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Thread: polishing bronze

  1. #1
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    What's the best way to polish bronze fittings? Also, what do you all think about varnishing it once it's polished?

  2. #2
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    Wouldn't suggest varnish. There is, however, a laquer on the market that does the job right nicely. Unfortunately, I don't remember the name it's sold under. Hopefully there's someone out there who could jog my memory. The schooner Appledore (II) has this on their metalwork, and it had recently just started to break down a bit after 2 1/2 years of continuous operation (summer in Maine, winter in Key West).

    Jeff

  3. #3
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    Here's a little information I received recently.
    metal care

  4. #4
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    When you say polishing bronze, do you mean just cleanit up or high polished or buffed finish. If just cleaning it up I suggest(assuming all waxes and varnishes, etc are off, just virgin metal) go to the hardware store and get som muriatic acid. The kind to clean bricks. With glasses and rubber gloves make a 50% soltion adding the acid to water!! IMPORTANT! Soak the parts for a half hour or so. Rinse under cold water then warm soapy water to nuetralize ph. Scrub with a coarse scotch brite pad then finish with a fine steel wool. After drying completely apply a GOOD clear acrylic, non yellowing,. Apply light coats 3-4 times. The nice clean look will last a long time. Good luck
    Mark G

  5. #5
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    There are no short cuts.
    You can get a mirror finish on bronze with the use of files, emery paper, wet and dry paper, and felt wheels plus polishing soap. After that the only thing that works is daily use of metal polish.
    Laquer only slows down the inevitable and is a royal pain when re- polishing is needed.
    If you insist on shiny yellow bronze then get a paid crew and treat 'em mean, or learn to like green.
    You will no doubt ignore the truth in this post, that's fine, so did I, but in a few years or so you will come to see that I was right,,,,,,,,,

    IanW

  6. #6
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    Ian,

    [img]smile.gif[/img]

  7. #7
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    When polishing bronze i find a wire wheel useful. This will take off all the heavy tarnish. It does leave marks in the piece, but a fine piece of emery cloth will take those out. After all the tarnish is gone, buy a can of Bio-sheild T-9. Spray this on once a month and as long as you keep up with it, it will stay bright.
    Alex

  8. #8
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    Let it turn green. A good patina is a Good thing (sorry, Martha). For special occasions, wipe it down with Vaseline for a photogenic shine.

    You will thank me, one day.

    [ 03-04-2003, 09:33 PM: Message edited by: Hughman ]
    Hey! It's MY Hughniverse!

  9. #9
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    If you have a really crappy hunk of yellow metal, you can wire brush it, or dunk it in acid (I like oxalic acid... wood bleach, but pick your own poison.) and remove the patina. BUT the only reason you would do that was so it could turn evenly green again after being really crapped up.

    Listen to Ian and Hughman! They know what they are talking about! For Pete's sake, if not your own, don't go spraying lacquer on it. That stuff works, sort of, for stuff you want shiny in your house, but not in the marine environment. It will go to pot in a couple of years, minimum, and then you will pay hell to clean it off. If shiney is what you want, polish it brite, finishing on a buffing wheel and then take Never-dull to it every day... if you are a that much of a masochist. The only things that ought to be shiney on a boat are lamps, clocks, barometers, and bells... can't think of anything else that's proper otherwise. AND, IMHO, those items look a lot better hand polished than they ever do lacquered because hand polishing gives them an uneven shine with the detail a little less polished. You can't get that "hand done" look with lacquer, no way.

    As for lacquer... I just spent weeks on and off sanding, buffing and polishing one of those Dutch trawler lamps that had a factory lacquer job on it. (Don't believe the guys who tell you to use lacquer thinner... NOTHING worked to take it off but elbow grease! I know, I tried everything before going to 400 emery cloth!) You don't want to go there! Trust me! LOL

  10. #10
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    I took the drums off of Santana ( Barient 35# bronze ) and took them to work ( Barient ) and polished them on a 10hp polishing lathe and it took about a hour apiece , of course I also took all the rest of the drums off and rebuilt and polished them too!! . A couple of month's later you couldn't tell they where ever polished , but hey it was for a Master Mariner race , we knew they would turn green , but man alive before they did they turned every head .

