Chain Cleaning

About: By day I work as a marketing & project manager, safety advisor, trainer and accident investigator but when I escape I like to make, mend and build anything with and from anything. Former tech teacher for 30 ...

I have been building a garden swing seat for the summer. Most of the seat materials have been recycled or repurposed from somewhere or another.

I needed a few metres of chain to support the seat, all I had was really rusty and didn't look very smart at all. I did not fancy cleaning it all with a wire brush or using s chemical cleaner. The alternative was to use the cabinet blaster but this was taking forever.........

I decided that I needed to make a tumbler or trommel to use the rotary action to clean the chain. But this would be more work and how often would I actually use it?

This in the middle of the night I had a tough.......... concrete mixer..........................

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Step 1: Concrete and Glass..........

I have a concrete mixer and a huge tub of glass cullet that is too coarse for my cabinet blaster (It got sent to me by mistake.)

Put the glass in the mixer with the chain and see what happens, after all whats the difference between the mixer and a tumbler?

Step 2: Rusty Chain

As you will see the chain is really rusty and looks really horrid. Drop it in the mixer with the cullet and 30 minutes later..............

Step 3: Before and After.........

After about 30 minutes of tumbling............ a bright chain........... much better.

A soak in some oil and left to hang for an hour and a I had a perfectly good chain form the seat.

The picture shows the before and after.

Really impressed with the process and the outcome. Now what else can I cane this way? Or shall I build a tumbler?

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    13 Discussions


    4 years ago on Step 3

    I have been trying to figure out how to make a LARGE rock tumbler would this work for that. I had never thought of a cement mixer. now where would I get my hands on one of those cheap....

    thanks for the great ideas!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    On the farm, we will drag the chain behind a pickup on a dirt road for a mile or two. That cleans them up real quick.

    1 reply

    4 years ago on Introduction

    You don't need the glass beads. just drop chain in with some kerosene then turn on will work just as well.. Do Not breath the dust from the glass beads.

    2 replies

    4 years ago on Introduction

    Your chain came out looking great. A concrete mixer works great as a tumbler. FYI, I've read about guys cleaning ammo brass in a mixer like this. The ones I've seen wet tumble though, usually with water, a squirt of dish soap (blue dawn is the common) and citric acid or lemishine. Some use stainless steel media, the thought process here is that the SS media adds a shot peening affect to the item or items you're tumbling. I don't do dry tumbling, but on a smaller scale others throw in some dryer sheets to drastically reduce the dust cloud.

    1 reply