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Thread: How To Properly Clean/Restore Metal Parts?

  1. #1

    How To Properly Clean/Restore Metal Parts?

    Hi, I just recently picked up a couple of 11x14 Burke & James cameras and the metal (non-aluminum) parts have varying degrees of rust, etc.

    I have no experience with cleaning and restoring metal parts on an older view camera, so I am hopeful the group here can help me get the right supplies so I can clean and restore these parts properly.

    I look forward to your suggestions and guidance.

    Emory

  2. #2
    Drew Wiley
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    SF Bay area, CA
    Posts
    14,762

    Re: How To Properly Clean/Restore Metal Parts?

    First identify the specific kind of metal. Magnetic or not? Brass, nickel-plated, what? Actual rust or some other kind of tarnish? Most hardware stores carry things like brass polishes, aluminum jelly (for its kind of corrosion), comparable Naval Jelly for ferrous metal (for actual rust). Use Scotchbrite pads instead of steel wool. Tiny area can be polished using a Dremel tool at medium speed with proper rubberized abrasive points, or felt points and discs with paste abrasive (available from McMaster or large model/hobby outlets).
    If you don't already own a Dremel tool, a basic kit including many of these things sells for around a hundred bucks, maybe less during holiday deals.

  3. #3

    Re: How To Properly Clean/Restore Metal Parts?

    Thanks Drew!

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    First identify the specific kind of metal. Magnetic or not? Brass, nickel-plated, what? Actual rust or some other kind of tarnish? Most hardware stores carry things like brass polishes, aluminum jelly (for its kind of corrosion), comparable Naval Jelly for ferrous metal (for actual rust). Use Scotchbrite pads instead of steel wool. Tiny area can be polished using a Dremel tool at medium speed with proper rubberized abrasive points, or felt points and discs with paste abrasive (available from McMaster or large model/hobby outlets).
    If you don't already own a Dremel tool, a basic kit including many of these things sells for around a hundred bucks, maybe less during holiday deals.

  4. #4

    Re: How To Properly Clean/Restore Metal Parts?

    If your metal is plated, doing any kind of machining or polishing on it will probably not make it look better. Start with soap or degreaser and a bristle brush with soft bristles. If not plated, wail away!

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Newbury, Vermont
    Posts
    1,131

    Re: How To Properly Clean/Restore Metal Parts?

    +1 on Drew's suggestion for the Dremel - plus you'll find lots of other uses for it!

    Also Scotchbrite...just be aware that these are color-coded to specify relative hardness/abrasiveness: Blue for "cleaning up," but next to no disturbing of base material, Green for a bit more aggressive, and Red - can be quite aggressive so take care with this! Personally/practically, I find the green to offer the best compromise. Just be aware that Scotchbrite can leave bits of itself on your parts, especially if these parts are textured...so do make sure to wipe down, blow off, or vacuum your parts thoroughly afterwards!

  6. #6

    Re: How To Properly Clean/Restore Metal Parts?

    Sounds like really good advice. I appreciate it.


    Quote Originally Posted by Conrad . Marvin View Post
    If your metal is plated, doing any kind of machining or polishing on it will probably not make it look better. Start with soap or degreaser and a bristle brush with soft bristles. If not plated, wail away!

  7. #7

    Re: How To Properly Clean/Restore Metal Parts?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Layton View Post
    +1 on Drew's suggestion for the Dremel - plus you'll find lots of other uses for it!
    Thanks for the suggest John. I took your advice and picked up some blue and green ScotchBrite. I am going to give it a try this weekend.



    Also Scotchbrite...just be aware that these are color-coded to specify relative hardness/abrasiveness: Blue for "cleaning up," but next to no disturbing of base material, Green for a bit more aggressive, and Red - can be quite aggressive so take care with this! Personally/practically, I find the green to offer the best compromise. Just be aware that Scotchbrite can leave bits of itself on your parts, especially if these parts are textured...so do make sure to wipe down, blow off, or vacuum your parts thoroughly afterwards!

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    NYC
    Posts
    376

    Re: How To Properly Clean/Restore Metal Parts?

    for those tight spots you want to buff out, im using an oral b electric tooth brush as an orbital sander. take the bristles off the head and make tiny discs of fine sand paper, wet dry, or a tuft of fine scouring pads. use double sided tape to keep the discs in place.

    you can also keep the bristles n use polishing compounds for buffing.

    dremel rotary tool is a bit much for small parts and may cause gouging and may be too aggressive.

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