Restore an old fire hydrant to make awesome office art!

I really enjoy industrial design. Objects that have been created for a specific purpose tend to encompass clean and honest design with no pretense.  Recently I began lusting after fire hydrants. A quick Craig’s List search and I was in the money!

Below is the process I have followed to refinish several old fire hydrants to restore them to their original glory!

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Remove all paint and rust from the fire hydrant:

  • Electrolysis is the magic that does most of the hard work cleaning the rust and paint off old hydrants.  I converted an old PC power supply to supply the current for the electrolysis (See http://bit.ly/1CJT0qY for instructions.)
  • Place the hydrant in a large waterproof container that will allow for full submersion – like a trash can.
  • Pour in some Washing Soda (sodium carbonate) to serve as the electrolyte.
  • Suspend several iron bars (don’t use stainless steel) around the hydrant – don’t let these touch the hydrant or your power supply will short out and need to cool down for 5 minutes.
  • Connect the ground to the hydrant and the anode to all the iron bars.
  • Connect the power supply to a ground fault protected outlet (GFCI) just in case – water and electricity, what could possibly go wrong!
  • Within a short time span, you will see lots of multi colored gunk bubbling up to the surface as the rust is being dissolved by electrolysis.
  • The reaction also occurs under the paint which loosens it and makes it easy to remove.
  • Verify that the currant is flowing with a multimeter.
  • You’ll notice bubbles and scum forming as the process begins.
  • Leave in place for a day or two, depending on how rusty the hydrant is.
  • You may need to replace the [sacrificial] anode bars because they waste away during the process.

Repaint the hydrant and shine up that beautiful brass:

  • Remove the hydrant and wire brush the loose paint and rust off all surfaces.
  • Use a power drill with a wire wheel brush  to make this easier.
  • Use the wire brush to shine up the brass valves and actions.
  • Tape off the brass and paint the body with Rustoleum spray paint – apply at least two coats.
  • Once dry, tape off the painted body and spray clear coat on all the exposed brass to keep it from oxidizing.
  • Move the restored fire hydrant into it’s new home and enjoy 🙂