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HOW DO I CLEAN TARNISHING FROM BRASS MODEL ENGINE?

05/11/2008 5:22 AM

I have an intricate handmade model brass engine that has suffered atmospheric tarnishing over time. Is there a way to clean it apart from dismantling and dipping/rubbing with cleaner? I wonder whether anyone has evolved a gaseous process that could be suitable?

Further, after cleaning and brightening, is there any sort of inert-gas cocooning system that I could use to encase the model on display to avoid further atmospheric degradation? Any ideas gratefully received!

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#1

Re: HOW DO I CLEAN TARNISHING FROM BRASS MODEL ENGINE?

05/11/2008 1:13 PM

Try electroplating with gold. This will remove the tarnish and leave you with a nice shiny surface to look at.

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#14
In reply to #1

Re: HOW DO I CLEAN TARNISHING FROM BRASS MODEL ENGINE?

05/12/2008 11:35 PM

Bloody good Idea!!!

I did a four story handrail once and it saved a fortune on polish! otherwise the quickest product i have come across is Amway metal cleaner. its basically light polish on wash off. it does need Brasso to seal and finish the shine.

Gold plate really is your best option though nothing else stays shiny for long.

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#2

Re: HOW DO I CLEAN TARNISHING FROM BRASS MODEL ENGINE?

05/11/2008 1:31 PM

Second question first:

once you have it cleaned up you could A) apply lacquer to seal it; B) if you put it in a sealed case, why not put some dry ice in to displace all the oxygen? (along with silica gel to absorb the humidity) c) or you could spray in some other inert gas.

I used the dry ice trick often to preserve developers. back in the days before photoshop made chemistry obslete

Cleanup: A silver polishing cloth may be your best approach. The acid dips are likely to create problems at joints and with the other metal parts.

good luck

milo

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#3

Re: HOW DO I CLEAN TARNISHING FROM BRASS MODEL ENGINE?

05/11/2008 11:09 PM

There was a wadding-type polish called Duraglit that worked well! Rub the surface and the tarnish came off, then wipe it off with a dry cloth!

I'd take some of the wadding and twirl it into a thin cord for hard to reach places, and worked real well!

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#4

Re: HOW DO I CLEAN TARNISHING FROM BRASS MODEL ENGINE?

05/11/2008 11:45 PM

Electro-polishing would clean and produce a bright shiny surfaces at the same time.

Sealing it in a glass enclosure with silica gel drying agent and dry nitrogen would be the easiest method without going to extremes. An aquarium would be a good starter foundation as it is made of glass, sealed with self-curing silicone sealer. Add connections to flush with the dry nitrogen and put you little engine on display in its own cocoon!

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#5

Re: HOW DO I CLEAN TARNISHING FROM BRASS MODEL ENGINE?

05/12/2008 2:00 AM

Hello boothville,

I have a magic trick in answer to your question.

Use Vinegar with a little added salt. Put it in a bottle with a hand operated handle to squeeze the contents out. Spray the dissolved salt and vinegar and the tarnish instantly disappears! It does not matter what type of vinegar you use but, I use either white or the kind used on fish and chips. This is no joke! I use it every day to clean the copper bottoms of my pans and they come up sparkling.

You can spray and wipe with a cloth if you want to after you have rinsed with clean water, which you could also have in a spray bottle.

Just make sure you remove all the vinegar.

jfmfit

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#6

Re: HOW DO I CLEAN TARNISHING FROM BRASS MODEL ENGINE?

05/12/2008 2:05 AM

Hello boothville,

I forgot to say, you could either varnish, which does not look good when it starts to oxidize. Or as I have done, use bees-wax. Plain bees-wax then wipe off. If the tarnish comes back a little on edge etc, just go spray with vinegar rinse with clean water and re-apply the bees-wax. It really works!

jfmfit

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#7

Re: HOW DO I CLEAN TARNISHING FROM BRASS MODEL ENGINE?

05/12/2008 5:41 AM

Thanks everyone, for those helpful answers. I've read about vinegar and salt in several places, so it seems to be a popular solution!

Does anyone have any further hints on electro-polishing? Is this viable in a DIY environment? What solution, electrical potential etc. might one try? Due to intricacy of many small parts, this might be preferable route......, and then once competent at the electro bit, I might ry the gold plating for final effect - again, any detail assistnce gratefully received. Thankyou!!

