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Here is a wintertime activity to do during those cold months when you canít get out doors to work on your truck. You ever wonder how old grand-pa kept all his old tools nice and shiny in the shop and never a bit of rust on them. The old manís secret was plain old White Distilled Vinegar, thatís right folks. It not only will pickle eggs, but it will actually eat up rust on metal. For years, I tried all sorts of commercial cleaners and stuff and maybe they work but I never was satisfied with any of those products, and besides Vinegar is cheap less then $1.50 a bottle.
I didnít believe in any of that hocus pocus stuff until I tried it myself. If youíre like me you canít stand having rusty tools to work with. If you have a sand blaster handy you can blast the rust off, but the sand leaves a pitted surface and must be clean up with a scrubber and wet sandpaper. I blast when I can but I must blast outside so in the meantime the Vinegar works just fine during the winter months.
So, are you ready to clean up those rusty tools?
Buy a couple bottles of White Distilled Vinegar the next time at the grocery store.
Purchase one of those small plastic trays or tubs about 1-Ĺ feet long. If you want, go bigger on the container size but use more Vinegar.
Lay the tools flat in the container and pour in the Vinegar until the tools are submerged in the Vinegar. Let it set for about 24 hours and check to see if the rust has started to turn black. Do not leave the tools in the solution for long because it just makes them harder to clean. The Vinegar will not damage the tools. I usually wait about 4 hours, rinse off the scum in hot water, and use a fine wire wheel on the grinder to help speed up the removal of the rust. In addition, if at this point it looks clean just oil or paint it. Otherwise, re-submerge the tool back in the Vinegar and let it do its work. I am not kidding this stuff really works. You may have to go to the grinder a couple times but hey isnít this fun! Some tools that do not clean up well after the Vinegar bath just use some Mineral Spirits and a 00 or fine steel wool. Go easy with sandpaper thou. Buy the end of the last snow it will be time to go out side and begin work on the Ford Truck and clean rust free tools to work with. If you get bored cleaning tools, do not worry there are other things to clean with the Vinegar to keep you busy cleaning up those neglected firearms you let get rusty. It does a fantastic job of getting the rust off gun barrels and just in time for rabbit hunting. What about all those truck parts, or even nuts and bolts that need cleaned up.
Question for ya: what kind of tools do you have, or what climate do you live in, that rust is such a problem?
Most of my tools are carftsman, and they don't seem to have too bad of a rust problem. At a garage I worked at we used Snap On, S&K, and Craftsman and, again, rust wasn't a problem.
Now my dad used to coat all his tools with a light oil - like WD-40 or another (better) spray oil, and that seemed to work. The old timers I know of did the same thing - a light coat of oil every now and then kep those old, non-chromed tools from rusting.
I don't mean to assume anything here, but I'm guessing that the greases and oils that would normally protect your tools are being stripped off of them by the vinegar, thus they rust in time. At the shop, and for my own tools, I just wipe them off (to a shiny appearence) with a shop rag or paper towels, then put them away. This proabaly leaves enough of an oil coating on them to protect them until I need them again. I don't know though.
Last edited by GammaDriver; 02-09-2003 at 09:18 AM.
I apologize for not explaining this subject regarding Vinegar use more clearly. I appreciate your comments, Gamma Driver.
First, if you are fortunate enough not to have rusty tools, or any tools with rust on them you can pat yourself on the back for keeping them that way. However, sometimes we, especially me tend to neglect, not taking the time to wipe them down with an oily rag.
I too have some good craftsman tools with no rust on them. I mentioned that grand-pa used vinegar to clean rust off tools that were RUSTY, not tools that were clean and free of rust. WD-40 does not clean tools, or should I say removes rust off the metal like vinegar does. Unless you try the vinegar, you will not know. The point I am making is if you have RUSTY tools even really RUSTY tools that look like something you would threw in the trash get a bottle of White Vinegar and see what happens. Itís almost like an old High School Science Project. It removes rust not just from mechanic tools but this includes woodworking, metal shop, and what ever else has rust on metal. Including all those rusty nuts and bolts, rusty screws and junk laying around that you want to reuse again. Even collectable things as old historical civil war muskets, old knifes and the list goes on. You decide weather you want to cover the rust up with an oily rag or clean it up first with vinegar. Even tools that rusted so badly can be clean successfully using vinegar, and depending on how much the rust has eaten into the metal there will be pits. The Vinegar will eat up that rust, clean that metal and make it look new again.
