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Old 06-05-2013, 11:50 AM   #1
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Polishing Brass


Hi folks,
I'm attempting to polish up a 100 year old brass light fixture. It's solid brass. I've tried all the "over the counter" methods like brasso, etc...

I've even tried a chemical bath (muriatic acid) and then buffing it on my buffer. I used brown tripoli to start. It's working amazingly where the brass is good however there are "Pitts" I just can't get out. I use the term Pitt loosely. It's not actual cavities in the metal but more so little red oxidation spots. I just can't seem to get rid of them thru polishing.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to get rid of these? My next thought was to try a very high grit wet sandpaper and sand it out then re polish on the buffer. I'm reluctant to do this though as I don't want to scratch the metal.

Any input is mucho appreciated!!!!
Thanks,
Al C

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Old 06-05-2013, 11:53 AM   #2
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Doubt that it is solid brass. Most likely plated brass. If Brasso, Baking soda paste is not working, then it is not brass. Post some pictures of the fixture. If it was solid brass, it would be really heavy, and would have a bolt at the top, that is used to secure it to a support beam above the ceiling, when put in place.

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Old 06-05-2013, 12:18 PM   #3
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Polishing Brass


Quote:
Originally Posted by lifestooshort81 View Post
...however there are "Pitts" I just can't get out.
I use the term Pitt loosely. It's not actual cavities in the metal but more so little red oxidation spots. I just can't seem to get rid of them thru polishing.
A picture would help.

I've never needed anything stronger than the automotive type of
white polishing compound for the brass items I've had (beds, lamps, etc).
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Old 06-05-2013, 12:34 PM   #4
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It's definitely solid brass. Light fixtures from this vintage did not plate. It's also soft and I deformed a small corner in polishing.

The picture doesn't do justice but see attached. I forgot its really easy to attach pics here. The truck forum I'm on doesn't make picture posting an easy task!

The spots you see are what im talking about pre-polish. Once polished they come out with a hint of red to them. it's not clear coated or anything (as one might assume its oxidation under the clear coat) it's part of the metal itself. Maybe I just need to polish more and more or use a heavier grit polish?

Thanks again.

Polishing Brass-image-692208609.jpg
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Old 06-05-2013, 12:44 PM   #5
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Hmm in the navy we used never dull it it works great and way better than brasso. my last few years in the navy we would smuggle in mothers California gold metal polish now that stuff out does everything!
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Old 06-05-2013, 01:01 PM   #6
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Brass is not going to be so soft, that it will warp or bend while polishing. Plating they did a hundred years ago. Again, if it is solid brass, it will be very heavy. Electroplating has been around as long as there has been the ability to create electricity. Electrochemistry which was used in the late 18th century.

Modern electrochemistry was invented by Italian chemist Luigi V. Brugnatelli in 1805. Brugnatelli used his colleague Alessandro Volta's invention of five years earlier, the voltaic pile, to facilitate the first electrodeposition. Brugnatelli's inventions were suppressed by the French Academy of Sciences and did not become used in general industry for the following thirty years.
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Old 06-05-2013, 01:03 PM   #7
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What you have is plated Brass coating on tin. If it was real brass, there would not be any chips in the coating like that. Also placing in Muratic acid is bad for any metal, because if you do it wrong, it will eat and damage the metal worse than just leaving it as is.
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Old 06-05-2013, 01:12 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lifestooshort81 View Post
It's definitely solid brass. Light fixtures from this vintage did not plate. It's also soft and I deformed a small corner in polishing.

The picture doesn't do justice but see attached. I forgot its really easy to attach pics here. The truck forum I'm on doesn't make picture posting an easy task!

The spots you see are what im talking about pre-polish. Once polished they come out with a hint of red to them. it's not clear coated or anything (as one might assume its oxidation under the clear coat) it's part of the metal itself. Maybe I just need to polish more and more or use a heavier grit polish?

Thanks again.

Attachment 72180
Have you tried Noxon? it's my favorite polish.

apply and use a very soft toothbrush to polish it,
rubbing gently; then rinse thoroughly.

Except for silver ( not recommended for silver) it works
great on copper, stainless steel, brass,
aluminum, chrome, pewter, bronze and copper...

I polish my stainless steel sink with Noxon about once a month
and it comes brand new.

good luck, hope it works, keep us posted.
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Old 06-05-2013, 10:20 PM   #9
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Polishing Brass


ketchup works great on brass
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Old 06-05-2013, 10:25 PM   #10
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ketchup works great on brass
So does Salsa, kool-aid, citric acid, cocktail sauce, vinegar. Anything with a acid base in it, will work. Toothpaste like Tom's of Maine will also work. We used it to clean up some old swords that my wife's grandmother had, that were her deceased spouse, that was a Captain in the Darby's Rangers, during WWII.
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Old 06-05-2013, 10:36 PM   #11
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Polishing Brass


And potatos work great on silver. Or just use the water after you cook them,
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Old 06-05-2013, 11:08 PM   #12
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And potatos work great on silver. Or just use the water after you cook them,
Amazing what Arsenic & starch does for Silver, isn't it. Of course, hope that you are not going to be using that by product for another dish.

There is a lot of old ways of doing stuff, that people forget about, that our grand & great/great-great grandparents used.
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Old 06-06-2013, 05:59 AM   #13
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Amazing what Arsenic & starch does for Silver, isn't it. Of course, hope that you are not going to be using that by product for another dish.

There is a lot of old ways of doing stuff, that people forget about, that our grand & great/great-great grandparents used.
That may explain the demise of Mr Creeper. I mean the disappearance. I mean the departure.
Nevermind

Ya ..all my silver stuff looks great..
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Old 06-06-2013, 07:11 AM   #14
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Polishing Brass


I was admiring a well polished old kerosene automobile lamp in an antique shop. I asked how he polished all the tight joints so well--

His 'secret?'--replating---he sent the thing to a brass plater ---looked good.
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Old 06-06-2013, 07:57 AM   #15
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When I was a kid I had a chemistry set and one of the chemicals was copper sulfate. This was used as the medium for copper plating with a 6V battery. Wonder what chemical would be needed to do brass plating.

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