Authoritative Answers, Fun, & Aloha -- no cost, no passwords, no popups
(as an eBay Partner & Amazon Affiliate we earn from qualifying purchases)

Home /
Site 🔍
pub     mobile?
Metal finishing Q&As since 1989


Removal of Rust from Marine Stainless Steel Cables Used for Rigging and Subsequent Protection

I have an 11 month old trimaran sailboat with stainless steel standing rigging (approximately 3/8" stainless cable that holds up a 42 ft aluminum mast. The boat was in a boat yard (not in the water) in a marine environment for 7 months with the mast down. The base of the stainless steel cable rigging now has rust where it is pressed into the stainless steel fittings that attach to solid components that connect them to the stainless steel u-bolts on boat. The solid components, called HiField levers, also have rust around their swivel pins.

1. What are the preferred methods, process and compounds for safely removing the rust?
2. Once the rust is removed, what substance(s)/process could be applied to the stainless steel standing rigging to retard further rust?
3. What measure of strength might have been lost in the stainless steel cables due to rust in this period?
4. What can the various manufactures recommend for use of stainless steel cables and components in a marine environment, where there can be direct contact with salt water.

Your kind consideration to this "consumer" question is appreciated. I just need some help here. THANKS

Joseph J. Donaghy, Jr.



Stellar Solutions [a supporting advertiser] has citric acid solutions in brushable & spray formulations for cleaning and passivating stainless.

The grade(s) of stainless used seem insufficiently saltwater resistant or perhaps weren't initially passivated. Frequent rinsing with fresh water may be necessary. Resistance increases in the order: 304 < 316 < S31803 (2205) < S32750 (2507). From "Corrosion Resistance in Marine Environments" on the Australian Stainless Steel Development Association's website

See also the books 'The Boatowner's Guide to Corrosion,' ISBN 0071550194 and
'Metal Corrosion in Boats: The Prevention of Metal Corrosion in Hulls, Engines, Rigging and Fittings, 2nd edn.' ISBN 1574090542.

Since wire rope is very difficult to rinse, consider vinyl- or PTFE-coated stainless (304) wire rope or polypropylene-impregnated and coated galvanized steel wire rope. Page 1281 at

Ken Vlach [deceased]
- Goleta, California

contributor of the year honored Ken for his countless carefully researched responses. He passed away May 14, 2015.
Rest in peace, Ken. Thank you for your hard work which the finishing world, and we at, continue to benefit from.

none is made possible by supporting advertisers ...
this text gets replaced with bannerText
spacer gets replaced with bannerImages

(No "dead threads" here! If this page isn't currently on the Hotline your Q, A, or Comment will restore it)

Q, A, or Comment on THIS thread -or- Start a NEW Thread

Disclaimer: It's not possible to fully diagnose a finishing problem or the hazards of an operation via these pages. All information presented is for general reference and does not represent a professional opinion nor the policy of an author's employer. The internet is largely anonymous & unvetted; some names may be fictitious and some recommendations might be harmful.

If you are seeking a product or service related to metal finishing, please check these Directories:

Chemicals &
& Software

About/Contact  -  Privacy Policy  -  ©1995-2024, Pine Beach, New Jersey, USA  -  about "affil links"