Cleaning Brass parts

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2005: Cleaning Brass parts
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dan DiTullio on Sunday, February 17, 2008 - 02:44 pm:

I just wanted to share my experiment in cleaning Brass parts with a solution of White vinegar and Salt. I immersed the parts for about 10 minutes. The before and after results are illustrated.

Thank You;
DanHorn before cleaningHorn after cleaningStep trim before cleaningStep trim after cleaning


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ross Benedict on Sunday, February 17, 2008 - 04:16 pm:

I've used Lysol toilet bowl cleaner and it does a great job too. Don't leave on more than 20 - 30 seconds, or you'll be polishing the copper tinge back to brass. (A voice of experience) ;o))


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce on Sunday, February 17, 2008 - 04:54 pm:

I don't think the salt is helping. I get the same results with just vinegar.

brass


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By scott rosenthal on Sunday, February 17, 2008 - 05:28 pm:

Amonia and regular formula coka-cola is my blend. 50-50 mixture. No adverse affects noticed yet.
Regards,
Scott Rosenthal


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By RDupree on Sunday, February 17, 2008 - 08:47 pm:

As posted previously, ammonia should NEVER be used to clean brass, particularly thin brass. The end result will be stress cracks in the brass due to the ammonia. This is the reason why brass flex hoses for gas connections to stoves have been recalled and replaced by either stainless or epoxy coated brass.

Ron Dupree


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mack Jeffrey Cole on Sunday, February 17, 2008 - 08:48 pm:

I aint had a peice of brass to try with electrolosis but I do know it will do aluminum very well if you dont leave it very long.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By George House on Monday, February 18, 2008 - 08:12 am:

Dan,
Thanks for posting your brass cleaning technique. How do ya'll then polish a cleaned single or triple-twist MOUNTED horn and maintain the lustre?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jim Patrick - (2) '26's - Bartow, FL on Monday, February 18, 2008 - 09:08 am:

In the picture above, I see some sanding scratches on the horn which will need to be removed by increasingly finer grit sandpaper, ending with 1500 grit wet/dry sandpaper.

Normally, I polish my steel and brass parts to a mirror-like finish with a buffing wheel and jeweler's rouge on a bench grinder, but for thin, delicate parts, with intricate turns and close fitting, difficult to get to parts, such as a brass tubed horn I would buff using a dremel tool with buffing wheel dipped occassionally in red jeweler's rouge, taking care not to allow the metal parts of the buffer attachment to touch the part. As the small buffing wheel wears down, discard and put a new one on, When you have your part as shiney as you can possibly get it, remove jeweler's rouge residue and buffer lint by dipping in lacquer thinner then after thoroughly dry, spray with a protective coat of high gloss lacquer in a dust free room. Handle with cotton gloves to prevent body oils from leaving finger prints. Jim

PS. Mirror like means just that. When you are done, You should be able to see yourself and the contents of the room in the background, clearly, with no hint of foggy halo.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce Peterson on Tuesday, February 19, 2008 - 08:16 am:

George,

Model T's used only a maximum of two twists - count them - so I bet you mean a double twist horn like the one on my '12 and the one shown in Dan's photos above. These somehow have been called triple twists mistakenly by Model T fans but if you count the twists there are only two to be found.

To answer your question I think the easiest way to do a thorough polishing is to remove the horn and buff it on the work bench.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jim Patrick - (2) '26's - Bartow, FL on Tuesday, February 19, 2008 - 09:35 am:

You are right Royce, however, if you count the bell there are 2 1/2 turns. Is it possible that the number is in referrence to the number of U-turns (half turns), instead of the number of full coiled revolutions? No, I guess not. That comes to 4 1/2 counting the bell. Jim


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By George House on Friday, February 22, 2008 - 09:14 am:

Thanks Jim and Royce,
Evidently our own EPA has succeeded in causing band (read:brass) instrument repair shops to quit business - just like they did to the body and frame strippers nearly 2 decades ago. I appreciate the steps you outlined Jim and think I could buy a half dozen, or so dremel buffing wheels for the Rubes. Good ideas on cotton gloves and lacquer thinner, too. Then you just use a Krylon grade clear lacquer ?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce on Friday, February 22, 2008 - 10:36 am:

George,

I recommend against the clear lacquer. In my opinion it makes the brass look like sorta gold spray paint. It takes away greatly from the appearance. In a short time it cracks, crazes and gets cloudy making you have to do all the work to strip it off and polish it again.

