How to Wire Brush Parts with a Bench Mounted Motor
Cleaning parts with a bench-mounted, motorized wire brush is efficient, quick and quite inexpensive. All you need is a spare electric motor (found in your neighborhood on any "trash day" usually contained in throwaway clothes dryers or attached to old furnace blowers) and a round wire brush that can be mounted on the motor's shaft (found at home centers and hardware stores).
Note that we mounted a rigid piece of sheet metal behind the wheel to act as a deflector and collector of parts that slip out of our hands.
Once you've created your homemade bench brush, put on some eye protection (flying debris and bristles, you know) and start appreciating the stuff you can clean up! Here's what the setup looks like...
On the surface, these parts look pretty bad...
Take rust, for instance. These rusty brake and spring shackle components look like they should be thrown away, don't they? In fact, they are in very good condition, aside from the fact that they've been in place for nearly 50 years and the "stuff of ages" needs to be removed.
Don't forget to heed all safety precautions when working with your wire brush. If the brush in this photo were running, we'd be wearing leather protective gloves.
Turn on the brush, stand just to one side (keep yourself out of the line-of-fire) and press the piece against the rotating brush. It helps to wear work gloves to keep from accidentally wire-brushing your fingers. A filter mask wouldn't hurt either, since inhaling rusty dust isn't pleasant.
Whoops, we got ahead of ourselves and powder-coated the spring/shock mount plate, but you can trust that it was brushed clean!
Anyway, keep pressing until the metal is cleaned and starts to take on a dull shine. Move it around against the brush and clean away, eventually producing a nice, new-looking piece. Push hard. The more force, the faster you'll clean the part. Too much force will cause the wheel to stall, but it won't hurt anything so just let up a little on the pressure.