Author Topic: electrolytic cleaning with tig welder? (first results)  (Read 9880 times)

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Online coppercone2Topic starter

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electrolytic cleaning with tig welder? (first results)
« on: July 31, 2023, 02:33:39 am »
So a electrolytic cleaning machine is expensive.

I know you can make a transformer box thing, but here is my observations

the tig welder I have has very low current settings (down to 1Amp), but it has inrush current or somehting. I tried to test it with a DMM shorted out with a good fuse, and it blew the fuse. Most lab supplies set to similar parameters current limited at 1a will not blow the fuse, even with their capacitances. This means that its a beefy charge.

If I put a carbon brush on the welder with an adapter, I assume that during contact it might surge a bristle and cause it to fuse or something. I saw a few videos and the brushes seem to lose bristles alot.

The solution I thought might be

1) use a light bulb in series to limit current
2) use a big power resistor in series to limit current

Has anyone tried this? I assume the main reason tig machines are typically not used for this is because they have that surge from the capacitors or whatever that tend to damage carbon brushes as contact is being made and broken.

I really like the idea that I can just splice a resistor in the cable and it just becomes a dinse connector attachment without any other fabrication manufacturing or expenses.


I ordered two carbon fiber brushes on Ebay. I was laughing hard at cougartron prices. My plan is to put it in a ground clamp for welding and see if it works. Thought about using legitimate cougartron parts at first but my stomach started to hurt because of how bad the prices are. And I think its possible just to thread a burndy lug splice to fit a cougartron thread (aka called the 'metric thread') so you can add a brush to a cable lug like a hand piece (if you get cable, brush handle, and brush, its like 600$!!!!!!0
« Last Edit: August 13, 2023, 04:19:12 am by coppercone2 »
 

Online coppercone2Topic starter

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Re: electrolytic cleaning with tig welder?
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2023, 05:51:04 am »
also solutions for electropolishing and cleaning are welcome in this thread

Two options might be mixtures of phosphoric and sulfuric acid and also citric acid and sodium bisulfate

would love to hear about the secret sauce additives that they put in these things.

these I guess are different then the usual stuff people talk about, since these brushes seem to run at high current in the tens of amps on small surface area, not the tank style - slow solutions.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2023, 05:52:42 am by coppercone2 »
 

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>:(
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2023, 05:15:18 am »
beware this post!! its not correct! use 3/8-28 for chinese m10

 >:(
Ok if you fell into this trap be aware.  >:(

The brushes sold say M something thread.

This is not a 1.0mm thread. Not a 1.25. Not a 1.5.  >:(

Its a fucking Mx x 0.9 thread.  >:(

So you need a specialty tap. Which you can get on eBay, but still.  >:(
https://www.ebay.com/itm/203279502252

It kind of fits into a 3/8x28. But for high currents you really need the right thread. Talk about a smelly troll  >:(

Otherwise you might be able to braze it on a adapter with the brush underwater or something, but I don't expect good results. if anything, get over sized one, then file it down to a acceptable shaft size, carefully. And yes I am sure I tried it on all the dies, the gauge is very clear that you can either try a 28 or a 0.9. The fronius website says 0.9.  >:( >:(

I bet silver high conductivity epoxy on a 3/8-28 thread would do it too for medium use.
 >:(
« Last Edit: August 24, 2023, 01:07:58 am by coppercone2 »
 

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Re: electrolytic cleaning with tig welder?
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2023, 04:01:15 am »
I tried the tig brush with a variac set to 20V with a 1 ohm 25 watt current limiting resistor.

I made like 30% citric acid solution and tried it on my first TIG stainless weld, which has heavy sugaring on the back and alot of color on the front, along with mega distortion from going too slow.

It cleaned it up pretty good but the resistor started glowing. The weld itself looks fairly silver, and the area immediatly around it (2mm) looks nice, but after that there is a grey kind of cloud surrounding it. I ordered some weld cleaning polishing solution to try it with next.

But in my opinion, it would still be alot easier and nicer to post polish with the cleaning that it did manage to do. I hope for better results from the real solution (which may be an acid mix, or just phosphoric acid).

