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Removing surface rust from machined surfaces

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by hemisteve, Jul 17, 2008.

  1. What's a good way to remove rust from flat, true machined surfaces without damaging the surface itself? I've got a bunch of shop equipment that was stored in an ocean freight container and the humidity has rusted all the bare metal/machined surfaces. I hate to get aggressive and screw up the parts - any easy way to clean it off? I've heard rubbing compound works (yes, I did a thread search first :D) but, again, I don't want to mess with the tolerances of the machined parts. Any thoughts?

  2. fab32
    Joined: May 14, 2002
    Posts: 13,988

    Member Emeritus

    Get some Gibbs brand penetrant. A couple of applications and patience will bring the surfaces back with NO materiel removal. It's amazing stuff. Go to and learn all about it.

  3. I don't know if it'd mess with the tolerances but you might try some 0000 steel wool and WD-40 if it's just light surface rust. A spray bottle with distiled whight vinager to softan it up first might be handy.
  4. dabirdguy
    Joined: Jun 23, 2005
    Posts: 2,404

    Member Emeritus

    Brass wire brush. Its softer than the steel and harder than the rust.
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  5. 3-OOO steel wool mixed with the gibbs>>>>.
  6. bronze steel wool too, boat stores have it.
  7. oldspeed
    Joined: Sep 14, 2004
    Posts: 894

    from Upstate NY

    When we have moisture problems at the factory we wipe the surfaces down with Kerosene and a rag, seems to work on Bridgeport tables and does no harm. It won't remove pits but will clean things up.
  8. Great info guys - I've talked to Dave Mann about that Gibbs stuff and it does sound amazing, looks like I'm placing an order . . .

  9. Elmo Rodge
    Joined: May 12, 2002
    Posts: 2,000

    Elmo Rodge

    I've also used air tool oil and scotch brite. It worked quite well. Wayno
  10. noboD
    Joined: Jan 29, 2004
    Posts: 6,842


    And maybe some fine scotchbrite.
  11. toddc
    Joined: Nov 25, 2007
    Posts: 982


    If its a bit too heavy for #000 steel wool, try scraping it with the long edge of a HSS parting tool bit. But be careful not to let the ends dig in.
    Joined: Apr 9, 2002
    Posts: 1,783

    I know that steel is the topic here, but just wanted to point out that as Steel Wool is rubbed across something, tiny steel particles are broken off, and they can become embedded in soft metals, leading to rust. That doesn't happen with Scotch-Brite.

    Since I started using it in the Eighties, I've been of the opinion that Scotch-Brite made Steel Wool obsolete. We're really lucky it exists.

    (602) 233-8400

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