Friday, 27 February 2015

Rusty nuts? Not any more!

Work begins on the pre-war No.6 set. The first thing I have decided to do is to clean up the nuts and bolts. They were a nice shade of rust, but with a little effort they can be made to look considerably better!
The nuts and bolts look free of dirt, just rusty
The standard length bolts, that came with the set, are a mixture of dome head and cheese head. For the period, I understand, they should be domed head. Although rusty, they were not covered in dirt and grease so I decided to forgo the initial wash in our ultrasonic bath. This is not as grand as it sounds. It is intended for cleaning jewellery and other small items.  It was purchased from our local Aldi store and, as far as I can remember, it cost less than £20.00.

Skipping a pre-wash, the nuts, bolts and washers were all placed into a jar and covered with Rust Remover. I use Clarke Rust Remover available from Machine Mart. It is sold in 1 litre plastic bottles and costs just over £5.00. It can be used over and over again, making it very economical.

The rust remover starts to work immediately
The jar was agitated from time to time during the soaking; the liquid was drained off after a few hours. The nuts and bolts can be left in soak for longer if convenient. Often we will leave parts in the rust remover overnight or even longer. Once the liquid has been drained off, the nuts and bolts were placed on a couple of layers of paper towel and left to drain before being washed under running water in order to clean off any residue of the rust remover. It is important to dry the fixings off immediately to prevent them rusting again. Once they are dry, they take on a dull-grey dusty appearance.

No rust but dull-grey looking
Kept dry they will be fine, but as soon as the are exposed to any moisture, even a damp environment, they will start to rust. Originally, these fixings would have been brass plated and, although it would not be too hard to have them re-plated, I decided that they would look out of place being freshly plated and used with our play-worn Meccano set. I am not intending to restore this set to pristine condition, but to preserve it and eventually complete it with parts from the period in a similar condition. For this reason I am going to leave the bolts devoid of their full brass plating. To do this they will need some attention if they are not to revert straight back to being rusty. A spray of WD-40 and the excess removed with a paper towel does the trick.

Looking better but fewer than should be there by a long way
close-up of the cleaned and protected nuts and bolts
This treatment may well need to be repeated from time to time. However, constant handling by us, as we build and disassemble our models, will keep them looking reasonable a lot longer than if the model was left assembled. We need to make up the numbers as what we have is under half the stated amount. As we have a few (very few!) bolts that have most of their brass plating still intact, it seemed like a good idea to add them to the mix as well. We have got some more of these bolts somewhere but, even with our storage system, there are times when things go missing! Hmmm... Just a minute we do not seem to have any long bolts...

While all that was going on I started to go through the rest of the parts, but that is a story for another day...


1 comment:

  1. Just passing by - but wanted to share that apart from WD40 a gun-oil gives very good rust-protection. A gun-oil (like Ballistol) will also deposit a thin paraffin layer on the part for much better protection than WD40 (especially when finger-handling).
    (Just passing by... starting with a no 3 :-)