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It's worth the grind to shine old brass

February 21, 2009|By PAT LOGAN / Creators Syndicate

Dear Pat: While my antique bathroom fixtures still work well, the old, ornate brass is tarnished. I would prefer to restore rather than replace them. How do I refinish them so that they do not tarnish once they have been cleaned? - Jo Ann

Dear Jo Ann: If you are unable to clean one, you will probably need to replace all the fixtures in your bathroom so that they will match.

All is not lost, though, because tarnished brash fixtures can be cleaned to look nearly good as new. It will take a lot of work, but it is worth the effort. If you finish and maintain the surface properly, your brass fixtures should look good for years. Someday, though, they will begin to tarnish again. and you will probably have to repeat the cleaning procedure.

It will be necessary to remove the fixtures from the sink to refinish them thoroughly. First, make sure the water supply line valves can be shut off. Old ones can stick. You could have the same problem getting the old fasteners loose to release the fixture. If they are frozen, soak them with a penetrating oil and give it time to work. You definitely don't want to harm the old fixtures.

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The best method to remove tarnish is to use the buffing and polishing wheels on a two-wheel bench grinder. Apply abrasive polishing rouge on the polishing wheel. This should cut through the old clear-coat finish coating the brass. Use a small detail polisher to get into the tight spots on ornate areas.

The fixture should look pretty good at this point, but the surface is actually covered with fine scratches. Apply some very fine buffing compound on the buffing wheel and buff out the fine scratches. Take your time on this step. Some areas may require hand buffing.

Clean off all the buffing compound with a solvent. Wear rubber or plastic gloves at this point to keep the solvent off your skin and to keep oils from your skin from getting on the newly buffed brass surface. Hang the fixtures from a bent coat hanger in a well-ventilated and clean area and then spray on several coats of clear gloss urethane.

Copyright 2009 Creators Syndicate Inc.

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