View Full Version : Restoring Bronze Winches
03-06-2005, 08:20 AM
Can anyone recommend a restoration process for bronze fittings and winches? I have a few old Merriman's that are highly oxidized. I tried Noxon, but at this rate, I'll be polishing until 2010. The fittings are a bit of a mess too. Once the corrosion is removed, I'd like to keep them in a polished state for as long as possible. Is there is a laquer that is suitable. Thanks.....
03-06-2005, 09:10 AM
Welcome Aboard! IMHO Acquire a taste for patina; tis such a lovely shade of green! Winches need grease, I buy the expensive stuff from a chandlery I think it is Lewmar avail at waste marine.
If you are intent on shining something up try a bit that is easily removed and you can take it home.
It is good to become well versed at cleaning the winch bearings as you may be doing it underway someday.
03-06-2005, 09:22 AM
I much prefer natural bronze on my boats...preferably salvaged and cheap. No mistaking it for a cheap imitation.
I just use a little WD-40 and 0000 steel wool to take off the excess oxidation and promote that dark brown patina I like.
[ 03-06-2005, 10:24 AM: Message edited by: Bob Smalser ]
03-06-2005, 10:09 AM
Doesn't steel wool leave microscopic bits of steel embedded in the soft brass that later rusts and leave small orange spots? That was once published in WoodenBoat magazine a few years ago. Have they changed the composition of steel wool? Is it no longer steel? I'm confused....who to believe??
03-06-2005, 10:23 AM
Yes, my father read the same thing after I had told him that I was using steelwool. So then, ... back to a cloth, but like I said, it will be years before any bronze actually shows up. I was wondering if there is a bath-wash of some sort? The winches have little "teeth" for the pawls to catch and scrubbing them is out of the question... hmm, maybe a toothbrush?
I've done winch maintenance before, but only on stainless, and they were already in nice shape. This is a real restoration of some heavily corroded bronze. The patina is nice, but I prefer the bronze. Thanks again for the help.
03-06-2005, 10:27 AM
Originally posted by R.Floyd:
Doesn't steel wool leave microscopic bits of steel embedded in the soft brass that later rusts and leave small orange spots? That was once published in WoodenBoat magazine a few years ago. Have they changed the composition of steel wool? Is it no longer steel? I'm confused....who to believe??Dunno.
I been doing it that way for a lifetime and haven't seen anything like that or even close to that.
#0000 steel wool is so fine in the strands I doubt seriously if they will penetrate soft brass, let alone harder bronze.
Use bronze wool if you are concerned about it.
[ 03-06-2005, 11:30 AM: Message edited by: Bob Smalser ]
03-06-2005, 12:20 PM
The varying grades of Scotchbrite work fine. Easier to find and much less expensive than bronze wool. Follow with a buffing wheel.
If you don't like the patina that bronze develops, the only practical alternative is chrome plating. Not inexpensive.
03-06-2005, 01:00 PM
Member # 1235
posted 05-04-2001 03:34 PM
NOT STEEL WOOL!!! You'll end up with all kinds of little rusty bits and stains and you'll curse the day you were born... Bronze wool, or 3M Scotchbrite pads might work
03-06-2005, 03:59 PM
Over the years, I think I have used darn near every brass polish on the market. Of late, I have switched to Wright's Copper Cream. It is made by the same folks who make the silver polish that has been around for years. The copper cream truly works like magic ! Bronze wool is a help for stubborn dealing with corosion. We checked on line to find a suppler. In CA is is carried by Albertsons Markets.
What about the cleaning product produced in Atlanta?
You may be able to get some from the manufacturer.
We used to soak our copper coins in it and they would come out nice and shiny.
03-06-2005, 04:25 PM
I adore Scotchbrite....but I'd limit my experiments in bronze to the fine, Grey-colored grade. The Green will scratch the heck out of a fine steel shotgun barrel and the coarse Burgundy I wouldn't even consider unless I'd just drawfiled the piece.
At professional paint stores.
03-06-2005, 04:29 PM
would that be "Classic Coke"?
03-06-2005, 05:00 PM
So it comes down to Classic coke or I suggest tomatoe juice. Makes that lovely shade of green all the better. Ketchup would do just fine!
The thing is that you either sand it down with finer grit paper,or wool, or zapp it with an acidic. Either mechanically deterioriate or chemically deteriorate. Your choice! I like mine green!
05-18-2005, 11:08 AM
The other day I had a chance to get a bunch of old bronze fittings off a burned out hull. Black and ugly, green with corrosion. I tried all the normal stuff, settled on CLR (calicum,lime,rust)remover. Let it soak for 15 minutes and wiped it clean with scotch bright. Looked like it was new.
