Crawls Backward (When Alarmed)

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Electrolysis to Remove Rust: Craftsman King-Seeley 103.23141 Drill Press Restoration, Pt. 2

In Part One of this series, we got the drill press column removed from the base. I had to get the column off to make the base easier to work with and get the rust off in preparation for repainting it.

You can see the rust is bad. I believe there was a mini-flood in my friend's basement where the drill press lived for a few decades.

And you can see the result.

This is the bottom - ironically aside from the parts that touch the floor, it's in good shape.

In pondering how to approach the problem, I did some searching on the interwebs and discovered a popular (and successful) way to remove heavy rust like this is by electrolysis.

There is a whole series of videos on rust removal on YouTube by a poster called "tubalcain" which is very much worth watching. He does a great job demonstrating the electrolysis process.

However, most videos and web sites show how to derust tools, not 80-lb cast iron drill press bases.

The main issue is I needed a tank large enough to hold the base. So I took some measurements, went to my local Despot, and found a suitable storage container.

It's a 17 gallon container. And it's big enough!

Now to connect it all up.

There is a lot on the internet about electrolysis to remove rust, so I'll spare you the details. But in short, you mix a solution of water and washing soda (sodium carbonate), and submerge your rusted part in it.

Then you use a battery charger to provide current. The negative side of the charger connects to the piece itself, which becomes the cathode in electrical terms.

A positive charge is put on rods or plates that are partially submerged in the solution. These, then, are anodes.

When the charger is turned on, the direct current flows from the negative cathode to the positive anode(s). And the rust goes with it!

The process does give off hydrogen gas, so I did this outside. If you do it inside, make sure you have good ventilation.

All of the reading I did said to use a manual battery charger. I do have a nice modern charger, but it's automatic. What this means is that an automatic charger connected to our electrolysis tank will not run because the charger has a sensing circuit to determine the charge state of the battery. No battery, no current.

Hence the manual charger. This is a 'classic' Schumacher 2/6 amp manual unit I procured. You will see many folks using this exact charger (or variations thereof).

I used some steel bar stock in the corners of the tank to serve as anodes. This is a typical connection - the positive lead of the charger (red clip) goes to the bar - I drilled a hole in the bar to facilitate a good connection with a 10 gauge wire (gauge not critical, but it was handy and easy to work with) which ran in turn to the other 3 anodes.

The green clamp just holds the bar to the tank.

You want to ensure the anodes and the cathode (the piece) don't touch each other.

And remember, the piece should be connected to the negative side of the charger.

This picture shows the negative connection to the drill press base. I cleaned up the column mounting screw and used that as a contact point.

Here I used bare galvanized wire for connections. Later I added another 10 gauge wire instead of the wire you see here. (I'll explain this later).

I used a few wires mainly because I saw some of the wire in tubalcain's videos get destroyed by rust during the process!  Although I'm not sure how that happened, since rust should be going away from the cathode side of the setup.

I mixed up about 2 cups of washing soda in a couple gallons of hot water. Hot water just to make the soda dissolve easier. Put that water in the tank, and then used a garden hose (see it in the picture) to fill up the tank the rest of the way.

Make your connections first, then turn the charger on. I had the charger set on the 6 amp setting.

You can see the large clamps on the tank - these are for the 4 bar anodes near each corner. The far-right bar has the positive side of the charger connected to it.

The small black clamp is the negative side of the charger.

After a few minutes, the solution should start to 'cook' - it will bubble as the process starts to work. You should see a current draw on the ammeter on the charger.

In my case, there was a small amount of bubbling, but I didn't get a current reading at all. It was clearly working, but very slowly. I let it run for 24 hours, but there wasn't much happening.

So I did some more reading on the process. Ideally, the anodes should surround the workpiece. Clearly, that wasn't practical for me.

However, I did take some thin (22 gauge) steel sheet and make bigger anodes.

