Join Date: Jun 2012
Electro rust removal on mail armor.
I purchased this riveted mail hauberk a while back, the seller claimed it was found in Saudi by an Aramco worker, buried in the sand, while I have no idea if this story is true the hauberk was completely rusted over. I could see none of the usual details which would allow me to identify its origin. I could not see the type of rivets used or if it was completely riveted or if it had alternating rows of solid links. The basic shape did remind me on a very similar hauberk owned by Artzi which he says is Circassian work, the weight was over 20lbs.
I decided to use electricity to remove some of the rust, I was hoping to be able to remove enough to see some details. There are a lot of very detailed descriptions online for this rest removal method, after reading several I got my supplies together, a 5 gallon plastic bucket, 1 computer power supply with two clip ends for positive and negative, a couple of scrap metal pieces for scarificial electrodes, copper wire (steel is recommended), electrolite (Sodium Carbonate) in the form of "washing soda". I put the hauberk in the plastic bucket, and attached the negative wire to it, I then suspended several pieces of scrap metal around the inside of the bucket making sure that they did not touch the hauberk these were attached to the positive wire, I added water to the top with 1 table spoon of electrolite for each gallon.
I plugged in the power supply (outdoors) and tiny bubbles started to appear, a sign that everything was connected correctly. It did not take long for a very thick surface of corrosion to appear on the top of the water which I poured off occasionally, after around 24 hrs I removed the hauberk and washed it off, I used a blower to get as much of the water off as I could before it started to rust again, which I was told would happen quite quickly, I then coated the entire surface with "Break Free" spray.
The results were quite dramatic, I could now see that this was a very well made hauberk with alternating rows of solid links and what appears to be wedge riveted links, the links are very uniform in size and shape and quite well made. Normally wedge rivets would indicate European origin but there are some examples of Circassian mail with wedge riveting including a few examples in the Mets collection. European mail would not use alternating rows of solid links after around the late 14th to early 15th century but Indo-Persian mail commonly used solid links but with round rivets not wedge rivets. Circassians were known to make mail for the Ottomans but more research will be needed.
I will have to do another round of rust removal, I will probably use the same method.