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Cast Iron Cleaning and Seasoning Help With and Tips & Techniques For Cast Iron Cookware Restoration

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  #1  
Old 04-30-2013, 03:19 PM
JMoss JMoss is offline
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Default how long is too long in the lye bath

I bought a skillet 12 days ago, took it home and put it in the lye bath. It was the most encrusted piece of CI I think I have ever seen. Everything except the very bottom and the cooking surface was encrusted up to 1/4 inch thick (no, I'm not exaggerating). I took it out of the lye after one day and wire brushed it with little visible results. I have continued to soak it and scrub it daily. After 12 days the exterior is clean. However I still have crust inside on the walls near the bottom.

Should I continue to soak it or give up on the lye and try electrolysis? Is it possible for the crust to be so baked on that it is impervious to the lye? I have (gently) scraped some spots with a metal scraper and had very little to show for the effort. The remaining crust is rock solid. I do not want to damage the piece. Is there any downside to extended soaking in the lye solution?

Thanks for any suggestions you may have
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  #2  
Old 04-30-2013, 03:31 PM
Doug D. Doug D. is offline
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Default Re: how long is too long in the lye bath

There's no harm in leaving it in the lye bath. I myself forgot a piece that had some particularly stubborn spots for a couple of weeks. And it was probably best that I did, as what remained came off easily and completely when I finally fished it out. Leaving a piece in lye almost indefinitely will have no ill effect on the iron itself.

Having said that, switching to electro will be faster, as the remaining crust will tend to release from the metal in one chunk.

Is your lye solution 1 lb. to 5 gallons or stronger?
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Old 05-01-2013, 10:04 AM
JMoss JMoss is offline
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Default Re: how long is too long in the lye bath

Thanks Doug.

Yes, my lye solution is 1# per 5 gallons of water.
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Old 05-01-2013, 12:04 PM
SteveL SteveL is offline
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Default Re: how long is too long in the lye bath

Should be ok Jack. I have 2 skillets still sitting in lye that I dropped in about 2 weeks ago. Took out about a week later, hosed off and still had a little crud so back in they went. One skillet also still sitting in electro tank waiting to be pulled. Haven't had time to pull but it's clean as a whistle now. Battery charger shows no amps are being drawn at this point.

Steve
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Old 05-01-2013, 02:14 PM
JMoss JMoss is offline
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Default Re: how long is too long in the lye bath

Thanks Steve. I had the same question about the electro tank. Is there a limit on how long you can leave it in there? If you leave them in there long enough will they all get that gray, fresh from the factory look?

Below is a link to todays pictures of the square waffle iron I am trying to restore. Both halves still have surface rust and baked on crud. Can I put them back in the electro tank for whatever amount of time it takes to make them look good? Also note the rods that hold the wooden handles - one is threaded and one is not. Homeowner repair??

The wooden handles no longer fit tightly because I have removed the rust that was holding them in place. I am a wood turner and can make matching replacement handles or I can epoxy the old ones back in place. I bought this piece to resell. Which option does the least damage to the resale value?

https://plus.google.com/photos/11839214 ... g8a188Lgfw
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Old 05-01-2013, 02:47 PM
Doug D. Doug D. is offline
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Default Re: how long is too long in the lye bath

Not having one in hand to examine personally, it always appears to me, from photos, the rods on these were placed in the molds and cast in, rather than attached later. It doesn't look from your photos like there has been any welding going on on either. What is that hole in the body on the one with the unthreaded rod? It's not a set screw or pin, is it? I was looking at several of these in completed listings and note there's quite a variation in handles in terms of turning detail, finish color and length of the ferrules. I think if whatever you do to replace the handles is sturdy, professional-looking and matches one of the others out there, a prospective buyer would not have grounds for complaint.

My experience with extended electro has been that some pieces come out bare grey, like this one



and others with what's like a black oxide. I guess it depends on the maker or the iron they used.
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Old 05-01-2013, 07:49 PM
JMoss JMoss is offline
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Default Re: how long is too long in the lye bath

I noticed that hole also. On the other half it has been welded closed. I have no clue as to the purpose.

Do you agree that extended electrolysis will not harm "healthy" cast iron, it will just remove the rust and oxidation? I am about to leave some in the tank overnight, maybe longer. Maybe i should just experiment. None of these pieces will break the bank if they dissolve.
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Old 05-01-2013, 09:13 PM
Doug D. Doug D. is offline
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Default Re: how long is too long in the lye bath

No, no fear of that. Aluminum, yes. Iron, the crud would all be gone long before you would ever get to the point of affecting metal.

Since you've removed the handles, does it appear they were inserted into holes in the casting and then secured, or more that they were put in the mold and the cast metal "captured" them? My only WI currently is an 1892 patent nickel plated Wagner toy, and I'm not inclined to experiment with removing its handles.
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Old 05-02-2013, 12:08 PM
JMoss JMoss is offline
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Default Re: how long is too long in the lye bath

It looks like the cast iron was poured around the handle studs.

Speaking of WI, I have located a Griswold #9, New American that I think can be bought for +/-$35. It's in good condition but I cannot find any information on the "New American" series. This one has the Griswold name on it but no logo of any sort. Any idea of the collectablity or value?
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  #10  
Old 05-02-2013, 12:21 PM
Doug D. Doug D. is offline
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Default Re: how long is too long in the lye bath

I was looking more closely at my toy WI handles last night, and noted on the handle part of the casting the metal is kind of "blobby" on both. Whether that indicates the addition of metal to the casting after the fact, say, as if the paddles were cast, allowed to harden, then the handle stud inserted in a hole or groove, and then more molten metal poured in to surround and secure it, OR if it's just how the iron happened to flow. I do observe that on one of the paddles, the handle is not precisely centered, but about 1/16" to one side.

I'll see what I can find on the New American and report back.
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