I connected some small pieces of sheet to each of the bars in the corners.

Then I used two 1x1 foot pieces - one lying submerged under the drill press base, and one submerged suspended over the base - I drilled holes to use wire to suspend the plate over the drill press base. You can see that in the picture below.

The other element for me was the sheer size of the tank and the drill press base. I wasn't derusting just a small tool, so more power was needed.

I also read that it IS possible to use a modern automatic battery charger as a power supply. The key is to connect a battery in parallel between the charger and the electrolysis tank.

I took the battery out of Grey Girl, my 900S, and used that. I hadn't driven that car for a few weeks and the battery was nearly flat anyway. So since it needed a charge, the timing was good.

On the connections - just connect the battery to the charger as you usually would - then run leads from the positive battery terminal/charger lead to the anode on the tank, and do the same with the negative going to the workpiece.

And of course, I figured I needed more current, so I put the charger on the 15 amp setting.

Oh yeah.

Immediately I had a bubbling brew of electrolytic solution. You can see this on the left. (Note the top steel sheet suspended over the base - the other sheet is on the bottom of the tank.)

I was definitely cooking now!

I was wary that I'd need to pay close attention to this thing as it worked.

So I kept checking every 15 minutes or so.

After about 45 minutes my charger's readout (told you it was modern) said "Aborted - bad battery." I was concerned, so I unplugged it.

This what the solution looked like at this point - disgusting green, floating hunks of rust.

The anodes were covered with rust (just like those videos).

The charger read "Aborted" because the process had stopped, and most of the rust was gone from the base!

Wow. It's like magic. Forty-five minutes.

Unfortunately I didn't get a good picture of the base post-electrolysis after I took it out of the tank. But we'll see it as I continue to work on it.

I lugged the base down to The Dungeon. After the process, there's light surface rust remaining, but you just take it off by hand with a wire brush.

This is one of the sides - compare this to the shots above. The rust is GONE.

It also took some paint with it - paint was flaking off. But I'm repainting it, so it's not a problem.

I decided to spray some corrosion protectant spray on the base, since I have some areas of bare cast iron and it's going to take a couple weeks to be able to repaint the base.

In the background, you can see how clean the piece is - heavy rust is gone!

I'll continue this in the next post and have some better shots of the base. The polished, finished table part of the base is still covered with black rust - it was transformed during the process and still needs to come off. (You can see that in the picture above).

I'll use a wire cup brush on a grinder to get that off. But I'm thrilled I've gotten so much rust off at this stage.


Craftsman King-Seeley 103.23141 Drill Press Restoration, Pt. 1

I am now the proud owner of a circa 1952 Craftsman model 103.23141 15 inch floor drill press.

It was gifted to me by a good friend, and hand-delivered by Toy Making Dad himself. Wow. What service.

I have hankered after a classic cast-iron drill press like this for some time. My friend decided it was taking up too much space in her basement, so voila! it's not in The Dungeon.

TMD had taken the head off for shipping, so I have the head, and the base/column assembly already separated and ready to be worked on.

(I say "Pt. 1" for this post, but I suspect it may be some time before there is much progress. Looks to be a long-term project).

The head and the column are in very good shape, especially when compared to some of the images of the same press I've seen on the interwebs. The base survived a basement flood, and has some fairly heavy rust as a result. However, it's very restorable.

The press was made about 1952 for Sears Roebuck by King-Seeley Equipment Company of Ypsilanti, Michigan. It was sold under the famous Craftsman name.

I wanted to separate the column from the base to make the base a bit more manageable to work with when getting the rust off.

Here's the column and cast iron base. It's quite heavy.

The thing sticking out of the base on the right is the homebrew drift which I used to drive the column out.

I had the base tilted up like this (on the bandsaw table!) so I could soak the column hole in the base with penetrating oil.

I usually swear by PB Blaster penetrating oil. But this is a different animal with the heavy rust, so I discovered a great homebrew penetrating mix on the interwebs.