Another point I might add is after cleaning up the metal on a wheel or using steel wool to clean up the metal, coat the metal with some kind of oil. Spray some 50/50 degreaser and diesel fuel on it to keep it from rusting. You can use WD-40 also but it is not a long time protector. I use waterproof outboard type grease and wipe that down. On the other hand, you can paint the metal if you choose. One more thing if you happen to live in a climate where temperature changes make everything rust out plan on spending time cleaning and oiling tools. Outside sheds are the worse places where everything rusts out.
If anyone as any comments they would like to share, I would like to hear them.
Yep, an outdoor shed with a dirt floor is the best place to find rusty tools!
I actually prefer plain carbon steel tools to chromed tools though. The rust that forms on carbon steel is usually soft and can easily be cleaned off with soap and water with a scotchbrite pad. When chrome tools rust, it tends to blister the chrome. This is especially bad with crecent wrenches. The rust blisters interfere with the action of the worm gear.
For guys that mostly work on vehicles inside the garage, rust isn't too big a concern. But if you use hand tools outdoors on industrial machinery in all sorts of weather, rust is just a fact of life.
Thanks for the tip on the vinegar. I'm gonna try it on a few tools and some rusty parts on my old tractor!
[FONT=Comic Sans MS][COLOR=black][COLOR=navy]Scott[/COLOR][/COLOR][/FONT]
The shovels are going to take allot of vinegar to clean them up. It would take at least 2 gallons in a five gallon bucket, or you could lay the shovels down flat and have the spades submerged in the vinegar. You are still going to need at least a gallon or more. My advice for cleaning larger things that takes more then a gallon of vinegar. Is either sand blast the piece and repaint or oil, or try removing some of the rust with a hand drill and some sandpaper? Then put a good coat of primer and paint on it.
Vinegar works great for cleaning almost anything, but I would stick to cleaning smaller things such as hand tools, small parts, etc. It probably is not going to be economical to buy vinegar to clean just garden tools and things of that sort unless of course you have some old Hunting knifes, old guns or old tools that you DO want recondition then by all means its worth it.
The Vinegar will clean most any kind of old historical artifacts and make it look new again. Personally, I wouldnít care how much vinegar it took as long as I could bring the artifact back to its original condition.
Hope this helps ya.
Old Diver- If anybody has tried the vinegar or has any comments please post it here I would like to hear what you all think.
normally i wire wheel brush anything rusted then prime and paint but ill vineager up a shovel just to see how well it works. if it can clean the fossils ive got out in the shed it can clean anything. im just using a shovel as my benchmark test to compare when to vinegar something and when to get nasty and use harsher methods.
Using a shovel for a benchmark test is a bit of an over kill on the vinegar. Your going to use up alot of vinegar and its probably going to cost you about $5-10.00 for a couple gallons. You see!
Use the vinegar on smaller stuff. But, if you must do the shovel. Pour in the Vinegar and let it set over night. Next morning before you go to work run the wire wheel over the loose rust and resubmerge the shovel. Later in the evening run hot water over the shovel and wire wheel again. The metal should look bright and clean looking, if not put it back in the vinegar and let set a while longer. Give time to work. But, dont leave it in there and forget it the Vinegar will turn black.
What I mean by artifacts are carbon steel and other metal artifacts that are rusty. Finding an old steel penny laying on the ground is an artifact. Your grand daddy giving you his old rusty shotgun is a bigger artifact. Reconditioning old match box cars are artifacts. Pulling a 1985 Ford Truck out of the river is an artifact, but I would sand blast that. If it isn't metal then that is not what I am talking about, Okay!
Another thing Vinegar works very well on metal surfaces. I don't know about other surfaces such as fossils. I do know that vinegar doesn't cut through mud well, and you might have to clean the mud off first. Vinegar does desolve grease and oil, but it will work better if you wash the grease and oil off with hot water then put back in the vinegar.
MY ADVICE TRY SOMETHING SMALL FIRST.
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