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Thread: bronze polishing

  1. #1
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    Default bronze polishing

    I recently got my winches dechromed by a local plating shop and so far, it looks gorgeous. However, it seems it requires frequent polishing to stay nice.

    I wouldn't mind to do it say once a month but now it seems necessary after 3 or 4 days (more often if it rains).

    Is there a solution to keep the polishing needs frequency down ?

    Can some other plating be applied to keep this nice golden color without the oxidation drawback ?

    Can things like bronze mushroom vents be clear varnished ? what would be the drawbacks ?

    Many thanks in advance.
    Patrick.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: bronze polishing

    Clear laquer or epoxy. Downside is that if it gets scratched or chipped, oxidization will start in two or three days. Most folk tend to like the soft green of oxidized bronze. Besides, it seals the metal underneath.

    I toured a mega-yacht named Leander that had 24k gold-plated bathroom fixtures in all of the bathrooms. I asked why. The captain told me it was a maintenance issue - the colour of the metal was desired, but bronze would discolour, requiring daily polishing. Clear-coating was out due to the reasons I mentioned above. So gold plating was decided upon because gold doesn't tarnish and maintenance only required wiping with a soft, damp cloth. So maybe you could have your winches gold-plated!
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

  3. #3

    Default Re: bronze polishing

    Clear Powder Coat?
    Make shure they get the stuff with U.V. blockers, so the coating doesn't yellow.

    Never tried it on marine, or know of it being done.

    Big in rod & bike use.

    Tim

  4. #4
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    Default Re: bronze polishing

    And what pray tell is wrong with that gorgeous green (brown?) patina of tarnished bronze?
    Last edited by gert; 06-27-2009 at 09:48 AM.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: bronze polishing

    Somebody asks this question in here about once every couple of months. The answer is always the same.

    You CAN plate bronze, as with chrome, but it wears off on items that get chaffed, like winch drums and starts to look crappy in time. Gold plating is softer than chrome and unsuitable for pieces that get any wear, not to mention its cost. Gold was used in past ages on things like cowl vents, and this is where the term "gold plater" came from in referring to a fancy finished yacht, but even in the "golden age," it was uncommon.

    I am sure your winches look loads better without the chrome. Chrome's other drawback is that it reflects sunlight. Spend an hour at the helm on a heading which puts the sun's reflection off a chrome deck fitting right into your eyes and you'll soon realize shiney chrome isn't all it's cracked up to be.

    You don't polish bronze at all. Ever. (Except and unless you are lucky enough to have a real bronze bell, rather than a brass one.) Proper marine bronze, as your winches, will develop a chocolate brown patina over time and this appears "proper" to the trained mariner's eye. (Brass is what turns green and stays green. Polished bronze may turn green, too, but will eventually go to deep brown if you just leave it alone and let it be bronze.)

    You DO polish brass, which will be found on hand rails, lamps, instrument cases, bells and the like.

    Coating bright metal on a boat with lacquer or anything else is a fool's errand. While a good coating will last maybe even for a few years, eventually, it will break down due to the natural hardening and crazing process and you will end up with a shiney piece with black speckles all over it. This will be impossible to polish, due to the coating. At that point, there is nothing for it but to sand all the coating off and buff out the resulting sanding scratches. I have had to do this on many items over the years and I've tried every solvent and stripper in the book, but with no success. The manufacturers want their stuff to stay shiney for as long as possible, so they use some darn good coatings... but once you see how much work it is to remove, you'll never put it back on again! Polishing uncoated brass will keep it looking good with little work. The nooks and crannies that aren't polished as much on a piece will give it a nice "worn, but well cared for" appearance and the "depth" that you want to have.

    The "drug of choice" is Nev-R-Dull polishing wadding. None better. Ask the U.S. Navy, which can get pretty anal about polishing their brass.

