Saving steel

A few days ago, I saw a picture of stuff from Wayne’s scrap pile and that got me thinking. What is the optimal way to save/store steel if one doesn’t have much covered storage area? Wayne and his equipment may be good enough to deal with a fair amount of rust but I’m not. I don’t have very good tools for dealling with rusty metal.

Would it be better to coat my clean steel in an oil coating when I get it and stash it? I’d think 10 minutes spent hitting a piece of steel with some soapy water or brake-clean before use would be better than struggling for an hour with crappy wire brushes or accidentally grinding off too much base metal with my angle grinder.

I do remember Chris S. posting about the electric rust removal, but I’m not sure that I could accomodate some of my larger pieces.

Somewhat off topic but not enough for a seperate thread, how well do metal bed frames work for salvaged “angle iron”? I found a pile of at least 8 of them undernieth our barn/shop yesterday while looking for a dropped wrench.

Peanut oil is a very good rust inhibitor, it also has the advantage that it spreads by itself very well. People round here use it on cars as it is a salty coastal environment, the oil keeps spreading and protects places you can not get to.

Oil is usually lighter than water and so it eventually lifts off and floats away, in my experience. If you go to a well stocked steel yard you can get hot rolled “P&O” stock. This is Pickled and Oiled hot rolled steel. I don’t know what the “Oil” is, but it sure is sticky.
The best stuff I have found so far is LPS-3, to be sprayed on the steel before storing. But it isn’t cheap.

I don’t think that “covered storage” is the answer to avoiding rust. I have lots of “covered storage” that is in buildings that are not heated or humidity controlled. Things still rust, up here in west central Wisconsin, anyway.
Maybe you just need to get a better angle grinder and some flap disks.

I do have a shop that is heated and humidity controlled. No rust in there.

The best use of that heated space is a rack that in only 6 inches wide and 2 feet high and holds stock up to `12 feet long. It is hiding behind my lathe and trip hammer.
You can barely see it in this picture:

Personally, I think mill scale is a lot harder to remove than simple red rust.

Pete Stanaitis

when i worked for southern railroad we sprayed melted grease ( 55gal drums at a time) on new metal bridges after we finished them. worked great !


Spray it down with some cheap primer.

Hi Pete,
I meant to ask this the first time I read this post, but poof! What is the large machine in the upper right of the picture? I could only come up with some kind of hammering device.
Thanks, Pepe

Seems from this:

That’s a trip hammer. Blacksmiths tool.

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Yes, that’s a Mayer Brothers Little Giant 50 pound power hammer.
You can see more about them at:

Pete Stanaitis


Hi Pete,
Thanks for the link to your site. That is a one very interesting site . One thing I will start tinkering with soon is the Arduino, so I was pleased to see your article on starting with the Arduino. I enjoy reading about topics that interest me, so I will eventually get to all the neat stuff posted site wide here, lol.

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A few of the best things I have tried are LPS3.
It is a lot like Cosmoline and I find the best results come from warming up the parts in question to around 120F and then dipping or spray a few coats allowing the product to run,.
I make mummies this way.
I soak some quality paper towels in it and make mummies of things I will not likely use again for a very long time.

Most Autoparts stores sell undercoating ( in places where they use road salt that is ).
Buy a gallon of that and thin it with some kerosene and brush into plate steel on a hot day.
The K1 will allow the product to creep before it flashes off and this will last a long time outside in the elements.
Re apply as needed I guess just like a car.

Fluid film in small spray cans or square tins is very dear, but its probably one of the best things to have around.
Just like cheaper undercoating you can brush it in.
Its made of woolwax and smell like sheep…
I like it because I know there is nothing toxic in it and if the dog licks it or I get it on my skin its not going to cause any issues.
Its also really good on your leather boots to keep your feet dry.

Other things that you might not consider but have around.
Motorcycle chain wax, any kind of grease in a tube, Vaseline even stays on and protects a long time.

Hard part is getting these things off after if you want to paint…

Cleaning rust off.
I use this stuff from an industrial supplier here in town.
Most mild acids like vinegar will remove rust but this one has a bit of soap in it and seems to work real nice removing all kinds of crud off steel for me when mixed with water and left to soak for a while.
Phosphoric acid is better by most accounts but its in less and less products these days because it causes algal growth in and poor water quality in lakes and rivers ( fertilizer as bad a poo in a water way )

Caustic soda like you use in a backhouse ( I buy mine as privy sanitizer from Home Hardware ), a few drops of soap and and a large tub of water to use as a tank is an effect way to strip paint and descale with electrolysis.
Its a two for one treatment that does both and there are no VOCs or other toxic chemicals involved ( but your paint/sludge might be an issue after ).
Hook up a Dc power supply at about 1 amp with the work negatively charged and in a day-two the parts will be clean.
You can use the dip over too provided you decant the liquid off the sludge.
Be careful rust and paint are removed by this as well as flesh from bones…


That bed angle is good for lots of fab work, it is hard syeel too drill but it works, my brother built his enclosed gokart trailer with it, 30 some years ago and run it all over from granton,mi too indiana, mid ohio.millwalki WI. And it is still operational, no broke welds that i know of.It was hard drilling for the rivets but a few extra good drills got the aluminum riveted down on it.


Steel cathodic to aluminum.
Not saying it is bad but you have to watch if there is road salt or parts are constantly exposed to the elements the rivets can corrode and fail on you.


This is all true in the science realm, mean time the trailer was built by an 18 year old back in 1978 so bed angle is good useable steel as was the question ask, though good point on the catilitics of aluminum and steel, may have been steel rivets it was built with i do not recall. Though it has a rack for extra go kart and carried three boys too gokart races for at least 10 yearsAs i recall his sons were raceing in the junier classes quit early on. And they raced at the waterford hill race track several years, here in waterford,mi.

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