GreaseMaster and Rusteco
Edited by Patricia Kalin
Recently I tried some products written about in the book How to Restore Your Collector Car. They were recommended as environmentally and user-friendly agents for degreasing and de-rusting (more accurately de-corroding).
I was absolutely floored by their effectiveness and user-friendly nature.
Michael Nahm and his family-run company (TMT Services Corporation), have been specializing in environmentally safe degreasing and corrosion removal in marine vessel ballast tanks for more than 10 years.
He does it using his proprietary products GreaseMaster and Rusteco.
What separates his products from the rest of the cleaning and corrosion removal products and processes available is, well...everything.
They are that revolutionary.
If you haven't heard about these products up until now, don't feel bad because neither had I.
These aren't the kind of snake oil "miracle cleaners" you usually find when trying unheard of cleaners/degreasers/corrosion removers.
TMT's products and services have been used by Sea-Land, Exxon, and the oil industry for a long time now (not to mention the production crew of the phenomenally successful motion picture Titanic).
During an interview with Michael Nahm, he shared with me the interesting story surrounding his product's use by the Titanic production crew.
The crew was down in Mexico filming off the coast of Rosarito, Baja California and they had a problem. Their expensive equipment was corroding pretty badly from the wet and salty conditions encountered when they were shooting on their near life-size (90%) scale Titanic set.
Between the moist, corrosive conditions of the air (and the even wetter conditions of their underwater footage), the equipment was taking a pretty sound beating.
They went searching for a solution to their problem and found TMT's Rusteco. The production crew contacted Michael and he took a trip down to Mexico to show the crew how to use his product.
After the successful use of it, the crew had another problem...how were they going to get rid of all of the used Rusteco?
Michael had a simple solution. "Dump it into the ocean."
At first you may find yourself shocked and/or appalled at the disposal instructions, but hold on just a moment before you pass judgment. That's actually an EPA approved disposal method.
Rusteco and GreaseMaster are that safe.
The crew took a boat out into the ocean and dumped the product as directed.
As you can imagine, Mexico's version of the EPA (SEMARNAP) didn't like what they were seeing. They became especially worried when they could see the coast off Rosarito turn a shade of green.
They had imagined this green color occurred from disposal of some toxic chemical, but the truth was that it was grass growing rapidly from the introduction of the Rusteco.
As Michael already knows from extensive testing, Rusteco acts as an environmentally friendly fertilizer for plants (especially with the addition of the iron oxide from the rust which is a major component in fertilizer).
What's more, both GreaseMaster and Rusteco are made from 80% non-hazardous reconstituted industrial waste and contain 85% organic plant extract.
Not only does it not have a negative impact on the environment or people, it doesn't negatively impact fish and wild life.
"Fish like to eat it," Michael notes.
In EPA testing, Rusteco and GreaseMaster had NO negative impact on sea life.
Once the Mexican authorities were convinced of Rusteco's safety, Titanic's production crew was off the hook.
I'm sure you are now asking how effective such a benign cleaner and corrosion remover could be?
Follow along as I show how these products worked during my own personal tests.
Part 1: GreaseMaster
Let me start with a primer on GreaseMaster to catch you up to speed on what it is and what it does.
GreaseMaster is an FOG (Fat, Oil, and Grease) cleaner that is effective on mineral, animal, and vegetable fats. It also works as an all purpose cleaner for around the house and a stain remover on oil/grease, blood, and ink. In addition to that, it works as a specialty cleaner for carpets, concrete, glass, dishes, clothing, and cars.
It will also remove wax.
It's environmentally, people, and animal friendly and is even safe to handle with your bare hands.
In fact, it's strongest chemical is a food-grade acid that is similar to what's used in cola drinks.
It has even been used in Japan as a cleaner for birds that had been caught in an oil spill off the Japanese coast and as a baby bottle cleaner.
It was designed specifically for use in heated pressure washers, but it is extraordinarily effective in other applications as well. It is also compatible with all cleaning equipment (including parts washers, hot and cold tanks, washing machines and dishwashers).
As an added bonus, it is safe to dispose of down your sink drain (provided the contaminants are removed) and helps in this process because it is a de-emulsifier.
What that means is that if you allow the oil/grease-contaminated GreaseMaster to sit for about 24-48 hours, the oil/grease will float to the surface and you can skim it off for EPA acceptable disposal and then simply pour the rest down the drain.
After the contaminants are completely de-emulsified, GreaseMaster maintains approximately 12.4 ppm (parts per million) contamination. The EPA requires 50 ppm or less for rinse water disposal.
So, it's extremely safe.
Another added bonus is that it COMPLETELY washes off with water leaving NO residue. (It washes away so completely, in fact, that it leaves the substrate ready for painting. It even removes salt deposits!).
My experience with it is that it will wash off easier than dish soap.
The real kicker is that it is completely non-corrosive and non-caustic and is safe for not just all metals (including soft metals like copper, brass, gold and silver) but glass, plastics, rubber, paint, fabrics and skin.
As I don't own any cleaning devices beyond spray bottles, tubs, brushes, and such, I tested it on various auto parts, household and personal items by spray-on application and immersion. I used water and a brush or towel to remove the dirt, oil, grease and grime.
Applications and Information:
- Dirt on Brake Backing Plate
- Immersion and Rubber
- Bearing Grease on Plastic
- Silicone Grease on Polyurethane
- Carpet Stains
- Antifreeze on Plastic
- Concrete Grime
- Soap Scum and Tooth Paste Spatter
- Wall Grime
- GreaseMaster Manufacturer Recommendations and Information
- GreaseMaster Personal Observations
Part 2: Rusteco Liquid
I have yet to find any products or processes that compare with the Rusteco Liquid (or GreaseMaster for that matter), but those that come close have quite a few shortcomings.