It's a 50/50 mix of automatic transmission fluid and acetone. I know, I didn't believe it either - until I mixed a batch up. It works great!

Nice color, huh?

I applied some of the oil into the column joint every day for about two weeks. There's also a screw that holds the column locking shoe in place, so I took the screw out and used that hole to squirt oil in as well.

While the penetrating oil was...penetrating, I pondered a lot and searched the interwebs about a method of driving the column out. I read one post where someone used a die from a large metal punch. That got me thinking about a drift that would work.

The column's hole diameter is about 2.25 inches, and the wall thickness is about 0.438 inches. I don't have a hole punch that large on hand. But it dawned on me that I might be able to get a black iron pipe fitting that would work as a drift.

So here you have it - straight from the Despot. It's a 1.5 inch coupler, with a 1.5 x 4 inch pipe nipple threaded in.

It's actually reversed in the picture - I put the pipe end into the column and drove the coupling into the column. The pipe more or less worked as a guide to keep the coupling/drift in place.

Here it is, ready to be whacked on.

I grabbed my 2.5 lb engineer's hammer and had at it.

You see what I mean about the pipe as a guide? It would have been too difficult to try to hold the drift with one hand and hammer with the other. The thing needed to be lined up in place.

Note the rust also. Not awful, but fairly heavy.

Here I start thwacking away.

After 5 or 6 strokes, I note the column moving inward!

Whoo hoo.

So I keep at it and before I know it, it's driven halfway through the base.

The drift fit perfectly inside the column hole, so it was aligned perfectly as it went deeper.

With the column about 2/3 of the way out, the locking shoe popped out of the bottom.

You can see where the shoe fits inside the base, then a large set screw locks the shoe against the column.

Ain't cast iron great?

Oddly enough, driving out last 1/2 inch or so was tough!

The drift was too far into the hole to hit, so I reversed the drift so that the pipe was on the outside, and I drove the pipe.

And you see the result - the column is free! Yes yes oh yes.

Now I'll work on getting the rust off the base.


SAAB c900 Antenna Repair and Service, Pt. 2

In Part One, we got our broken antenna out of the car.

Now with the antenna removed from the car, we can service it on the bench.

Here it is in all of its glory.

As you'll see, it's pretty straightforward to service.

Just make sure you don't lose any of the internals in the process.

Remove the center nut on the spindle. I believe this is an 8mm, but I could be wrong. Wouldn't be the first time.

There's also a hose on the end you'll need to pop off. I believe this is a drain hose, although it just hangs down in the car's fender - it's not connected on the other end.

There is a wheel on the top where the cable spools up. I took this picture after I removed the wheel - you'll see it in later pictures.

To remove the main gear, remove the c-clip (aka circlip) on the shaft.

The main gear will now slide up off the shaft.

If yours is like mine, you'll see 25 years (or more) worth of old lube on all of the parts.

We'll clean all that up.

On the top right in the picture is the spool I mentioned. And you can see my problem - the cable broke. Pretty typical. It was still wound inside the spool.

Here we have the smaller gears identified. The white cover just comes right off the top of the case.

Note the old lube packed in near the gear shafts. I cleaned all of that out.

This is a shot of some of the old, dirty lube being cleaned out. Sort of disgusting, but I figure if you've gone to the trouble of opening the thing up, you should clean it up and use fresh lube.

Every time I do a job like this, I'm reminded of that quote from my old MG (British Motor Corporation era) service manual: "Dirt and grit are the enemies of mechanical devices."

This is the worm gear that makes the magic happen. It drives the idler gears which in turn drive the main gear, and the spool.

Here are all the parts ready to go back together. Nice and clean.

I sparingly lubricated everything with this silicone lube before I reassembled it. It's a light-bodied lube.

I was going to use lithium grease, but I wasn't sure how the plastic would react to it. Probably fine, but I wasn't sure, so silicone it was.

