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rusted tow chain

 
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I was digging a post hole in my barn and hit a tow chain 18 inches down. Of course, it is pretty rusted, but it is in relatively good shape.  How do I remove the rust? .....or, at least, reduce the rust.
 
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Soak it in a cola (Coke).  It is a mild acid and will remove a lot of the rust.  However, once metal begins to rust, it will continue to rust, unless treated with a coating to seal it from oxygen.  
 
John F Dean
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Thanks. You thinking is similar to mine. I was considering white vinegar.
 
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John F Dean wrote:I was considering white vinegar.


My husband uses vinegar on rusty tools. He just soaks it in a bucket with straight vinegar and checks it from time to time. He leaves it in for as long as it takes.
 
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Leigh Tate wrote:

John F Dean wrote:I was considering white vinegar.


My husband uses vinegar on rusty tools. He just soaks it in a bucket with straight vinegar and checks it from time to time. He leaves it in for as long as it takes.



Yep vinegar is how I clean 100+ yr old tools. It is amazing how much rust will come off, and how nice things can look afterwards.
 
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If you want to seal that rust from further corroding the steel and give the chain a nice dark "oiled" look, you could give it a quick coat of Penetrol.  It's manufactured by Flood and it's available at better home stores or on Amazon.  It's a paint additive (to make oil paints flow better and not leave brush marks) but I use it to treat rust on antiques --- keeping the patina of age, but stopping the rust from further corrosion.  

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Flood-Penetrol-1-Qt-Clear-Paint-Additive-FLD4-04/100130893

Or just spray the chain with WD40 every couple of months until you get a nice oil coating built up.

 
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Marco Banks wrote:If you want to seal that rust from further corroding the steel and give the chain a nice dark "oiled" look, you could give it a quick coat of Penetrol.  It's manufactured by Flood and it's available at better home stores or on Amazon.  It's a paint additive



Now that is a tip.  Thank you for that Marco.
 
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John,

I have used a product on a couple of outdoor tools (small axe) that had some rust on them.  The product is called Gemplers Rust Converter.  I got it in a simple aerosol can and just sprayed the axe with the rust converter.  I first cleaned the product and of course remove any rust that easily flakes off.  Once I sprayed it I let the axe sit for about a day.  The rust turned into a hard black substance that resists further rusting and I have to say that the axe has not rusted further.  If I get any rust on any other tools, Gemplers will be my go-to.

Hope this helps,

Eric
 
John F Dean
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To follow up,  I washed off the chain with a hose. Then, i used a hammer to loosen it and get rid of some of the rust and hardened clay.  The soaking in vinegar seems to be working. I suppose at some point I will use a steel brush on it and re-soak in the vinegar.  Anyway, at this point it is useable.  Overall, it was a very low price to pay for a high quality chain.
 
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If you have a sandy area tow the chain  behind a vehicle,  my brother learned that in the army
 
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I use electrolysis - washing soda and a battery charger.  Learned this trick cleaning old gas tanks.  Works like a charm.  You can also use boiled linseed oil on your chain - get it hot first.
 
John F Dean
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5 days of soaking and some work with a wire brush has resulted in a mostly shiny tow chain.  All links move freely. Total cost is one hour of work and 1.5 gallons of white vinegar.  Harbor Freight lists a similar chain for $35.00. I will now follow up on the advice and look for a way to seal it after a couple more days of soaking.
 
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