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!
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 🙂