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Proper way to tarnish brass ? ?


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#1 Tom @ Snake River

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 09:39 PM

Working on replaceing some brass fittings on a McClellan saddle. Of course the new brass is nice and shiny.
What is the proper way to tarnish brass so that the fitting might have the same pantina as the old fittings ? ?
Civil War guys must be good at this as there are many reproduction items that are artifically aged.

#2 Bob Hudson

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 10:16 PM

Working on replaceing some brass fittings on a McClellan saddle. Of course the new brass is nice and shiny.
What is the proper way to tarnish brass so that the fitting might have the same pantina as the old fittings ? ?
Civil War guys must be good at this as there are many reproduction items that are artifically aged.


A google search for aging brass turns up a lot of tips for doing this, but I have to say I have never seen artificiallly-aged brass that looks like the real thing. It'll be interesting to see if someone has a secret for actually replicating the real thing.

#3 hbtcoveralls

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Posted 31 December 2010 - 07:35 AM

Hey Tom,
I saw you post and if you're adding the buckles to an '04 saddle, they should be blackened instead of just tarnished. The originals were chemically blackened and you can get just about the same finish today. Model Railroad hobby shops sell 2 part chemical sets that are made for blackening brass detail parts used on model RR engines and cars. You carefully wash your brass part and place it in one chemical until it blackens appropriately (normally before your eyes) then you take the part out and put it into the other chemical which neutralizes the first chemical. I then wash it in soap and water to make sure all the chemicals are off, before installing or using the blackened piece. I did some halter buckles and some saddle bag buckles and also some lariat snaps which really came out nice. I don't have the chemicals handy or I'd tell you what brand I used, but they should be able to help at the hobby shop.
Good luck
Tom Bowers

#4 Steve B.

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Posted 31 December 2010 - 04:02 PM

I've heard of Civil War reenactors um, urinating on their brass items to give them the proper tarnish. I have no personal experience in the matter, and using this method is entirely up to you. :blink:

Offer void where prohibited.

#5 doyler

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Posted 31 December 2010 - 04:04 PM

I've heard of Civil War reenactors um, urinating on their brass items to give them the proper tarnish. I have no personal experience in the matter, and using this method is entirely up to you. :blink:

Offer void where prohibited.



Dont lick yer belt buckle Bubba :blink:

#6 Brig

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Posted 01 January 2011 - 10:41 AM

I've heard dropping in a cup of coffee awhile works...but I'm not about to try, and I imagine the while is days

#7 jeb137

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Posted 01 January 2011 - 11:47 AM

I'm not sure if this will help at all... But when I was in the Navy, my last ship required the cooks to shine the ships bell. I hated that bell. Frigging tradition my a**. They sure would let the bo'sun make the first coffee. Anyhow... a few days out at sea and the salt air would bring end any shine left on the bell. If a week went by it looked like it had never been shined in it's life.

To this day I hate any thoughts of a ships bell.

Jon B.
Newaygo MI

#8 VMI88

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Posted 01 January 2011 - 12:37 PM

First, wipe the buckles down with acetone to remove any protective finish. Once you're down to bare brass just handling them will take off the shine. This works best in summertime when your hands are nice and sweaty!

#9 RAL

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Posted 02 January 2011 - 05:59 PM

Nothing like some rat's grubby fingerprints all over a freshly taken down BP, eh?

Rich '74

#10 siege1863

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Posted 07 January 2011 - 12:06 PM

Best and cheapest stuff you can use to age brass is Birchwood Casey gun bluing. It is available at Wal-Mart and just about any sporting goods store.

At one time I had a reproduction Model 1860 Colt revolver. I wanted to age the brass to make it look more "period." Once all the lacquer finish was removed, I gave all brass pieces a good soaking in the BC. The longer it is left in the solution, the darker it will get. To give the brass a soft aged look, I then put toothpaste (can use baking soda as well; both are mild abrasives) on a cloth and buffed the high spots, leaving the recesses darker. If you take too much off, simply reapply.

Try experimenting with a brass shell casing or similar item to see how the technique works. I have used the process to age brass buttons as well.

