View Poll Results: Should a person polish his old brass lenses?

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  • Yes

    4 16.67%
  • No

    20 83.33%
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Thread: Brass Lens: to polish or not to polish?

  1. #21

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    Re: Brass Lens: to polish or not to polish?

    Alan, I hear you about customer interpretations of patina. I helped a guy's business that was making metal cutout artwork. You know, kokopelis and that kind of junk. He offered a couple different copper patina finishes. Many customers would commission a piece with that finish, knowing we stated it was variable, depending on the day it would come out more blue or green or brown. Many times some buyer would complain that she wanted more blues, or more greens than what it ended up as. They'd have to strip it off, and try again, sometimes several times. My advice was the customer is seldom right. They order it, they buy it. Rework for fickle wackos cost him his profit almost every time.

  2. #22

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    Re: Brass Lens: to polish or not to polish?

    Quote Originally Posted by goamules View Post
    Alan, I hear you about customer interpretations of patina. I helped a guy's business that was making metal cutout artwork. You know, kokopelis and that kind of junk. He offered a couple different copper patina finishes. Many customers would commission a piece with that finish, knowing we stated it was variable, depending on the day it would come out more blue or green or brown. Many times some buyer would complain that she wanted more blues, or more greens than what it ended up as. They'd have to strip it off, and try again, sometimes several times. My advice was the customer is seldom right. They order it, they buy it. Rework for fickle wackos cost him his profit almost every time.
    Garrett, we had a saying that the customer is always right just as long as they are willing to pay for it.

  3. #23

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    Re: Brass Lens: to polish or not to polish?

    So if you wanted to Brasso and then re-lacquer your lenses, what type of lacquer should you go for, and is it sprayed or painted on?

  4. #24
    Foamer
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    Re: Brass Lens: to polish or not to polish?

    I voted don't polish. My brass lenses are pre-Civil War (1860), and I like the "old" look. Shiny 150 year old lenses look a little jarring to me.


    Kent in SD
    Die Gedanken sind Frei

  5. #25
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: Brass Lens: to polish or not to polish?

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry Kirsten View Post
    So if you wanted to Brasso and then re-lacquer your lenses, what type of lacquer should you go for, and is it sprayed or painted on?
    In my modest experience Brasso is far to harsh.

  6. #26
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: Brass Lens: to polish or not to polish?

    Quote Originally Posted by Two23 View Post
    I voted don't polish. My brass lenses are pre-Civil War (1860), and I like the "old" look. Shiny 150 year old lenses look a little jarring to me.


    Kent in SD
    Indeed! I'm surprised how a weathered brass lens can still have very clear glass, and that is what matters.
    .

  7. #27
    David Lobato David Lobato's Avatar
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    Re: Brass Lens: to polish or not to polish?

    Since you plan to use and handle it, don't polish. Once you polish the lens, any small finger print, dull spot, etc. will show up and drive you crazy. You'll be repeatedly going for the Brasso. Right? Leave it as it is.

  8. #28

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    Re: Brass Lens: to polish or not to polish?

    Quote Originally Posted by David Lobato View Post
    Since you plan to use and handle it, don't polish. Once you polish the lens, any small finger print, dull spot, etc. will show up and drive you crazy. You'll be repeatedly going for the Brasso. Right? Leave it as it is.
    I love the look of a polished brass lens on an old camera but you do bring up a very good point, David. When I was working the trade I never polished my sheet metal tools.

  9. #29

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    Re: Brass Lens: to polish or not to polish?

    Keep oil on steel tools to preserve white metal. Wax on brass. Wax is not as robust as Lacquer, but it's easily reversible if someone wants to do the lacquer later. Lacquer was put on with the metal hot, in the old days. Probably a natural shellac or such...but I don't know.

    As a former Sailor, I used Never Dull a lot on brass fittings on our ship. And sometimes Brasso. Neither are very abrasive at all. I've got thousands of nautical miles on both!

    I've restored a few brass antiques too. Brasso is not harsh. Steel wool, acids (including Koolaid mix), valve grinding compound, and all the Internet techniques you hear about are.

    Sometimes you have to restore. Here is one I did, before and after.




  10. #30

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    Re: Brass Lens: to polish or not to polish?

    On the other hand, here is a lens that was missing it's lacquer when I got it in 2007. I've never polished it. It's been handled and shot a lot, but the brass still looks the same way it did a decade ago. Why? Because I don't have dirty hands when I touch it, no silver nitrate or developer on my fingers, nor burger grease. A fingerprint won't get you running to the polishing rag, if you keep your brass indoors and dry.


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