Cleaning Brass: An accidental discovery

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Steve Jelf
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Cleaning Brass: An accidental discovery

Post by Steve Jelf » Sun Aug 25, 2019 1:25 pm

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Hard water lime deposits were building up on my shower plumbing, so I sprayed on CLR.
I found that it not only took off the lime, but also removed the tarnish.


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So this morning I tried it on a headlight rim. Nice! After attacking the tarnish with CLR, polishing will be a LOT less work. :)
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Shane Lach
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Re: Cleaning Brass: An accidental discovery

Post by Shane Lach » Sun Aug 25, 2019 3:48 pm

I used Lysol toilet bowl cleaner diluted in a bowl of hot water, with 0000 steel wool on some old brass fans I collected. It has to be the original liquid formula in the white and blue bottle, and don't let it sit too long on the brass or it will turn red. Be sure to wash the part well with warm water after scrubbing. This process leaves a nice starting surface for polishing.
I cleaned and polished the left fan a few years back. Right one I left alone.
I cleaned and polished the left fan a few years back. Right one I left alone.

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Steve Jelf
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Re: Cleaning Brass: An accidental discovery

Post by Steve Jelf » Sun Aug 25, 2019 3:59 pm

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I should have timed this. A little cloth dipped in CLR rubbed the tarnish away in under three minutes.

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I did time this. With the tarnish removed, polishing with Mother's took five minutes.
You may count me a happy camper.
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Re: Cleaning Brass: An accidental discovery

Post by It's Bill » Sun Aug 25, 2019 9:12 pm

What is CLR, please? Bill


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Re: Cleaning Brass: An accidental discovery

Post by Original Smith » Sun Aug 25, 2019 9:28 pm

I believe it stands for calcium, lime and rust. They sell it at the markets and other places.


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Re: Cleaning Brass: An accidental discovery

Post by Scott_Conger » Sun Aug 25, 2019 9:52 pm

Steve

from the color the brass turned, has me wondering if it hasn't been left with a copper-rich surface after the CLR stripped out the zinc. I do not know this for certain, as I do not know how either lactic acid or gluconic acid react to zinc, but I personally would not use this solution to clean brass on a regular basis until I understood the chemistry of it.
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Re: Cleaning Brass: An accidental discovery

Post by BHarper » Sun Aug 25, 2019 10:11 pm

clr-calcium-lime-rust-removers-cl-12-64_1000.jpg


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Re: Cleaning Brass: An accidental discovery

Post by Jeepbone1 » Sun Aug 25, 2019 10:20 pm

Diluted, it works wonders on a radiator too.

Brad

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Re: Cleaning Brass: An accidental discovery

Post by George N Lake Ozark » Sun Aug 25, 2019 10:34 pm

I use it every couple of years to flush out radiator after flushing first with Calgon

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Re: Cleaning Brass: An accidental discovery

Post by Steve Jelf » Sun Aug 25, 2019 11:01 pm

...would not use this solution to clean brass on a regular basis until I understood the chemistry of it.

I have to confess I know nothing about the chemistry of the stuff, but I've been using it on those brass pipes and fittings in the shower for a few months and don't see that it's done any damage yet.

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It certainly doesn't take long for Mother's to bring out the normal brass color.
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Re: Cleaning Brass: An accidental discovery

Post by Dropacent » Sun Aug 25, 2019 11:33 pm

Scott nailed it. Anytime you turn the brass red, you are stripping the zinc out. It would probably never make a difference on thick plumbing parts, but can be deadly on thin brass. Keep up that routine and you’ll be wondering why the brass has age cracks now. There is an old saying, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is !


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Re: Cleaning Brass: An accidental discovery

Post by wayne sheldon » Mon Aug 26, 2019 11:45 pm

I have some nasty brass that I am trying to make look good, at least from several feet away. Califunny is NOT helping! I couldn't find Brasso, an old brand, rather harsh, anywhere here. So I tried Amazon. Cannot deliver to my address. Several other products I can get, turn out to be "Californiaized variations, not generally worth the price of the bottle it comes in. Some products will say on the label that they are "California approved". Many do not have the decency to tell us we are being ripped off by the state. I cannot help but wonder if CLR is a worthless knockoff of itself here.

I know from past experiences, that Brasso is harsh. The chemicals in it cut into the brass. Discussions over the years have expressed concerns about damaging the brass. General "educated" opinions are that it may, over time and excessive use to permanent harm. Realistically, the harsh chemicals for cleaning metals such as brass only effect the outermost molecular levels, so even a brass radiator outer shell may need a lot of exposure to do serious harm. Tubes are probably okay also, however, the fins of the core are thin enough that excessive exposure to harsh chemicals could do serious harm. I have a low black era radiator that has been exposed to something long before I got it. All the fins are slowly disintegrating, with many of the front row of tubes fully exposed now. I wish I knew what it was exposed to.