    Once you polish up your chrome-stripped bronze to "as new" condition, just leave it alone from then on out. It will look great.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: bronze polishing

    Agree with Cleek here.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: bronze polishing

    Dear pcazales, I agree with Bob Cleek. It is generally best not to polish bronze.

    There is an additional factor, however, that could mean that you will need to do some polishing of your winches. Some manufacturers of winches that are chromed use an alloy that contains a substantial amount of iron. This alloy is intended to be chromed, although the manufacturers will leave off the chrome if requested. When the chrome is removed, this alloy can show rusty spots and will not develope an even patina. If this is a problem with your winches, you will have to polish them at least enough to keep the rusty spots from showing. Bronze winches that are not intended to be chromed use a different alloy and will not have this problem.

    hm0316

  8. #8
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    Default Re: bronze polishing

    .
    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Cleek View Post
    You don't polish bronze at all. Ever.
    I agree entirely.

    Proper marine bronze, as your winches, will develop a chocolate brown patina over time and this appears "proper" to the trained mariner's eye.
    To illustrate -- unpolished bronze fairlead, varnished brass strip, and untouched gold leaf, all together --

    Visit us to see how we help people complete classic boats authentically.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: bronze polishing

    I enjoy the chocolate brown that Bob mentions as the hallmark of fine bronze fittings as much as I enjoy seeing highly polished brass. That deep brown, even patina says "quality" as much as any piece on the boat. I wonder if the offshore sourced bits that have been sold as bronze additions in the last several decades will ever attain that even, oiled look that fine old bronze takes on when it has weathered well. Perhaps enthusiasts value quality castings over them simply because they look better with the passage of time rather than worse.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: bronze polishing

    We polished up the bronze for a boat show a week ago. It lasted three days or so. Got more comments than anything else, however.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: bronze polishing

    (Brass is what turns green and stays green. Polished bronze may turn green, too, but will eventually go to deep brown
    Didn't know that difference.
    See ya learn stuff all the time here.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: bronze polishing

    I keep the drum surface of the winches (that contacts the line) pretty nice. Not really polished but clean and shiney bright.
    Otherwise your sheets and hands will do the cleaning/polising leaving them a dirty brown/green.

    If this surface is left to oxidize the "old salts" will know that you never go sailing...

  13. #13
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    Default Re: bronze polishing

    Thank you very much all for your feedback.

    Sorry Bob for making you repeating over the same thing. I originally figured this kind of question had already been asked but although I found some pretty interesting posts with the search engine regarding bronze stuff, I didn't find what I was looking for.

    The reply regarding clear lacquer over metal confirmed what I was guessing: it's gonna be a pain when it will eventually have to be removed.

    However, why is it that bronze should not be polished at all, ever ? is frequent polishing too abrasive ?

    What happens when brass is left untouched as well ?

    As hm0316 remarked, the winches seem to develop rusty spots.

    Thank you again for your replies.
    Patrick.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: bronze polishing

    No, it's just that you don't polish bronze because it won't stay polished long enough to make it worth the effort and it looks good unpolished. It's harder to polish than brass, too.

    This guy is made out of bronze. For many decades, he's sat in the courtyard at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco which stands on a bluff above the Golden Gate. This is about the foggiest, windyiest, saltiest environment arouind. In fact, it's no different than being on a boat.



    This is what bronze looks like when you leave it to weather.

    They don't polish him. He's not coated with lacquer. Just bare bronze in the marine environment. In fact, I expect if you showed up with a can of polish and tried to polish him, the museum guards would arrest you for vandalism!