Not sure if I need a limiting resistor, but I find the variac kind of scary. DOn't want to experiment more until I made a nicer limiter circuit.





here is the bottom side, I spent less time on it
« Last Edit: August 13, 2023, 04:23:31 am by coppercone2 »
 

Offline jpanhalt

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Re: electrolytic cleaning with tig welder? (first results)
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2023, 09:47:21 am »
It looks like your puddles are too big and movement/penetration is inconsistent. Practice making a stack of dimes.  Cleanliness will reduce the amount of cleanup.
 

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Re: electrolytic cleaning with tig welder? (first results)
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2023, 03:34:10 pm »
I knew that one was coming, but the thread is electrolytic brush cleaning, which could theoretically be used to even clean a dirty MIG weld. those machines claim to do it.
 

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Re: electrolytic cleaning with tig welder? (first results)
« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2023, 04:28:35 pm »
If anything being able to clean up those overheated welds could be a great test for the process.

I want to know if its the electrolyte or not enough power, or maybe the off brand brush, or if its just too far gone to clean.

From what I understand, the travel was too slow, so the heat input was too high for the gas coverage I had, so the material right next to the bead was cleaned nice and shiny by the process, but the other material was badly oxidized due to lack of gas, so it looks hazy. Can that haze be cleaned up? I thought this area might require very high current density, because the milimeter or so around the weld that had good gas coverage is rather shiney.

Important to know anyway if you want to clean up post heat-bending operations, which I am having success with using my brazing transformer with the new electrode I built for it. Easy one hand bend of 1/8 inch red hot steel strip with no gas, but surface is damaged due to air. It would be nice to be able to bend them in air and do post cleanup with electricity rather then with abrasives.


Also those welds had a tungsten explosion that was not cleaned up in the gas screen, because I wanted to see how much DCEP the electrode could handle, the answer is not very much. Ultrasonic cleaner cleaned up the screen and cup rather nicely but those welds were made with a rather foul cup that had drop of molten metal in the screen. And there is tungsten splatter in that weld I think too lol


The process literature from the various manufacturers seems to suggest that high currents are required for heavier corrosion, which heat bending would fall under. Or is that haze some thing else?

Like another thought I Had is that haze might be clean, but the surface finish makes it look grey, so DC electropolishing would be the way to reduce it, rather then just more cleaning. The haze is all I will get for heat bending operations BTW, so I want to deal with it.


and that weld was made with a #8 gas lens, which should be enough for stainless steel if the travel speed is correct.

I need to make some banana to ring terminal adapters to see what DC does with the citric acid for the polishing process, I plan to hook the brush up to a 30V 30A sorensen power supply to see what it does.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2023, 04:38:49 pm by coppercone2 »
 

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🍋
« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2023, 07:49:16 pm »
tired DC electropolishing the samples with citric acid at 30 amps.

It does not appear to do much to the haze. The other area got a bit more shiny I think. II suspect citric acid is the wrong chemical for this job.

Unfortunately the sorsensen power supply turned off and its making arcing noises near the feed in.  ;D

I also attempted to electroclean (AC) a rusty steel strip that I had heat bent before. It appears to take away rust and heat marks off mild steel pretty good. But the black burned O/A welded bit was not effected that much. Might require more current then is available from the VARIAC (~25 amps). That is some real baked on badness though. Still impressive for god damn citric acid!

I feel like its promising tech that can be used in the shop to reduce the amount of grinding and sanding you have to do, so less dust. I definitely want to investigate more... time to trouble shoot the PSU, that has been on the list of things to check for many years now..

for anyone that wants to reduce dust, this is a excellent technology to look into. Makes a bit of smoke though, but no trouble using it outside.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2023, 07:54:22 pm by coppercone2 »
 

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Re: electrolytic cleaning with tig welder? (first results)
« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2023, 10:42:55 pm »
sorensen 30a 30v psu looks like it has a cracked solder joint on the mains input. They did not put enough or maybe any solder, it broke, and its arcing in there 

right on for high quality equipment :-+

Ima give it a clean, and grease all the bus bar etc.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2023, 11:13:12 pm by coppercone2 »
 

Offline jpanhalt

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Re: 🍋
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2023, 12:59:52 am »
tired DC electropolishing the samples with citric acid at 30 amps.