#11 DSchlagan

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 10:47 AM

Birchwood Casey also makes a product called "Brass Black Metal Finish ...To Blacken or Antique Brass, Copper or Bronze". Midway.com should have it in stock.
I believe the formula may be similar to their cold blue: though they do produce somewhat different results. And as with any bluing process the metal needs to be thoroughly clean, as per instructions, prior to application.
After getting the desired color, I always coat the piece with high-grade automotive carnuba wax; or with a specialty wax called "Curator's Choice" (which is likely similar to Renaissance Wax).

There is a professional process for actually getting a 'realistically aged' patina back on copper (and it's alloys), that involves putting the piece in a chamber and fogging it with a special chemical solution for a period of time. You know, for those folks that have "polished up" that $30,000 Tiffany desk lamp, turning it into a nice, shiny bright $3000 paperweight.

#12 Sgt Brown

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 05:21 PM

I was a big time black powder shooter. I noted that black powder residue on any brass rifle fittings turned them ultra-grungy in a heartbeat. With that in mind, I just used a paste of BP residue and water applied to brass to age it.

Tom

#13 wuzcav

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Posted 19 April 2011 - 01:20 AM

Working on replaceing some brass fittings on a McClellan saddle. Of course the new brass is nice and shiny.
What is the proper way to tarnish brass so that the fitting might have the same pantina as the old fittings ? ?
Civil War guys must be good at this as there are many reproduction items that are artifically aged.

Dampen a paper towel with vinegar and place it along with item in plastic bag. you can control the darkening simply by removing items to be "tarnished"

#14 BOLO

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Posted 20 April 2011 - 06:02 PM

+1 on the Birchwood liquid perma blue

I use it all the time to give small items a dulled darkened look, also works well for touch up

like if you installed a new liner in a M1917 and you wanted to darken the copper rivet on top so it's not new and shiney looking, just dab a little gun blueing on it to dull it.,

#15 aef1917

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Posted 21 April 2011 - 05:11 AM

I've heard of Civil War reenactors um, urinating on their brass items to give them the proper tarnish. I have no personal experience in the matter, and using this method is entirely up to you. :blink:

Offer void where prohibited.


Years ago, a tour guide told me that the copper dome on the Parliament building in Victoria, BC had been dipped in sheep urine to tarnish it.

#16 BOLO

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Posted 21 April 2011 - 11:59 PM

I once experimented with the urine test and "aged" a repro brass & copper bugle by burying it in a sand box and pissing on it for a week, the brass parts turned dark and also had a lots of green vertigris

I also sprayed sea water all over it and wrapped it up in a plastic bag for several days , then when I was all done I used soapy water and washed it off to neutralize the corrosion

the bugle looked like a battlefield relic

Edited by BOLO, 22 April 2011 - 12:01 AM.


#17 PhotoMarine

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Posted 03 May 2011 - 07:42 PM

I've heard dropping in a cup of coffee awhile works...but I'm not about to try, and I imagine the while is days



Marine Corps coffee can do anything brighten brass, dull brass, remove paint, wax/unwax the floor, wake you up, calm you down, clean your rifle, gas up a duece and a half, patch holes in your shelter-half, kill bugs, shine boots, remove stains, make stains, babysit your kids, kills rats, grow veggies, keep the Gunny out of your hair, keep a 2nd LT busy for HOURS, gravy at Thanksgiving, can wrap your Xmas gifts, stop traffic and LASTLY get you the Sat night date with the cute blonde two houses down.

WD-40 anit got nothing on MC Coffee, just sayin.

#18 mmerc20

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Posted 04 May 2011 - 05:16 PM

It has to be a controlled enviroment but the proper way is ammonia. I know this from experience and will vouch for it 100%. I did some extensive research and experimentation on artificial aging on different types of metal.

Bolo might sound silly about the urination but he is onto something. If you can make an airtight chamber where the item in question can be suspended that is the key. The biggest thing I did was a replica guard from an M1860 saber and used a small kitty litter box and made a custom tent-like frame that went around it and the finished product looked like a miniature greenhouse.

When you chamber is built and the object is suspended, put perhaps 1/2 to 1 cup of ammonia in a cup or glass and leave at the bottom of the chamber. The fumes from the ammonia will react with the brass (this works on copper items too) and in as little as 12 hours the brass will appear cloudy and green verdegris will show.

The good thing is if it doesn't look right, you can always clean and repeat. You might have to try it a couple times before the desired result is seen.

Mike


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