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How To Remove Rust From Metal Using Rust Converter

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We have a very good swap meet in Lincoln the first weekend of March, The Rocky Manginelli Memorial Swap Meet. It’s just the thing to shake off a long cold winter, even if winter is likely still hanging around. This year’s swap meet was packed and I was lucky enough to score some cool items for ongoing and new projects.

My favorite find was this Rochester Carburetor Service Parts cabinet. The hinge and door were in good condition, and the box was still square. It looked as if it had been laying on its back, holding captured water, as the inside had surface rust on the interior back and sides. I had never seen one before and didn’t know what the value might be. I talked the fella down to $35 and happily hauled it home, wondering how I would use it in my garage.

My goal was to make it functional in a garage that’s quickly filling up with stuff. Rust makes me uneasy. I don’t care to have my floor or walls stained with rust from unkempt objects. Plus, I didn’t want the cabinet to further deteriorate since the aim was to keep it functional.

I needed to treat the inside of the cabinet for the rust and preserve the outside with it’s neat vintage graphics. Speedway carries several 3X Chemistry products to treat rust. I chose to use the 3X Rust Converter.

Why use converter over the dissolver?

Looking more closely at the main box of the cabinet, it looked like it was galvanized steel, not painted steel. And the rust spots were where the galvanized coating had been damaged.

Rust Dissolver returns rusted surfaces to bare metal without harming the integrity of the metal. It will not harm plastic, rubber, seals, soft metals, or non-oxide coatings such as paint.

Rust Converter contains tannic acid which bonds to then reacts with rust to convert it to iron tannate. The rusted surface becomes a stable, dark, protective polymeric coating. The inert coating provides a primer base that seals out moisture to prevent future rust and corrosion. Then you top-coat the protected surface with paint. It’s not to be used with painted items, so I needed to avoid the orange lid of the cabinet. But it’s just the ticket to save and protect the galvanized steel box.

Step 1: Prepare the Surface

I washed the cabinet with warm, soapy water, scrubbing lightly with a wash cloth and a plastic scrub brush. This removed the noticeable dirt and grime. I let it air dry and then used a wire brush to remove loose rust and large scale deposits.

Step 2: Test It

I had never used this product before and just wasn’t sure what was going to happen. I shook the container well and poured a small amount into a plastic cup. I used a foam brush to generously coat a small area on the back of the cabinet. It looked like the 3X Converter was doing its job. The red-ish areas turned dark blue and then to a version of black.

You can also apply it with a trigger bottle or spray gun.

Step 3: Keep Going

I ran a wire brush across the interior of the cabinet, vacuumed the dust away and then coated it with 3X Converter. I gave it twenty minutes to dry then gave it a second coat to ensure a complete transformation. It dried to a matte finish.

I cleaned my hands and cup using soap and water and I tossed the foam brush.

Step 4: Apply Top Coat

The instructions said to wait 48 hours to allow the converter to fully cure before applying a finished coat of paint. I chose a Hammered Silver from Rust-oleum. This required two coats, but you can see the tremendous difference it makes. Plus, the hammered finish emulates the original galvanized steel look.

For the front of the cabinet, with all its vintage color glory, I used a clear coat called Everbrite. It’s used to encapsulate metal to keep it from corroding or corroding further, in the case of outside metal sculptures. It has a high gloss finish.

And now I have a useful cabinet in which to store my air compressor tools!

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