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Thread: Electrolytic Bore Rust Removal

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy pcmacd's Avatar
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    Electrolytic Bore Rust Removal

    OK. Call me clueless.

    I've poked around here and can't find specific information on getting the rust out of my 8x58RD Gustaf barrel.

    I understand how the electrolysis works, and have all the electronics needed to do such.

    I guess I need some rubber test tube plugs for the breach, and a couple drilled thru for the sacrificial steel rod to keep it from shorting out on the barrel?

    Somebody pint me in the right direction. This seems to make lots more sense, replenishing steel as rust in lieu of scraping it out of the bore?

    tanks

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    I remove rust from barrels using Washing Soda and a 12volt battery charger.
    But , I mostly do the whole barrel not just the bore.
    But I see no reason why you can't just put the Washing Soda mix in the bore.
    But most Barrels that I have seen that someone tried to do just inside the bore , ended up getting liquid on the outside and ruining the finish in some way.
    But the Kits they use to sell , did a good job on removing Fouling in the barrel , but rusted bores are a lot harder to do.
    I also just soak the barrel in vinegar to remove rust.
    But I plan to Reblue the rifles anyway.
    So the vinegar removes the old Bluing too.
    Adding a little Hydrogen peroxide to the vinegar mix makes it a little more potent.
    But the metal will rust again once removed from the mix if you do not neturalize the vinegar with baking soda and water washing.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    You can do it, plug the chamber, stick a rod down the bore, fill with solution, center it up top with an o ring, connect the charger and come back every few hrs to scrape off the crud , wire brush the bore, and repeat. FYI if it’s just built up fouling which can look a whole lot like rust the electrolytic process will work wonders. However if there is pitting, it will still be there and will still be sharp, you’ll never remove it or “ replenish” the steel.
    With pitted bores I like to run a brush with ospho/naval jelly/phosphoric acid and let it sit in the bore for about 10-15 mins then flush with hot soapy water, then clean as normal. This will take the sharp edges off the pits that trap and hold fouling and will make the barrel foul less. You can also do a fire lapping session on the bore to smooth them out further.
    NRA High Master XTC
    DR# 2125

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    You wont be replenishing anything ...the process simply lifts the oxide from the metal as a fine mud ,or anything else sticking onto the surface ......if you use a weak carbonate solution as electrolyte ,there is little possibility of corrosion of the bare steel......As mentioned ,when the rust is gone ,the pits may well have sharp edges .........Simple fact is the bore is ruined anyway ,all you are doing is removing the rust.....The chances of lifting a tight layer of metal fouling and finding a pristine surface underneath is about the same as winning the lotto.

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    Boolit Buddy pcmacd's Avatar
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    UPDATE: check the two new bore images, and see if you can tell which one was @beginning, and which one was after the third pass of electrolysis... these were taken in the same area, 12" from breach, 1 o'clock.

    AND... I initially wondered why some parts of my anode rod were covered with crap and other parts were nearly clean? It is because when I would top off from the chamber from the breach, the solution would not pass the first o-ring! Duh. Now I am using only two o-rings in lieu of three.

    ~~~~~
    I put a cork in the end of the 8x58RD Gustaf, put a 3/16" home despot well scoured steel rod down the tube with o rings to center it.

    Put 20 Mule Team Borax at the rate of 1/2 teaspoon per pint into the bore, hit it with various power supplies.

    The general setup shows the first power supply, but the other image is of a very serious instrument grade HP power supply capable of 50 volts and 10 amps.

    30 volts and 5 amps made the rifle too hot to handle, so I toned it down to what you see here in the display window of the p/s. That's about 16 watts; volts x current (amps) = power (watts). 15 watts ain't much, it makes the barrel barely warm to the touch in a 95F garage.

    It is extraordinary the amount of crap coming out of this bore. The first pass electrolyte looked like sewer sludge.

    At the end of round one flushed it all out and could not tell the difference in the bore.

    I observe it with my Teslong camera at a specific point and orientation every time so I can see changes. None yet.

    This is round two. Barrel is still uncomfortably warm at 12 volts and 1.3 amps. That's only about 15 or 16 watts. Not much.

    I'll let it run a while longer, rinse it out and WD40 the exterior, run some brushes down the bore and do it again overnight.

    Its been running a few hours now and I know it is not going to burn down the house.

    Thanks for all of your inputs.

    I would never have thought to do this, as easy as it is to do?

    This was just, oh so easy to do!

    And further, I just cannot believe the amount of crap coming out of this bore.

    Genius, y'all are! Why din't I think of this?????