Most of the parts reinstalled.

This is how the spool goes on the top. There is a small spacer/washer that rides on the top of the shaft.

I found it difficult to put the cover back on with the spool in place - that spacer kept getting knocked off.

So I just held the spool (and spacer) in place and put that and the cover on in one shot.

Put the nut back on the shaft and reattach the hose.

Now back to the car.

Reattach the mounting bracket and connect the antenna and power leads.

Get your new antenna mast ready. I gave the drive a light shot of lube before I put it on.

Thread the toothed drive down into the antenna until you hear it make contact with the gears.

The teeth should face backward, but you'll find when you move to the next step, the drive will align itself.

Don't put the antenna nut on the shaft yet.

You can do the next part yourself, but it's easier with a helper.

Turn the radio on. The drive may move upward a bit.

Then turn the radio off - the drive will get pulled down into the antenna. It doesn't go fast; you're just guiding it at this point. Much easier to do than describe. You will be amazed at how easy this part is.

You'll probably need to turn the radio on and off one or two more times before the whole cable is pulled down and the mast fully retracts.

This was my antenna after the first on-off cycle. Not fully down yet, but aligned and almost there.

And here it is, fully retracted. I suggest testing it once or twice at this point to ensure it works properly.

Now we can put the trim piece back on and tighten the 17mm nut.

I cleaned up my trim piece before reinstalling it. Looks pretty good now.

Put your spare tire back in the trunk, put the carpet back in, and you're done!


SAAB c900 Antenna Repair and Service, Pt. 1

Here's something that's probably familiar to most SAAB c900 owners.

Your radio is off, your car is off, yet your power antenna is still up! You can hear the motor churning away as it normally does, but the antenna doesn't retract (or raise). Mine wasn't retracting.

This is a pretty common issue and it's easy to remedy, fortunately. This is the first time Greeny's antenna has stopped working. Grey Girl (see her down the hill) is on her third antenna I believe.

So let's fix it.

There are three possibilities with regards to the issue. First, the motor may not be working. I think this is relatively rare, but it's possible. You would know that right away - you won't hear the familiar whir of the motor when you turn the radio on or off.

Second, the plastic mast toothed gear drive could have stripped teeth. In that case, you will be able to inspect it when you remove the mast. And you can compare its length to a new mast to determine that it's not broken. If the drive is indeed stripped, you can replace the mast without removing the motor assembly.

The third reason for the antenna failing is that the toothed gear drive is broken. If that's the case, you'll need to remove the motor assembly.

For either of the last 2 problems, you'll need a new antenna mast - eEuroparts offers the cheaper clones and the genuine SAAB part. I sprung for the latter.

First thing to do is remove the 17mm nut that holds the mast in place.

Now the mast and the toothed gear track will come up out of the antenna body.

My gear track looks suspiciously short.

Not to panic. I'll need to remove the motor and take a closer look.

If you are working on a convertible, you'll need to remove the spare tire to get at the antenna.

Remove the 19mm bolt holding the wheel to the bracket on the car.

I'm glad I did this actually. Turns out my original temporary spare tire is shot. You can see the tread is separating from the carcass! I need a new one.

Or I can just hope I never get a flat.

Then we undo the 3 trim screws holding the carpet on the left side of the trunk in place.

You can see a bit of the trunk spring on the upper left in the picture. The carpet goes up under the spring - when you put it back you'll need to slide it up under there.

With the carpet pulled away, you'll be able to see the antenna and its bracket.

Undo the antenna lead connector.

And separate the power connector. You'll also see that the connector hangs on the clip just above it in the picture. Be sure to clip it back in place when you reassemble it, otherwise the connector might rattle around and make you crazy!

Remove the 2 T-20 Torx bolts holding the antenna bracket to the car.

The whole antenna assembly will now drop down and you can remove it.

In the next installment, we'll get it on the bench and take it apart.