Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Project Mania 4

I picked up a small container of Oxalic Acid (O.A.) from my neighborhood Ace Hardware store for about $8. I've been reading about O.A.'s rust eating ability and wanted to try it for myself.

***Most of this took place the weekend before last but I've been too busy to post about it till now.

Wood Bleach, A.K.A. Oxalic Acid

My pink swimming pool was just slightly too small to allow complete immersion, I flipped the frame over numerous times throughout the process. I kept the frame in the solution for about 6 hours. I removed it when I noticed that the paint wasn't fairing too well (more on that below).

Here's a before shot of the bottom bracket shell.

Here's what it looked like after. Whatever rust remained, which wasn't much at all, was scrubbed with steel wool. I went over the frame and coated the exposed rust free steel with clear nail polish.

Here's a an old REG water bottle cage that I picked up for a quarter at a recent swap meet. I let this soak in the OA overnight.

After-All rust is gone, the metal is pitted in some places but it looks good. The chrome on one of the clamps is gone, but, if you look at the photo above, the chrome was gone before the cage went into the solution. I would like to find another one of these bottle cages with the clamps. The original REG clamps are very sturdy and shaped to prevent the cage from shifting (this frame require clamp on cages).

The chrome on the fork wasn't great to begin with but I noticed quite a bit of pitting after removing the frame from the solution.

The headbadge was much cleaner and brighter.

Now, about the paint. When I pulled the frame out of the solution I was surprised at how dull the paint had become (unfortunately I didn't take photos). Every scratch in the paint was painfully visible. I sprayed the frame with furniture polish but that didn't help at all. On a whim I grabbed a can of WD-40 and sprayed the top tube, surprisingly it did the trick. I doused the frame with WD-40, the paint seemed to soak it up like a sponge. Most of the scratches disappeared and the shine returned. My advice, if you plan to try O.A., go with a weak mix and long immersion time rather than the other way around.


  1. Never heard of the stuff. Thanks for the tip.

  2. I would suggest a glaze such as "Meguiars Show Car Glaze" followed by a good wax for the paint. Glaze is like "moisturizing conditioner" for paint. WD40 will likely not keep the shine as long. Many swear by "Meguiars Yellow Wax" but I like anything that's mostly carnauba with no silicone in it. Unless it's a ridden hard bike in which case I go for the "apply once and it lasts nearly forever" stuff. Either way, the wax has UV resistance and the glaze does not.

    One plus to Meguiars is you can use it on that classic Duesenberg as well as your bike.

  3. Pondero-I'm here to help.

    Steve A-Surprisingly the WD-40 still doing fine. I'll see if I can find some Meguiars glaze and wax and apply it before I build the frame back up.

  4. Oxalic Acid is an old boat standby. Used to make my hands swell up (don't need no steeking gloves). Now I just use it to de-rust stuff.
    Long baths means more of that white dulling stuff.

  5. They talk about O.A. on BikeForums frequently. I haven't gotten around to trying it yet. Supposedly exposure is cumulative- the stuff gets into your kidneys and never gets out, so frequent, continued use is not a great idea. Does it say something to that effect on the label, Myles?

  6. Oldfool-So you say that longer contact with the stuff just increases the chalky residue-interesting.

    Doohickie-I don't have the container any more but I read about most of the threads about O.A. in Bike Forums and paid attention to the warnings. I wore some thick dish washing gloves and made sure that the wind was blowing away from me when I added the stuff to the water.

  7. WD40: is there no end to the miracles of which it is capable?

  8. Thanks for the info, Myles! I've thought about trying the "rough stuff" for some restoration projects. Do you think the length of time you soaked the frame in the acid caused the dulling of the paint, or is it just the acid itself?

    As for chrome, I've found aluminum foil and lemon (or lime!) juice to work magic on getting rid of surface rust.

  9. Hmmm. I spray that stuff on my vinyl siding to get rid of mildew and then scrub it off. Guess I should start wearing rubber gloves now.

    It's amazing how that frame is coming back after looking so bad! And although the chrome on the fork is pitted, it still looks really shiny. Plus that headbadge is classic!

  10. Very nicely done, Myles! I wouldn't expect anything less from you.

    Peace :)