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Propane tank restore (Eletrolytic Rust Removal)
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mad.macs
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 7:21 am    Post subject: Propane tank restore (Eletrolytic Rust Removal) Reply with quote

I pulled the propane tank off the Van the other day so I could fix a sticky fill valve. I had considered sandblasting the tank while I was at it, but stumbled across this process of rust removal. It seemed so easy I figured it was a hoax, but after reading several writeups on the process I decided to give it a go. After all, I pretty much had everything I needed to do it already.
20 minutes of setup, 4 Hrs in the tank, 15 min with a wire brush. AMAZING!

http://www.instructables.com/id/Electrolytic-Rust-Removal-aka-Magic/

Started with this-
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Tank setup. Used the Van's battery and a charger as a power source.
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Obligatory 50/50 shot
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Completed Tank
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danfromsyr
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 7:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Applause

very nice and semi neat method for those who are afraid to really attack the rust on their tanks mechanicly.
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climberjohn
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 8:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yahoo!
That seems to be a very crafty, easy and non-toxic way to remove major rust. Thanks for the helpful post.

-CJ
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r39o
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 9:26 am    Post subject: Re: Propane tank restore (Eletrolytic Rust Removal) Reply with quote

mad.macs wrote:
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I think it hoax! Notice the grinder.

Seriously, though, what about the paint that is still on the tank when you start?

Do you seal the tank with plugs, too?

I think we should make tank derusting a regular part of gatherings.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 9:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I Think We're Gonna Need Another Timmy.


Thank you for posting. Once my tank was repainted and installed, I ordered these from Decals only. http://www.decalsonly.com/catalog/product_info.php/products_id/44

With the new fill valve and decals, the tank looks brand new. I have yet to have anyone question the missing placard that rusted off when filling it.
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buildyourown
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 9:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Curious what it looked like after soak and before wire brush.
I just did mine but I only knocked off the loose stuff with a wire brush and hit it with a rattle can. Mine was more dirty than rusty.
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mad.macs
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 9:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is a black oxide coating where the rust used to be, That's why I used a wire wheel to remove it. The really heavy stuff just came off with a scrub brush, but I like shiney metal, so I wire wheeled it. I'd have taken a photo, but it would ahve just been a picture of a black tank. You can see the black band at the waterline, I left that for illustration.

The grinder is there since you have to clamp the negative lead to a clean ground.

I did get some plugs for the tank. 3/4 NPT, just to keep the inside dry. The action won't work inside the tank, and it probably isn't rusty anyway.

There was a bit of paint left, but since the rust had creeped under what remined it scaled off with the oxide that was under it. The process won't remove paint that has good adhesion, and won't remove any unrusted material.

Here's another FAQ.

http://www.stovebolt.com/techtips/rust/electrolytic_derusting.htm

I cut the placard off to get the rust under it. It's soaking now.
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ALIKA T3
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 10:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

electrolisis works very well even on painted surfaces,as long as there is rust.

I did it on many parts,better than anything else,specially hard to reach spaces where even sand blasters won't reach Wink

Nice work!! Cool
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 10:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's not a hoax... I use it on antique wood working tools and I've used it on rusted VW Bus panels too. The electricity will flow under loose paint or metal plating and the paint or plating will flake off with the rust. I have a few concerns with using it on the propane tank, though:

1. Fire hazard... make sure the tank is completely discharged and it would be best to fill it with an inert gas. For electrolysis to work you've got to connect a voltage to the tank and one to a an electrode... there's potential for sparks. One of the byproducts of this process is hydrogen gas bubbling from the electrolyte (I use a solution of washing soda... I didn't see what the OP used). Make sure the area is well ventilated.

2. This will knock rust off but it leaves the surface very susceptible to more rust. Make sure to clean it up and paint or rust proof it in short order. For my tools I usually just paste wax them... it leaves a nice dark gray patina.

3. I don't know how much material you can lose on a propane tank before it becomes hazardous to pressurize. Propane will pool near the ground. If you leave pin holes in your tank and it's discharging in your garage all night... you can imagine.

Some tips:
Use stainless for the electrode. You can use any iron/steel, but regular iron will corrode and leave a nasty, foamy mess in your bucket. With stainless you still end up with the extracted rust in your electrolyte, but it's not nearly as gross and messy.