  15. #15
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    Default Re: bronze polishing

    I think statuary patina is an applied coating, or treatment, rather than natural weathering. It can look natural, however.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: bronze polishing

    dear pcazeles, your last post mentions that your winches are showing some rust spots. This means that you will need to do some polishing to keep them looking nice. There are numerous different alloys referred to as "bronze" and they will have different durability and oxidation properties. Most likely your winches were built after WWII and were intended to be chromed rather than be left bronzed. Modern production bronze winches are most often the manufacturers standard chrome winches with the chrome left off. The alloy such manufacturers use is quite strong but it does have enough iron in the alloy that it will show some rust in the form little spots of what appear to be rusty spots. Some manufaturers, such as Wilmex and Meissner use aluminium bronze alloys that are intended not to be chromed (although they sometimes are) and do not have this spotting issue. Your winches are fine and they will not necessarily, really "rust" out. It you want to eliminate the spots though you will have to do some polishing.

    As to why you never polish bronze, it is because it takes some much work. On a traditional boat, it would be nearly impossible to keep it all polished.

    Good luck. Hm0316

  17. #17
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    Default Re: bronze polishing

    Manganese Bronze will show rust flecks on the surface as the metal corrodes . One test for manganese
    is to suspend a small pencil magnet on a thread near the surface of the material. As the tread is moved closer to the surface of the metal, the magnet will show to be slightly attracted to the surface of manganese alloy bronze.

    So far as polish is concerned, outside of gold plating, I have never found a way to prevent copper, brass and bronze from corroding. Clear coating will only last a short while. And then, it is a real pain to remove the coating in order to polish the metal. Years of experimenting has placed my faith in a super polish made by Wright; Wright's Copper and Wright's Brass Polish. I prefer the Copper Polish as it comes in paste form and is less sloppy to work with. I can attest to the fact that this stuff cuts through corrosion like no other polish I have ever tried.
    Never Dull, though supplied in the handy cotton wadding form, is extemely labor intensive, compared to the ease of using Wright's.
    http://www.uclean.com/catalog/produc...er_polish.html
    Jay

  18. #18

    Default Re: bronze polishing

    Just some Polished Bronze items.
    Click for larger view.

    Green Gaints, Bronze Ball, his Wife got the other one!


    Navy Mk V Gas Helmet. Just the fittings are Bronze.


    Bronze Miller 400 Dive Helmet


    Bronze Cabin Ventilator


    Bronze Port-Lite


    And to put this to rest, ever after...
    A Bronze Casket!


    Tim

  19. #19
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    Default Re: bronze polishing

    Thank's again for your replies.

    Here's a picture of my winches.

    Patrick.


  20. #20
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    Default Re: bronze polishing

    Very nice looking. Are they Harkens? If so, you will be best off to keep them polished. hm0316

  21. #21
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    Default Re: bronze polishing

    are you polishing them with the fur left on the cockpit bench ?

    Looks like a nice boat ! any more photos?
    Gerard
    Gerard.
    SCHOONER FOR EVER, GOELETTE A PERPETE

    http://www.goelette-anthea.fr

  22. #22
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    Default Re: bronze polishing

    Indeed she does. Beautiful!

  23. #23
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    Default Re: bronze polishing

    Nize!
    Jay

  24. #24
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    Default Re: bronze polishing

    Thank you for your comments.

    The self-tailing winches are Barlow.

    Some more pictures:

    When I bought the boat and after the interior renovation





  25. #25
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    Default Re: bronze polishing

    Magnifique !
    Is it a Sergent design?
    Gerard.
    SCHOONER FOR EVER, GOELETTE A PERPETE

    http://www.goelette-anthea.fr

  26. #26
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    Default Re: bronze polishing

    How do you ever get time to go sailing?
    Keep It Simple: KISS it better.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: bronze polishing

    I am not that familiar with the bronze Barlows. hm0316

  28. #28
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    Default Re: bronze polishing

    Quote Originally Posted by Rapelapente View Post
    Magnifique !
    Is it a Sergent design?
    I don't know who is the architect.

    I just know the boat is from the C.N.Vader yard in Alkmaar, Holland and the only reference about this yard that I could find was in Stan Grayson's Restore your wooden boat where Steve Kaphaem from Michigan talks about his E.G. van de Stadt sloop but my boat has a long keel.

