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Old 01-02-2009, 12:41 AM   post #1 of 113
Toolin
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Default How to best strip rust/paint/grassgoo from mower deck underside

I'm looking for some advice how with least effort and time to strip the underside of my rusty, grass-goo covered mower deck down to bare, clean metal so I can paint it and protect it from further rusting.

I've already bought the official Cub yellow paint, and my garage setup includes an air compressor, a battery-operated angle grinder (not enough oomph for long jobs) and a Rigid variable-speed reversible drill that has lots of horsepower and staying power. What I dont have is a large vat in which to put chemicals and soak this thing (say, with Oxalic acid per Mayor's recent post) nor a sandblaster setup.

Back in the fall I bought a used 2007 Cub Cadet i1050. 1 yr old with 60 hours on it. Here's what the mower deck looked like when I picked it up:






Somehow in just 60 hours the previous owner managed to get the underside of the deck pretty fouled up with rust and a layer of hard green perma-grass crust. My guess is he never once cleaned it.

Then, I used it during the fall to vacuum leaves with a Cyclone Rake in tow behind the tractor. It uses the tractor's mower deck to lift and shred the leaves, then it sucks the leaves from the discharge chute and into it's hopper. The high-velocity leaf shards managed to scour off some of the heavier green gunk but left the deck looking like this:


So, today I put the deck up on sawhorses, gathered together a few tools I thought might help and went to work.

My Dewalt 18v angle grinder put a (small) dent in the layers of gunk but went very slowly and any heavy load type job like this will run through a battery in minutes, so that wasn't going to work.

So I got out a corded drill and tried a few wire brush attachments with little effect. Finally I put in a sanding (or stripping?) wheel of some sort that I had laying around:



I'm not sure what it's made of but that wheel actually got the job moving along pretty well, but still it took the better part of 8 hours just to get about a third of the deck mostly clean:



It looks shinier than it actually is.. there is a lot of pitting and still some faint rust in spots even on the shiny end.. more work yet to be done.

Here is a closeup of the layers I'm dealing with. I think most of the deck must have been missing it's paint long ago (and thus the rust) because the layers don't seem to include the yellow paint. Maybe it's the light tan layer but probably not. Looks like steel, dark rust, lighter rust, green grass goo, dirt:


Any ideas that will save me from another 16-24 hours of the same tedious back-breaking dusty noisy work to get the rest of this thing clean and ready for paint? Keep in mind I have a limited shop, but I do have compressed air and one **** of a corded power drill that has lots of speed and torque. I think my best bet is if someone can recommend a good chuckable drill attachment that chews through this stuff quickly without itself wearing down too quickly.

Also if you have any tips for phase 2, which is painting. But I need to get through stripping first.

Thanks in advance...
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Old 01-02-2009, 12:47 AM   post #2 of 113
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Default Re: How to best strip rust/paint/grassgoo from mower deck underside

use a braided wire wheel on that drill it will work faster be doen in an hour just wear safty googles and a long sleeve shirt as it will throw some wire out of the wheel
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Old 01-02-2009, 12:54 AM   post #3 of 113
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Default Re: How to best strip rust/paint/grassgoo from mower deck underside

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Originally Posted by Nathan Werneburg View Post
use a braided wire wheel on that drill it will work faster be doen in an hour just wear safty googles and a long sleeve shirt as it will throw some wire out of the wheel
If that's what I think it is, I have one of those, but it's for my angle grinder. I'd go take a picture to show you but I'm about ready to hit the sack and too beat after 8 hours of grinding to do much more tonight.

It's kind of cone shaped, with maybe 20 thick stubby multi-strand twisted cables sticking out at an angle, each one the size of my pinky. Kind of like what the little scrubbing bubble characters look like from those bathroom cleaner commercials.

Unfortunately the one I have has a threaded hole in it (to go on my grinder) instead of a post, so I can't put it in my corded drill's chuck. Am I likely to find a braided wire wheel that can be chucked?
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Old 01-02-2009, 05:56 AM   post #4 of 113
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Default Re: How to best strip rust/paint/grassgoo from mower deck underside

Toolin,

I was about to suggest a session with the garden hose and then a pressure washer (if you have one) but you're high and dry now.

A hand help wire brush and good, sharp putty knife will sure work on all the flatter areas then followed by a knotted wire wheel as Nathan suggested. I have the same 18V DeWalt angle grinder, use it often but have four batteries and two chargers standing by just for the reasons you stated.

Your deck, so far, looks very clean! A session with a phosphoric acid (Rust converter/Por-15 etc.) would be my next suggestion and use it liberally before adding the color. Good luck.
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Old 01-02-2009, 06:07 AM   post #5 of 113
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Default Re: How to best strip rust/paint/grassgoo from mower deck underside

Just use paint stripper. They have non toxic types now. Other than having it sand/media blasted your going about it fine. I think I'd take the spindles off, sure make it easier to get around the blots etc.
Blasting is the only sure way IMO to remove pitting other than completlyety grinding each spot.
Looks good so far.

