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An 1822 Light Cavalry sword in our collection has some 'active' - red/orange - rust on the blade just below the hilt. I suspect that the chape of the scabbard is trapping moisture and causing the problem.

I was, shall I say, 'surprised' when the curator said she was unsure what to do about this, so I thought before I made suggestions I would check with the learned gentlemen on this forum.

Suggestions?

Peter

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HI Peter,

I take it that there is not yet pitting associated with this rust and it is more surface rust than anything?

There is a product called Conservator's Wax that was sold by Lee Valley a number of years ago that I've used with great success on surface rust on blades. It is a wax cleaner and polish.

Regards

Brian

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HI Peter,

I take it that there is not yet pitting associated with this rust and it is more surface rust than anything?

There is a product called Conservator's Wax that was sold by Lee Valley a number of years ago that I've used with great success on surface rust on blades. It is a wax cleaner and polish.

Regards

Brian

Hi Peter......

I have used the above named product as well but before I put it on the blade I have cleaned it with a metal polish called FLITZ instead of grit as an abrasive it uses tiny pieces of chopped up fiber glass therefore it does not damage the metal...... I have even used it for fixing scratches on plexiglass and scratches in the paint on my car......

Mike

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Peter,

depending on the "rustiness" depends on what you need to do. QSA is correct if very light rust and then use the wax preservative as per Brian (I'd suggest Renaissance wax polish though as used by the British Museum - pretty expensive but proven on German daggers etc by collectors) Easily available on e-bay (you only need a small one).

very rusty items can be de-rusted by electrolysis - a bucket of water with 4/5 tablespoons of washing soda or bi-carb (either will do) an old iron bar and a 12v battery charger. Positive on old iron bar, negative on sword (ah, maybe a long thin bucket) and a couple of hours of charging, rust will form 'orrible scum on water - clean the black stuff off of sword with a rag and hey presto - luvly

spaz

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  • 4 weeks later...

Peter,

depending on the "rustiness" depends on what you need to do. QSA is correct if very light rust and then use the wax preservative as per Brian (I'd suggest Renaissance wax polish though as used by the British Museum - pretty expensive but proven on German daggers etc by collectors) Easily available on e-bay (you only need a small one).

very rusty items can be de-rusted by electrolysis - a bucket of water with 4/5 tablespoons of washing soda or bi-carb (either will do) an old iron bar and a 12v battery charger. Positive on old iron bar, negative on sword (ah, maybe a long thin bucket) and a couple of hours of charging, rust will form 'orrible scum on water - clean the black stuff off of sword with a rag and hey presto - luvly

spaz

Second the Renaissance Wax - have used this on a few brass items and have been very impressed. Not hard to safely remove (from metals) if needed.

As far as removing the rust - just be careful. Whatever method you use, be sure to start small, go slow, and examine carefully to make sure the method is not harming the blade in any way. In the case of very light surface rust, I have had great success using brass wool and oil. Gun oil, mineral oil, these do fine. Light pressure. I carefully clean the oil off with mineral spirits, dry, and then you can use the wax.

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Update: used fine steel wool and a very little bit of oil. 90 seconds gentle work and the blade is as good as new. Also discovered, to me shook, that the Curator doesn't have a background in museology and so has never taken a course on conservation! What one gets when a municipal governments hire people for their musuems.

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Update: used fine steel wool and a very little bit of oil. 90 seconds gentle work and the blade is as good as new. Also discovered, to me shook, that the Curator doesn't have a background in museology and so has never taken a course on conservation! What one gets when a municipal governments hire people for their musuems.

Well done Peter, I'm happy to hear that this worked out.

Your remark regarding the employment of museum people by municipalities is much more accurate than the public can even imagine. Most of them know enough to impress the village idiots who get elected and only enough about conservaton to be dangerous to the artifacts. On top of all of this these types end up hiring their own friends to work as guides and assistants.

Regards

Brian

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Well, tales out of school: the educational co-ordinator at our museum was 'let go' shortly after I started there. I was subsequently tasked with developing some educational packages to do 'outreach' in the schools and was handed 'what we have' to get me started. I don't know that this $100,000+ person was the author of what they had, but one of my duller students could have knocked it together on a rainy weekend without gettin up off the couch!

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