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#8

Re: HOW DO I CLEAN TARNISHING FROM BRASS MODEL ENGINE?

05/12/2008 7:18 AM

If this is an antique, you may wish to think of the value of the object. MANY antiques lose half or more of their value when "cleaned" of the normal tarnish, oxidations, dirt accumulations, etc. Watch "Antiques Road Show" a few times and you'll see concrete examples. If it is relatively recent, can you talk with the maker, and learn what was done originally, and why?

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#18
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Re: HOW DO I CLEAN TARNISHING FROM BRASS MODEL ENGINE?

05/17/2008 5:05 PM

Yeah awful but ya know you see those seemingly magic applications where a penny is dipped in and a few moments latter the penny is withdrawn clean?

You too can make a paste of "cream of tartar' and water and do same.

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#20
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Re: HOW DO I CLEAN TARNISHING FROM BRASS MODEL ENGINE?

05/17/2008 6:52 PM

Hello bwire,

The vinegar/salt, with the salt dissolved in the vinegar, does exactly that! a sparkling penny or train in five seconds! And a rinse with water and its done.

jfmfit

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#9

Re: HOW DO I CLEAN TARNISHING FROM BRASS MODEL ENGINE?

05/12/2008 8:06 AM

Try going to WWW.eastwood.com They have a DIY electroplating kit that should be about right for your project. Part number is 10049Z. Good luck. Please send pictures.

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#10

Re: HOW DO I CLEAN TARNISHING FROM BRASS MODEL ENGINE?

05/12/2008 8:07 AM

Hello once again boothville,

'Ron' has a serious point there. If it is an old, or relatively new piece, but valuable, then it might be worth a second thought.

I may be well wrong here but, I have not heard of 'home plating'. I have worked in in a small batch plating factory, all done by hand not 'automatic' and, it aint a nice place to be around..........Lots of nasty and dangerous smells.

Also, to be plated successfully, it would have to be taken apart, as the plating although thin, would kind of weld one part to another and, if say for instance there is a seem or line you like looking at or that needs to be there as part of the model, it may well disappear after the plating unless you take it apart and plate it bit by bit.

With ref to the vinegar and salt solution, if it is possible to put the whole model under water if and when you clean it, sprat the vinegar on and agitate with a tooth brush and use extra salt Cristal's on any stubborn areas, making sure you have it spotless then, put the whole thing under the tap to wash all the acid of the vinegar out of all cracks and holes. Again if you want to go ahead with this it will work wonderfully after the thing is taken apart. It will will clean all faces and hard to get at angle and screws. Important to use a tooth brush and not any metal pads as these will scratch the surface and, there is a risk of 'denting' any really thin plate with vigorous actions of this sort. If after cleaning there appears a slight 'bloom' where the cleaning solution has run near a screw or something this can be cleaned with the same spray action bottle of vinegar and rinsed and dried quickly, or, if it in on an outside piece of plate, wheel etc, wrap a piece of cloth round your finger, spray a little vinegar on it and rub the offending part, remembering to also wipe the acid vinegar off before you dry.

jfmfit.

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#11

Re: HOW DO I CLEAN TARNISHING FROM BRASS MODEL ENGINE?

05/12/2008 10:25 AM

I have a secret source for polishing and plating needs http://www.caswellplating.com/kits/index.html (not so secret anymore). These guys will answer any questions on these subjects and they are good.

I have been experimenting with preserving vintage motorcycles and cars and my theory is, if you remove the oxygen you will remove the potential for oxidation, I have been putting them in a sealed container (large plastic bags) and purging with c02 (cheap and readily available) I would think any inert gas would work.

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#12

Re: HOW DO I CLEAN TARNISHING FROM BRASS MODEL ENGINE?

05/12/2008 10:35 AM

Here is how to clean your brass model:

  1. wash it with a mild soap luke warm water using an old tooth brush;
  2. rinse well with tap water. Do not touch the model after this stage;
  3. Prepare a solution of sodium bi-carbonate by dissolving about 10 g in about 200 ml of water at about 60ÂșC. Use a pyrex container of a size that will contain your model;
  4. wrap your model with a ribbon of alumimun foil (normally found in any kitchen), leaving some areas of the model exposed;
  5. place the model thus wrapped inside the pyrex container;
  6. leave for enough time until you see that the model is clean. It may take from 3 to 8 minutes;
  7. remove the model and wash it with clean water
  8. dependind the time this model has been laying around some spots will remain. Use a tooth brush and dental cream to remove them
  9. wash again and dry well
  10. to preserve your model spray a colorless enamel on it

This procedure works well for brass, copper and silver.