It does not appear to do much to the haze. The other area got a bit more shiny I think. II suspect citric acid is the wrong chemical for this job.

Have you considered that a non-electrically conductive "haze" will act as a protective mask for etching regardless of whether it is chemical or electrical?  I would consider physical methods (e.g, abrasive blasting) or chemicals that do not require reaction with the substrate.  Nitric acid can be used for cleaning as can sulfuric acid with or without something to promote oxidation.  I would also consider organic solvents, like MEK or a Cellosolve.  Those suggestions are just a few of the possibilities.  Check out cleaning methods used prior to plating.
 

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Re: electrolytic cleaning with tig welder? (first results)
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2023, 01:24:31 am »
Hmm so what is this stuff ? It has to be a component of the steel, which was virgin to begin with.

I wonder why it forms away from the weld, seperated by a region of material that cleans easily.

The haze is some weld biproduct. I would imagine that less happens to the steel, since that part was less hot then anything else. That area was not even getting red.

I think maybe phosphoric acid might be more aggressive then citric acid, so it might be able to get that part. I think its just a thicker oxide layer because that area had little gas compared to the rest. Will have to wait to see what the commercial solution does.

the powder dissolve yourself solution has sodium sulfate in it, which I don't have yet. Citric acid and sodium sulfate
« Last Edit: August 14, 2023, 01:58:25 am by coppercone2 »
 

Offline jpanhalt

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Re: electrolytic cleaning with tig welder? (first results)
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2023, 10:21:15 am »
My TiG welding has been virtually 100% with mild steel and aluminum.  I've done a few thermocouples and can't remember ever doing stainless.  Cleanliness is important and smoke staining is from contaminants in my experience  .Are you doing stainless?  That may be different.

This video addresses the issue (if stainless):
[plain]https://blog.perfectwelding.fronius.com/en/cleaning-stainless-steel-welds/ [/plain]

Yes, phosphoric acid and TSP are more aggressive than citric acid.  Commercial dip strip tanks for metal refinishing used a heated mixture of that in water plus electrolysis, which was mostly to get at any rust I believe.

HF (hydrofluoric acid) is extremely good at removing rust.  I notice that mixtures of it with sulfuric acid in water are promoted as post-welding cleaners.  Whink Rust Stain remover is sold to consumers and has HF in it.  It is very good.  Try it.  I just noticed Whink has been bought by Rustoleum.  According to this, it still has HF in it (my bottle is almost 10 years old).
https://www.rustoleum.com/-/media/DigitalEncyclopedia/Documents/RustoleumUSA/TDS/English/CBG/Whink/WNK_01_Whink_Rust_Stain_Remover_TDS.ashx

HF etches glass, so read about it before using.

EDIT: Regarding sodium sulfate (Na2SO4):  It is a relatively neutral salt of a strong acid.  Trisodium phosphate (real TSP) is generally better as a cleaning agent.  TSP substitutes (e.g., sodium silicates) do not work very well in my experience.  You can still get real TSP in the USA. 
« Last Edit: August 14, 2023, 10:27:04 am by jpanhalt »
 

Offline mikerj

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Re: electrolytic cleaning with tig welder? (first results)
« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2023, 10:35:58 am »
HF etches glass, so read about it before using.

It also penetrates tissue faster than most other acids, and can have some profound health effects aside from the initial burns.
 

Online coppercone2Topic starter

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Re: electrolytic cleaning with tig welder? (first results)
« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2023, 12:52:55 pm »
I was lookin at the fronius magicclean powder concentrate, which you dissolve to use with their weld cleaning machine, which is made of something like 50/50 citric acid sodium sulfate

I have TSP but no idea about a formulation.