    Of all the metals , polishing bronze is my favorite , but for a boat ( out side ) it is a waste of time . Funny in art work they patina steel to look like bronze .
    If you want something done ?? <br /> Ask a busy man

  11. #11
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    Oh, come on, David! Santana doesn't need shiney winches to turn heads, does she? With a deck ornament like Lauren Bacall, who ever noticed her winches! LOL

    (For those who don't know, Santana is a real knockout... Humphrey Bogart's old boat.)

  12. #12
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    I've got all bronze hardware on my boat. I only polish two pieces, both inside the cabin and both small.

    A word of warning. If you have bronze that has weathered in the marine environment for a long time, when you take abrasives to it, you will remove a fair amount of the metal itself. This may weaken the fitting. One year I decided I wanted shiny wiches. The "patina" was so thick, I needed 80 grit wet/dry paper lubricated with Penatrol. I never finished the job. When I saw how much metal I was taking off, I got scared and stopped.

    If you want shiny, get chrome plating or gold electroplating.

  13. #13
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    We're polishing PIRATE's bronze because it's going to be nickle-plated, as it was originally. It's good to polish the bronze if you want it to go green -- if you start polished, you'll get a more uniform green than it the surface is in varying states of condition. If you want to hurry the green there are a number of recipes to speed thing up -- there's in fact several books strictly on the topic of applying patinas to copper alloys.

    One of the oldest (not necessarily the best) involves heating the bronze in the fire and peeing on it.

    Here's our recipe:

    Equipment needed

    1 8-inch grinder (3450rpm)
    1 wire wheel
    1 80-grit flapper wheel
    1 soft cotton buffing wheel charged with tripoli
    1 soft cotton buffing wheel charged with rouge

    Technique

    1. Use the 80-grit flapper wheel, if necessary, or in extreme cases, a wire wheel.
    2. Soft cotton buffing wheel charged with tripoli.
    3. Soft cotton buffing wheel charged with rouge.

    That's it. From rough casting to a mirror in just a few minutes.

    I suspect that 3M's scotch-brite conditioning wheels might work better than the flapper wheels do, but I haven't had a chance to try them.
    You would not enjoy Nietzsche, sir. He is fundamentally unsound. P.G. Wodehouse (Carry On, Jeeves)

  14. #14
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    Originally posted by Nicholas Carey:
    It's good to polish the bronze if you want it to go green -- if you start polished, you'll get a more uniform green than it the surface is in varying states of condition. If you want to hurry the green there are a number of recipes to speed thing up -- there's in fact several books strictly on the topic of applying patinas to copper alloys.

    One of the oldest (not necessarily the best) involves heating the bronze in the fire and peeing on it.
    Well, for something a little different, a red patina-
    Copper Sulfate
    Copper Acetate
    Alum
    Water
    Acetic Acid
    Boil and dip, repeat for more effect.

    Or Blue-
    Sodium Thiosulphate
    Iron Nitrate
    Water
    Boil and dip

    Who needs chrome anyway!

    [ 03-04-2003, 09:18 PM: Message edited by: Hughman ]
    Hey! It's MY Hughniverse!

  15. #15
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    Bob
    Youre right about Lauren Bacall , had the pleaure of meeting her once and she told us some great stories of sailing on Santana . What class and all first .
    Now about those shiney winches , no they were not needed to turn heads , they just made it harder to look away . With the bright work and paint in top shape , a little teak bright on the deck's , and all the bronze winches polished , wow what a show stopper .
    A friend of mine is a bronze sculpture , I alway's enjoyied watching him work and admiring his work , his attention to detail is nothing short of amazing . I am looking forward to seeing him again , he must be in his mid 70's now , still works every day . It has been to my great fortune to have had so many good friends and teachers .
    If you want something done ?? <br /> Ask a busy man

  16. #16
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    Patina is good but if you have to polish it then for really heavy patina or very brown bronze try this. Cut lemons in half and dip them in salt. Use the lemon as a scrub pad. Im serious.

    In lieu of that try ketchup or a vinegar and flour paste. Leave it on about 30 minutes and rub it off. Repeat it several times. All of that works about as well as anything else I've used and it doesnt have a bunch of dangerous chemicals.

    Once you've got the heavy stuff off wash it with water, dry it and use a commercial polish like brasso.

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