The process that first comes to mind is acid dipping. It will remove not only corrosion but paint, plastic, rubber, and the base metal itself. It's also extremely toxic, and very hazardous to everything. Not exactly user friendly and certainly not environmentally friendly.
The other products of this type I've used aren't the most effective and one even left the metal covered in a zinc coating, which is nice if that's what you are looking for but not if you are after bare metal.
Rust converters or coverers do something entirely different and just leave the rust in place (albeit in the case of converters, as an inert black oxide). Which is precisely what I don't want to do.
Then we come to abrasive blasting. It's far less damaging to people and the environment than acid dipping, but it still requires costly equipment (whether it is in a cabinet or a room with protective clothing and a fresh air supply) that includes blasting equipment and a high output air compressor. However, it can still remove some of the good substrate material you are trying to save and it can't get into hidden areas like an acid dip.
So we come to the Rusteco Liquid. What I've found amazing about Rusteco is that it does everything it's meant to do and won't harm the base material. Whether it's iron or steel, aluminum, brass, copper, silver, gold, glass, plastic, rubber, paint, fabric...you name it. It will only remove corrosion...any corrosion, not just the iron oxide of rust.
What that means is that it will safely attack and remove the rust on your car frame just as well as remove the corrosion from your faucet or bath tub. It even works on the corrosion built up on electrical terminals.
It does all that AND is just as safe for the environment, people and animals as it's counterpart GreaseMaster.
It can be poured down the drain as well (assuming all non-disposable contaminants are removed).
Like GreaseMaster, it can be removed with water, won't leave any residue and leaves a ready-to-paint surface.
How well does it work?
I've been blown away by the effectiveness (as well as the personal and environmental safety) of this product. Follow along to see its effect on a number of different applications.
Applications and Information:
- Rusted Nuts and Bolts
- Heavily Rusted Cast Iron and Paint
- Rust on Rubber
- Rust on Chrome
- Rust on Carpet
- Rusteco Liquid Manufacturer Recommendations and Information
- Rusteco Liquid Personal Observations
Part 3: Rusteco Gel
The Rusteco Gel is TMT Service's solution for applying Rusteco to parts that you can't dip for whatever reason. It will even adhere to vertical surfaces and harden to a protective coating that will keep corrosion at bay as long as the coating is left intact. Like the Liquid it can be washed off with water after it's applied and leaves the surface ready to paint. The Gel is also just as environmentally, personally and surface safe as the Liquid because all they do is add a food grade xanthum gum to the formula to give it it's body and clinging characteristics.
I tried several application and removal methods, although I was not able to test it's application with a spray gun or effectively yet it's removal with a pressure washer as a pressure washer with a high enough pressure wasn't available to me.
My own experience with the Gel has indicated that it isn't nearly as effective as the Liquid dipping process. It is, however, far more effective if you use an abrasive such as a steel or brass bristled scrub brush, scouring pad, or bit of steel wool along with it but with the abrasive comes a price: it negates the non-substrate aggressive characteristic of Rusteco (although scrubbing with a soft-bristled brush or rag will help the removal process and not hurt more sensitive base materials).
On the positive side, scrubbing with a hard bristled brush or scouring material is a lot less aggressive than using a powered wire-wheel. I've also noted it will take a lot longer to work than the Liquid, especially with heavy rust. On the positive side, it is still far more effective, safer and more versatile than some other wipe-/scrub-off rust removers I've used (including more caustic acid-based rust removers).
Applications and Information:
- Rust on Steel with Powder Coating
- Heavily Rusted Cast Iron
- Corrosion on Aluminum
- Gel on Paint
- Rusteco Gel Manufacturer Recommendations and Information
- Rusteco Gel Personal Observations
Part 4: Following through the Process
I thought it would be beneficial if you had an opportunity to see how GreaseMaster and Rusteco work together as an effective and completely safe system.
Part 5: More Products and Services
If GreaseMaster and Rusteco aren't amazing enough, Michael also has another environmentally friendly product that he's just put on the market, RNB (which stands for Rusteco No Blast).
"We could remove the soft coatings from ships and remove the rust, but we couldn't remove the paint. People would say, 'You can remove the rust, but you can't remove the paint. What good does that do me?' So we came up with RNB, so we could do both."
TMT also offers parts degreasing and de-rusting to the restorer/hot rodder and can process the smallest job all the way up to entire car bodies and motorcycles. The best part is, just like the products, these services are environmentally friendly and won't do anything other than remove dirt and grease or corrosion.
The safety of Rusteco on paint and other non-oxide surfaces can be a real benefit, especially with motorcycle tanks, which is one of TMT's biggest enthusiast businesses. Often times paint jobs on these tanks can be extraordinarily expensive and when the tanks get rust inside them the processes for removing this rust can often be devastating to these paint jobs. With Rusteco, that's no longer the case. Michael says that it doesn't even bother the paint in the slightest, and from what I've seen from my own experiences I have no reason to disagree with him.
After using GreaseMaster and Rusteco for the limited amount of time I have, I'm a complete convert. I certainly won't be using toxic chemical degreasers and rust removers so long as I can get my hands on these products.
GreaseMaster Ultra Concentrate is available in single pints as well as pint six packs, 5 gallon buckets and 55 gallon drums.
As both GreaseMaster and Rusteco are industrial products, they are only available in bulk. That said, they are more cost effective than other commercially available products. When you consider their effectiveness and safety, in my mind, there simply is no contest.
As I said before, what separates these products from anything else on the market is everything.
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