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Cure for rusted dies?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Shmackey, Jun 26, 2018.

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  1. Shmackey

    Shmackey Member

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    I've got full Dillon toolheads with dies for two rifle and three pistol calibers--and they're all terribly rusted after spending a few years in salty air.

    I've read that you can tumble them to clean them up, but I just can't imagine that'd do it--certainly not in corn.

    Any hope for these dies?
     
  2. LiveLife

    LiveLife Member

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    You can always call Dillon to see what they may offer but if you want to restore them yourself, this is what I did. I restored badly rusted Lee dies that a friend left in the garage for years in following steps on this thread - https://www.thehighroad.org/index.php?threads/cleaning-rusty-dies.586563/

    Before pictures.

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    I initially tumbled them in NuFinish treated fine grit walnut media (walnut cleans better but corncob polishes better).

    After 2 hours tumbled in Cabela's 400 tumbler (Berry's 400).

    [​IMG]

    After 10 hours of tumbling

    [​IMG]

    While walnut removed much of loose surface rust, there was still a lot of rust so I used dollar store rust remover (LA's Totally Awesome) to remove all remaining rust. This was cheap ($1) and easy way for me to remove rust. Thread has more suggestions from other members on chemically removing rust - https://www.thehighroad.org/index.php?threads/cleaning-rusty-dies.586563/#post-7234446

    [​IMG]

    Before and after rust remover

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
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  3. LiveLife

    LiveLife Member

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    I then tumbled them 2 more hours in NuFinish treated walnut media to coat the surface with polymer (to prevent future rusting) and wiped them with a cloth. Much better than before and actually very serviceable (They are currently in use).

    [​IMG]

    Dimples on top of shellplate are from depriming pin :eek::D. My friend is brutal with his equipment!
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    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
  4. Shmackey

    Shmackey Member

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    Wow nice. Did the tumbling get the inside surfaces that the brass touches?

    The dies themselves aren't Dillon. They're RCBS, Hornady, and Redding. They live in Dillon toolheads, all nicely dialed in exactly where they should be. :(
     
  5. ray15

    ray15 Member

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    Evapo-Rust. You won't remove base metal like you do with abrasive methods. It's on the shelf at Walmart in the paint section.

    https://www.evapo-rust.com/
     
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  6. LiveLife

    LiveLife Member

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    My friend fortunately had been cleaning and oiling the inside of dies and they were rust free. In fact, inside of carbide ring was shiny.

    I usually use Hoppe's #9 and brush to clean the inside of my dies and don't let them get rusty (I live at the coast within a mile to the beach and even stainless steel rusts here!).

    If the inside of dies are rusty, tumbling won't do anything as tumbling media packed inside won't move to remove surface rust. Your best bet would be to chemically/mechanically remove the rust from inside then oil to prevent future rusting.
     
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  7. Hokie_PhD

    Hokie_PhD Member

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    I was going to suggest that stuff. It seems to work pretty well.
     
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  8. LiveLife

    LiveLife Member

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    TIP: After you chemically/mechanically remove the rust, tumbling in NuFinish treated media will coat the surface with polymer and will prevent future rusting (Of course, you can apply NuFinish or other polish manually).
     
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  9. ray15

    ray15 Member

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    It has worked very well for me. :thumbup:
     
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  10. Shmackey

    Shmackey Member

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    Whoa. I'd never heard of Evapo-Rust. Sounds too good to be true!
     
  11. Shmackey

    Shmackey Member

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    Further thought: if Evapo-Rust would work, I could soak the entire toolheads* and not have to re-calibrate 25 dies.

    *I assume it wouldn't eat the aluminum toolheads.
     
  12. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    Nice clean up job! They look great.

    Ummm, how many depriming pins has your buddy broken over the years?
     
  13. ray15

    ray15 Member

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    It's safe for any metal. I find it can darken the finish of pot metal if left to soak too long, but it's a very minor effect. It doesn't even remove many types of paint - but it's death to rust. They only have the small bottles at Walmart, but you'd need two at most. There are also a number of larger sizes available through Amazon (I have a 3-gallon bucket).
     
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  14. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    I used a Lyman T Mag, now a Redding T-7 to size all my rifle brass. Because the quantity of 223, 308 and 30-06 ammunition I fired in NRA competition, I left these three dies in the turret heads, assuming that because of the frequency of use, they would not rust.