Polarity matters: if you get the polarity reversed you'll end up removing rust from your electrode and your propane tank becomes the sacrificial metal!

For doing body panels I soaked an old towel with a washing soda solution, then pinned it between the rusty panel and a sheet of stainless. One van I did this on was a '73 Bay... sucked out seam rust and cleaned up some salvageable rocker panel sections. When I was done I coated it with rust converter, zinc based primer, and rattle can paint.

Paul
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mad.macs
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 11:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

DOT Legal propane tanks are WAY over designed. That's one reason they don't require a Hydrotest like others. I've heard they are good down to 10% of the original thickness. My propane guy said he'd fill about any DOT tank as long as it holds pressure.

I could have interted the tank, I have both CO2 and Argon here, but the tank had been open to air for a week, and the holes were plugged.

Hydrogen gas buildup from the electrolisis could have been a problem, but it's in an open space with plenty of ventilation.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like yours should have been plenty empty, and with all the electrolysis I've done in the basement I haven't blown anything up yet. I just know the hydrogen gas is one of the potential hazards with the process (one of the few... it's really pretty safe to do if you don't use a lye solution as your electrolyte) and I can just imagine the prime-time moment if one were generate a spark at the electrode, ignite the hydrogen, and have that ignite some residual propane. Don't get me wrong, though... I'm a big proponent of this process and I originally learned about it on one of the old VW Van mailing lists... type2 or vintagebus... the old timers like Everett and Al Brase known what I'm talking about! Smile One of the cool things about this process is that you won't remove any good steel while getting the rust out of dents and pits like you will with grinding and sandblasting.

pd
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mad.macs
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, Washing Soda was used as the electrolyte. One $4.00 box will likely last me a lifetime as it only took a half a cup or so. I used a 20A battery charger and hooked it up to a battery and the tank with a 20A automotive fuse in between.

There are some cautions that go with using stainless as the electrode. It does work and the electrodes do apparently last longer, but it turns the electrolyte toxic, and contains things that should not be flushed down the drain.

I used some scrap steel I had lying around.
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Bman
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 4:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for reposting, I need to do this, this summer. Looks like you used a garbage can; how much washing soda per gallons did you use? Also did you need to suspend the tank in the solution or can you rest it on the bottom of the can?

Thanks.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 4:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did a write up on this on another vw board, I used about 2 cups per 55 gallons of water.

you gotta paint it right away or it will flash rust, it works great....havent thought about doing an LP tank.

Cool
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mad.macs
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 7:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bman wrote:

Looks like you used a garbage can; how much washing soda per gallons did you use? Also did you need to suspend the tank in the solution or can you rest it on the bottom of the can?

Thanks.


It was between 3/4 and one cup for the trash can, It won't hurt to put more in, it's not an exact measurement thing. It's a surprisingly small amount that is required. It also does not get depleted, you shouldn't have to add any more after you start, and the solution can be used over and over again. (Although it will look NASTY)

You could rest it on the bottom, but: You can't let the object touch the electrodes. The action will only work in "Line of sight" with the electrodes. I had a plate on the bottom of the tank connected to one of the electrodes in order to get the underside of the tank.

This Instructibles outlines the process really well. Try it out! You literally have nothing to loose other than the rust. (Just watch out for the hydrogen build up.)
http://www.instructables.com/id/Electrolytic-Rust-Removal-aka-Magic/
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James 93SLC
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 7:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love using this process. I've got a dedicated 5 gallon bucket lines with steel rebar.
Just set it up and walk away. Saves a TON of manual labor to remove rust, especially getting into nooks and crannies.


Cool
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 11:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I sand blasted this one.

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Before

After

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the post. I tried this out over the weekend to remove rust from the grill below the Westy fridge. It did a great job. Thanks!
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

James 93SLC wrote:
I love using this process. I've got a dedicated 5 gallon bucket lines with steel rebar.
Just set it up and walk away. Saves a TON of manual labor to remove rust, especially getting into nooks and crannies.


Cool


what about the reduced coat from the former rust?

will it hold primer or powdercoating as well as a blasted surface?
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 2:19 pm    Post subject: The next step with the tanks... Reply with quote

The next step with the tanks is to fabricate and attach labels reproducing the original information, just so no one will give us grief after a de-rusting and restoration.

Has anyone done anything on that front?

Best!
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