Avoiding flash rust on newly-cleaned machined steel parts

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Bkeepr
Posts: 250
Joined: Fri Jul 12, 2019 7:23 am
Location: West-central Maryland

Avoiding flash rust on newly-cleaned machined steel parts

Post by Bkeepr » Sun Aug 16, 2020 8:23 am

OK, I just discovered a long-standing problem for clock repairers-- flash rust. I've been on a world-wide clock-repair guild site, and it seems this is a widespread, long-standing problem. I can't believe somebody (machinists, auto-body repair, gunsmiths...) haven't figured out a solution, so I'm asking here.

Clock works are generally made of brass and machined steel. First step before repairing a clock is to clean it. Unlimited different kinds of cleaners, but basically in two groups: water-based (for safety and cost) and chemical-based (for throughput in big shops). I'm using water-based commercial clock-cleaning solution. Procedure goes like this: soak the disassembled parts in the cleaner, drain, rinse in hot water. Blow dry with compressed air, then put into my food dehydrator at 105 degrees for 2 1/2 hours.

Examine each part with a 10x loupe after removal from the dehydrator. I see light rust on several of the moving parts. Since the parts are roughly the size of a sewing needle, a little rust can keep the clock from running well, or potentially increase wear over the course of years of running.

So: any thoughts on how to keep the rust from occurring? I really was very careful because of all the warnings about "flash rust." I've literally read hundreds of threads in clock-making sites, as well as (now) several books on it. None of these folks seems to have a solution that works all the time, even the best only work "most" of the time.

I'm 0 for 1 and looking to improve, and would appreciate any new/clever ideas from you guys.

Jim in RP
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Joined: Fri Jul 12, 2019 6:16 pm
Location: Negros Island

Re: Avoiding flash rust on newly-cleaned machined steel parts

Post by Jim in RP » Sun Aug 16, 2020 8:33 am

WD40, in a vacuum chamber and suck the air (water) out. Leave the vacuum pump on over night. Do not touch the parts after the pump down with fingers. Might be worth a try. I learned this while working on Helicopters in Viet Nam, 1966. I have only used it a couple of times in the last 55 years. The times I used this method the parts were installed and I never saw them again so I do not really know if it worked or not.

Jim
Only The Dead Have Seen The end of WAR. "Plato"

Bkeepr
Posts: 250
Joined: Fri Jul 12, 2019 7:23 am
Location: West-central Maryland

Re: Avoiding flash rust on newly-cleaned machined steel parts

Post by Bkeepr » Sun Aug 16, 2020 8:57 am

the vacuum chamber is a new idea to me, and I will definitely research and consider it. Not sure how expensive that'll be, but if it is cheap enough for a hobby I will try it. WD-40, oddly enough to me, is considered too "gunky" for clockworks...a typical comment has been "tried it, and it leaves the works a gunky mess." I was thinking of using it on a rag just to wide down the pivot points, basically to clean off the light flash rust that has appeared before I attempt to re-assemble.

thanks for the vacuum chamber idea! I knew you guys would come up with something fresh and new.

Bkeepr Tom A

swampy
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Joined: Fri Jul 12, 2019 6:53 am

Re: Avoiding flash rust on newly-cleaned machined steel parts

Post by swampy » Sun Aug 16, 2020 9:25 am

Try rubbing alcohol, it seems to work on metal after using a paint stripper and wash off.

Bkeepr
Posts: 250
Joined: Fri Jul 12, 2019 7:23 am
Location: West-central Maryland

Re: Avoiding flash rust on newly-cleaned machined steel parts

Post by Bkeepr » Sun Aug 16, 2020 9:59 am

Swampy, thanks. An alcohol rinse after the hot water rinse is one of the recommended procedures, and that's what I used yesterday. It might have helped some (I didn't have a disaster, only spotty rusting), but it definitely didn't stop the rust entirely.

