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Suggestions for Wing Restoration/Preservation

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Hi All,

 

I just picked up a very comprehensive group of items that belonged to a WWII AAF pilot. Unfortunately, the wings weren't stored properly and have suffered some degradation.

 

If anyone has any ideas on how to best restore and preserve these wings, it would be much appreciated. The first wing (H&H) is in the worst shape. Im afraid if I just let it sit, it will rust away.

 

The second wings (a hollow H&H) is in pretty good shape but the pin doesn't move much. Im not sure if that is because its supposed to be that way or because the nut (?) at the end of the pin has some verdigris in it.

 

The final wing (early Amcraft?) is in pretty good shape too but has some verdigris on it. Im concerned that if I clean it with a chamois, the patina will be uneven.

 

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

 

Thanks! Dan

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LOOKING FOR ANY AND ALL ITEMS RELATED TO
THE 305TH BOMB GROUP FROM WWII.

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My two cents: Patina or not to patina. I dont see a sterling mark on the top one. If it is, and you want to see it brightened up, would a "sonic" type jewelry cleaner be a route? IT would be a gentle way to clean it, rather than a rub type polish.

 

As for the pins, and you want them to open and close, a small drop of lube? A farmer would use penetrating oil to get nuts loose. I just don't know how caustic of abrasive it is. AND.. if your pin is truly stuck and you go to work it, your obviously don't want to break it.


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I "primarily" collect Gulf War 1 patches. All branches (USA, USAF,USN, USMC & USCG) and ALL Countries..
US - Op.'s Desert Shield / Storm / Provide Comfort /Some Southern Watch - F-4G's Wild Weasels
UK - Op.'s Granby / Sabre / Warden
Canadian - Op. Desert Storm / Op. Friction
French - Daguet / Aconit
Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, South Korea, etc.
Looking for the oddities, including unfinished & flaws
I HAVE EXTRA's!! Will trade as well.

 

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Its really comes down to how you feel... I am the type to only use the most mild soap and warm water and a baby tooth brush :)

 

Cheers


Always looking for Wings & Named Air Medals!

Motto: To Collect, Preserve, and Remember!

 

 

 

 

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Im guessing those are silver and that the light is making them appear golden.

The best way I found to remove tarnish from silver is to get a small sauce pan with a cover. Fill it 2/3 with water.

Get the water boiling. Wrap each wing in Aluminum foil leaving little breaks or tears along the edges so the water gets in.

Also place a piece of foil in the bottom of the pan.

Place foil wrapped wings in gently boiling water and add a pinch of table salt and start with a teaspoon of baking soda added slowly because it will bubble up.

Then just let it gently boil 5-10 minutes. You can add more baking soda here and there during the duration.

You will notice a sulfer smell coming off the steam. Tarnish on silver is caused by sulfer.

It combines with the silver and creates silver sulfide. IE... Tarnish!

The combination of the foil touching the wings and the baking soda and the boiling water causes the sulfer to come off of the silver and onto the aluminum foil and some goes off into the steam thats why you will smell sulfer.

After 5-10 minutes... Remove from water and rinse off the wing and gently rub off the grey residue that used to be tarnish. It just rubs right off with the slightest pressure with your finger tips under running water.

You can use a tooth brush or qtip for crevices.

One time usually does it. You might need to do it twice depending on the amount of tarnish.

The wing is left shinny new without any kind of arbrassion in the process.

Its a chemical reaction. But it does not involve any harsh chemicals like tarnex for example.

It also removed the green stuff on a wing I had.

But mine didnt have as much green as yours.

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Like easterneagle and john cooper said... washem first get the loose stuff off..

Then try the foil and baking soda boil. It really does work.

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Thanks to all for the advice. I’m going to clean them this weekend using your methods. I hope that the first wing especially will look beautiful again. I nearly wept when I first saw it!

 

I’ll show you the results.


LOOKING FOR ANY AND ALL ITEMS RELATED TO
THE 305TH BOMB GROUP FROM WWII.

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Mt two cents goes for that wing at the bottom.. Its a keeper. The top one?? the middle one???

But the bottom one is a beut!!! Amcraft pre war?

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I think it is an Amcraft pre war wing and it is gorgeous. The pilot actually was in the Maryland NG as an artillery officer from 1934 on and around 1940, was trained to fly. I believe he got his wings in 1940-41 as a NG pilot and then was federalized. These must be the wings he got when he first earned his wings.

 

I only picked these up last week from his son along with a huge group of items as well as lots of paperwork. I’ve only just started to go through everything. There are some REALLY cool pictures of the planes on the ground with the MD blue and gray logo on the side and photos of the 29th in maneuvers that I need to put up. I suspect they may be from the 1941 Louisiana Maneuvers.


LOOKING FOR ANY AND ALL ITEMS RELATED TO
THE 305TH BOMB GROUP FROM WWII.

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Ok, I just finished cleaning the wings using the two methods above and here are the results.

 

I cleaned the first wing (the solid H&H) twice and looks much better. A lot of the verdigris has been removed, especially on the pin, but theres still some stubborn verdigris on the wings that doesnt want to come off. Should I clean it for a third time? Here are the pics.

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LOOKING FOR ANY AND ALL ITEMS RELATED TO
THE 305TH BOMB GROUP FROM WWII.