    Patrick.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: bronze polishing

    the architect was maybe dick koopmans sr.
    c.n.vader was owner of the victoire wharf in alkmaar.
    is the hull wood or fiberglass ?
    http://www.victoire.nl/

  30. #30
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    Default Re: bronze polishing

    [QUOTE=Timex;2241206]Just some Polished Bronze items.
    Click for larger view.

    Green Gaints, Bronze Ball, his Wife got the other one!

    Analdo Pomadoro sculpture.
    I love the smell of fresh cut plywood in the morning.

  31. #31
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    Default Re: bronze polishing

    Quote Originally Posted by wjboon View Post
    the architect was maybe dick koopmans sr.
    c.n.vader was owner of the victoire wharf in alkmaar.
    is the hull wood or fiberglass ?
    http://www.victoire.nl/
    Yes, you're most probably right because there is a plate which states "Victoria" and what appears to be a serial number 576.

    The hull is mahogany.

    Too bad I don't understand dutch. I'll try online translation.

    Thank you for the link.

    Patrick.

  32. #32
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    Default Re: bronze polishing

    Superb rebuild on that interior. Thanks for the pics.
    Keep It Simple: KISS it better.

  33. #33
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    Default Re: bronze polishing

    I spent a lot of time hunting out old bronze fittings and hardware for my boat and spent even more time cleaning and polishing it to a bright shiny finish. It took one outing out in the salt water environs and I green hardware before the day was out. I ignored the advise I has seen here and now can only laugh at my stupidity. Go with the flow and let the patina develop.

  34. #34
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    Default Re: bronze polishing

    Each time this, frequently, asked question comes up, I give mention of the same product that I have been using for many years to polish copper, brass and bronze on my boats. However, since it usually takes some effort to obtain it, I have yet to hear anyone comment upon the incredible ease and excellent results which it works. I have been through just about all of the products, that are most often recommended for cleaning brass work on a boat, Brasso, Bright Boy, Red Bear, Pep Boys Chrome Cleaner, Bennit's Brilliant Shine and the most innefective, over rated polish of them all, Never Dull Wadding Polish!
    Never dull isn't any better than any of the other mentioned polishes and is messier and slower to use. Never Dull will produce a dirty film on varnish and raw teak that is a pain in the arse to remove! And the polish it produces is more labor intensive than most of the other polishes I have just mentioned. Never Dull is also a misnomer as the polish will not last any longer than that produced by any of the others.
    So, you say, what is the best polish on the market? It is, a little known and rarely advertised product made by the Wright Company. They are the folks who have been making a product known as Wright's Silver Polish since before WWII. So, one should certainly think that they would know a bit about keeping metal shiny! They do! Their whiz bang brass polish is known as "Wright's Copper Polish". It is a paste that comes in a jar and is applied with a damp rag followed by wiping the item of with a dry soft cloth. They also make a product in a bottle that is known as Wright's Brass Polish. But, I have found it to be less effective and more sloppy to work with than the copper polishing paste. If you are seeking a really bright shine then the cleaning paste can be followed up by the use of either of two German Metal Polishes that come in a tube like tooth paste, "Schimichrompoli" or "Fleitz".
    I will not give you the web address for Wright's Copper Polish as I think that if you are really interested in obtaining the very best product for your needs, you should do a bit of work to find it.
    Trust me. It works!
    Jay

  35. #35
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    Default Re: bronze polishing

    I am Jay's choir boy on this topic. Not only do I have a deep stash of Wright's, I "generously" offer my container to good friends when they need polish at boat shows. They see me wiping it on and wiping it off and are astounded at the ease with which Wright's goes about it's business. I won't blow Jay's cover in respect to where you might find this miracle tonic, but I will provide a hint: look in the most obvious places that carry cleaning products. Wrights is not a chandlery item.

    I don't know about Behr varnish or Jeffries, but based on my experiences with Wright's one has to be very careful when arguing with Jay about "product."
    This stuff is the real deal.

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