I have some kind of very dilute HF in alumiprep. I used that before for pre-weld on aluminum and pre-alodine or pre-paint on aluminum. Smells kinda nice. I use heavy gloves. Its not HF in the concentration region where its super dangerous. I kinda feel paranoid using the stuff. With TIG balance clean, I don't think I really need it. The alumiprep made the aluminum rather... etched. and it made a air conditioner heat exchanger look nice. I think it might make aluminum soldering and such nice
« Last Edit: August 14, 2023, 12:56:29 pm by coppercone2 »
 

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Re: electrolytic cleaning with tig welder? (first results)
« Reply #14 on: August 18, 2023, 10:55:17 pm »
oh yeah the commercial solution for polishing is so much better. i got the mirror like appearance going with only 10 amps or so. The problem was that the citric acid is not aggressive enough, but its still viable for light cleaning I guess. Got rid of the haze and everything.

my plan is to put 2-3x 1 ohm power resistor in parallel with VARIAC to make the weld cleaner, as a plugin short circuit limiter, by using vitrified resistors in a holey box. The brush impedance is 500 miliohms to ground roughly.

for the sorensen DC supply, I don't like the noises it makes while arcing. I assume its rapid impedance changes that short the output capacitance maybe. I will also try it with the power resistor network to see if it whines less. At first I thought I am limiting capacitor surge current, but if the voltage needs to be higher, then yeah... maybe some kind of choke? Nervous putting a choke on such a sparky circuit though.  :( . I will experiment with a battery pack (nimh) with a capacitor on it, to see what impedance networks do on an oscilloscope. seems fun

I feel like a short circuit DC MIG welder would be the best choice for the polishing process, we know its designed to handle repeated short circuits... ima just try resistor values until psu does not sound funny...
« Last Edit: August 19, 2023, 09:30:45 am by coppercone2 »
 

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Re: electrolytic cleaning with tig welder? (first results)
« Reply #15 on: August 20, 2023, 05:31:20 am »
I want to know if anyone knows if the spark is part of the process or not.

If I put a inductor and made sure the circuit is OK with it, it would prevent the rapid discharge from the caps, but also it would encourage arc formation when you are brushing. It seems to arc quite a bit when you are dragging it on high currents, even in the corporate videos.

Naturally I think that pure resistance and just dealing with the heat is superior, since it muffles the arcs. But I am also wondering if plasma has a part in the chemistry to make maybe special meta stable? compounds or something that allow for the polishing process to work better, as with the plasma electrolytic polishing process.
 

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Re: electrolytic cleaning with tig welder? (first results) >:(
« Reply #16 on: August 24, 2023, 01:04:07 am »
beware the chinese m10 brushes. they claim m10.

If you measure the OD of the thread its 9.3  >:(

this means if you import a m10x0.9 thread (the thread pitch is infact 0.9), you will only have a 0.2 mm mated thread depth. this is weak. its not a good electrical contact IMO.  >:(

If you use a 3/8-28 you have 0.7mm mating (0.35 per side). Much better.

But you have 0.9 vs 0.907. So it might get stuck. But it should be greased copper so I expect it might go in OK. I guess you can run it through a 3/8-28 die also but holy shit thats annoying >:(

fucking mine field.  >:(
« Last Edit: August 24, 2023, 01:08:26 am by coppercone2 »
 

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Re: electrolytic cleaning with tig welder? (first results)
« Reply #17 on: August 27, 2023, 05:28:05 am »
well this is bizzare, I made a nice brass silver brazed to big lug totally over kill handle for the brush.

I ran the power supply on high settings (close to 30A) and the clicking noise was gone. Before I had like a beefy solid copper alligator clip that was attached to the brush thread.

I wonder why the machine quieted down when the connection is made better. It like runs smoother and the brush has less arcing now. The internal noise is gone. I guess it had something to do with a poor contact  :-//

It could also be that the brush was left unwashed with the phosphoric acid it on it for a few days that the conductivity improved or something with the carbon fiber. But now I don't see sparking and the brush gets hot enough to steam up when I dip it back in the solution, and drips of the electrolyte on the stainless weld panel actually sizzle it gets that much energy going into it. It seems to have enough power to justify a small perestalic pump to pump electrolyte on the brush while its working on high power mode.

this is with out the resistor. I expected it to be louder in the supply. I am gonna open it up to double check something did not short out to make it run quiet. I don't understand what could have improved inside of the supply with better contacts. Their not that great yet because I still have steel washers in series with the lug because of sizing issues... but yea...
« Last Edit: August 27, 2023, 05:38:30 am by coppercone2 »
 

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Re: electrolytic cleaning with tig welder? (first results)
« Reply #18 on: August 28, 2023, 03:46:16 am »
Tried it on aluminum, this time a 'ready to weld' coupon for weld training.

