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My electrolysis set up with instruction

By:Larry Cissna <Send E-Mail>
Date: 5/22/2013, 1:05 am

Several have asked for me to do this so they can use my method, so here it is. Might get Jim to archive this post as these take a long time to do especially with photos. For the record, I used a little Mike King info combined with a little Leonard Short info. combined with some Jim Martin info., and came up with my own interpretation, in other words, I listened to what they had to say, and came up with my way of doing it :)

CAUTION - Don NOT use this method on live or loaded munitions. Make sure all munitions have been defused by a proffesional and all powder removed!

1. Go buy a cheap 48qt cooler


2. Take the lid off.


3. Cut a "V" groove in center of both ends of the cooler. You can cut two in each end if you wish to cook more items and put your anode in the center, but for now we will just go with the one rod in the center.


4. Go buy a stick of 1/2 inch or 5/8 all thread rod. It can be steel, and make sure its longer than the ice chest. Put the rod in the grooves.


5. Go buy a stick of 1-3/8 in. x 36 in. and 1/16 in. thick of punched steel or solid flat bar. In this photo Im using an old hinge. Do not use stainless steel for your anode, it can cause cancer, read here: http://antique-engines.com/stainless-steel-electrodes.htm Bend the flat steel bar to fit into the cooler "bottom of the cooler". I made the bottom bend a bit larger so it would bow and hold itself in the bottom.


6. If you look in this photo, you can see the end of the flat bar iron bent up at the end. This allowed the bar to hold itself in place.


7. You are going to need a battery charger. You will hook the negative lead to the all thread rod and the positive lead to the iron bar.


8. You will need to buy some 16 gauge, and 10 gauge copper wire. You will need to determine how much you need of each. The small wire is for small stuff, and the larger wire for the larger stuff. You will twist your item to one end of the copper wire, and you can simple wrap the other end around the grooves of the all thread rod. Before you twist the end to your item, you must make sure the cooper wire is touching solid raw iron on your object for a good connection. If it is not, it will not work. To do this, I took a dremmel tool coupled with the little grinder wheel it came with and made small grinds on the object to where I could see the shiney raw iron, then tied it on. When you have all the pieces ready, it should look like this.


9. Now we are cookin! We need to go back to the start for a minute. Before you place any items in the cooler to be cooked, we need to make our solution. Take and put some dish washing powder soap "dont matter what brand" into the empty cooler "I use a cup of it", then take the water hose and fill up the cooler about 3/4 with water. I use my finger on the hose to make a good pressure of water to mix up the soap real good. DO NOT do this while you have your all thread rod, anode, or charger hooked up. This solution mixing will be the first step. I couldnt show this step as I needed to show how things look during. Once you have made your cooking solution and have gone through steps 1-8, plug the charger in on a low amp setting "I use 2 amp" on mine and it should look like this. Your items will begin to bubble. Cook anywhere from 4 hours to all nite. I liked cooking over nite and getting up the next morning. It was like Christmas everyday around here :)


10. (Not Shown) Get a 5 gallon bucket and fill it half way with water. Get ya 3 wire brushes of different sizes. After electrolysis is over, you will take each item out of cooler, and brush off in 5 gallon bucket. You will see your item flaking black stuff, thats perfect! If you do not see this and your item remains brown in color, it didnt cook due to a bad connection. Trust me, I had to re-do some several times.....it comes with the territory.

11. *** This step is optional*** You need a oil pan "the pan you drain your trucks old oil in" they sell them for less than 5 bucks at the auto parts house. Then you need to buy a gallon or 2 of Evaporust. This stuff is bio degradable. Cost about $24 a gallon, but this stuff is amazing! As you finished brushing off your items, put them in the pan. Fill the pan with evaporust "enough to cover your items in the pan". I let my items set for 2-3 days. Its a good idea to do a large group of smaller stuff at the same time as it will cut down on time.

12. After soaking in evaporust, you will need to take items out and rinse off with water. You will notice how steel looking everything is and the evaporust will turn black! Dont throw the evaporust away, save it and use again.

13. Now we are ready to fire the items and get all the moisture out. I use a 50 gallon homemade pit to fire my items. I use coals and oak.


I use a clothes hanger on the items that have holes in JPGm as I can loop several pieces on the hanger. Dont go over board or you will collapse the hanger. Stick the items in the fire leaving the hanger out of the pit so you can grab it when their good and hot.


14. You need a 5 gallon bucket and used diesel motor oil Diesel motor oil has alot of carbon in it.


15. Dip your items in motor oil while they are hot. They will smoke and pop. Thats a dramatic action which lossens any extra iron scale and the oil is absorbed into the pores of the iron.


16. Pull items out of oil after about a 20 second dipping.


17. (Not Shown) After pulling my iron out of the oil, I put it back into the fire. I repeat this process twice. Whats really good about this is, the iron has absorbed the oil in its pores and when put back into the fire the oil burns which means we are getting rid of any moisture in the iron pores.

18. After going through the firing and dipping, on your last firing and you have all the oil burned off, take items out of fire and place on plywood. Let them cool off. Caution, solid items such as cannonballs and cannister could take up to 4 hours to cool. Trust me I found out the hard way :)


19. Once your items have cooled, take a rag and gently wipe them down. Once you have them wiped down, its time to paint them. I use Rustoleum Flat Black! Get a piece of plywood or whatever you want and paint the sides of all items. Let dry and paint the other sides...let dry. I did this process right before bed. When I woke up it was like Christmas again :) Examine your item to make sure you coated it all. I can assure you, there will be spots you missed :) Paint those spots :) It is a good idea to put two coatings of paint on all items. Your done and your iron is ready for display!


20. Now heres another method I used on items that wouldnt loop on a clothes hanger. I bought a stainless steel basket "it must be stainless steel" and a pot it would fit in.


21. I used clothes hangers on the basket so I could control it when lifting the basket. I connected the other ends of the clothes hanger to a metal rod for lifting. Put items in basket, and put diesel oil in pot.


22. Put the basket in the fire and repeat the fire/dipping process twice. Let cool on plywood, wipe items with rag and paint! This method worked GREAT! I got alot done quick!!


23. If your items have brass on them like on locks, I didnt treat it any differently, however, some may want to keep the original patina the best they can. Jim Martin says to use Vaseline I do believe. Might ask this question on the forum how to protect the patina on brass while electrolysising the iron.

Hope this helps. I realize this seems to be alot of steps, but its really not once you get set up. The set up, cooking and evaporust are the longest parts of the process of course using the evaporust is an optional step. The firing and painting is the best :thumbs

Larry Cissna




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