Refurbishing Hands

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  • #48789
    chris mabbott
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 119
    • Total Posts: 1525

    Hi all,

    Has anyone tried refurbishing rusty hands and is willing to share their technique? Especially the final polishing.

    I’ve done a few pairs but it has been a pain to remove the rust, or crud. I soaked a pair in white vinegar which went well and loosened about 70% of the debris.
    I also tried a method that has been used on medals, you soak them in fresh cultured yogurt, not the kind with fruit that you buy in 4 tubs. This has to be FRESH, yogurt, so kinda runny. The live culture actually feeds on the rust/patina, and will actually strip it to the bare metal, kinda like piranha.

    The other problem I’ve had was the final polishing before bluing, they’re so fine that I’m scared to apply any pressure so my bluing has not been so good.

    Any and all advice is always welcome..

    Chris

    #55069
    randy
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 39
    • Total Posts: 594

    Chris.
    I’ve taken them down to bare metal with various forms of sand paper( very fine ), rouges and Diamantine mixed w/ oil as a final polish.
    Just depends on the amount of rust,..but start with very fine grits for safety.
    I’ve used cork mixed with Diamtine/oil, old burnishing tools, Pegwood with oil/paste, etc etc.
    Get a very flat and solid surface,..go slow,…in one direction for most part and pay close attention to your rhythm and method.
    “Daydreaming” for an instant can spell disaster.
    I then clean them in alcohol or one-dip, to make sure they are free from oil and other contaminants, then I blue them over an alcohol lamp on a brass plate until they are the right color
    If you mess up,..you get to start all over with the paste/oil to get the char off so that you can try again,..so really watch the color changes closely.
    I’ve included a photo of a Hamilton 921 project I did,..not a pic of the hands, ( which were fine ), but I used the same methods to prepare the screws, wheels and regulating arm.

    Best,

    Randy

    #55068
    chris mabbott
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 119
    • Total Posts: 1525

    Thanks for the info Randy, those parts look great :) and that’s a nice looking Hamilton.
    Do you use a cork from a wine bottle, for example, dipped in diamantine powder? Also, what grit sandpaper do use use?

    I’ll definitely give your suggestions a try but the one I’ll have a problem with are those momentary drifting off into daydream land 😆

    Chris

    #55070
    david pierce
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 90
    • Total Posts: 1360

    There is a product available in the U.S. from woodworking supply stores called RUST FREE. It is basically phosphoric acid and it disolves rust. I have used it on woodworking tools and machinery for many years.
    david

    #55071
    randy
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 39
    • Total Posts: 594

    Thanks Chris
    Clean cork from a wine bottle will work.You can use it to place small hands on while polishing with pegwood, burnishers, etc… or other methods.
    I’ve also seen hands placed on cork, and then polished “blind” ( upside down) on wood mixed with oil/polish/rouge, etc.
    You just need to experiment with different methods to produce the type of results you want.
    I sometimes finish mine with diamantine/clock oil, worked to a paste, , and while holding it in a pinvise, polishing it on an oak slab
    I smear the paste on the wood, and then starting working carefully.

    To remove the initial rust, I’ve used very fine grit emory cloth, on a stick so that it lays flat throughout the process.

    I strongly suggest starting with an old set of hands……

    David’s right about Rust Free also…

    #55072
    chris mabbott
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 119
    • Total Posts: 1525

    Thanks much for these tips gents, I’ll be trying them on a pair of old hands very soon.

    Unfortunately the product you recommend, I can’t get in Spain, they won’t allow entry to chemical products from overseas 👿
    One of the many things I miss about the U.S… I’ll have to make a quest to see if there are similar products..

    Chris

    #55073
    david pierce
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 90
    • Total Posts: 1360

    One thing I learned about rust was learned after I bought a microscope. No matter how hard I ground and polished a part and no matter how shiney it looked, when I put it under magnafication from a microscope the metal would be filled with tiny pitts full of rust. Using the chemical was the only way I found to deal with the problem. If you don’t get all of it out it will come back at a later time. There would have to be industrial supply houses in Europe that carry products of this type.
    david

    #55074
    gerene
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 16
    • Total Posts: 377

    There are several rust removers available in Europe. You find them normally in drug stores, do it yourself warehouses or car supply houses. Just make sure they are based on phosphoric acid. One which is available in Belgium is called “HG roestoplosser” which means “HG rust remover” :-). It might be available in Spain under its Spanish name.

    You can also buy rust remover from Cousins UK, which is made for horologists. Don’t know if it is different from general rust remover, other than the price ;-). https://www.cousinsuk.com/catalog/consumables/watch-cleaning-rinsing-rust-removing-fluids/fluid-rust-removing-fluid#select
    They ship worldwide and did ship rust remover to Belgium, so I suppose they will ship to Spain as well.

    Jan

    #55075
    chris mabbott
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 119
    • Total Posts: 1525

    David, that is interesting info and I agree with you, that the rust has to be completely neutralized or eventually it will …. surface again, so your solution makes good sense, thanks.

    Jan, thank you also for the tip and for reminding me about cousins 💡 I always forget to go on their site but I’ll check it right now.

    Chris

    #55076
    tmac1956
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 171
    • Total Posts: 1259

    @Randy wrote:

    [attachment=0:3dx4rn6l]ham921.jpg[/attachment:3dx4rn6l]

    Chris.
    I’ve taken them down to bare metal with various forms of sand paper( very fine ), rouges and Diamantine mixed w/ oil as a final polish.
    Just depends on the amount of rust,..but start with very fine grits for safety.
    I’ve used cork mixed with Diamtine/oil, old burnishing tools, Pegwood with oil/paste, etc etc.
    Get a very flat and solid surface,..go slow,…in one direction for most part and pay close attention to your rhythm and method.
    “Daydreaming” for an instant can spell disaster.
    I then clean them in alcohol or one-dip, to make sure they are free from oil and other contaminants, then I blue them over an alcohol lamp on a brass plate until they are the right color
    If you mess up,..you get to start all over with the paste/oil to get the char off so that you can try again,..so really watch the color changes closely.
    I’ve included a photo of a Hamilton 921 project I did,..not a pic of the hands, ( which were fine ), but I used the same methods to prepare the screws, wheels and regulating arm.

    Best,

    Randy

    Randy

    Wow – great job on the bluing! What thickness of brass plate are you using to do that? The bluing really adds to the look of the watch.

    Thanks!
    Tom

    #55077
    randy
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 39
    • Total Posts: 594

    Thanks Tom.

    I use an old brass disc on a handle, that is also used for doing screws ( has holes in it ).
    I doubt it’s much thicker than .100 inch….maybe .125.

    Your just putting a “heat-sink” between the flame and the hands,.it allows the heat to soak slow so that you can control the color.

    I’ve seen thicker ones in videos….any plate that you can affix to a rod and handle would suffice.

    I’ve also read where some folks use a brass tray that is machined out in the center and they fill it w/brass shavings and then lay the hands on top of that…..

    Different methods…but they all seem to work

    #55078
    tmac1956
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 171
    • Total Posts: 1259

    Randy:

    That sounds like a good project for me. ;)

    Thanks!!!
    Tom

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chris mabbottRefurbishing Hands