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Preserving WWII Metal Items


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#1 SDC

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 09:00 AM

Several months ago I received several relic items from a friend in Italy recovered from the area where my father's unit fought. Among the spent brass, shrapnel, tin cans, etc., were several M1 clips that are in various states of decay. Looking for ideas on how best to clean/treat and store these over the long haul. I'm assuming the brass is okay left alone, but if not that too. Thanks in advance.

#2 Bob Hudson

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 09:11 AM

Several months ago I received several relic items from a friend in Italy recovered from the area where my father's unit fought. Among the spent brass, shrapnel, tin cans, etc., were several M1 clips that are in various states of decay. Looking for ideas on how best to clean/treat and store these over the long haul. I'm assuming the brass is okay left alone, but if not that too. Thanks in advance.


I use brass wire brushes to get rid of any green crud around the brass (it's kind of powdery): you can get rid of the crud without rubbing off the the patina on the metal itself.

For iron/steel I use WD40 or light oil and a brass brush or sometimes the green Scotch Brite pads: I soak those with oil, which enables me to do "wet sanding" which will take off the rust layer without scratching the paint underneath. Here's a helmet that was treated that way:

Posted Image
Posted Image

I use the brass brushes also on canvas gear sometimes, along with Goo Gone or other citrus-based cleaners to get rid of or at least lessen oil, dirt and paint stains. Always start brushing or rubbing with low pressure and keep increasing until you start to see results. Again, an oil (or Goo Gone) soaked green scrub pad can do wonders without harming the object being cleaned. If I'm removing thick rust (as on that helmet) I will occasionally stop and wipe it off with a rag.

#3 ww2vault

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 10:20 AM

Hi Forum Support,

I was wondering if you could tell me what type of green paint you used to re-paint your lid? I have a lid that was painted over with a silver paint and I am looking to take it off and re-paint it to the original color.

- Jeff

#4 Bob Hudson

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 10:58 AM

Hi Forum Support,
I was wondering if you could tell me what type of green paint you used to re-paint your lid? I have a lid that was painted over with a silver paint and I am looking to take it off and re-paint it to the original color. - Jeff


That's the original paint that was under the rust!

#5 SDC

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 01:42 PM

Thank you for the advice and ideas. I'll give it a try. As an FYI I've attached a picture of a few of the clips. These were recovered in the area around Castel D'Aiano in northern Italy.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v518/SDCoff/DSCN0718.jpg

I use brass wire brushes to get rid of any green crud around the brass (it's kind of powdery): you can get rid of the crud without rubbing off the the patina on the metal itself.

For iron/steel I use WD40 or light oil and a brass brush or sometimes the green Scotch Brite pads: I soak those with oil, which enables me to do "wet sanding" which will take off the rust layer without scratching the paint underneath. Here's a helmet that was treated that way:

Posted Image
Posted Image

I use the brass brushes also on canvas gear sometimes, along with Goo Gone or other citrus-based cleaners to get rid of or at least lessen oil, dirt and paint stains. Always start brushing or rubbing with low pressure and keep increasing until you start to see results. Again, an oil (or Goo Gone) soaked green scrub pad can do wonders without harming the object being cleaned. If I'm removing thick rust (as on that helmet) I will occasionally stop and wipe it off with a rag.



#6 Bob Hudson

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Posted 17 July 2008 - 06:46 AM

Thank you for the advice and ideas. I'll give it a try. As an FYI I've attached a picture of a few of the clips. These were recovered in the area around Castel D'Aiano in northern Italy.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v518/SDCoff/DSCN0718.jpg


Wow - that's some serious rust. You'll probably want to use Naval Jelly on something like those.

#7 checkit

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Posted 19 July 2008 - 05:59 AM

Wow - that's some serious rust. You'll probably want to use Naval Jelly on something like those.


This product - EVAPO RUST - has been highly recommended to me. I live in the middle of nowhere and have been trying to find a source without having to order it from the factory. I want to try it on a few WW1 helmet shells that are goners.

http://www.therustst...allon-P1C1.aspx

NEVER USE NAVAL JELLY ON A PRECIOUS ITEM. Naval Jelly aggreesively etches the surface with a strong acid. All you really want to do is remove the rust.

Now, if you want to get REALLY serious about restoring these, you can do what museum preservationists do. They use a chemical reaction to convert the rust back into steel. In other words, they reverse the rusting process. This is often used on old salt-rusted swords and things recovered from Spanish galleons. I would jump at setting up a process like this, but I don't have a garage.

This link is for electrolytic rust removal, I don't have a link for rust reversal, but there is likely one out there.

http://www3.telus.ne...olyticrust.html

Edited by checkit, 19 July 2008 - 06:04 AM.