Prof. Ivan Menezes

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#13
In reply to #12

Re: HOW DO I CLEAN TARNISHING FROM BRASS MODEL ENGINE?

05/12/2008 12:42 PM

DOn't try this if there are steel parts or stainless steel parts on it!

milo

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#15

Re: HOW DO I CLEAN TARNISHING FROM BRASS MODEL ENGINE?

05/13/2008 3:37 PM

Hello boothville,

have you tried to clean the Engine you mentioned yet? If not, can you keep us informed of how you get on please?

I find the best thing to use to get in the nooks and crannies if you decide to use the bees wax, is wooden tooth-picks or even better, Bamboo skewers. cut them into about 3 or 4 and sharpen some to a point, and others to a flat edge, like a screw-driver. Or use to cut blunt edge. Ideal for getting access wax from screw heads and small holes etc. You can buy packs of 100 or so which leaves 400 to clean your engine. throw away instead of bothering to wipe and clean. Of course you can also use cotton buds but, I have found the short lengths of bamboo used inside a torn up bed-sheet dose the job just fine.

jfmfit

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#16
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Re: HOW DO I CLEAN TARNISHING FROM BRASS MODEL ENGINE?

05/13/2008 4:42 PM

Hello JFMFIT (and any others who are still reading!)

Thanks for all the hints and tips. Nice idea about bamboo sticks.

No, I have not yet tried any of the suggestions; in fact I have to admit that it is an elder relation of mine who has the problem, who asked me for advice. I concluded the best thing after a bit of independent research on the web, was a post on CR4 - hence this thread!

Rest assured, we will be attempting 'the job' in due course. In fact there are two such models to deal with - hence the intense interest. They are relatively modern, so the antique issue covered by several correspondents does not (yet) apply. I don't kow whether or not we will be brave enough to go for the gold-plating - but the idea is certainly worth considering, if a bit pricey.

Wax in lieu of varnish seems a grand idea since it is so difficult to get a good even covering of varnish, to be followed-up by an inert-gas purge and sealed glass-case I reckon.

We will try and report-back in due course....

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#17
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Re: HOW DO I CLEAN TARNISHING FROM BRASS MODEL ENGINE?

05/13/2008 6:34 PM

Hi again,

I would also advise you take the train outside when using the vinegar and rinse it as soon as you finish. Most important.....use a clean dry cloth or kitchen roll paper to dry. If you don't you will get water marks and streaking (which can easily be removed by washing again), but you hardly want to do that right?

I hope you meant Wax in Lieu of Vanish will not work! If you wax it you can wax it again to get it clean. But if you wax it you will need to clean it all over again before you attempt to varnish it. I do not like varnish because after a while it will crack. It then looks terrible!

Also, if you do go the plating route, the model you have will be a different thing altogether, and theres no going back. I think gold on a train is just wrong. But, hey, thats just me!

I have found that however you seal the glass case, air WILL get back in. if you wax only, you can put it in a case and not have to bother with any purging of oxygen.

Good luck.

jfmfit

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#19

Re: HOW DO I CLEAN TARNISHING FROM BRASS MODEL ENGINE?

05/17/2008 5:11 PM

slightly submerge model engine under warm water, stir in unsweetened 'kool-aid' wait about 20 minutes and viola`- then do not touch with bare hands. Apply wax of choice, I prefer 'turtle wax spray wax' as it is easy fast and can be done with one hand. I suggest wax because can be easily maintained.

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#21
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Re: HOW DO I CLEAN TARNISHING FROM BRASS MODEL ENGINE?

05/17/2008 7:11 PM

Hello bwire,

not sure, but I think you will find it is the mild acetic acid in 'kool-aid' that does the same job as vinegar. But the was no mention of rinsing. It is going to be be awful sticky! And why wait for twenty minutes? I do agree with the wax though.

jfmfit

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#22
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Re: HOW DO I CLEAN TARNISHING FROM BRASS MODEL ENGINE?

05/18/2008 9:55 AM

It is going to be be awful sticky!

No, no you forgot to use the unsweetened kool-aid mix (:

I use this kool aid because is premixed and is wonderful for so many things none of which to drink though.

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