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Rusting handles on a Bridgeport


Hot Rolled
May 13, 2015
I’ve had my Bridgeport for years now in the same spot with no issues, in the last few months though, I’ve noticed that the chrome handles are starting to rust. Its all of the handles to, both Xs and the Y. Seems very odd to me as I don’t think anything has changed temp/humidity wise recently. In additon nothing else on the mill is rusting, nor is any of the other bare metal I’ve got nearby rusting. I’ve got a bunch of steel drops sitting right next to it and they’re fine.


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Did you open a door when it was cooler inside and hotter outside? Instant condensation if you do that with a good bit of temperature differential, especially if it's humid out. That's what it looks like to me.
I just had a flash rust event- was out of town when the cool springtime weather turned into the hot soaking 1000% humidity summer weather- so all the machines had flash rust. Thankfully most of it wiped off without drama but my nice shiny chuck on the lathe isn't so much now :( Handles weren't affected but vertical surfaces were, and those near enough to the fan I keep running so the oil eventually vaporized.
I don't think its any sort of humidity increase. Its possible, but nothing is different this year than in years past, and also that wouldn't explain why its just the chrome (which should be way more rust resistant than bare steel) handles that are rusting.
I've been trying to think about whats changed in my shop, haven't changed coolant or HVAC or anything. It also wasn't just a one time event as a few weeks ago I cleaned the rust off and it showed back up.

The one thing that I can think of is that I've been doing alot of work with big epoxy pours lately nearby. Is it possible that the epoxy is off gassing something that is causing the rust?
Think about your diet, kind of a long shot but perhaps something you've been eating is acidic or perhaps you're eating more salty stuff lately.
A fun short project is to remove handles and buff out the surfaces. I used a deburing wheel.
What is not fun is a drill press column that has turned all brown.
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Bridgeport handles are not normally plated, they are just polished raw steel and will readily rust if you clean the oil off them.
They will stay shined with regular use, the dials are chrome plated and should not rust.
Yeah, I realized that last night when cleaning the rust off them. Made the mistake of using some rust remover on one of them and it wrecked the surface finish, gonna take alot longer to buff that one back up. The others I just used some scotch brite on and the rust came right off.

You don't have any closed containers of muriatic acid around, do you?
I do in fact... and when I put it nearby coincides pretty much with when I noticed they started rusting. Dammit I bet that's what causing it. Thank you sir!
I bet that’s it too. I had a bunch of hand tools rust when I had a closed bottle of nitric acid under them.
A "closed" container of muritatic acid is really only partly closed....

Nitrile gloves, fine steel wool, and ATF would set this right. Put the acid containers outside far way from machine tools.
Unless you use or reuse a container made for real chemicals.
I compare a industrial container for acetone and a milk carton with 1/2" tall cap.
I have a couple jugs of muriatic in a cabinet. No rust issues as long as they're kept in a closed cabinet. (Plastic cabinet is a good idea too). Alternatively, could probably drop them into a 5 gal bucket with a sealed lid and have no issues.