Red Dave
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Joined: Fri Jul 12, 2019 8:12 am

Re: Avoiding flash rust on newly-cleaned machined steel parts

Post by Red Dave » Mon Aug 17, 2020 8:43 am

Back in an earlier life I maintained some old chart recorders that used a clock mechanism to advance the chart. When I started we used whale oil to lubricate them.
Later, when we couldn't get whale oil anymore we used a product called LPS 1. It's very thin, and it puts a thin coating on metal parts. It might work for you.

https://www.acehardware.com/departments ... ants/13553

GeneMO
Posts: 155
Joined: Wed Aug 21, 2019 7:52 pm
Location: Speed Missouri

Re: Avoiding flash rust on newly-cleaned machined steel parts

Post by GeneMO » Tue Aug 18, 2020 3:47 pm

I have experienced the flash rust, but on tractor parts. I got all into electrolysis about 10 years ago. I built a 55 gallon tank. Solution of water and "Washing soda". Then suspend the part in there and run current through it to "de-rust" the part. When the parts come out of the tank the are very, very un protected. If left overnight on the work bench the next morning it would have a coat or rust on it. So, I started blowing off the part with an air hose, then use a heat gun to get all the moisture off of it. Then quickly spray it with an etching primer.

I know that is a whole different deal.

You can make electrolysis tanks in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

But it doesn't sound like getting it clean is your problem.

everything I can think of would involve some type of oil, or grease, and that wont work.

I do have several types of spray on dry lubricants I have work with on cartridge reloading. But they would probably gunk it up for you. Rem oil makes one, as does Hornady. I like the whale oil idea :lol:

Gene

Bkeepr
Posts: 250
Joined: Fri Jul 12, 2019 7:23 am
Location: West-central Maryland

Re: Avoiding flash rust on newly-cleaned machined steel parts

Post by Bkeepr » Wed Aug 19, 2020 12:11 pm

Thanks, guys. I'm experimenting with suggestions from the clockmaker's website, but if none of those works I may try the vacuum chamber idea. I think I can get a decent vacuum pump and build or buy a chamber for less than $200, so it isn't cheap, but it may be the most effective solution. I don't think rust will be a problem during the winter here, but summertime in the mid-Atlantic is crazy for rust on unprotected parts.

About the whale oil: I recently learned that whale oil was *the* preferred watch and clock oil up until sometime in the 1960s. It continued being the preferred lube for "high end" clocks up until 1980 or 1981 when it became illegal to use.

anyway, thanks again everybody!

Red Dave
Posts: 90
Joined: Fri Jul 12, 2019 8:12 am

Re: Avoiding flash rust on newly-cleaned machined steel parts

Post by Red Dave » Wed Aug 19, 2020 4:28 pm

I don't know when it became illegal to sell whale oil, but I used it from the mid 1970's - to the mid 1980's. Likely we were using up old stock. In the mid '80's the 1930's era chart recorders that had clock mechanisms were also being retired and replaced with more modern equipment, so we didn't have much need for the whale oil anymore.

From what I remember of the whale oil, it stank. But it came in little bottles and was applied with a needle. You would stick the needle in the oil, pull it out and leave only a tiny bit on the end of the needle, then apply that to the mechanism. We used so little of it at a time that a very small amount would last a long time. The oil I used might have been bought decades earlier and then sat on a shelf for as long as I had been alive. Who knows? I don't remember ever ordering any new supply, we just used what was there until we didn't need it anymore. Then we went to the LPS1 for any small, delicate moving parts.

Jim in RP
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Joined: Fri Jul 12, 2019 6:16 pm
Location: Negros Island

Re: Avoiding flash rust on newly-cleaned machined steel parts

Post by Jim in RP » Thu Aug 20, 2020 3:09 am

Gene,
If you do try the vacuum chamber it wouldn't take much to convert a Presser cooker in to a vacuum chamber. If you went with used you could probably build your own for under $100.oo.
In Nam we used a 5 qt. Presser cooker to build ours. Here in the PI keeping my tools rust free is a never ending battle. I now use a wire wheel and spray Polyurethane or WD40, depending on the tool.
Only The Dead Have Seen The end of WAR. "Plato"

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