Very easy no work at all involved.
Try a little vinegar and table salt. It's cheap, it takes off the worst of the crud but it is not a replacement for elbow grease. I was able to free-up a snap shackle that had lain too long in the bilge by a long soak in vinegar and salt. Rince well and dry. then polish if you would like.
05-18-2005, 01:42 PM
I too would not try to keep bronze shined, since it looks much nicer with a patina. Why make yourself crazy? If you must, acid's the ticket. I discovered when bleaching teak decks that nothing removes the patina from bronze like oxalic acid (wood bleach). You can mix up a strong solution and soak the parts in it, or use a scotchbrite pad, as noted. Be careful if you do this with fittings on the boat. Use lots of rinse water because the removed patina will run out the scuppers and stain your topsides otherwise.
05-18-2005, 02:05 PM
I don't bother with bronze fittings, but I do keep the brass binnacle hood and the copper oil sidelights bright.
A few years ago, I asked our local ironmonger (would that be hardware store?) what to use and was told that all our local antique dealers used kettle descaler (either formic acid or citric acid, depending on the strength of the formulation to get the worst of the verdigris off. I have done so ever since.
I doubt if it would be practical to keep a winch bright. Someone is bound to go and slap a dripping wet rope round it!
[ 05-18-2005, 03:06 PM: Message edited by: Andrew Craig-Bennett ]
05-19-2005, 07:59 AM
I'm actually trying to find a good way to get the new bronze to match my old dark brown/green bronze. I could wait 10 years for nature to take its course but would rather not. I rinsed the new stuff in a vinegar and salt solution and then put it out to dry. Looks ok, but any other suggestions would be helpful. Thanks.
05-19-2005, 10:07 PM
If they're really green, dip them on a wire (copper) briefly (1 minute)in muriatic acid and follow that in a bath of baking soda or washing soda and water, swish alot - 1 box of baking to a gallon of water and then wash with soapy water and rinse and dry. Then you might try a liquid polish, the standard consumer ones are generally rubbish- the best method is buffing with tripoli followed by white. Really should be done on a slow wheel- not the usual 3600rpm bench grinder. Might be best to go to a polish shop- as getting set up takes some investment and is messy.
05-19-2005, 10:49 PM
I, too, like the look of bronze fittings and that's good.....replating closts like hell! Anyway, here's how I re-do the bronze. I hope that this "process" will not generate too many "you dumb ass" replys:
I glass bead them, getting every little bit of tarnish and "funk" off. Then I wire wheel with a medium and finally fine wheel. Sometimes I buff with white rouge, sometimes not. Finally, I clear-coat with Minwax spray polyurethane. They do not seem to need re-doing for two or three years. I have never seen any ill effects from buffing out with wire wheels. My fittings look great, or so I am told.
05-20-2005, 02:35 PM
polishing machine or grinding with guards removed set up with one spiral-sewn cotton buffing wheel and one loose cotton buffing wheel:
Charge the spiral-sewn wheel with [brown] tripoli. Charge the loose wheel with [red] jeweler's rouge. You might want to preload the wheels with something soft and sticky like beeswax to help the polishing compound "grab" when charging the wheel.
Both these compounds are cheap and readily available in bars. A 1-pound bar of each will cost less than USD $10.
Buff the bronze out with the tripoli. You should be a pretty good finish with a slight lustre to it right quick. The finish should be better than matte, but not really glossy. clean the piece with a soft cotton rag to remove any tripoli.
Now hit it with the jeweler's rouge wheel and watch the finish come up. Nothing nicer than mirror-finish bronze.
Don't forget to cool the workpiece periodically by either dunking it in a cooling tank or spraying it regularly with cold water.
You might want to get a 'rake' like this
to condition the wheel when it gets 'glazed'.
More information and buffing gear at http://www.caswellplating.com/buffs/index.html
Oh. one more thing. Don't forget to wear eye respiratory protection. The dust from the metal and cotton and vapors from the wax carrier get to be a bit much.
For even coarser work, 3m makes a variety of Scotch-Brite (and other) surface conditioning wheels and brushes:
Essentially a wheel with lots of little scotch-brite pads on edge. More at the <a href="http://products3.3m.com/catalog/us/en001/manufacturing_industry/abrasives/node_GL77S2Z56Vbe/root_GST1T4S9TCgv/vroo t_GS28JPJ1WVge/gvel_8B4ZHMW2KMgl/theme_us_abrasives_3_0/command_AbcPageHandler/output_html">
[ 05-20-2005, 03:43 PM: Message edited by: Nicholas Carey ]
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