A while back, I saw a post about somebody needing to remove surface rust from some reloading dies. They posted pictures and used a product called Evapo-Rust which is (to me) an unusual rust remover. Most rust removers require the use of various forms of PPE like rubber gloves, face masks or even respirators. This stuff is a bit different, no toxic fumes, safe to get on your skin, no hard scrubbing or buffing. Just submerge the part and walk away till the next day. Well, more specifically, per the instructions, about 30 minutes for light rust, overnight for heavy rust.

So, a couple days ago I received two Improved Lee Loaders that I purchased on line. The physical condition was fine but due to surface rust, they looked fairly poor, so I got a real good deal on them. In the auction, I thought they were both 30-30, as that was the only caliber mentioned, but the kit with parts missing is for 223. Oh well, I don't have a 30-30 OR a 223 at this time. What I do have now is a couple of excuses to buy new guns. Either way, I can pick up most of the missing parts pretty easily. Now all I need to do is clean them up. Normally this would involve steel wool, various solvents, maybe a wire wheel and a good bit of elbow grease. However, this time I plan to try using Evapo-rust and see how well it works.

I plan to make this thing pretty picture heavy so you all can make your own conclusions, so excuse the size of the whole thing.

Here are the two kits in the condition received.

And a couple close ups of some of the parts to better show the amount of rust.
This is the 30-30 die body and seating tool.

The decapping chamber.

Decapping chamber again. Complete with spider egg nest remnants in the hole...

And here is the worst piece in the set. The shell holder for the 223. It is beyond surface rust and has raised lumps and chunks. Not actually a part of the set but rather than throw it away, I'll try to salvage it.

Here is everything in a large drinking glass except for the two decapping rods. I wanted to keep them out since they are blued. Other parts are blued, but these will be used to compare blueing damage after I'm done.

So, the wonder product... Evapo-rust. I picked up mine at O'Reilly Auto for, I think, $8.99. Not real cheap but my plan is to filter what I use through a coffee filter and dump it back in the bottle unless I find out it loses its effectiveness when used.
Here is the jug. Of special note is the list of comments about things like "Non toxic, No fumes, Biodegradable, etc."

The back label has basic instructions as follows.

At 3 o'clock in the afternoon, I filled my glass of parts and sat it out in my garage. On a side note, I smelled the full glass and could detect zero odor. Nothing! Makes me wonder how well it will work.

At 10 pm, I decided I couldn't wait until morning and wanted to see how things were coming along. The liquid in the glass looks pretty much the same, but now it has an odor that I couldn't really place. I know I've smelled it before but not sure where. Maybe chemistry class in high school. Sort of a cross between wet iron, mild rust and the way your skin smells after you get bleach on it and try to rinse it off. Not a bleach smell, but the way it makes your skin smell after you get it on you.

Two of the first pieces I took out are a die body and a crimper/expander. Oddly, instead of taking the blueing off the crimper, it seems to have darkened it. The threads on the die body look pretty clean but I still need to rinse and scrub a bit to see how much difference that makes.

Here is the head from the 223 seating rod. It had pretty uniform light rust on it before.

Now these next two are kinda cool. This is the 30-30 bullet seater, top view. Looks like the rust is still there.

Until I swipe my thumb across it! Pretty cool that something this mild works this well. And notice I'm not wearing gloves.

Now, remember this problem child?

Wiped it with my thumb and it took a good bit off but it is still lumpy. I'll put it back in the glass to soak until morning and see what happens.

I was having trouble with spillage while fishing the pieces out by hand (my big mitts displace too much liquid) so I used a magnet to get the rest. These primer pocket cleaners show some "fuzz" of iron due to the magnet. I guess that is iron oxide that was dissolved off the parts and settled to the bottom of the glass.

The liquid in the glass shows quite a bit of crud now that I've stirred things up fishing the parts out so it was definitely removing rust.

Here are all the parts draining after I rinsed them and gave them a bit of a scrub in the sink. Looking pretty good!

Everything pretty much reassembled. The threaded parts really spin together nice now. They were pretty stiff before. The knurling looks a little discolored yet but I can live with that. I'm thinking of reblueing the non chromed parts eventually.

I noticed that one of the crimper/expander tools still has some crust on it. That one has gone back into the glass too. I'm curious if it will take the blueing off with that long of a soak.

I wiped all the parts down with a bit of cloth and some Hoppes gun oil. After spinning a patch inside the die, you can see that it took a good bit of rust or crud out!

I'll see how things look tomorrow with the two parts that I'm leaving overnight. I'm pretty danged happy with the results but looking closely, it appears there is still some discoloration in the knurled areas and in some grooves. A longer soak would probably be needed to get things perfect. These were in solution for 7 hours. It's not a fast working product in my opinion but there certainly isn't much work to be done. Just pour in enough Evapo-rust to cover the parts and walk away. I bet you could leave stuff for days and not do any harm.

Day two

I was/am curious about the effects on blued metal. I've never blued anything but I understand there are many different ways to do it from various chemicals in the cold blue process to different salts in the hot. In this kit, some parts appear blued but by what method I don't know.

From what I can tell, it may also depend on the type of steel. The expander/crimper tools and the shell holder all seemed to blacken to varying degrees in the solution but the decapping chambers and die bodies look more like bare metal.

On a whim based on something I read once about boiling cold blued parts to neutralize the iron oxide before carding, I put the two parts that I left over night in boiling water for several minutes. But I'm getting ahead of myself... Here is how they looked when I took them out this morning. Note color change on shell holder and how it got darker. Also, note that the last of the rust is gone from the expander/crimper but the pitting is still there. Also looks like there is some cleaning to be done in the nooks and crannies of the shell holder but the heavy scale on the top is pretty well gone.

Just starting to boil...

At a glance, still looks pretty rough from this close up. With the naked eye, it looks a lot better.

After I did some gentle rubbing with some steel wool and oil, it looks pretty darned good aside from the pitting. I took about 3 pic's super close up but the lens of the camera actually blocks the flash when I do that so I took this one under my desk lamp. All the crud in the crannies came out with the steel wool.

So, in summary, I'm pretty happy with this stuff and will use it again I'm sure. Like Rory McCanuck said, "It may not be the fastest working product, but the results are pretty good, especially for the amount of work you have to put into it."

Just for reference, here is the shell holder before.

After 7 hours.

Next day.

After wiping down with oil and steel wool.

And the entire kit before.

Now after.

So like Bill O'Reilly says: "We report, you decide...."