    ~~~~~
    Cranked it up to 30 volts and 3 amps, that's 90 watts of power. The barrel is getting pretty hot. If it starts spitting electrolyte out the breach I guess I'll tone it down.

    Geez. Barrel is around 190F. I guess we will tone it down! Turn off for a few and blow a fan on it.

    I can see no difference betwixt now with all of the fulminate coming out the breach and before I started, according to the Teslong camera.

    ~~~~~
    p.s. a 12 volt battery charger would have done just as well as my fancy electronics; people even use wall warts from various electronic products they no longer have. It just might take a little longer if it does not have the current capability (current is energy flow...)

    Get the o rings at Harbor Fright. Just the cheap set with a 3/16" Chinese steel rod from Home Despot works for an 8mm barrel.
    Last edited by pcmacd; 05-18-2020 at 07:47 PM.

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    Boolit Buddy
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    Keep us updated. I have a M1917 that has a dark bore I might try that in.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    I used to do bore electrolysis. It works, but now I prefer to use Evaporust. It disolves the rust with absolutely no harm to the base metal.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    If excessive power is used (see above) ,there is a likelyhood of plating a thick iron deposit onto the newly cleaned steel........this rough black deposit is notably hard to shift.Whats needed is fractional amps at 2-3 volts ,in the case of a bore.When operated within the correct parameters ,the fine hydrogen gas bubbles liberated under the non conducting rust or whatever ,lift the rust from the surface,without plating an adherent layer of iron ,which is obviously not wanted.

  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy

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    Evaporust good stuff, non toxic and cleans up with water. Firing walnut media shells through the bore after evaporust will give it a bright shiny bore.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    In the 1990's I made up one to pull lead out of the bore. Used it some. Works for sure but I wondered if and when it would start getting hungry for barrel steel.
    Chill Wills

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    Boolit Buddy pcmacd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by john.k View Post
    If excessive power is used (see above) ,there is a likelyhood of plating a thick iron deposit onto the newly cleaned steel........this rough black deposit is notably hard to shift.Whats needed is fractional amps at 2-3 volts ,in the case of a bore.When operated within the correct parameters ,the fine hydrogen gas bubbles liberated under the non conducting rust or whatever ,lift the rust from the surface,without plating an adherent layer of iron ,which is obviously not wanted.
    How is this possible with the current going FROM the barrel TO the anode rod?

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Its actually a plating process .....in effect you are plating iron from the rod onto the steel bore......however ,due to unsuitable conditions ,the iron does not stick to the bore ,but remains as a black powder in the liquid (incidentally ,this is why beginner copperplating doesnt work.)....As a by product of the electrolysis of water ,hydrogen forms in tiny bubbles at the bore surface .......its a fact that the pressure in these tiny bubbles is great ,and they force off any impervious layer over the conducting bore surface.This can be rust ,fouling ,paint ...There are plenty of technical explanations of the electrolytic derusting process online ,no need to repeat it here.

  13. #13
    Boolit Buddy pcmacd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by john.k View Post
    Its actually a plating process .....in effect you are plating iron from the rod onto the steel bore......however ,due to unsuitable conditions ,the iron does not stick to the bore ,but remains as a black powder in the liquid (incidentally ,this is why beginner copperplating doesnt work.)....As a by product of the electrolysis of water ,hydrogen forms in tiny bubbles at the bore surface .......its a fact that the pressure in these tiny bubbles is great ,and they force off any impervious layer over the conducting bore surface.This can be rust ,fouling ,paint ...There are plenty of technical explanations of the electrolytic derusting process online ,no need to repeat it here.
    Got it. Thanks.

    Never gave a thought to the hydrogen bubbles helping to remove the rust.

  14. #14
    Boolit Grand Master
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    I have not used electrolysis, but I have used Evaporust on a .308 barrel that looked worse than a fifty year old sewer pipe. The bore was rusty, not copper or lead fouled, the rifle had sat in a corner for a couple of years with a leak in the roof that was funneled right to it.

    I taped the muzzle with electricians tape and filled the bore with a small funnel and let it sit overnight leaning up in the sink. It worked pretty well, still not spotless, but definitely shootable now.

    Robert

  15. #15
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by john.k View Post
    Its actually a plating process .....in effect you are plating iron from the rod onto the steel bore......however ,due to unsuitable conditions ,the iron does not stick to the bore ,but remains as a black powder in the liquid (incidentally ,this is why beginner copperplating doesnt work.)....As a by product of the electrolysis of water ,hydrogen forms in tiny bubbles at the bore surface .......its a fact that the pressure in these tiny bubbles is great ,and they force off any impervious layer over the conducting bore surface.This can be rust ,fouling ,paint ...There are plenty of technical explanations of the electrolytic derusting process online ,no need to repeat it here.
    If you use lower current, it will actually plate, according to some stuff I've read. Max a couple of hundred milliamps. Just don't hook it up backwards. It will eat the object you're trying to clean.

