Restoration help

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HawkHero
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Restoration help

Post by HawkHero » Sun Mar 27, 2005 7:12 pm

I'm getting ready to start restoring an M-1904 tree and would like some clarification about the chemical finish on the brass. First, wehat is the exact formula? The page about the chemical finish just refers to a solution. Also, the page mentions soaking the brass for four hours. How were the rivets treated once they were set? My original equipment seems to show evidence that the rivets were chemical finished. Was there a way to apply the finish to hardware after it was installed? I imagine there must be. Also, when I "pickle" the old hardware, is it just thinner? I want to make sure that this comes out right without finding out about problems after the fact.

I'm also going to keep a photo record of the restoration and will keep you guys updated (if you want) once I really get cranking on this pig.

PS- The restoration page has been really helpful!

Brian S Colonna

slim
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Post by slim » Mon Mar 28, 2005 6:50 am

Brian, I have done some brass blackening & I will share my findings w/you. First, you need some copper carbonate. This is used to make green glazes on pottery. If you can't find any, try pottery supply houses. Next, you need ammonium hydroxide.(I have used clear-not cloudy- ammonia from the grocery store). Others report that a more potent industrial strength ammonia works better.

I mix the solution in an old glass peanut butter jar. Use something small enough that the solution will cover the item, but not so big that you have to mix a huge batch. Now, the ratio will be a little bit of trial and error. What you want is an excess of copper carbonate in the bottom, and a cobalt blue colored liquid. I usually find that 4 hours isn't quite enough time to soak and 8 should be plenty. (soak it while your sleeping at night?)

When I buy Weaver Leathers' repro hardware, some of the products can be bought w/a black finish. Coat strap and stirrup buckles for example. Rivets of course cannot so you'll want to blacken them & the burrs as well.
These repro items usually have a clear laquer coating which needs to be removed. I have found acetone works a little better for me than than laquer thinner. This will dry your hands out, so protect your skin. Do not touch the item after cleaning it.
I just drop the stuff in and put the lid back on, slosh it around a bit, and leave for about 8 hours. I use a plastic fork to remove the items and rinse them off and let them dry on a shop rag.
I have good sucess with new items, however, even after glass beading original hardware, I've had little sucess.
As for the rivets, blacken them and the burrs. When you have set them, try using a Q-tip and Brass Black made by Birchwood Casey. Sometimes a well stocked gun store may have it. If not, try the Brownell's catalog. They sell all kinds of gunsmithing supplies and will carry it. I don't have a web address for them, but I'm sure they would be easy to find w/a web search.
This works for me and I hope you have good results too. I may add, I was showing a friend a 1904 that I had redone everything on except the seat leather, and the stirrup in particular. I had used the correct dbl. thickness hoods that had been dyed, and the rivets blackened. I noticed he didn't believe me that it was new, until I turned them over to show the stirrup was a metal covered repro. Kinda funny, my work was that good (or at least he thought so). Good luck w/your project. I for one would sure like to see the results when your done. You may want to date stamp the new parts somewhere when your done, so someday nobody thinks it's an original. Cheers, Slim.

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Post by John Fitzgerald » Mon Mar 28, 2005 8:44 am

Slim, does the brass stay real black with your process or does some of the black rub off?

John

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Post by Jim Ottevaere » Mon Mar 28, 2005 1:02 pm

Section III, Para 15 of "Care of Leather and Riding Equipment", The Cavalry School, 1940 claims that the solution of copper carbonate and ammonium hydroxide may be applied to saddle fittings (rivets?) by painting over them with a small brush. I've tried this method several time with varying success, mostly unsatisfactory, but there must be a way to get good results. I agree with Slim's instructions and have done the same many times. Although, I've found that "28%" Ammonium Hydroxide, available from chemical supply houses works much better than the more dilute retail products (the fumes from this stuff is deadly, so don't treat it lightly). Also if the parts are left in the solution for a longer period they will take on a greenish patina, which is one of the methods used to "age" brass by those making fake "antique" brass bckles, insignia, etc.

slim
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Post by slim » Tue Mar 29, 2005 1:31 am

John, yes the blackened items will eventually rub through. I notice this especially on stirrup strap buckles where there is a lot of rubbing. I have a set I bought from my harness maker who is a Weaver dealer, and we ordered them w/their ready made black finish. When I get my next set of leathers made, I'm interested to see how their finish holds up. It is a bit darker, and looks better than what I can obtain. I have also ordered 5/8" coat strap buckles from them w/the same finish. I would buy everything already black, but they don't seem to offer that finish on all the re-enactment hardware.

I bought 3/4 & 7/8 #890 buckles for the 1909 reins, but couldn't get 'em in black. Oh well, I just do it myself. I may add, the blackened & then rubbed through look makes it seem more like an old one that's been used, instead of brand spanking new. (Of course, the leather on these I've dyed to match the old seat leather. On a new covered seat, I would want my hardware to stay black a little longer.)

The more potent ammonium hydroxide that Jim mentions probably works better, but I've never tracked any down and tried it. I was getting the job done, so that was that.
Slim.

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Post by slim » Tue Mar 29, 2005 1:36 am

I forgot to mention too, if you blacken the rivet and burr before you set them, you will be able to apply Brass Black w/a que-tip and touch up what has been nipped & hammered. If you don't blacken first, you can't seem to get the liquid out to the edges w/o it running into the leather, where it gets soaked up and it just doesn't work. Slim.

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Post by John Fitzgerald » Tue Mar 29, 2005 8:54 am

Slim, I thought the M1909 reins just had a conway buckle for the connection to the bit. Am I confused?

John

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Post by Joseph Sullivan » Tue Mar 29, 2005 9:54 am

John:

The M1909 cavalry bridle used frame buckles for bit connection. The bridles you see with the conway buckles are M1914 Artillery bridles. They also have a graebel (sp) strap on the top, or you can find stitch holes where one was. The '14 was frequently used by Cavalry officers as an individual riding bridle.

The M1912 cavalry bridles usd conways, but those bridles are quite rare, and also very different from the '09 so there is no liklihood of confusion.

Joe

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