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Heres the second wing (hollow back H&H). It looks great. The verdigris on the pin device is gone. I think the pin is not meant to move more than it does. I have a couple of H&H hollow back WWII sub pins with broken pins which leads me to believe that the devices were made this way and broke very easily.

 

Here are the pics.

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LOOKING FOR ANY AND ALL ITEMS RELATED TO
THE 305TH BOMB GROUP FROM WWII.

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Heres the final wing (early Amcraft). It too looks great. The verdigris is all gone. Whats interesting is that it appears to be brass with silver plating as after the verdigris was removed, the brass can be seen underneath.

 

Here are the pics.

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LOOKING FOR ANY AND ALL ITEMS RELATED TO
THE 305TH BOMB GROUP FROM WWII.

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Looking good! The top wing? I dont know... The original pics of it, it looked like someone spilled some corrosive on it.

You could try boiling them again or lightly rub them with some "magic wading" metal polish.

But rinse with water after using the wadding as it leaves a residue.

The silver on brasswing... I have to admit only about 8 months collecting wings, but I think that its pre war. I have an amcraft snowflaked backed observer wing that is silver over brass.

Maybe during the depression they made them that way to save silver???

Nice wing . And yes the verdigris dissolved off my wings too!

I've found it in spots on the few silver plated brass wings I have.

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Thanks for your help! I’ll probably try boiling them again and try the polish you suggest. There must be a way to remove the verdigris.


LOOKING FOR ANY AND ALL ITEMS RELATED TO
THE 305TH BOMB GROUP FROM WWII.

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To clean or not to clean? The wings are yours and you are free to do what you want with them however some of the methods suggested may be detrimental to preservation of your artifacts:

 

- Boiling: Probably mostly benign but the heat transfer from the bottom of the pan could be high enough to remove soldered fittings... Be careful

 

-Magic wadding: An extremely powerful and abrasive metal polish that WILL remove plated finishes and fine details... Very detrimental to preservation of valuable artifacts.

 

- Tinfoil and baking soda -- known to cause pitting of silver and silver plated finishes

 

It's been posted on the forum before, but this is a good time to reiterate. The best information on the internet for the care and preservation of silver artifacts can be found at professional silversmith Jeffrey Herman's website:

 

http://www.hermansilver.com/care.htm

 

Anyone who intends to clean or polish silver or silver plated artifacts AND preserve them for future generations would be well advised to read Mr Herman's advice.

 

Good luck!

 

Chris

 

 


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Il post here one of the many links to this method of cleaning silver.

 

http://scifun.chem.wisc.edu/HomeExpts/tarnish.html

 

I keep the water hot on the stove at a very low boil

as the wings are raised off the bottom of the pan by foil in the bottom so I dont think it would effect the solder.

Ive never read anything about foil and baking soda pitting silver? Cant find anything on that.

 

I wouldnt put a frosted wing in that mix. Some I wouldnt clean at all.

I did not know magic wadding was detrimental to silver or metal in any way?

 

All in all I feel its a great way to clean silver wings as there is no abrasive. And no harsh chemicals.

Its not like using Brasso or some other polish on a wing. I have a bunch of Navy wings which I would never ever clean in this manner.

But it works good on silver wings. Just my opinion. I use this method and it works.

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And then I found this...

Note: This method should be used as a last resort. The electromagnetic reaction that removes the tarnish may also remove the patina, leaving the silver looking flat. Do not use this method for cleaning silver on pieces that have a raised design or on cemented pieces. For help with cleaning valuable pieces of silver, we suggest contacting a silversmith.

 

So I will defer to CWNORMAS advice above.

 

For me it works... I have not experienced pitting etc. For others.. you may not want to try it.

I like my wings cleaned up and this works for me.

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Patrick is joking of course, and I don't want to come off as some kind of preachy; "know it all." Please take the advice above in the intended spirit of fraternity within the wing-collecting community.

 

Over the years, many of us in the hobby have seen wings whose value has been impacted by potentially well-meaning, but over-zealous attempts at cleaning. I really do believe that these wings are the collector's to do with as they please. Still, if a collector is going to clean, they should have full knowledge of how various methods may be impacting their artifacts.

 

This particular topic; to clean or not to clean, comes up a lot here on the forum. For the record, I am a middle ground guy. I prefer wings to retain dark patina in the recesses and be bright in the highlights. I personally think antique silver looks best like that. Immersion methods don't work to achieve this contrast of light over dark so I almost never use them--Your milage may vary.

 

A year ago, I bought a wing cheaply because it had been egregiously Brass-O'd. The old petrified Brass-O was thickly caked on the wing, and figuring it could not look; "worse," I took a chance and rinsed the old Brass-O off with distilled water and a spray bottle. After rinsing away the Brass-O, fortunately, I found the cloth had not been ruined, and the wing looked like this:

 

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The lower wing was Brass-O'd

After a year of allowing it to tone back down, never touching or cleaning it at all, the same wing today:

 

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Brass-O'd wing 2nd from bottom

As you can see, it is beginning to tone down some, still, after a full year, the shield is still somewhat brighter than I would prefer.

 

At any rate, this is a bit of a long post to point out that when cleaning wings, or for that matter any valuable old silver, great care should always be taken. I happen to like Jeffery Herman's advice. He seems to prefer gentle and minimally invasive methods. Herman is also trusted to do museum work with Paul Revere silver--an order of magnitude more valuable than our cherished wing badges.

 

Good luck in your collecting!

 

Chris


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