If you just take a bit of time to maintain your brass then it will look great.

Royce


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Seth Harbuck on Friday, February 22, 2008 - 10:41 am:

To each his own, I guess. I used Rust-Oleum's "Crystal Clear" on that coolant pipe. It gets hot, hasn't crazed in 2.5 years, and IMO, doesn't look like gold spray paint.

Seth


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jim Patrick - (2) '26's - Bartow, FL on Friday, February 22, 2008 - 10:56 am:

Any good crystal clear lacquer will do the job. The best lacquers are bought at auto paint supply stores in quarts, designed to be sprayed with a compressor and paint gun, but you can get lacquer in aerosol cans from the paint section of Home Depot and Lowes that are designed for the purpose of protecting brass, as it has a picture of a brass bed or brass lamp, or something like that on the label. The bad thing about aerosol lacquers is that the aerosol propellent makes the lacquer appear foggy when first sprayed, which gives the novice painter a sinking feeling that he screwed up big time, but as it dries it clears up to a crystal clear.

Abide by all safety precautions. Make sure not to put too much on, or it will drip. Several thin coats are better than one thick one. Another good thing about lacquer is that, unlike Polyurethane, it is so hot that it softens the prior coat of lacquer and blends into and becomes a part of the prior coat instead of sitting on top of it. Make sure you spray it in a dust free room and try not to move too much, as you spray, because your clothes will shed lint and dust into the air. As soon as you spray it, leave the room and don't go back in. Turn off the air conditioner too, so it does not come go on and stir up the air in the room. Jim


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce on Friday, February 22, 2008 - 11:24 am:

Seth,

It doesn't look like freshly polished brass either. Sorry, there's no substitute for the real thing. Tofu turkey for Thanksgiving anyone?

Royce


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Darel Leipold on Friday, February 22, 2008 - 01:33 pm:

I have had poor long time results with lacquer coatings for polished brass. I have had to strip the lacquer at some piont, even though it may be 10 or 15 years later. No type of coating will give a true polished brass look. I do lamp restoration as part of our store. I just will not lacquer any polshed brass parts. I put a light coat of wax on the parts and instruct the customer as how to repolish the item when necessary.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bruce Spainhower on Friday, February 22, 2008 - 03:09 pm:

I'm glad some people have chimed in about lacquered brass not looking right. It's the same sort of thing as clear-coat on modern car paint. It just doesn't belong an antique. I've done a lot of brasswork over the years, and I have to say that I also don't recommend any cleaning or polishing technique that involves acid (vinegar included). It leeches the zinc out of the surface and turns the brass red. How much depends on how strong the acid is and how long you leave it on, but it always changes the color to a degree.

What I use is [commercial product warning] Liberty Polish. I mentioned it in a thread some months ago. It does the job without a ton of effort, and unlike salt and vinegar, it doesn't change the color. Sorry if this sounds like an advertisement, but it's just a report on something that has worked well for me, and since it's not widely distributed, I thought it was worth another mention. Coincidentally Darel, it was during a lamp restoration that I went looking for a decent polish after ruining the color on a part.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jim Patrick - (2) '26's - Bartow, FL on Friday, February 22, 2008 - 03:24 pm:

While lacquered brass (if done improperly) may not look as crisp and bright as the non-lacquered brass, there is no substitute for protecting polished brass. You may enjoy your newly poished item for a day or so until just one oily finger print or impurity starts to discolor and dull the beautiful polished surface.

I have always had great results with lacquer because of one step I always do, that many forget and that is to flush the polished brass with lacquer thinner. No matter how much you try and wipe off the polish residue with a soft dry cloth, if you don't flush with lacquer thinner, the microscopic residue left by the brass polish will be activated by the lacquer and fog up the surface. Jim


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jim Patrick - (2) '26's - Bartow, FL on Friday, February 22, 2008 - 04:49 pm:

"...the microscopic residue left by the brass polish will be activated by the lacquer and fog up the surface..." in the form of a slightly green haze between the polished brass and the lacquer coat covering it.

In the prior step, as you flush the brass with the lacquer thinner, notice how the thinner starts turning green with tarnish residue, lint particles and polish residue. This is what would have been left on the polished brass, had you skipped this all important step. Jim


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