Battery Charger Question (re: Rust Removal)

So I tried the electrolysis rust removal thing over the weekend and here's what happened:
Bought the Washing Soda (sodium carbonate) and a $40 battery charger from Lowes.
Hooked up the positive to an old file, the negative to an old plane iron, submerged the items, avoiding contact but maintaining line of sight, turned on the charger and, nothing.
Flipped the switch several times, and, for some reason, the charge took and bubbles began to rise from the file. I didn't know why the charge didn't take the first time.
Okay, test complete, replace the plane iron with a #8 Bailey. Submerge the item, no contact, flip the switch. Nothing.
I flipped the switch and 'adjusted' the clips on the positive and negative pieces (anode and cathode?), and eventually, after much flipping, the charge took (as shown on the meter, 2 or 3). Bubbles appeared, and I left before I broke it again.
Came back a few hours later, turned the contraption off and checked out the results. Quite Good!
Cool, so now let's do a plane iron. Repeated above procedures, but despite my best switch flipping and contact adjusting, no luck. So I gave up and now I'm asking this question:
Is this a connection/contact issue? Do I need a more 'clean' area to connect to? Is the charger, which has such magical things as polarity and spark protection, too 'safe' for this use? IOW, is it protected against this type of thing? And if so, did it work for me the first couple of times b/c I 'tricked' it into working by the multiple, frenetic flipping of switches?
If anyone with help or insights or encouragement or any other such feedback would be so kind as to respond, I would be much abliged!
Doug VH
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Try connecting a small 12V battery in parallel with the charger. Some chargers will not work if there is not a small amount of voltage already present on the battery they are trying to charge. I am guessing that some sort of safety feature such as that is causing the problem. A small lawn-mower battery should be fairly cheap. You might even have one around to try it out with.
Bill Ranck Blacksburg, Va.
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On 25 Aug 2003 11:18:57 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@colorprocess.com (Doug) wrote:

Too expensive. It probably includes battery-sensing bits that are getting confused.
- Ballast it with a car battery in parallel.
- Ballast with a 9V PP3 battery _and_ a diode !
- Get a cheap old one.
- Use an old & redundant computer PSU. The larger "pregnant plugs" from HST modems and HP Deskjet printers have enough current to work here. Anything from 10V-20V is workable.
Similarly, avoid "switch mode" PSUs. These need a minimum current draw and will often go into a shutdown mode if you disconnect their outputs.
Try to find an ammeter too. Something that tells you "0, 100mA or 1500mA" is useful.
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I have an old 'vampire/pregnant' plug that says it's output is 18VAC, 800mA, as opposed to DC. Would that be an issue here? I know I can find an old DC at work, but I was curious as to your opinion.
Andy Dingley wrote:

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On Wed, 27 Aug 2003 11:42:01 GMT, Doug Van Horn

It _must_ be DC. Stick a diode, or a bridge rectifier in there.
800mA isn't really enough for doing plane bodies though.
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Yeah AC would make the ions go toward one piece and then towards the other. In america it'd be 60 times per second. I doubt anything would stick.
(Doug) wrote:

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Your voltage to size of item or distance between items is jacked up. You are electroplating. The further the distance between the two objects the more voltage required to complete the circuit. The electricity has to pass from one item to another. Also, the conductivity of the water to begin with will dictate how much voltage you need. To decrease the amount of voltage required move the objects closer together. The smaller the objects the less current required. Also, 70 volts AC or DC is enough volts to go through you. Should it pass through your heart it will kill you.
Try this:
Get a pint jar and fill with vinegar. Add 1 tablespoon of salt. Dump in a few iron screws or nails. Put the top on and let it sit there. Shake it every day or so. The vinegar will dissolve the iron. After a few days take out the iron nails/screws. Attach one lead of your battery to your object and the other lead to an iron nail/screw. Shake up the mixture very good and submerge the object and the iron nail/screw. If the object starts bubbling reverse the leads.
What happens: You've dissolved iron into solution. As you apply current the current drags the iron that's in solution to your item on it's way back to the battery.
Sam

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