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Tech Nerd Tractor Convert
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Discussion Starter #1
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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Tech Nerd Tractor Convert
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Discussion Starter #3
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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Retired MTF Admin
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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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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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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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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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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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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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Professor of makin stuff
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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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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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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!!:fing32:
 

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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/gallery/browseimages.php?c=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.

Dan
 

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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
Grandpaw Jack
 

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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.
Dave
 

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I've done the same thing to the deck on my CC Lt1320....Done it several times . Paint doesn't seem to last very long...next time I will try a rhino type coating.

Very nice job by the way.

I used the wire brushes, 4 1/2 inch angle grinder...take it right down to bare metal like the pics you posted....in 2 to 3 years I do it all over again...
 

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Tech Nerd Tractor Convert
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Discussion Starter #17
Ok, day 2 of the deck stripping adventure...

I ran to Home Depot to pick up a replacement sanding wheel since the original one was wearing down.

You know how that goes.. I didn't bother with a cart.. just getting one item, right? So eventually I couldn't carry the 8 or 9 things that caught my eye so I grabbed one of those orange buckets... then I had more than the bucket would hold so I grabbed a full sized cart. I never get out of that place with only what I planned on getting going in.

So, here's what I had to work with after picking up a few more grinding/stripping wheels at HD:


The power supply and DeWalt 18v portable angle grinder near the top of the photo was an ongoing experiment. The PS only puts out 15v so it ran a tad slow but was respectable. Trouble is when I would bear down on the bit the current draw would exceed the PS's rated 15A and the foldback protection would kick in and kill power. Also the braided wire attachments just didn't cut it for this job even with continuous power. I think a corded angle grinder may be in my future (as suggested by Ingersoll444). Especially at $20-30 if I can find it.. probably spent that in sanding wheels alone already.

I had much better luck with my high-speed corded power drill (seen in earlier pics above) and the abrasive wheels, and occasionally that funky blue wire thing (although it lost a lot of effectiveness after the bristle tips got rounded off a bit. I know you can run the thing on a grinding wheel to sharpen the tips back up but that was way more hassle than just going back to the abrasive wheel.

This is a dusty, dirty nasty job, so I upgraded from a simple round fiber mask to a double-filter one that seals against my face much better. That, plus safety glasses, hearing protection and even a hood to keep my hair from getting rusty, and I was Bubble Boy, ready to go:



In retrospect this is probably a job better done in warm weather when I can keep the garage door open for some ventilation, or even better, set up outdoors somewhere. Basically my entire garage and everything in it (including me) gets completely covered with a fine rust dust. Ugh.

Anyway, I took the spindles off (well, took the bolts out at least) per munderhill and Maybar's recommendation. Cleaned up much easier without having to work around the spindle and it's bolts:


After about 5 hours on this job I was maybe 75% done but had had it for the night. Even with a nice respirator filter I was still tasting iron. Here's where I left it:



And, at mark777's suggestion I picked up some Phosphoric acid to use later once the mechanical removal is done. Here's the stuff HD had:


Any ideas how cold a temp that can be stored at? Strangely it's not marked on the bottle. It's in the garage right now and lately that can get down to about 10 deg F. I just don't want to drag a big jug of acid into the house either...

Another question on the acid, perhaps for mark777... I didn't remove the paint from the topside of the deck.. that paint is just fine. But the deck is upside-down, and if I use this acid on the deck it's bound to drip onto the topside.. won't that hurt the paint on that side? Is there a way to maybe rag this on to avoid contaminating the other side yet still be effective on the underside?
 

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Tech Nerd Tractor Convert
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Discussion Starter #18
[...]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.
Someone must make a corded adapter to put into a cordless power tool's battery jack. What I rigged up with the power supply is close, I just don't have a PS with enough voltage and sufficient current at the same time.

Anyone heard of such a thing, specifically for DeWalt 18v tools? HD doesn't have it.. I've looked. I've also done some web searching and came up empty handed.
 

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Tech Nerd Tractor Convert
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Discussion Starter #19
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
In my Home Depot impulse-buying spree I at one point had a sandblast gun in my arms but thought better of it and put it back (mainly because my arms were full, and this was before I upgraded to a cart).

I just don't have a good way to contain the sand so I can reclaim it, and I figure without reclaiming it it's going to run out pretty fast (and leave a big sandy mess on the floor).

Any ideas how to practically sandblast a part as large as this mower deck? Does one just normally let the "sand fall where it may".. or do people actually have humongous rooms with a grain elevator type funnel below the floor or something for sandblasting something this big...
 

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Tech Nerd Tractor Convert
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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
[In Signature:]only TRUE MTF wackos are out taking pictures of the underside of mower decks at 5:30 on a Sunday AM.
I guess I'm officially a true MTF wacko now.. I've certainly met the quota for pictures of the underside of my mower deck. But so far not at 5:30 am.. maybe as late as 1-2 am but that was it. Maybe I can get honorable mention then if not the true wacko title...:fing32:
 
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