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Rust, preventing and cleaning

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Sir Edward:

I admittedly only searched briefly before giving up, but I couldn't remember which threads we've talked about rust prevention and clean-up, and some of the problems some of us have been having lately, so I thought I'd start a new thread.

I never used to have much trouble with rust, or what little I did I was able to clean up with a little CLR. On items where I didn't mind messing up the finish (really cheap swords, the inside surfaces of armor), I've used wire-wheels on a drill, or small polishing wheels on the Dremel. It's quick and effective.

Mineral oil is what I've used for years to protect swords, and it must be working, since my Albion blades all look great (hilts are another story).

Recently I've been using CLR with steel wool, then quickly going over it with WD-40 to get the moisture out, then re-sealing with with either spray-on gun-oil, or Mineral Oil. This has failed miserably. As we discussed in another thread, both Sir James and I had problems with these items showing rust overnight, or over the first week. We've suspected both the gun oil, and the steel wool as being problematic here.

So I'm trying an experiment now.

I cleaned up my gauntlets, yet again (third time since this spring), and my brand-new helm, which I've never used, was still coated in whatever it shipped in, and yet still rusted a 6-inch long splotch on the back plus a few other splotches.

Right Gauntlet:  Turtle chrome polish,  WD-40, then Turtle wax.

Left Gauntlet: Metal-Glo, WD-40, then Ren-wax.

Helm:  Turtle chrome polish, WD-40, then Ren-wax.

I did all of these with scotchbrites and paper towels.

Immediately, the left gaunt doesn't look as good, since the metal-glo isn't a good rust remover. And while CLR with steel wool eats up the rust more quickly than the above options, it has problems, in that it's very watery and runs everywhere, whereas the others above are more thick. And I need to avoid the steel wool.

I also did a really quick pass over the fingers on the gaunts, so they don't look that great right now.

Another thing I'm tempted to do, is a CLR clean-up, and go over it with windex and let it dry. Then WD-40, and on to a sealant. I've used Windex on the swords before, and it's a nice soft soap to get oily crap off. But anything that's water based needs to use WD-40 and/or dry off.

Let's keep a good discussion going. Clearly we'll all have varying experiences, but hopefully we can come up with some really good methods.

Sir Edward:

BTW, thread is sticky so we can always find this.

I've posted this before, but will repost for the sticky:

My most successful rust prevention / cleaning method has been the use of BreakFree CLP (Cleaner / Lubricant / Preservative).  After wearing my armor, I will remove any dirt/dust with an old t-shirt or sock.  Then if there is any surface rust present, I will work it off using a green scrubby or appropriate grit scotch-brite pad (depending on level of polish), with a dab of CLP.  For more stubborn rust, let the CLP sit on the surface a bit before scrubbing like you would a fouled firearm barrel.

After the surface rust is removed, I will then apply a light coating of CLP to the entire surface of the metal.  Over time CLP thickens up a little bit and acts as a barrier to moisture and prevents rust rather effectively.  I have 2 helmets and a pair of hourglass gauntlets on display in my home that have not been treated in several months.  They sit in free air 24/7, and are occasionally exposed to humidity.  There are no signs of any surface rust on their surfaces.  I use this stuff on both armor and swords with excellent results.

Don't take my word for it, take Albion Swords' word for it:
From Albion's Sword Care Page

--- Quote ---Regular Maintenance
After handling, cutting, or after six months of storage or display, the metal components should be wiped clean with a soft cloth, and lightly oiled with a quality machine or gun oil. We strongly recommend Break-Free CLP as the premium oil for this use - it is the same oil that we use prior to shipping the finished pieces from our shop. A more traditional approach would be to use a quality mineral oil, although it would require more frequent application.
--- End quote ---

Sir James A:
I narrowed my rapid-rust assault issues down to being the "blue CLR" by Zep. The grey CLR, the regular "Calcium Lime Rust", worked well. Ironically, both of them are sold at Home Depot. I haven't found any reason for the difference between the two (chemically), but it's night and day. I've got pieces I've cleaned with grey CLR and used the gun oil on from weeks ago that haven't showed a bit of rust yet.

My thought is that the rusting GDFB sabatons was a fluke, and the spray-on gun oil oversprayed when I was cleaning the cuisses in front of them, and that the overspray was probably "bounce off spray" that was contaminated with "blue CLR" from the cuisses. To confirm, I sprayed a few junk pieces with the RemOil gun oil, and had no rusting problems when the "blue CLR" wasn't used. When I sold my SCA gear last month or so, I started to clean it up with blue CLR, and it had turned green (starting to oxidize) within hours - I caught it before it went to epic rust level, which is when I knew it was the CLR, as I had done nothing but clean it and let it air dry - no WD40, no gun oil, no wax, nothing but the blue CLR.

I've got a "mix and match" of WD-40, "Grey CLR", RemOil spray gun oil, Eezox spray gun oil, and BreakFree CLP spray oil. I've also got some SC Johnson Floor Wax (low/no acid) that I picked up from Home Depot; one of the harnesses I bought had this on it already - the entire upper of the one I wore at VARF - and none of it rusted, except a few spots on the breastplate (from excessive sweat). The previous owner of the harness said it was recommended to him by someone who worked in the medieval armor section of the Met in NY (where the seller was from).

I've been doing rust removal with ScotchBrite grey ultra-fine pads and the grey CLR. For some of the stubborn spots, I've used the tiny wire wheels or wire cups on the dremel; it leaves black marks, but the scotchbrite and CLR takes care of those.

The most important thing is to get it before it starts pitting; after that, the metal is damaged and not reasonably repairable. As long as the maintenance is kept up with, almost any of the protectants will work fine; some better than others, of course, but as long as you put *something* on to protect it, and keep an eye on it, it'll serve you well.

Sir Edward:

Those grey scotchbrites are fantastic. They're the ones Albion recommends, and uses for their finishing. You can wipe down Albions with them and not alter the finish, as a result.


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