Part of the trouble I am looking at, is my headlamp rings. I started off with some badly cracked '26/'27 plated rims. Welded the cracks, then cleaned and filed and sanded for hours. They are still rough on the outer surface, but are beginning to look decent. Now if I could get some good brass cleaner to clear out a few surface flaws enough to not stand out as dark spots from fifty years of never being cleaned.


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Re: Cleaning Brass: An accidental discovery

Post by Burger in Spokane » Tue Aug 27, 2019 12:16 am

Wassamatta youze guys ? Let's find a "formula" that puts a 90-year-old mellow
patina on brass and leave that polished stuff to 70's disco decor !
More people are doing it today than ever before !


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Re: Cleaning Brass: An accidental discovery

Post by Jeff Hood » Tue Aug 27, 2019 12:22 am

We used to put a drop of Tabasco on a copper penny and it would shine like new. I always used Nevr-Dull on aluminum and liked the results and ease of use. It's supposed to also work on brass but I have never tried it.


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Re: Cleaning Brass: An accidental discovery

Post by wayne sheldon » Tue Aug 27, 2019 2:53 am

Welding, grinding, filing, and sanding twenty plus cracks on a headlamp rim doesn't leave much "patina" to preserve. The funny thing is that most of the dark spots are just outside the weld zone. But they now stick out like a sore thumb next to the still slightly rough welds.
Years ago, I used some tomato juice on brass. I didn't think it worked that well, but think I may have to try that again.

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Re: Cleaning Brass: An accidental discovery

Post by Steve Jelf » Tue Aug 27, 2019 8:35 am

I couldn't find Brasso, an old brand...

I don't think you're missing anything, Wayne. I believe the stuff they're selling as Brasso now is not the same product we used when I was in the army 60+ years ago. That was good. The new version isn't.
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Re: Cleaning Brass: An accidental discovery

Post by Rich Bingham » Tue Aug 27, 2019 9:59 am

Burger in Spokane wrote:
Tue Aug 27, 2019 12:16 am
Wassamatta youze guys ? Let's find a "formula" that puts a 90-year-old mellow
patina on brass and leave that polished stuff to 70's disco decor !
No problem! Lizzie lives outside during her using season April through November.
Patinating formula:
Periodic sprays of irrigation water, the fine droplets from cottonwood trees, the inevitable contributions from the occasional bird and road dust.
It's up to the owner whether to accumulate the annual effects for another 89 years, or "go disco" at some point. Sometimes polishing brass can be a fun winter pastime. :lol:
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Re: Cleaning Brass: An accidental discovery

Post by BHarper » Tue Aug 27, 2019 10:42 am

I have shared these thoughts before:

I do, genuinely, admire polished brass bits. I applaud the great amount of time, effort, and dedication which is needed to produce the brilliant shine, the warm glow, and the desired luster. I also understand that there is some therapeutic benefit to the time spent polishing for hours. (Think of "The Karate Kid" and "Wax on. Wax off.")

I have no polishing tips to offer as I just do not have time to polish anything. My cars are lucky to get washed once in a while.


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Re: Cleaning Brass: An accidental discovery

Post by SurfCityGene » Tue Aug 27, 2019 1:06 pm

Like I've posted before a product that I've found that works very well on very tarnished brass which is made for that purpose is called Brite Boy. I get it at the janitorial supply places. There are many chemicals that could be used to strip the surface but they also may not be the best to use on your Model T.
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Re: Cleaning Brass: An accidental discovery

Post by George N Lake Ozark » Tue Aug 27, 2019 5:23 pm

So Mr.Jelf ??? Were using it straight up or diluted ??

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Re: Cleaning Brass: An accidental discovery

Post by Steve Jelf » Tue Aug 27, 2019 11:07 pm

Straight out of the jug.
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Re: Cleaning Brass: An accidental discovery

Post by BuddyTheRoadster » Wed Aug 28, 2019 1:35 am

Regarding Brasso, they reformulated it within the last 10 years when they went from the little metal cans to the squeeze bottles. The antique radio guys loved the old formula for polishing Bakelite, and when it was discontinued in the US, one Canadian collector bought every can he could find and resold them to us. I still have one can that I save for special radios.

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Re: Cleaning Brass: An accidental discovery

Post by rnkugel » Wed Sep 11, 2019 4:22 pm

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I have been polishing brass for a long time. This is the best stuff I have found since Tarnite was discontinued.
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Re: Cleaning Brass: An accidental discovery

Post by SurfCityGene » Fri Sep 13, 2019 5:54 pm

OH OH, Another Brass Polish that I haven't tried... I do wonder if it can be any better than my favorite Mothers Billet, Prism, Blue Magic or for dirty brass the Bright Boy?
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