Removing Rust with Vibratory Tumbling Machines

Removing Rust with Vibratory Tumbling Machines

Rust Removal with Vibratory Tumbling Machines

The three items we decided to test rust removal on were all steel with some type of chrome plating on them. We used a porcelain polishing media because we didn’t want to dull the chrome plating. We could have used a ceramic media with a “M” or medium formulation such at a 5/8 x 3/8 angle cut tristar, which would have worked fine. In fact it probably would have removed every bit of rust but if run too long, more than about 30 minutes, the medium ceramic may have started to dull the chrome finish a little. We had the time to run them longer and were not looking for perfect rust removal.

Cleaning Stainless Steel Scissors

In our first test we took this pair of stainless steel scissors that had accumulated some rust to our test lab and ran them in a 3/4 cubic foot benchtop vibratory bowl with 3/16 x 3/8 angle cut cylinder porcelain media and some burnishing compound in the fluid system. They ran for about an hour and a half. There were still some small bits of rust but we were happy with how clean they came out.

Polishing Alloy Steel Craftsmen Wrenches

Next up was a box of wrenches that had varied level of rust and built up grease and dirt. Some of the items had a lot of rust so we were curious to see if we would get the same good results. We ran them in our three cubic foot machine with 3/16 x 3/8 angle cut polishing pins with the burnishing compound. They came out looking great. That is the great part of vibratory machines. They give a consistent result over all the parts put in.

Cleaning Chromium Steel Sockets

After the success with the wrenches we moved on to cleaning up a batch of sockets. Again these items were of varied sized and varied degrees of rust that needed removing. I also found another wrench so I threw that in as well.  We ran these in the 3/4 cubic foot vibratory bowl with a mix of porcelain polishing spheres from 4mm to 6mm and again used the burnishing compound. We left these tumbling in the machine for about an hour and half. Result were a set of clean and almost rustless sockets.

Removing Rust from Unfinished Steel

If you have some steel parts that are unfinished and have rust on them we would recommend running them in a medium formula ceramic media. This media comes in lots of shapes and sized and in order to find the one that will work best for your part is the one that will not lodge, see blog on lodging issues. We would also recommend using VF-100 compound on unfinished steel parts because that has a bit of rust inhibitor in it as well as industrial soap to keep everything clean.  Running them for about a half hour would remove the rust and not change the shape of your part. If you are going to be plating your unfinished steel part the shinier the steel is before plating the better the finish is going to come out.

Please Share Your Rust Removal Stories

We hope some of this helps you in getting your parts rust free, clean and looking their best. Let us know if you have methods that work well for rust removal or share your story with us.

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1 comment

I found a way cheaper way to do this. Put your parts and medium in a metal pot and wrap that in a garbage bag and tape the hell out of it with packing tape. Now wrap it in bubble wrap until it is 3 inches padded on all sides. Now wrap it in a comforter and wrap that in packing tape. Now maybe wrap a pillow on any sides are still hard when you punch it from different directions. Now stick it in your laundry dryer for a couple of hours on air dry. Fill the dryer with lots of towels and clothes so it doesn’t bang around from the uneven weight distribution. It will do the job of a machine costing hundreds and all it takes is some tape and a pot! I also used crushed china from my grandma I crushed with a hammer so the medium was free too. I am coming out with a video on the process on my youtube channel “artbyrobot”


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