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Relic M35 rust removal, electrolysis or oxalic acid?

Article about: Personally I'd say in your case use the oxalic acid method on this helmet, as it appears from your pictures that a lot of the original paintwork is still intact. If you use caustic soda on l

  1. #41

    Default Re: Relic M35 rust removal, electrolysis or oxalic acid?

    Hi Yuengling,

    No need to apologize, thats what this thread is for! You have a great helmet with alot of potential to clean up very nicely. I look forward to seeing your results and understanding the methods you've used to remove the rust.

    If my second shipment of oxalic is refused through the post then i'll try the BKF also and see if that gets through so good luck with your lid and please keep us posted.

    BTW if anyone else has tips, hints, before and after shots etc then i'd love to see and hear about your experiences.

    Glenn

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  3. #42

    Default Re: Relic M35 rust removal, electrolysis or oxalic acid?

    Well the Oxalic acid arrived today in the post Good old Royal Mail !

    Next step is to find out how well this stuff works!

  4. #43

    Default Re: Relic M35 rust removal, electrolysis or oxalic acid?

    10 years ago I bought uncleaned Fallschirmjäger helmet from Leningrad region, it was one of the first helmets cleaned with oxalic acid, but this acid makes decals softer, so I washed off perfect luftwaffe eage from that helmet.

    Be careful with decals, after drying they again become hard, but in acid they are soft, better don't touch them at all.

  5. #44

    Default Re: Relic M35 rust removal, electrolysis or oxalic acid?

    A good tip! Thank you, I will be careful.

  6. #45

    Default Re: Relic M35 rust removal, electrolysis or oxalic acid?

    OK, so i've completed the Oxalic acid cleaning process and the results and a comparison with before and after shots will be posted shortly.

    I think this will provide a good example of what the acid can and can't do and will hopefully assist others with making the decision to try the method or leave well enough alone.

    Points to note:

    1) The process took longer than I thought it would. 24 hours and a higher acid concentration than some had advised.
    2) The heavier rust was still difficult to remove and required some 'persuasion' with a scewdriver which was difficult to use only on the rust chunks and not against the surface of the helmet itself.
    3) The remaining original paint DID lighten up although maybe that can be darkened again with some renaissance wax or something similar.
    4) Sponging the acid on was never going to work, a tough kitchen scourer (the green pad type) was used as well as lots of the steel wool (the ones with the soap inside)

    Was it worth it? See below and make up your minds and please feel free to comment. This was a great learning experience and I hope others will benefit from my efforts.

    Cheers

  7. #46

    Default Re: Relic M35 rust removal, electrolysis or oxalic acid?

    OK, first is the right hand side. Obviously the light rust has gone and much of the heavier chunks have gone also. Note how much the paint has lightened up. I'm not in love with the lighter color but I think some wax or oil might darken it back up again.
    The helmet I think was a reissue and the original paint is what appears to have lightened the most while the darker reissue paint seems to have survived the acid bath in better shape. The national decal appears to have become slightly clearer although it was obviously in pretty bad shape to start with so I couldn't hope for miracles there.
    One important point is that the helmet is now much nicer to handle, there aren't chunks of rust and dirt falling off it or out of it and I don't need to wash my hands now after handling it! My wife is even agreeable to it being in the house now!

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  8. #47

    Default Re: Relic M35 rust removal, electrolysis or oxalic acid?

    Left side view:

    I might have been tempted to have left the helmet 'as is' if it wasn't for that huge, ugly blob of rust on the crown that was bugging me every time I looked at the lid. That rust just had to go!
    Again it is obvious that the original paint has lightened up considerably and the reissue paint has been removed to some extent but as I say, I hope that can be darkened with some renaissance wax.
    The decal was the surprise package of the exercise, I didn't know there was a decal under there and although it's in bad shape, I think its a great find!
    (note) under the decal where I had rubbed with some nail polish remover to remove the paint covering the decal you see how dark green the paint is? I might try going over some of the lighter patches with the acetone to see if the lighter paint can be rubbed back to a more original shade.

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  9. #48

    Default Re: Relic M35 rust removal, electrolysis or oxalic acid?

    Too mutch time in acid, acid only makes rust softer, don't use steel wool it takes of paint.

    I use solution of half glass of acid to bucket of water and clean off rust every 15 minutes, all process is some 2-3 hours, not more, after it all I put helmet in solution of Na2CO3 for 10 minutes to neutralize acid and take off salts if they appear.

    For cleaning I use old knife and green pad for light rust. I will show them a bit later.

  10. #49

    Default Re: Relic M35 rust removal, electrolysis or oxalic acid?

    Interior view:

    The interior was quite a mess as well with big chunks of rust and pieces of rust falling out etc. The acid softened the chunks enough to let me scrape them off with the screwdriver but it took a long time. Light surface rust I can understand would be removed in short course but those big chunks did not want to let go!

    The owners name came up a little clearer and I can identify 'Gefr' as the rank but nothing of the surname.

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  11. #50

    Default Re: Relic M35 rust removal, electrolysis or oxalic acid?

    Quote by Inf Div 121 View Post
    Too mutch time in acid, acid only makes rust softer, don't use steel wool it takes of paint.

    I use solution of half glass of acid to bucket of water and clean off rust every 15 minutes, all process is some 2-3 hours, not more, after it all I put helmet in solution of Na2CO3 for 10 minutes to neutralize acid and take off salts if they appear.

    For cleaning I use old knife and green pad for light rust. I will show them a bit later.
    I first mixed 100g of oxalic and soaked the helmet for 10 minutes and then tried scrubbing at the rust but nothing moved...I waited another 15 minutes then tried again, again nothing. I kept going back every 15 minutes for 2 hours before it started getting dark so I added another 100g of oxalic and some more hot water (there was total 12-13 liters of water in the bucket) and left it overnight. I had to go to work the next day so the helmet soaked for 24 hours but even then the rust was difficult to remove. I used some NaHCO3 on the helmet at the end to remove the oxalic salts but it was only a quick rinse, I probably should have given it a soak for a few minutes as you suggest.

    I was happy to see the decal and owners name come up and if I can darken the paint with wax or oil then I think I'll be happy with the outcome. I was thinking about putting a repo liner in but have decided against it seeing as the helmet is now nice and clean and is actually allowed in the house now!

    I hope my efforts have shown what to expect to anyone thinking of trying this method. Pluses: Rust is mostly removed and decals/names may come up clearer. Minuses: Discoloration and loss of paint.

    So the choice is yours to make, risk paint loss and lightening of colour in order to remove rust and perhaps bring up a decal or two.

    Would I do it again? Yes. Would I use steel wool? No.

    Cheers
    Glenn

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