I noticed the following
1) unlike the stainless steel or copper, hardly any current was flowing. 4 amps @ 30V
2) it looks messed up. grey discoloration.


It worked ok on steel, stainless steel (great) and copper. But aluminum is not working. This is with the cougartron fluid (phosphoric acid in sds)

I wonder if its anodized. I guess weld ready for tig with cleaning might not mean quite nicely cleaned aluminum.

Maybe I will give it a try with AC followed by DC. I tried strait up to the electropolishing step (it already looked kind of nice).

And its not 'nice' discoloration either. I put it under the sink and scrubbed it with a brillo, the residue from the 'polishing' is rather thick. It feels rough, like aluminum exposed to alumiprep 33, but also dirty looking (alumiprep 33 looks clean but matte)


It might not uh, clean aluminum, but I have a feeling paint would stick really fucking nicely to this surface lol. Its pretty tough.


Anyway unless I am doing something really wrong, I don't this this process is useful for cleaning aluminum that you would typically tig weld with. Ima try one more time giving it a good sanding, but the thing is, even if you sand your weld area, the area next to it will be anodized, and the brush will surely mess that up, based on what I am seeing.


Would love to hear ideas about dealing with aluminum. Based on literature, i.e. cougar writings, it says it needs more 'firepower' to polish it. I guess I am seeing that first hand.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2023, 03:53:47 am by coppercone2 »
 

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Re: electrolytic cleaning with tig welder? (first results)
« Reply #19 on: August 28, 2023, 06:14:57 am »
tried it with AC on a mild steel, two right angle bits that I welded together a long time ago. It got rusty. I never cleaned it very well.

It cleans it up OK. What it does not seem to do is get at rust / oxidation inside of pits/holes. And it comes off a little grey like most chemical cleaning methods. A bit of a dull look.

gonna stop experimenting for now until I can better insulate the probe / make a holder (fiberglass maybe).

For the holder ima bolt onto the lug, trim the bolt, and then wrap it in saran wrap, then wrap it in fiberglass, strategically position some heat melt inserts, resin it, and then cut that open around the middle of the inserts so I can put it together with screws like a real handle. .

I don't think they do videos of mild steel because it aint that pretty but I can tell it will make for easier cleanup for filing and less clogged sand paper/brillo

and it does not remove burned organic material. don't know what it is but I got some there.

also I challange someone to find a video that shows aluminum metal being electrocleaned using one of these systems .not in a beaker or a tank,  I mean with a brush. I don't know how they can list it, put it on the machine, but there is not a single fuckin picture or video of it happening.  ::)
« Last Edit: August 28, 2023, 07:02:49 am by coppercone2 »
 

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Re: electrolytic cleaning with tig welder? (first results)
« Reply #20 on: August 29, 2023, 12:31:08 am »
tried hooking the brush up to the dynasty TIG welder

its not happy. AC kind of works but it does not like it. I think its a 'stuck electrode' protection circuit kicking in

with DC it tries to arc like crazy at the start. Actually keeps arcing kinda hard even with low current settings. I think its trying to establish an arc. this is with stick mode
 

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Re: electrolytic cleaning with tig welder? (first results)
« Reply #21 on: September 03, 2023, 07:10:08 am »
here is electroclean vs polish. first picture is top side electrocleaned with 8.2V AC current limited by the brush only

 (it settles to like 33 amps 16 volts dc). it had sugaring on it originally (some remaining sugaring seen on the left side of the last stst picture). IMO the portion that shows it original color after sugaring is impressive, that stuff is a real perpetrator. I mean if it happens I guess cleaning it won't really help since it looks like freeze dried cheese but still, it does show the process power.

