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This is a tutorial I did a few years ago on another board for electrolysis. I used it on a ratty old MEC 650 reloader. Please bear with me as I try to get the pictures right:


Y'all ever see cannons that are pulled up from old shipwrecks? They spend months, or even years, submerged in a special bath that helps loosen concretions and serious corrosion, and helps to provide a clean surface for preservation.

A few years ago, I ran across a miniaturized version of this same process that people were using to restore old steam engines and rusty tools and such.

So I decided to try it. MAGIC! I used it on a very rusty old Luger that I managed to actually put back in shooting condition for my friend.

So, when TM's reloading machines came available, I thought they would make GREAT candidates for this process.

I am going to start pulling together a thread for this electrolysis stuff, to show how the process works, and how well it works.

The ingredients are things that we likely already have in the shop, and the resulting waste is environmentally not-damaging.

So, I will be using the process outlined here: antique-engines.com/electrol.asp

Anyway, here's a couple of before and afters so that you can see what I'm after.
 

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I decided to start this project with the 12 gauge MEC 650. Here's what it looked like on Monday (below):
I noticed that some of the parts on this machine are plated-cad, zinc, something.
I researched this a little and found out that the plating on these might flake off if I leave them in the tank as long as the rest of the steel pieces. SO, I took the reloader completely apart. This is so I can pull out the plated parts sooner than the rest of them. I also called MEC and asked about the unplated steel pieces. The engineer I talked to said they had black oxide coating on them from the factory for anti-rust protection. Well. We'll just see how that survives the tank.
Also, now that I have the thing apart, the red painted pieces on the 12 gauge unit are in pretty good shape. No rust. So I don't think I will be dunking these-I might just simply degrease, clean and throw some rattle can red on them and call it a day.
Taking this thing apart was pretty easy-I only have one part soaking in penetrant and I think that'll break loose easy this weekend. Not sure putting it back together will be so simple, though. Luckily, TM sent me a link to the MEC website where there is a big ol' blowup drawing of all the parts and how they fit together.
Will post a picture of all the parts before they go in the tank. Not much to see at the moment-just a pile of parts in a big coffee can.

3.jpg
 

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So I took plenty of pictures, and have had good results so far with my little tank-it's not as full as I'd like, so I'm having to do parts in batches. I will have some pretty dramatic pictures to show here after dinner.

Here is my setup, as well as some pictures of some of the parts I'll be derusting. A 5 gallon bucket, some pieces of steel for electrodes (5), some bits of wire (Romex de-sheathed and stripped as needed), baking soda, water, and a trickle charger. The electrolyte solution is 2.5 gallons of water and 1/4 cup baking soda. Stir till dissolved. I'd fill it more, but I didn't have enough baking soda. Oh well. That's no big deal.

EDITED to add: One more thing on the choice of materials for electrodes. Do NOT use stainless steel. This process does all kinds of nasty things with stainless. Including production of chlorine gas and release of hexavalent chromium in your solution. Bad bad juju. Also, aluminum will work but gets et up and crusty like a soda cracker in a real short amount of time. Stick with good ol' steel that attracts a magnet. I like rebar myself, better than what I'm using now.
 

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I wired the parts with copper and dropped them in the tank. The NEGATIVE lead from the battery charger goes to the parts in the tank. The POSITIVE lead goes to the electrode.
Here are the parts in the tank for 0 minutes, then 15 minutes. Solution gets dirtier as we go.

10.jpg 11.jpg 12.jpg
 

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After an hour in the tank, I pulled out the handle and scrubbed it some with steel wool. Not much elbow grease required here. But the other parts had to go back in the tank as they weren't ready. Pretty happy with this-compare to the rusty pic.


8.jpg 16.jpg 17.jpg
 

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Here's some of the second batch I did. I'm planning on finishing all this tomorrow-just ran out of time and daylight. Cheers!
 

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Assembly complete!! I had to borrow a couple of minor parts from the .410 unit to complete this one, but it is now complete--there is some tightening up to do, and I'm sure I will need to adjust everything to make sure it operates like it should, but from what I can see, it works!!

I will replace the bottles and caps, but the rest of it looks pretty good.

There you have it, then-no need to be afraid of rust, and a fun project in the end.
 

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Science! Thanks for posting this tutorial for those not familiar with the electrolysis method, I've rescued a few mil surps using it, and can attest it is the most efficient form of rust/corrosion removal.
 

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From my experience. I believe the electrolysis worked well on the horribly rusted Nepali Martini Francotte because it was symmetrical relative to the anode. The results from some very old car parts with similar deep pitting, not just surface rust, on other websites was pretty messy, almost like they'd been spattered with weld. Surface rust should be a lot easier and cleaner to replate back on as the MEC 650 results show.

