Rusty presses and electrolysis rust removal

I’ve got two rusty Kelsey presses. One 5x8 and one 6x10. I intend to get at least the 6x10 in working order. I’ve read about using electrolysis to remove rust and was wondering if there is any reason why this is a bad idea. If you’re not familiar with the process, this link explains it:


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I’ve seen the process demonstrated by a guy at the International Printing Museum. It worked!

I’ve seen electrolytic rust removal done a number of times, and it works quite well. In fact, I once set up a small tank to clean parts, using a 12v DC power supply and a weak hydrochloric acid solution. The results were outstanding.

That being said though, I don’t think I’d set up such a process for two Kelsey Presses. I’ve refurbished a number of them, and found that less exotic methods are perfectly well suited for them since they are relatively small.

For my machines, I’ve always used phosphoric acid (aka naval jelly… or similar products) and a wire brush. It does get a bit messy, but the end result is a very rust free surface that takes paint well. Just be sure to rinse it well after cleaning, and then repaint it promptly…… or it’ll re-rust on you.

Sand / soda / walnut shell blasting also works very nicely. For two presses, you might consider farming the process out to a subcontractor.