Using electrolysis for cleaning rusty tank - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
1987 to 2007 Wrenching & Mods For maintaining, repair or modifications of Generation 1 KLR's. 2007 and earlier.

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post #1 of 20 Old 10-09-2013, 04:27 PM Thread Starter
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Using electrolysis for cleaning rusty tank

Just bought a 01 that is pretty beat up. Tank was rusty on the inside - but not so bad it was eating through metal. Looked more like surface rust. Did a number of searches and found electrolysis method. Seemed more safe than acid and didn't want to buy 6 gallons of cider vinegar.

Bought sodium carbonate (hard to find - had to go to pool supply store), mixed with water and filled up tank, rigged up wire into tank through rubber stopper that fit filler hole and then hooked up battery charger. Pretty simple and straight forward.

Checked on wire after about 30 minutes and it was covered in rust and slime - this crap was also floating on top of water. I have cleaned off the wire about 3 times in the last 3 hours. Will continue to do this until wire is clean and rust free. Figuring this may take a few days. Plan on power washing inside again and rinsing with acetone and gas before filling back up.

I'll post final results when done. If it works it sure is a cheap solution for removing rust from inside a tank.
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post #2 of 20 Old 10-09-2013, 05:55 PM
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Electrolysis does work well on rust. I collect cast iron cookware, and electrlysis is one of the proven, safe methods we collectors use to clean rusty cast iron. Your method may take along time using just a wire. We typically use a sheet of stainless steel and hang the skillet next to it, not touching, suspended in a container of solute, and usually in hours it will clean the piece up. It seems to work in "line of sight", meaning it will clean the side facing the stainless steel side, then you turn the skillet to clean the other side. You can use arm & hammer washing soda, it works well.
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post #3 of 20 Old 10-09-2013, 06:12 PM Thread Starter
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I may have to expand the metal piece - you are right about it not being big enough.
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post #4 of 20 Old 10-23-2013, 07:56 AM
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"Couple" Questions on this Process

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Originally Posted by tri650 View Post
I may have to expand the metal piece - you are right about it not being big enough.
I have a 1975 Yamaha DT400 that is 100% complete but, needs restored. The inside of fuel tank is rusty but, not real bad (sounds lke yours tri650). I really like your process and have just a couple questions....1) I assume the rubber plug and wire was inserted through the petcock hole, 2) What was your mixture ratio on your pool supply chemical and water and 3) when you attached your battery charger did you simply ground to the fuel tank and hook the positive to the end of your wire (I am kinda of an electrical idiot and prefer not to electrocute myself!)? To accomodate a larger piece of metal, I wonder if it would be better to go from the top down by inserting the metal strip in the fuel fill hole and plug the petcock (maybe that is what you actually did). I assume when the metal strip is in the tank, it should not touch any part of the gas tank but hang free? One final question, the battery charger you used, was it a "Battery Tender" type unit or the traditional auto shop battery charger...if the larger battery charger, was there any certain settings you set the charger on? I guess that was more than a couple questions....but, thanks!
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post #5 of 20 Old 10-23-2013, 10:02 AM Thread Starter
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In answer to your questions:
1: the plug was put in the fill hole - I found a big enough plug at Lowe's. I drilled a hole in it for the wire to fit through. I had an old petcock so I just left that in to plug that hole. I have seen other people rig some type of metal and rubber strip to cover that hole if you don't want to ruin your petcock.
2: roughly 1 tablespoon of powder per gallon - it doesn't totally dissolve but that did not seem to be an issue.
3: Yes, I clipped the ground connection to a bare metal part of the tank - i sanded a piece to bare metal on one of the mounting tabs. I was warned to make sure I found bare metal.

Make sure the wire going into the tank is not touching any metal. If it is the battery charger needle will jump. I started with a singe strand but it was picking up so much rust I ended up taking a metal coat hanger and bending back and forth for more metal coverage. I checked it frequently to clean it off. I left mine in about 3 days as it was pretty rusty. I changed the water once. When done I power washed inside and used leaf blower over filler hole to blow out all remaining water. Cleaned up very nice. Good luck.
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post #6 of 20 Old 10-23-2013, 10:03 AM Thread Starter
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Forgot the last question - I used a standard 12V car battery charger. Not sure how a tender would work.
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post #7 of 20 Old 10-23-2013, 10:04 AM
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Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by tri650 View Post
In answer to your questions:
1: the plug was put in the fill hole - I found a big enough plug at Lowe's. I drilled a hole in it for the wire to fit through. I had an old petcock so I just left that in to plug that hole. I have seen other people rig some type of metal and rubber strip to cover that hole if you don't want to ruin your petcock.
2: roughly 1 tablespoon of powder per gallon - it doesn't totally dissolve but that did not seem to be an issue.
3: Yes, I clipped the ground connection to a bare metal part of the tank - i sanded a piece to bare metal on one of the mounting tabs. I was warned to make sure I found bare metal.

Make sure the wire going into the tank is not touching any metal. If it is the battery charger needle will jump. I started with a singe strand but it was picking up so much rust I ended up taking a metal coat hanger and bending back and forth for more metal coverage. I checked it frequently to clean it off. I left mine in about 3 days as it was pretty rusty. I changed the water once. When done I power washed inside and used leaf blower over filler hole to blow out all remaining water. Cleaned up very nice. Good luck.
Awesome tri650 and thanks for the clarifications. The bike is a winter project and now know how to do a dreaded task much easier and cheaper!
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post #8 of 20 Old 10-23-2013, 10:05 AM Thread Starter
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OK - to answer your last question - I set it at Manual and full amperage - which was 10.
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post #9 of 20 Old 10-23-2013, 10:06 AM Thread Starter
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It wasn't really a bid deal. My issue was the 6 gallon tank and getting it in a position to sit upright off the bike with it being filled. Plus, lifting it to empty it - my back still hurts. Good luck with our project.
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post #10 of 20 Old 10-25-2013, 07:43 AM
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Have you tried the 10-1 molasses mix to remove rust?
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