How to Restore Rusted Parts

I buy a lot of used sailboat hardware on eBay and craigslist.org. The reason is simple, I usually can’t afford new! If you’re reading this and you aren’t independently wealthy then you know how expensive parts and supplies for our boats are. I only buy new when I can get a great discount and buying used isn’t practical or safe. The only way that I can indulge a little in this hobby is by keeping costs at a minimum. That’s why this is called the $tingy Sailor blog, after all.

Buying used and low-budget means getting rusty hardware. But it’s not hard to remove most rust and corrosion from stainless steel, aluminum, and brass. The easiest way to remove rust and corrosion is chemically. You can do it with a lot of elbow grease but why, when there is an easier way? My favorite products for removing rust are Fiberglass Stain Remover (FSR), Iron Out, and Flitz.

FSR is a gel that works great on, well, fiberglass. I’ve had good results with it on really bad rust stains in my bilge. You can also use it on surfaces where a liquid won’t stay in place long enough to work. On brass, white vinegar works wonders at removing salt water corrosion and its dirt cheap. An example on this blog is the jib sail hanks in Sail restoration. On stainless steel hardware, I like to soak it in hot water with a spoonful of Super Iron Out dissolved in it.

iron out
Removes rust. Really.

The rust disappears like magic. I keep a bottle of it around to treat our water softener for iron oxide buildup.

As an example, here’s a fiddle block that I recently won on an eBay auction.

BEFORE - rusted
BEFORE – Not much to like

And here it is after soaking in an Iron Out solution and a light polishing with Flitz metal polish.

AFTER - Cleaned with Iron Out and polished with Flitz
AFTER – Cleaned with Iron Out and polished with Flitz

Flitz works great at getting that last bit of rust off and for polishing to a like-new shine. It also leaves a protective film behind to prevent future rust. But don’t use it on your bow pulpit or other surfaces that will come in contact with your sails. It will rub off on them and hold dirt.

$tingy Sailor loves Flitz
$tingy Sailor loves Flitz

So whether you’re refitting with used hardware or getting your pride and joy ready for the next sailing season, give these a try.

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