Corrosion of Ferrous Metals

One of the most familiar types of corrosion is ferrous oxide (rust), generally resulting from atmospheric oxidation of steel surfaces. Some metal oxides protect the underlying base metal, but rust is not a protective coating in any sense of the word. Its presence actually promotes additional attack by attracting moisture from the air and acting as a catalyst for additional corrosion. If complete control of the corrosive attack is to be realized, all rust must be removed from steel surfaces.

Rust first appears on bolt heads, hold-down nuts, or other unprotected aircraft hardware.

[Figure 6-14] Its presence in these areas is generally not dangerous and has no immediate effect on the structural strength of any major components. The residue from the rust may also contaminate other ferrous components, promoting corrosion of those parts. The rust is indicative of a need for maintenance and of possible corrosive attack in more critical areas. It is also a factor in the general appearance of the equipment. When paint failures occur or mechanical damage exposes highly stressed steel surfaces to the atmosphere, even the smallest amount of rusting is potentially dangerous in these areas and must be removed and controlled.

Rust removal from structural components, followed by an inspection and damage assessment, must be done as soon as feasible. [Figure 6-15]

Mechanical Removal of Iron Rust

The most practicable means of controlling the corrosion of steel is the complete removal of corrosion products by mechanical means and restoring corrosion preventive coatings. Except on highly stressedsteel surfaces, the use of abrasive papers and compounds, small power buffers and buffing compounds, hand wire brushing, or steel wool are all acceptable cleanup procedures. However, it should be recognized that in any such use of abrasives, residual rust usually remains in the bottom of small pits and other crevices. It is practically impossible to remove all corrosion products by abrasive or polishing methods alone. As a result, once a part cleaned in such a manner has rusted, it usually corrodes again more easily than it did the first time.

The introduction of variations of the nonwoven abrasive pad has also increased the options available for the removal of surface rust. [Figure 6-16] Flap wheels, pads intended for use with rotary or oscillating power tools, and hand-held nonwoven abrasive pads all can be used alone or with light oils to remove corrosion from ferrous components.

 ŠAvStop Online Magazine                                                                                                                                                      Contact Us              Return To Books

AvStop Aviation News and Resource Online Magazine

Grab this Headline Animator