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Home and Building, Volume 18 Number 1 (June 1955)

The Prevention and Removal of Rust

page 72

The Prevention and Removal of Rust

The amount of damage that is caused by rust is amazing. Although the householder sees only a merest fraction of this, the effects of rust and corrosion on the numerous metal articles used domestically today can very easily be expensive, The small domestic articles such as gardening tools and machinery are easily preserved with a regular application of grease to cutting edges and moving parts, or paint to metal frameworks.

Other, and perhaps more important items which are exposed to corrosion are such things as rainwater pipes, gutters, metal gates and railings, ventilating grids, window frames and the like. Sometimes too, there are corrugated metal outbuildings such as a shed or garage that must be considered.

The old saying that 'prevention is better than cure' is very true when applied to the corrosion of metal. Once corrosion starts on exterior metal, it becomes very difficult to stop it, and by putting an application of paint over rust, by no means prevents any further damage. Indeed, this practice more often than not accelerates the eating away of the metal, and in a very short time the paint can be seen flaking off in large lumps. It follows then, that before treatment at all is given, all signs of rust must be removed.

A slight film of rust on a metal object may be quite well removed with a coarse sandpaper and vigorous rubbing, but where rusting is considerable it will be necessary to use a wire brush for the job. Should the case arise where the condition has been so neglected that the corrosion is far advanced, then it may be necessary to use a hammer or a file to remove the scale.

Whatever the amount of rust present, it must be completely removed down to bare metal before any further treatment is attempted. Up to recent years, the method of painting metal was first to apply a priming coat of red lead. This possesses the quality of preventing rust perhaps more than any other material. Now, however, there are on the market a variety of bituminous base paints which obviate the necessity of using red lead. The paints are available in various colours and they are of a thin consistency and therefore economical to use. Such paint can be applied straight on to the metal in the normal way and two coats are usually sufficient to make a good job of any exterior metalwork.

In the painting of ironwork it is care rather than skill that is called for, and as already pointed out, thorough cleaning is of the utmost necessity if the desired result is to be obtained. If there is any grease present it must be removed or the paint will not dry and is easy done with the aid of a small amount of turpentine or paraffin. Furthermore, painting should always be done on a dry day for no paint will adhere properly to a moist surface.