#8 parafrag

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Posted 04 August 2008 - 09:11 PM

I have had great results over the past 30 years using this method: For rusty steel relics like your M-1 clips, clean as much of the dirt and loose rust scale off to your satisfaction. Get a spray can of either flat clear enamel (preferred) or satin (semi-gloss) enamel. Shake well then spray about a half an ounce into a small container. The spray can cap will work if it doesn't have a hole in it. Using a small hobby brush like you use with painting model cars and planes with, dip the brush into the cap getting a good amount on the brush and apply to the relic. Since the clear comes from a can it is thinned down considerably from canned or bottled brush on paint. This allows the clear to penetrate deeply into the rust. When it dries it hardens of course and makes the relic much stronger. You are also eliminating vital ingredients for rust to keep going, air and moisture. The clear will darken the color of the relic. You would probably need to put on several coats depending on the relic condition. Small pieces of rust may occasionally come off the item from time to time, but this method works very well. I have used it on relics from the Civil War through WW 2 from ration cans to artillery shells. I used it on some M-1 rifle clips I dug up in the Ardennes in the mid 1980's, and the deterioration has stopped. I have had dug relics on display for many years which are in the same condition now as they were the day they went on display. Hope it may work as well for you as it works for me.

#9 jgawne

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 08:02 AM

On paper thin - falling apart relics I have used clear POR15 www.POR15.com to good effect.

Probably not the best thing inthe world for a museum quality item, as I am not sure it can actually be removed, but it clear coats the item, seals it, and it very very strong so its not going to fall apart.

I have not looked into the actual chemical properties and long term effect, but it is pretty useful if you have really fragile itemsw that you have to fly back with that otherside would just turn into a heap of rust in traqnsit.

#10 TJM

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 10:58 AM

For the last 35 years or so I have used electrolyses to clean heavily rusted dug iron/Ferris metal objects such as bayonets, shell fragments, etc. with fairly good results. The down side is if the item is totally rusted through and is thin metal (like a Civil War canteen or WWI French canteen), you risk loosing portions of the object to the process -- the metal is already gone, thus no good metal remaining.

#11 Simon Lerenfort

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 06:26 AM

For the last 35 years or so I have used electrolyses to clean heavily rusted dug iron/Ferris metal objects such as bayonets, shell fragments, etc. with fairly good results. The down side is if the item is totally rusted through and is thin metal (like a Civil War canteen or WWI French canteen), you risk loosing portions of the object to the process -- the metal is already gone, thus no good metal remaining.


I've also used electrolysis as well as commerical rust treatments. M1 clips are sometimes so fragile after 60yrs I rarely keep them.

#12 DevildogWW2

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Posted 07 December 2009 - 04:09 PM

What about CLR has anyone used that before just curious?

#13 blue88s

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 03:29 PM

thanks for the great tips

#14 M35A2runner

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Posted 04 February 2010 - 06:41 AM

i have been collecting battlefield relics for over fifteen years, and what works extremly well for me is muratic acid also know as (POOL ACID ). this is used for controling ph. and i neutralize it with baking soda, then the fresh metal is coated with deft clear lacquer or wd-40 depending on what the item is.

#15 Cottonbalers

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Posted 04 February 2010 - 07:16 AM

Hello,
I use the oxalic acid diluted in 20 % in some demineralized warm water.

#16 Lindforce

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 12:45 AM

Hi!

I recently bought a protective wax called "RENAISSANCE WAX" and it works very well on different surfaces and materials; leather,metal,stone etc. It was originally developed for the British Museum, so you can be pretty sure it's quite decent stuff. It leaves a smooth,satin surface unlike oiled items. I used previously gun oil on metal items, but not anymore... Google for more info;you'll get pleasantly surprised!

#17 Richard Kimmel

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Posted 01 March 2011 - 08:38 AM

Hi!

I recently bought a protective wax called "RENAISSANCE WAX" and it works very well on different surfaces and materials; leather,metal,stone etc. It was originally developed for the British Museum, so you can be pretty sure it's quite decent stuff. It leaves a smooth,satin surface unlike oiled items. I used previously gun oil on metal items, but not anymore... Google for more info;you'll get pleasantly surprised!

This is a geat item as there is a multitude of applications for it.

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#18 Garandomatic

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Posted 01 March 2011 - 02:19 PM

This is an old trick that that I have seen work on steel car parts. One part molasses from a feed mill, not the unsulphurated grocery stuff, to three parts water. Leage the item for a week at a time, it will bubble and stink, and I have seen it remoev every trace of rust, with results similar to the helmet that looked repainted. No joke. It doesn't work as effectively on heavily crusted/brittle rust, but it works. It is also pretty gentle on steel items, but you may want to google this remedy to see if it is safe for other metals.

#19 nmckenzie

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Posted 03 September 2011 - 09:56 AM

Several months ago I received several relic items from a friend in Italy recovered from the area where my father's unit fought. Among the spent brass, shrapnel, tin cans, etc., were several M1 clips that are in various states of decay. Looking for ideas on how best to clean/treat and store these over the long haul. I'm assuming the brass is okay left alone, but if not that too. Thanks in advance.



With regard to the M1 clips, you might consider getting in touch with the Garand Collectors' Association (www.thegca.org). Not too long ago an article appeared in the GCA Journal detailing M1 clips that'd been recovered on Okinawa, and measures employed to preserve them and prevent further deterioration.

#20 rams2050

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Posted 07 October 2012 - 04:34 PM

I would like to know what, if anything, can be done to repair a crack in an M-1 fixed bail, single seam helmet. I would attach a photo, but I'm not sure. I will figure it out and upload a photo.

#21 panzerbait

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Posted 22 January 2015 - 06:57 AM

JB Weld works great. Simply put a piece of masking tape on the inside of the helmet over the crack, carefully apply the JB Weld on the exterior ojver the crack, then remove the tape from inside the helmet when it's dry.


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