View Full Version : Varnish/Seal grommets?

06-06-2015, 11:55 AM
I had my big lug sail out in San Luis Obispo, and put it away wet one afternoon, expecting to go out the next day. The next day did not happen. I forgot about the sail and left it in the bag for a month. Now the grommets have a fair amount of thick surface corrosion. I do not think it is bad enough to replace grommets, and I intend to remove first with lemon juice, which may not get it, and second with oxalic acid if necessary. Better ideas that are non-abrasive (in function, not comment) are appreciated. The grommets are on a professionally built sail, but look to be standard brass spur grommets. I didn't install them so I can't tell if they are nickel underneath, I think they are standard brass.

Here is my question: the internet has a number of "experts" for brass polish recommending sealing the cleaned grommet with clear nail polish, or varnish of some sort. Is this common practice? The purpose would be to retard future corrosion, which, given our entropic planet, is inevitable.

Peerie Maa
06-06-2015, 12:10 PM
I'd check to see if the sail cloth is harmed by oxalic acid. Salt and vinegar will also shift it.

I'd have thought that any lacquer will be rubbed off by the shackles.

Lew Barrett
06-06-2015, 06:12 PM
Wright's (http://www.amazon.com/Wrights-Copper-Cream-8-oz/dp/B0083PEZ00)

Works great, I've never had a problem with it, and it is quite benign. A tip from Jay Greer, who swears by the stuff as I do now. Works on brass, copper and bronze equally well. Effortless compared to any comparable product.

I would not varnish brass especially any that is expected to take wear. See Nick's comments. Once any of the varnish lifts, you have a real mess on your hands as salt water slowly works its way under the finish, making the next polishing ten times harder.

If you use Wright's (and you should look into it) prudence dictates you check for staining although I'd be very surprised if you had a problem with it. I never have.

06-06-2015, 08:33 PM
Thnx. Agreed, makes no sense on the varnish idea.

06-06-2015, 09:01 PM
Thnx. Agreed, makes no sense on the varnish idea.

Todd Bradshaw
06-06-2015, 10:30 PM
If salt water corrosion is anticipated we generally use the nickel plated brass spurs (which are silver colored). Sounds like your grommets are the standard brass ones. If worse comes to worse, you can neatly peel out spur grommets using two pairs of vice grips and install a new one in the same hole without making weak spots in the cloth. The bad part is that the setters are pretty expensive.

06-07-2015, 01:22 AM
Thank you Todd. I think the corrosion is surface only. I use this sail in salt water maybe once a month. If the rate of degradation speeds up, then I will replace. For the moment, surface only.

Jay Greer
06-07-2015, 12:21 PM
I wouldn't be too concerned about the fittings you describe becoming degraded due to corrosion. It is a natural result of oxidation that is accelerated by exposure to the elements. Certainly if the grommets you describe show signs of actual failure, in the future, It is not a complicated process to replace them. While many of us like to see brass and bronze gleaming in the sun, often, the process of keeping it that way can get a bit out of hand. I do swear by Wright's Copper Cream as being the most effective polish on the market for keeping brass shiny. But in your case, I would think that the sail might take on a bit of corrosion stain as a result of its action with the metal being absorbed by the sailcloth.
Better to just go sailing and not worry about it!