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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    Country: Australia

    Default Cleaning up safe plates

    I have a collection of safe plates in various conditions. The worst have been in a fire.

    What is the best way to clean them up without damaging them?

  2. #2
    Huw Eastwood is offline
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    Safes Strongrooms & Vaults
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    The tamest way to restore back to bright brass without risking damage is with citric acid. For its mildest form use cheap supermarket lemonade or cola. Use separate plastic tubs for different brasses, takes a long time as the acid is so mild.
    Use a soft brush like nylon or a toothbrush to get in the recesses, leave overnight and keep checking them. Thoroughly rinse off with water when done.

    The ones damaged by fire will depend how much the alloy has discoloured or damaged. Try citric acid in powder form and mix up your own for a stronger brew if needed, very effective and without any of the risks, health, safety or availability issues associated with strong acids or commercial cleaners.

  3. #3
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    Country: Australia

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    Thanks Huw, I will give it a try.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
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    Tonawanda, NY, USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Wilson View Post
    I have a collection of safe plates in various conditions. The worst have been in a fire.
    What is the best way to clean them up without damaging them?
    There is a commercial product available on this side of the pond that I have been using for decades that works exceedingly well, Iosso Metal Polish:
    https://iosso.com/clean/products/metal-polish/
    We were buying it in 10 oz. cans but it looks like they now offer only a 3 oz. tube or 1 lb. or 5 lb. cans.

    Pete Schifferli

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2014
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    Carlisle, England.
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    It takes a lot of hard work usually. If itís paint your wanting to remove your best bet is a good paint stripper first of all. Donít go near Nitromors because itís now had all the good stuff taken out of it and rendered itself worse than useless. The best stripper I use is exceptionally good (starchem synstryp) but thereís so many different kinds of paint now and again youíll find one thatís difficult to shift. (Wear gloves because it burns!) After you have removed the paint (several coats of stripper) the world is your oyster. Thereís hundreds of different cleaners to use on the raw brass from pure lemon juice, cola,tomato sauce, toothpaste to all the usual proprietary cleaners like brasso or bar keepers friend. It depends on the finish you want, (e.g bright and shiny or dull and reserved). Iíve cleaned and stripped several hundred plaques and youíll always find one thatís a bummer to do! If your using brasso every week to polish the same plaque it will undoubtedly eventually wear down the brass but as a one off solution to get it shiny I wouldnít be scared to use it. As for the fire damaged ones they can be a nightmare to clean up. Most times for them Iíve ended up using a cream cleaner and then brasso. The best thing I ever done was to buy a polishing machine. (Bench grinder with polishing mops on!). Always resist from using wire wool or wire brushes as the can cause a lot of damage. If you want to go the gentle way use Huws methods after stripping the paint off. Iím pretty impatient so I go all out to get them done as quick as possible! But youíll always come across one that wonít go as planned. Best of luck and stick some photos on so we can see the end result. Enjoy!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pschiffe View Post
    There is a commercial product available on this side of the pond that I have been using for decades that works exceedingly well, Iosso Metal Polish:
    https://iosso.com/clean/products/metal-polish/
    We were buying it in 10 oz. cans but it looks like they now offer only a 3 oz. tube or 1 lb. or 5 lb. cans.
    Pete Schifferli
    If you need to remove paint or lacquer from brass prior to polishing, a superior product is Kleen-Strip Premium Stripper. I had been using the convenient aerosol format which I note is now discontinued and it is apparently only available in quart or gallon cans, see link:
    http://www.kleanstrip.com/product/premium-stripper
    Wear solvent-resistant gloves and chemical splash goggles when using.

    Pete Schifferli

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
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    Country: United States

    Default Cleaning up safe plates Your Message

    Not sure if this going to work on your. I have heard that you can using the old cooking hardware with water. Just full with water and set the temperature up high and leave it over night. What it does it soft and loose the paint up. They do have some information on web site about it. This was support to be the old way of using any chemical.....Timothy.....

  8. #8
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    Sep 2007
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    Country: Great Britain

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    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Wilson View Post
    I have a collection of safe plates in various conditions. The worst have been in a fire.

    What is the best way to clean them up without damaging them?

    The easiest and quickest way if they are unpainted is by a rotary calico buffing wheel and paste. As advertised they come with a mandrel for attaching to a power drill which you fasten into a vice. If you don't have a vice you must be perfect.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by safeman View Post
    The easiest and quickest way if they are unpainted is by a rotary calico buffing wheel and paste. As advertised they come with a mandrel for attaching to a power drill which you fasten into a vice. If you don't have a vice you must be perfect.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I haven’t heard any caution here so I thought it a good idea to be a party pooper.
    i have thousands of different safe plaques.
    different plates need different treatment and no way is perfect but:-
    any powered abrasive approach is going to remove detail particularly the most delicate or highest detail. This often won’t matter on flat plaques, but pictorial ones are often ruined.
    sand blasting removes metal too and leaves a Matt finish as well as often having a funny greenish colour.
    paint is best removed by paint stripper, but if the stripper dries out during the process it can leave paint in the crevasses which is chemically changed and won’t react to future stripping. The chemical will often tarnish the metal too which can be minimised by shorter timescales with the chemicals.
    acids can be great. There are problems of course if done over ferociously or where the chemicals react more with copper or zinc. The first will leave the surface of the plaque looking silver while the second will leave it looking coppery.
    a wire brush is rarely if ever suitable although a brass wired toothbrush type brush can be very useful as can a power washer (plus suitable clamping to stop it being blasted over the neighbours wall.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2014
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    Iíve noticed that sometimes when paint has been stripped from a plaque it leaves the plaque stained/dyed from the particular colour. This seems to be virtually impossible to remove in any other way than the following. Iíve found the best way to remove this is with a cleaning paste such as ĎAstonish pro cleaning pasteí or another called Ďpink stuffí. Itís a paste with tiny particles in that aggressively removes the stain but not quite aggressively as on a polishing wheel. It leaves the plaque with a Matte finish which then can be given a quick polish to the high points or left alone. I only use this method as a last resort and like I say IMHO it doesnít seem to be quite as aggressive as some of the friction removal methods. Hereís a couple of pics of the last couple of plaques Iíve used it on. I think itís a great finish and it can be done gradually and doesnít have to take 100% of the finish off.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails E61EED8E-3C76-406F-A7A9-CF8DD82FB976.jpeg   9D77D524-5CE9-4482-A953-E101C978EC2F.jpeg  

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