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Thread: Restoring brass of a Thornton Pickard dryplate camera?

  1. #1

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    Restoring brass of a Thornton Pickard dryplate camera?

    I'm looking at an old Thornton Pickard from the early 1900's. On the brass work most of it is quite shiny with a few scratches. At the points of major friction though it looks as if its been scraped through to some kind of base metal that darkens on oxidation. Maybe a bronze coated in brass. I'm not sure what I'm actually looking at, so I don't know how best to clean it up. Did they actually coat things in brass, instead of making them solid? What are the options for restoring this? If it were solid brass I'd just polish it but if it's a coated product doing this might wear away the nicer material. Does anyone have experience with this metal work ?

  2. #2

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    Re: Restoring brass of a Thornton Pickard dryplate camera?

    Just looking around on the internet it seems quite possible that it is actually coated. Electroplating was around at the time, and it is quite possible to electroplate various brass formations onto zinc, tinned steel, or bronze. If this is the case then it still amazes me that a camera that was rather expensive in the day would resort to brass plating above just using solid brass (hard chrome is another matter because that confers other benefits). Some of the components rely on the metal acting like a spring, so maybe it was to get those parts of the design working well that a coated product was chosen.

  3. #3
    Ron (Netherlands)'s Avatar
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    Re: Restoring brass of a Thornton Pickard dryplate camera?

    Quote Originally Posted by J_3 View Post
    Just looking around on the internet it seems quite possible that it is actually coated. Electroplating was around at the time, and it is quite possible to electroplate various brass formations onto zinc, tinned steel, or bronze. If this is the case then it still amazes me that a camera that was rather expensive in the day would resort to brass plating above just using solid brass (hard chrome is another matter because that confers other benefits). Some of the components rely on the metal acting like a spring, so maybe it was to get those parts of the design working well that a coated product was chosen.
    Are you sure its from the early 1900's? Perhaps the use of plating became more common during WWI - the government needed the brass for gun-making? For sure your camera won't have bronze parts since that is very hard to work on...
    In the past I had a (continental made) camera of about that same era with what later became evident iron parts that had a very soft kind of brass finish - which fully came off when I polished the camera :-(
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  4. #4

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    Re: Restoring brass of a Thornton Pickard dryplate camera?

    I'd forgotten about WWI. The camera was produced during England's war years which could explain things. Now I've got to figure out how fussy I'm going to be about things. Thanks much.

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