEAN the metal surface of any rust, smut or dirt. This usually requires a stiff brush, a cleaning solution (typically containing a surfactant) and, if necessary, a very light polishing clothe. Then the steel surface should be PICKLED in concentrated hydrochloric acid to reduce any oxides. The pickling process can take several minutes to several hours depending on how heavy the build up is. Finally the part should be rinsed (multiple times) and dried. Once the surface is prepped, you then attach the work piece to the positive (+) anode and your cathodes (-) to the negative terminal.

    Depending on the geometry of the part, it is often good practice to have multiple cathodes surrounding the workpiece. This will cut down on current density variations. Electropolishing is typically done at a constant voltage to avoid overcurrents and "burning" the part. You want to apply enough voltage to remove any remaining oxides and begin polishing (dissolving) the metal but not so much voltage that you electrolyze the water in solution thus forming hydrogen gas. If you are getting lots of hydrogen evolution at the work piece, your voltage is set too high and that will tend to cause surface roughness variation well above tolerance.

    Concentrated sulfuric and phosphoric acid mixtures are used because they are very viscous and high conductivity solutions that help to remove metal at a decent rate without evolving too much hydrogen gas. If the part is stainless steel, the current will eventually reduce in magnitude as the chromium reforms the passivation layer. Low grade steels will tend to over etch and so you must visually inspect the workpiece. After the piece is sufficiently polished, you want to immediately remove the part and rinse it thoroughly in flowing deionized water baths. Finally, if passivation is required, one typically finishes the part in a concentrated nitric acid soak to help fully form the oxide passivation layer (and, of course, rinse and dry the part when you are done).

    If the work piece is attached to the cathode, you will get plating of metal onto the surface. But what likely is happening is not polishing or plating but oxygen evolution essentially blowing off all the junk on the surface. By doing it in reverse, you risk plating out contaminants onto the surface which will make the mar the work. Electropolishing is a very complicated process and so you should investigate it a little more so you don't damage anything you value. There are metal workshops out there that will electropolish to order but you usually have to give them a large enough order or wait a long time until they can add your part to a batch process.

    Look up "metal finishing services" and you might be surprised what you find...these guys are local to me and they do some pretty cool custom work (including rifle barrels....) -

    >end quote<

    Note that "low pH" means an acidic environment. Why in the world is Borax a favorite, as it is the opposite, a "base" or "caustic???"

    I have SERIOUS reservations regarding CONCENTRATED SULFURIC, HYDROCHLORIC, OR PHOSPHORIC acids inside a barrel to "pickle" it? They do that with 20 ton steel ingots before they heat them red hot and roll them. I don't think this applies to the insides of a gun barrel... but who knows???

    In intend to try this again with the correct polarity using a mild phosphoric acid as the electrolyte. Coke is good for that, as is the CLR product for removing mineral and rust stains from sinks and such. CLR might be a better bet, as Coke is so dark it might be difficult to find what one is bringing off the barrel (I learned in the sixties that Coke was awesome for removing rust from bumpers. Nobody could say why, but it has scads of phosphoric acid in it. Good for teeth? Well, what do YOU THINK????)

    In fact, I have read multiple posts on using CLR for a carbon and rust removal solution in rifle barrels in conventional cleaning scenarios

    mac

    The guy wrote the above was domiciled in Tucson. http://www.cmf-capitalmetalfinishing...lishing-photos

    Thanks again to y'all.
    Pcmacd: I certainly hope you did not "hydrogen embrittle" the barrel but do fear the worst. I use 2 1.5 V batteries in series and my solution is 1 part vinegar, 1 part ammonia and 2 parts distilled water. On some really fouled up mil surps I have ran 2 full 45 minute cycles, changing solution at end of the first cycle and restarting, I have never felt the barrel get warm let alone hot. If I shot it I think I would strap it to a tire with a bungee and hide behind my car just incase! Good luck
    Hell, I was there!

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
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LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check