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Registered: 10/17/13
Posts: 9
Reply with quote  #1 
Hi All

Just got an old kerosene heater with lots of rust around the metal body.
What would be best way to remove the rust, and trying to bring it up to original surface?

I did some googling around, but there are too many different type of chemicals for sale, and I am not sure, what is the best one.

I was going to just spray WD40 on the rusted surface, and wipe it with wire wool pads, but what about using one of these chemically based rust converter / rust killer?

Thanks in advance.

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Registered: 10/28/11
Posts: 106
Reply with quote  #2 
I cleaned one of my heaters with steel wool and Scotchbrite pads. I disassembled the heater and cleaned each piece seperately. When it came to the chimney, I clamped a piece of 2X4 in the vice to support the piece while I scrubbed the rust off. I'll bet I spent 3 or 4 hours doing that.  Then I got wise and took the other two heaters to the shop and cleaned them in the sand blaster. It worked so well I did a couple of lanterns in there as well.

Registered: 12/01/12
Posts: 55
Reply with quote  #3 
I have a glass bead blasting cabinet.  There are stripping services out their, but availability depends on where you live.  I've also farmed our electrolytic alkaline dip stripping (Redi Strip).  Soda blasting is another alternative.  

What method you use depends on a number of factors - how deep the rust is surface or deep pitting, how prone is the part to warping from heat? These parts tend to be thin.   Chemical- acid.  I reserve this method for small spots-deep pits, when it's not worth dragging back to the stripper for blasting or you cannot easily blast it.  A rust spot from a chip on a hood for example that has rusted over time.  You don't want to strip the whole hood or blast, but you can carefully use Muriatic acid, and soda rinse.

Stripping a whole part by hand, especially if there is pitting rust, would be very labor intensive and would require acid to get all the rust out of the pits.  I don't recommend this method.  Using a service for electrolytic dip stripping is great, but I only know of this in roselle, IL and Indianapolis.  there might be one in texas too.  dip stripping is not good for parts with hidden areas and seams that cannot be properly sealed with sealer primer afterwards.  

Registered: 02/01/11
Posts: 83
Reply with quote  #4 
I've had good luck using a solution of molasses and water. Easy to find and inexpensive. Almost any farm store has it in 1gal. Jugs for around $10 a gal. Mixed in a ratio of 1:8. Depending on how bad the rust the time it needs to soak will vary. If the rust isn't completely gone just soak longer. There are a load of short clips on You Tube, just google molasses rust removal. This solution last for at least 2 to 3 months. When you need to dispose of just add it to the soil in your garden or flower beds . Metal will flash rust and needs to to treated once cleaned. Will not remove oil , grease or paint. But these areas aren't usally rusty. Cheap and safe for Mother Nature. Only down side is it may take a little longer then sand blasting or more harsh chemicals. Jim

Registered: 10/17/13
Posts: 9
Reply with quote  #5 
Thank you for all your great info. Much informative and helpful.
I would like to try sand blasting service if locally available, but so far not found one yet. Maybe it will be expensive too?

This old heater from 1950s has rusted all over 100% and quite deep into the metal body, but it still seem solid.
It is quite large, so elbow grease with WD40 and steel wool will take just too long time and hard work.

I will keep do researching and see what is the most effective, easy and quick and cheap way to tackle the rust (probably it does not exist, however).
Many thanks & regards. Jay

Registered: 12/01/12
Posts: 55
Reply with quote  #6 
Do not sand blast.  That is too coarse.  You can glass bead blast, which is done in a cabinet style blaster.  That is gentler than sand blasting.  The sheet metal on these old heaters is quite thin, which I why I chose to dip strip them.  Where do you live?  You can use Redi-Strip in Roselle, IL if you don't mind paying the shipping each way.  They apply a zinc phosphate coating on the parts to prevent them from rusting for about 2-4 weeks, enough time for you to be able to rinse them and prep and prime them.  The coating is removed by rinsing with clean water, then quickly dry with compressed air and get them primed with sealer primer.  I use PPG DPLF epoxy sealer primer.  Or for parts that will get hot, you can paint them with high heat paint instead.

Registered: 10/17/13
Posts: 9
Reply with quote  #7 
I am in UK, a bit far away from IL. I did some googling around but sand blasting service is very expensive and far away from where I live. As I just want to spend as little as possible for restoring this heater, and there are just too many chemical products around which are dubious on lasting results, I might be just going for WD40 and steel wool by elbow grease option. I have a few kerosine heaters in full working order, so it is not hurry to get this rusty old heater working.

This heater is very rusty all over, but I found out that it is not in full working condition either - being tube fed fuelling system, I am sure, it has some blockage somewhere, which needs to be unblocked by pump or the Bowden cable.

When loaded with fuel bottle, and turned on, lit, it tries to burn, and then about half way it just dies down. Looks like it is starving fuel, and it tries again and goes same circle. While this is going on, my shed is full of gas and stink of kerosine. Maybe this needs sorted first before cosmetic body work? cheers.

Registered: 12/30/12
Posts: 211
Reply with quote  #8 
For rust removal, I use a brass wire wheel on a buffing motor. You can use a bench grinder but the exposed shafts are generally quite short where a motor set up for buffing has longer shafts making it easier to get large parts around the brass wire wheel. I just picked up a cheap buffing setup from Harbor Freight and replaced the buffing wheels with Brass wire wheels.  (
I finish up with Simichrome polish on a buffing wheel for the final luster. Harbor Freight has sales all the time and I only spent about $75 for the entire setup, including Brass wire wheels. Amazon got me a large tin of the Simichrome polish. It is not too agressive. Didn't want something too agressive like some other polishes. 


Registered: 10/17/13
Posts: 9
Reply with quote  #9 
Just remembered I have buffing wheel which works with hand drill, and maybe I should start with this set up.  With WD40 and this tool, it may just do the job?
The heater body is quite bulky and heavy and one piece, so lifting it and moving around the tool would be quite difficult, so maybe just hand drill with buffing wheel would be easier.
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