    Though I'm also fond of EvapoRust.

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    Boolit Buddy pcmacd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by john.k View Post
    Its actually a plating process .....in effect you are plating iron from the rod onto the steel bore......however ,due to unsuitable conditions ,the iron does not stick to the bore ,but remains as a black powder in the liquid (incidentally ,this is why beginner copperplating doesnt work.)....As a by product of the electrolysis of water ,hydrogen forms in tiny bubbles at the bore surface .......its a fact that the pressure in these tiny bubbles is great ,and they force off any impervious layer over the conducting bore surface.This can be rust ,fouling ,paint ...There are plenty of technical explanations of the electrolytic derusting process online ,no need to repeat it here.
    Sir, I believe that the direction of the migration of metal is the direction of the current.

    Thus, if the barrel is the cathode (negative, "-") then the sacrificial rod down the center is the anode (positive, or "+"), then the process is FROM the barrel TO the ROD.

    After all, that IS where the rust migrates when freed from the bore - to the rod, or anode.
    Last edited by pcmacd; 05-17-2020 at 10:22 PM.

  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy BigEyeBob's Avatar
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    Correct.

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    Boolit Master
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    If the "process " is from cathode (barrel surface) to the anode (rod) ,then why does the rod disappear?.....Its not as simple as thinking electric current goes "one way".......there is a great deal online about electroplating ,and electrolytic descaling processes,no point going over it here........But as mentioned ,reverse the process ,and you will have a smoothbore.....continue and the barrel disappears .

  19. #19
    Boolit Buddy pcmacd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by john.k View Post
    If the "process " is from cathode (barrel surface) to the anode (rod) ,then why does the rod disappear?.....Its not as simple as thinking electric current goes "one way".......there is a great deal online about electroplating ,and electrolytic descaling processes,no point going over it here........But as mentioned, reverse the process ,and you will have a smooth bore.....continue and the barrel disappears .
    I've had scads of chemistry over the years (and am a degreed mechanical engineer, for whatever that's worth here), and the only thing I can imagine is that when the iron oxide or just iron ions hit the steel anode, they do other things to the anode when attaching to its surface.

    I've scoured down the anode betwixt immersions to keep it conductive [methinks?] It is certainly rougher ever trip. The surface chemistry of the anode has w/o a doubt changed if judged by only color changes alone after the scouring with a Brillo is over and done.

    I submit that the anode does not, however, give up material in the conventional sense. It might give up material when its surface combines with the incoming crap, and then we scour it off, but it cannot possibly give up material to the barrel, the cathode. From what I know about electrolysis that just ain't possible [but again, I ain't no ex-spurt here, just giving educated guesses!]

    That's my best estimate, and I am fairly sure about my analysis. I don't mind being wrong here, friends, and I don't mean to be "holding forth."

    I'm CERTAINLY not an ex-spurt on this subject [ex-spurt: somebody used to be a SPURT?]

    The direction of the migration is, w/o a doubt, from the barrel to the "sacrificial" (that's what people call it, I believe it to be incorrect) anode. That is to say, from the NEGATIVE (-) pole to the POSITIVE (+) pole. That's how current runs, and I've no doubt that is how it carries ions (such as iron rust; not exactly ions, but you get the drift? No pun intended?) from place to place.

    It makes sense that if one runs for too long or at too high a power level that one will take material from the lands and grooves, then place them on the anode.

    When one is PLATING something, one runs a FROM SACRIFICIAL metal to the TARGET metal, and having absolutely no experience can hazard a guess that the SACRIFICIAL metal is to the (-) pole,and the target to the (+) pole.

    Think about it?

    As much electronics experience as I have, I still have to stop and scratch me 'head over this stuff. It's simple, but it is not.

    I have learned a great deal from y'all here and thank you kindly.
    Last edited by pcmacd; 05-23-2020 at 10:50 PM.

  20. #20
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcmacd View Post
    Sir, I believe that the direction of the migration of metal is the direction of the current.

    Thus, if the barrel is the cathode (negative, "-") then the sacrificial rod down the center is the anode (positive, or "+"), then the process is FROM the barrel TO the ROD.

    After all, that IS where the rust migrates when freed from the bore - to the rod, or anode.
    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.
    Last edited by swheeler; Yesterday at 01:18 AM.
    Hell, I was there!

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