ec only



Here is the picture 1 that was only electropolished after getting electrocleaned @ 30 amps
 


here is the pic with flash to show brilliance







here is a aluminum o/a welding experiment with flux experiments and tearing that was left in a scrap pile for 3 years or so. It does not touch the mount of oxide, but it does clean it up some what (ac only). I knew I was avoiding throwing that out for some reason, it represents the worst case for aluminum weld cleaning  ;D . I think it might have even been experimented on to see what the difference between aluminum brazing and welding flux is (the aluminum welding flux I have to import is way more expensive then the brazing flux but obviously it does not work)


with flash (chaotic, hard to see boundary)



Really alot of fun and I am impressed by how shiny it is considering there are no plumes of polishing dust around and how quick it is
« Last Edit: September 03, 2023, 08:27:00 am by coppercone2 »
 

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Re: electrolytic cleaning with tig welder? (first results)
« Reply #22 on: September 04, 2023, 06:45:10 am »
does anyone know of a good material to use as a parts cleaning tray for small parts?

Metal will stain like crazy. It also gets hot.

I was kind of wondering about carbon fiber trays. Its a little conductive but it should be pretty heat resistant with the right epoxy, and I don't think 'plating' will take to it very well.

I guess maybe a stainless steel tray might be good, its easy enough to electroclean when it gets filthy.
 

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Re: electrolytic cleaning with tig welder? (first results)
« Reply #23 on: September 05, 2023, 02:50:18 am »
here is a very old interior corner practice weld I cleaned up with just DC electropolish. This piece was totally rusted over, sooty, etc.. a MIG wire weld mild steel interior corner right angle learning attempt. The gas flow was also messed up (I believe the flux core nozzle was attached, not the gas distributor) and the bead is not laid right, and that is about 2 years old.



and here is a O/A gas weld stainless learning attempt also done ages ago. this was heavily corroded (not treated after welding and exposed to alot of stuff after. Top is errosion from sparks (just sparking a carbon rod), middle is a gas weld (135 degrees or so), bottom is just TIG marks from the first time I held a torch. Unknown stainless steel type, IIRC it was some extra corrosion resistant scrap pieces. (0.2 inches)



With the mig, after  the electrolytic cleaning, the weld beads/splatter will corrode very quickly. But I can see it keeping your wire wheel cleaner and stuff like that.

When I tried it on rusty mill scale (like heavy black surface that rusted over, not just residue, but applied by the factory for protection) that was also oily, I got slow progress and spotty results. I believe I probobly poured oil on the angle iron a few times when it was in the scrap pile. So not recommended. I can try again maybe after I throw it in a hot degreasing bath for a while (ultrasonic). This process definately has problems with grease + corrosion. I wonder if a AC clean with a base might be better then the acid cleaning. Did not bother to take pictures because its not great.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2023, 02:58:26 am by coppercone2 »
 

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Re: electrolytic cleaning with tig welder? (first results)
« Reply #24 on: September 05, 2023, 03:31:01 am »
and here is a sheet of lead, a copper pipe and brass rod.

no flash


flash


The copper pipe looks nice. Need to do a better job neutralizing it because it tarnished some in 30 min.

The lead got cleaner but you can't see in the pictures. It was also melting at the same current levels as the other materials, and really did not want to pass current. I definitely do not recommend doing this with lead, its just out of curiosity. It is antimony roof lead. May be useful to know for some esoteric shit like restoring the base of old light bulbs (its like lead). The result is very hard to photograph. Its reflective at the right angle now, and before it was like black. I only did this for a few moments because I don't want to deal with lead waste. The lead was like dark grey to start with.

For a DMM test, if I rest sharp probes on it upright with no force, the dark patches read some number of megaohms to open circuit on 34401a. The shiny patch reads like 3 ohms. 

the brass looked good at first but it kinda turned this pink color (like PCB etching copper).

The copper almost looks good enough to leave alone, if you do it carefully, but the brass (maybe the process parameters are bad) still needs some post work. It was not that dirty to begin with.

I kind of think with the brass, maybe its being seperated at the surface, because it looks kind of like copper after this process. I know when I polish it mechanically or even with brasso it would become brass looking again. Like passivation.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2023, 03:36:19 am by coppercone2 »
 


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