MU
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Old 01-02-2009, 06:52 AM   post #6 of 113
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Default Re: How to best strip rust/paint/grassgoo from mower deck underside

I would putty knife, then a quick going over with a wire wheel, then as MU said, slap some paint stripper on there. That will loosen up the muck pretty well. Scrape that, wash it, then hit it with your wirebrush/3M pad thing.
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Old 01-02-2009, 08:22 AM   post #7 of 113
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Default Re: How to best strip rust/paint/grassgoo from mower deck underside

What you have accomplished in your hours of work looks mighty good to me. I'd even let you do mine.

Personally I'd take the bolts out as munderhill suggested.

The tips of wire wheel's wires take a set and if your drill motor is reversible sometimes rotating in the opposite direction for awhile and then back make work go a little faster.

If I were wearing your moccasins it would be difficult for me not to purchase a corded angle grinder. I've had one many years and believe it would be difficult for me to live without one now. But you know better than I whether funds will allow that.

Keep up the good work.
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Old 01-02-2009, 08:44 AM   post #8 of 113
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Default Re: How to best strip rust/paint/grassgoo from mower deck underside

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If I were wearing your moccasins it would be difficult for me not to purchase a corded angle grinder. I've had one many years and believe it would be difficult for me to live without one now. But you know better than I whether funds will allow that.

Keep up the good work.

I have to agree. Last one I bough was like $35 and it replaced the $19.99 special I had been using.
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Old 01-02-2009, 08:47 AM   post #9 of 113
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Default Re: How to best strip rust/paint/grassgoo from mower deck underside

Ditto on the angle grinder... low end is about 25$ at Lowes and 15$ at Harbor Freight and they work great. Get one with a cord, not a battery powered one. I have a DeWalt, a couple of off brands, and they all work fine. It will save your knuckles. When you buy one remember you will need to buy a wire wheel attachment for it. One caution, never buy a cheap wire wheel attachment... did I mention this... Never buy a cheap wire wheel attachment. They are lethal, and before they kill you they impale you with little wires that hurt like the dickens.
You've done a really nice job on the deck so far. If you wander through Kansas I have a couple of decks you can work on, just to get practiced up. I would be glad for you to use my right angle grinders to see which one you like. Just make my decks look like your's. LOL
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Old 01-02-2009, 08:50 AM   post #10 of 113
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Default Re: How to best strip rust/paint/grassgoo from mower deck underside

yeah u can get en with a non treaded hole and just put he apropriate bolt through it tighten the nut on the back side and away u go if u cant find one with a chuckable stub

put ours in our angle grinder thats a plug in type no batteries fer me
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Old 01-02-2009, 09:43 AM   post #11 of 113
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Default Re: How to best strip rust/paint/grassgoo from mower deck underside

This is the ideal situation for a media blaster. I would think one of the small inexpensive units would do what you want to do. Make sure you wear a respirator though.
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Old 01-02-2009, 10:05 AM   post #12 of 113
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Default Re: How to best strip rust/paint/grassgoo from mower deck underside

I got to say;That's one of the sadest things I've seen lately.Look like the other owner was one of those run it till it falls out from under you,then go buy another one type guys.No wonder stuff won't last long with that kind of maintance.Your doing a good job!!
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Old 01-02-2009, 10:10 AM   post #13 of 113
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Default Re: How to best strip rust/paint/grassgoo from mower deck underside

I restored my mower deck last summer by using my Rotozip tool with a multilayered sanding disc. And for any tight spots, I just chucked one of those mini wire brush wheels into a drill. BTW, I removed the spindles prior to that so I could get the top and bottom side with no obstructions. http://www.mytractorforum.com/galler...=3&userid=5008 shows some pics of the finished project... I used the black graphite paint for the underside of the deck. This fall I cleaned the deck up and it still looks great.

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Old 01-02-2009, 11:03 AM   post #14 of 113
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Default Re: How to best strip rust/paint/grassgoo from mower deck underside

Hi Toolin
I am working on my Roper deck and I have about the same mess I wanted to put bedliner on it untill I priced it I took it to the local body shop , he wanted about 200.0 bucks to sand blast it and put bedliner on it , if every thing else was new that wouldn`t be so bad but this tractor is 20 years old!!
if you find a good way to clean it up let us know
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Old 01-02-2009, 11:30 AM   post #15 of 113
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Default Re: How to best strip rust/paint/grassgoo from mower deck underside

I don't have any pictures of my 48" deck that I did last spring. I scraped most of it with a putty knife and a paint scraper. Next I used a product called Zip-Strip to clean the rest of the grass crud and rust off . That cleaned it almost to bare metal. I had to wash the deck before I painted it. I used a rust converter primer and Rustoleum from a rattle can. It still has most of the paint on it.
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