    NuX3x0D.jpg

    I figured the coating of RCBS water soluble lube left inside the die after sizing cases would protect the die from rusting. It did not work out that way. All of the dies have internal rust on the bottom 1/4" of the sizing die. I only discovered this when cleaning one die, noticed the bottom was dark, and upon inspection, the surface was pitted. Whatever rust occurred resulted in a pitted surface. Similar to the surface on this axle:

    DncHeff.jpg

    8KxyqmW.jpg


    This is going to be a public service announcement, but the pitting on the driver's side axle was directly due to an axle seal failure. The seal leaked, but not "badly", but it leaked. This is the bearing

    Folynci.jpg

    f0WUGEP.jpg

    The passenger side axle, the seal was good, and for an axle that was rolling at the time of the Vietnam War, it was doing pretty good. I believe oil starvation created metal to metal contact on the drivers side and caused the severe pitting observable on the driver's side axle and bearing.

    dXDqYfH.jpg

    I don't have gages or measuring equipment calibrated to the level that I could detect a difference in case heads, but these sizing dies were all small base, I wanted the maximum case head reduction, for function and for safety in Garands and M1a's, so I tossed the dies. Once the metal is gone from the inside of the die, I cannot believe that the interior of the die is not larger, and thus, cases are not being sized as much as before. And there is nothing you can do to restore metal to the interior of a rusted die, at least for less than a new die costs.

    I am being careful to take dies off the press after a sizing session, clean out the interior, and then wipe down with a rust preventing oil. I have come to the conclusion that while RCBS water soluble is an outstanding lubricant, it is not a good rust preventative.
     
  15. Kaldor

    Kaldor Member

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    Its good stuff. Evaporust is designed to react with iron oxide (rust) not the base metal. It attacks the extra oxygen molecules in the rust and leaves the base metal alone. Electrolysis does the same thing, but it far less safe for non ferrous metals.
     
  16. Shmackey

    Shmackey Member

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    So could this really be as simple as dropping my five filled toolheads into a bucket of the stuff and leaving them alone? Would I need to "polish" the insides of, say, the resizing dies? Or maybe just use them a few times with some well-lubed cases?
     
  17. ray15

    ray15 Member

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    Yes, rusting is a destructive process. We speak of 'surface rust', but in truth rust must consume base metal to occur. The greater the degree of rust, the better the chances of a significant enough degree of base metal consumption occurring as to be easily visible or impact function. But Evaporust will remove the rust without materially affecting the base metal. Whether what's left is usable or not is hard to predict from afar.
     
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  18. ray15

    ray15 Member

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    Yes, you can just soak it in a small container until the rust is gone. See my previous post regarding damage to the parts. The exact degree of rust will determine if the dies are salvageable once the rust is gone. You may be able to use them after rinse and dry, may need to address pitting, or the damage may be too severe for the dies to be used.
     
  19. Shmackey

    Shmackey Member

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    Cool. How would you address pitting in critical areas where the dies contact brass? Thin q-tips and flitz?
     
  20. TheDomFather

    TheDomFather Member

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    Wow my approach would have been scream mercy and toss them in the trash but these are impressive results.If you can get the rust off and there is no pitting this looks like a damn good solution. One thing I would be concerned with is if there is pitting inside the die bodies and how that might affect sizing!
     
  21. Scooter22

    Scooter22 Member

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    You can get Evaporust at Harbor Freight too. I keep a wide mouth gallon plastic pickle bottle 1/2 full of the stuff to soak things in. Works great. It will get dark but still works a long time. Definitely worth having around. Toss the parts in and let them soak.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2018
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  22. fotheringill

    fotheringill Member

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    Thanks for the tip.
     
  23. ray15

    ray15 Member

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    To my mind if there is signifigant pitting on the interior surfaces it's probably new die time. I have a metal lathe and could re-machine steel dies; carbide is so hard it's difficult to work with. I don't even know what carbide's rust-resistance is like. But if comes to removing the sort of material it would take to remove pitting, there's only a few surfaces (like crimp tapers) that could stand the dimensional change.
     
  24. Purplehill

    Purplehill member

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    The best rust remover in the business is Naval Jelly (rust dissolver) usually available from hardware or building supply stores. This is heavy duty and does the job. I've used it on a few rusted dies. Will leave the metal dullish after use but better than rusted, scratched or pitted. It rinses with water and more than one application may be needed, one right after another.
     
  25. ray15

    ray15 Member

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    I think if you side-by-side it you'll find Evaporust is more effective and easier. The only time I use naval jelly these days if I can't submerge the part in Evaporust.
     
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