My grandparents live in Spencer, WV and have an old tractor barn that was built around 65 years ago. It is about to fall apart so the last time I was up there I scrounged around to see if I could find anything for a project:

I found a big handfull of what I thought were old railroad spikes lying on the ground:

It turns out that they weren't actually railroad spikes. They were spikes from a harrow. In the past the land was broken up with a mule drawn plow that had a sharp blade that cut into the earth and turned over the soil. After that a harrow was pulled over the soil to break up the lumps and smooth out the ground. A harrow looked like a large rake with rows of teeth. These teeth are what I found lying around:

They were really rusty from sitting outside for decades so I needed to find a way to clean them up. I decided that I would build a simple electrolysis station. What is electrolysis? It is a method of using electricity to break down water into hydrogen and oxygen. To use this process for rust removal requires the water to contain an electrolyte, such as washing soda or lye. An electrical current running through a solution of water and electrolyte will convert red rust into black rust (black oxide). Black oxide is a stable compound that doesn’t want to react with oxygen any longer as does red rust. I used two battery chargers as the power source for my electricity:

One of my battery chargers is a trickle charger that puts out a constant 1 AMP but the other has a circuit that senses when the battery is fully charged and will turn itself off if things aren't exactly right. Hooking a charger to a spike sitting in a tub full of water and baking soda (not as good as washing soda but it is all I have) isn't "exactly right" so I had to put a battery in the circuit as well:

I bent an old piece of scrap sheet metal into a U shape and made it surround but not touch the spike. This will serve as my annode and I hooked the positive side of my charger to it. The spike is then put into the electrolyte solution and the negative side of the charger is hooked to it. It is hard to take a picture of it but you can see gas bubbles forming when everything is working correctly. I left the spike hooked up like this for 24 hours:

I've heard that soaking the part in Coke will help but I did not see any difference:

After 24 hours I removed the spike. You can see the difference between the red rust and the black rust:

Once the rust was removed I grabbed some scrap 1/4" rebar to use as the legs:

I used my bench vice to bend the legs into shape:

The back legs are welded on:

All the legs are on. Getting everything to the proper length (so he would sit level) was a little rough. The antenna was put on next but I ended up changing them several times. I ended up using something a little thicker than what you see here:

Almost finished:

After thinking about it for a while I decided to make four more grasshoppers as Christmas presents for the family (since the spikes came from the family farm). Hopefully they won't see this page before Christmas. I think they look pretty nice after getting some green paint:

While I was waiting for the paint to dry I grabbed some of the bishop hooks my mother-in-law sent me for a project for her:

I welded two of them together:

Next I cut a Dachshund (the type dog she has) out of a piece of scrap sheet metal I had laying around:

Some black paint and it was done. Hopefully she won't see this page before Christmas either:

Now my projects were out of the way it is time to show what became of another part of the old tractor barn. After I grabbed the harrow spikes I started thinking about what would happen to the barn once it fell down. I pulled some boards off the front as well as the door from the top. The door made the trip from Spencer, WV back to Moncks Corner, SC in the back of my truck and then was hauled down to Pensacola, FL as a present for my father. He had taken the tractor with him years before as a restoration project and it now lived behind his detached double car garage that my parents call the barn. He fabricated a frame for the back and attached it to the door:

Heavy screws were welded to the frame:

His friend Mike from across the street helped secure it to the bricks:

Now the old barn door is once again on a barn. This one probably won't fall down for quite some time: