With the exception of an hour long pilates class this morning, today was dedicated to endlessly polishing rusty metal. There was some force involved in rubbing and scrubbing but otherwise it’s just a lot of pretty dull repetition. I finally got a system down though and started discovering what was under layers and layers of rust and tarnish!

Here are the materials I used that might be helpful for anyone doing something similar, and how I used them and the steps I took.

Naval Jelly Rust Remover – Removes rust. Applied with a toothbrush and then wiped off after 5-10 minutes with a wet rag.

My trunk basically seems to have two different kinds of metal and they both rusted different ways. The first is a band that goes around the trunk and is also used for the hinges in the back. It rusted kind of spottily and I suspect (along with the people that I bought it from) that it’s tin. The other metal is used on decorative knobs on the sides and on other miscellaneous pieces of metal and rusted to have just an all over brown color. For the first metal (let’s call it tin), it only took a few rounds of Naval Jelly before the large majority of the rust came off. The other metal took at least 4-5 rounds to clean.

Brasso – Polish? Tarnish remover? Rubbed on with a rag and with steel wool.

Brasso is works for almost all metals, which is good if you’re like me and don’t know what metal you’ve got. After removing the rust from the tin, I put a little Brasso on a sheet of steel wool (medium grade) and scrubbed it. For the other metal, I first used the Brasso on a dry rag and then rubbed it on the metal to get off the majority of the tarnish (a white rag was dark grey after this step). I then put the Brasso on the steel wool and scrubbed pretty vigorously to really make the metal shine.

Water and Rags – For cleaning!

I used two different rags: one that was wet and filthy and one that was only slightly filthy and dry. I used the first rag for almost everything, which included wiping off Naval Jelly, the preliminary polish with Brasso for metal number two, and washing off Brasso and steel wool bits on both metals after their final polishings. The dry cloth I reserved for the purpose of drying and finishing off the metal only after it had gone through ever step and was complete.

I got through about 6 decorative knob things, the strip of tin on the back, the hinges, about half the strip of tin on one side and part of a latch thing. It sounds like a good amount when it’s written down but there’s way way more to go. After today, I’m thinking the metal of the knobs is maybe a steel or nickel (anyone have any insight?). Parts of it were actually covered and didn’t rust and those parts are a gold/brass color. But after all the polishing, I’m thinking that that’s just a brass colored paint that has rusted away, leaving the silver colored metal. I’m really liking the look so far though.

I’ll post pictures of my progress on the metal until that’s all done. After metal, it’s on to leather cleaning!


One Response to “progress”

  1. 1 David Deerson

    Wow! keep up the good work!

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