Keep an eye on your electronic cleaning gear as it will start chomping on the steel when the copper and corrosion are gone.

For a bore that isn't a horrible rusted mess you may want to use an "electronic" bore cleaner which pulls the crud off the bore with 3 to 4 volts, a lower amperage and reversed polarity. You can use D cells in series for cleaning. You can also use some ammonia to help get copper out, and as an electrolyte instead of the baking soda. The cleaning rod will turn black. On the electrolysis setup it'll turn rust red.
These cleaners will suck the crud, copper, lead, debris, right out of the bore and pits.

For grossly rusted bores. The electrolysis actually plates the rust back on the bore

Here's what I did for my sewerpipe Nepal made Martini Henry. Before, the bore was a sewerpipe and even after brushing and cleaning you could barely see through it - after, I'd rate it very good or better, sharp rifling, no pitts, clean except for a little discoloration on the edges of the grooves.

I used an old 6 volt 1 amp drill charger as a transformer.

The rod (sacrificial anode) is a 1/8 in 3 foot long mild steel welding rod, with 2 layers of shrink wrap tubing every 3 inches to keep it from hitting the bore. I stuck a cork and some plumbers putty in the chamber, with a hole part way throught he cork, on the inside, for the rod to fit in. On top I just used a piece of rubber to keep the rod off the muzzle.

Put the receiver in a plactic bucket, duct taped the barrel in place upright.

Put a couple tablespoons of baking soda in a gallon of water, stuck in the rod and used a funnel to pour in the water to the top.

Then I hooked up the negative wire from the transformer to the Barrel with a clamp, and clamped the positive to the top end of the rod.

Plugged it in and kept an eye on it. Looked pretty horrible with a gray cruddy foam glopping out the muzzle. I kept adding the water/soda solution to top up and pulled it out to check when it stopped glooping out. Did it a while longer until most all of the rust was gone. Only a little corrosion along the edges of the grooves remained.

Do it too long and your bore will get eaten, so keep an eye on it.

Rinse, dry, clean and grease immediately when done
 

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I have been told that using carbon rod eliminates the electrode wastage and replating of black iron grunge onto the workpiece.Havent tried it myself.But if it does work,it should allow the use of higher voltages to speed the process.Not on guns,Im doing motorbike parts.
 

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Yes, I bet you are right, although I haven't the foggiest idea where to get carbon rods.

And the science behind all of this is the same, whether bore cleaner or rust remover. It's basically a reverse plating process.

BTW The friend's luger I tried this on had been chromed back in the day. This particular process I use did NOT affect the chrome in any way. It will strip bluing if the current is too strong or you leave it in the tank too long. I usually don't care too much about that when using electrolysis, so it's not been an issue for me.

last, my only regret is that my "before" and "after" pictures aren't that great. Done in the dark w poor lighting. Maybe I'll fix that his weekend.
 

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It's basically a reverse plating process.
Yes... If u are "re-plating" the grunge back on the metal u are trying to clean, u have the circuit polarity hooked up backwards...

Electrolysis is great for cleaning bores... Keep the voltage below 3 volts, and the amperage draw at less than 100ma (.01 amperes) and u won't damage the bore.

Yes, with the low voltage and current, the process will take longer, but the lands will still have sharp corners when the bore is clean.
 

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Unfortunately ? I dont have any guns with rusty bores,or rusty anything else,no rusty reloading presses or dies,But i do have rusty motorbike parts,and the question often is ......is it better to convert the rust with a compound,or to remove it entirely leaving pits of whatever depth ,or even holes.Anyhoo,it would be excellent if the process could be speeded to the five minute level.I have gathered a quantity of large graphite sections,actually piston rod seals from a large double acting air compressor.Clamped together with a bit of threaded rod(may have to use a bit of stainless,and insulate it) produces a 4"dia stack.by several feet in length.
 

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I have found carbon rods laying on the railroad tracks. 3/4" dia. about 4" long. They were part of some sort of battery the railroad uses. Fairly common if you walk tracks. Gary
 

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The nice part about this process is the materials required do not have terribly rigid standards, so that there are lots of different ways to slice the cheese.

Pretty subjective on when/how to apply it, too. But fun!!
 

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Yes, I bet you are right, although I haven't the foggiest idea where to get carbon rods.
Ebay.

I'm lucky and get mine free. There is a site I work at now and then where Union Carbide dumped tons of carbon bits. Rods, plates, tubes, blocks, cloth, you name it. Whenever I am there I pick up a few to use.
 

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Great to be back in school. Learned a lot and can't wait to try it.
 
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