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Stove restoration. Parts 1 to 4

Discussion in 'Fettlers Master Class' started by kerophile, Aug 27, 2006.

  1. kerophile

    kerophile United Kingdom Subscriber

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    This thread contains Kerophile's Stove Restoration guide in four parts. They have been merged here from the 3 original posts.

    Part 1 - Philosophy
    Part 2 - Practice
    Part 3 - Lacquering
    Part 4 - Ironwork


    Philosophy


    Hi, thanks for your kind comments. For what it's worth, here are some of my thoughts on stove restoration:

    1. Hell, I don't mean to come across as an anally-retentive "Stove Polisher". I always get a "new" stove operating before I even think about polishing it. Normally after fettling, a stove has ,as a minimum, to pass the "Tea Test. This involves boiling a kettle of water in around the expected time, so that I can brew up a pot of tea, and then think about the polishing.


    2. I prefer to buy un-polished stoves since I have seen far too many that have been polished to death, with all the beautiful engraving obliterated. Far better to get an honest stove just as it came out of service.


    3. If the stove is an early model I will generally leave the existing patina, as long as it is fairly uniform. I might however lacquer it to preseve it in its current state.


    4. With more recent stoves the finish is often " blotchy"or partially pitted, particularly where some of the original lacquer, from manufacture, has failed and allowed corrosion to occur. In these cases I would generally remove the whole surface tarnish and remaining lacquer as carefully as possible, re-polish, and then apply new lacquer.


    5. If the stove is newer or the manufacturer's lacquer is generally sound. I will "touch-up" the poorer areas by polishing and then re-laquer these local areas, or the tank for example.


    5. What I aim for with the stoves is to have them as good as, or better, than the day they left the factory. Companies like Primus were justifiably proud of their product and took a lot of care in finishing their stoves, by polishing them and applying good quality clear lacquers. It is not unusal to find 50 year old stoves with the original coating still intact.

    I have some un-used boxed stoves so I had a fair idea of what the Manufacturer's finish standard was.


    6. I have quite a lot of stoves so I have some working models and some "reserve" models, But they all work if required.

    I will post Part 2 once the dust has settled!

    Best Regards,
    Kerophile.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 27, 2015
  2. Doc Mark

    Doc Mark United States Subscriber

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    Good Morning, Dear Teacher!

    Kerophile, this is outstanding stuff!! Great to begin the lessons with "Philosophy of Stove Cleaning 101", too!! =D> =D> =D> :D Now, wait! Let me pull my chair up, so I can see better. Must get my papers and pens arranged, too. OK, now I'm ready when you are, Dear Teacher!! Let Part Two begin!!!!

    Great stuff, Kerophile!! Take care, and God Bless!

    Every Good Wish,
    Doc Mark
     
  3. New Camper

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    Pen.. Check.. Paper.. Check.. Ears.. Check... Proceed Master Kerophile :lol:
     
  4. kerophile

    kerophile United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Hi,

    Practice


    1. The first Rule is don't put in unnecessary scratches as you will only have to take them out later. Remember you are removing material from your precious stove! DO NOT use sand-paper, coarse steel wool, sand-blasting etc.


    2. Mechanical ( as opposed to electolytic) polishing is generally accomplished by using successively finer grades of abrasive cloths or pads to achieve the desired finish. The deeper "scratches" introduced by the preceding grade are removed by the next cloth or pad. Start with a finer grade of abrasive and thereby avoid the need for several of these stages.


    3. Initially, I generally clean the stove using a solvent degreaser, such as used on automobile engines, or even household detergent. You will be surprised as to how much crap can be removed in this way.


    4.For brass stoves, I am a great believer in the use of Citric Acid. There have been several excellent CCS postings on this subject, by the likes of Bryan Miller, Handi Albert and others.The general rule is to use a dilute solution and to watch the progess of the cleaning. Once the oxide tarnish is removed the acid will start removing some of the underlying metal! As Albert and others have said.. If you start to see your brass becoming red on the surface... STOP!


    5. Do not use vinegar or proprietary household cleaners ( which often contain ammonia), if you can possibly avoid it. Vinegar stinks and ammonia is prone to cause cracking in alpha-brasses ( the type used in stove construction).


    6. The Citric acid solution can be used to immerse all, or parts, of the stove but it is generally easier if you do some dismantling first. For example the burners can sometimes take longer to clean than the tank and knobs. But I would recommend that you do not allow the acid inside the tank as it can attack the seams and cause leaks later. Ensure the knobs and seals( possibly temporary) are in place when cleaning the tank.


    7. If you are cleaning a burner with a integral cleaning needle do not allow the citric acid to come into contact with the needle or rack assembly or you will get rapid galvanic corrosion and your steel needle will dissolve. I have successfully sealed the nipple with molten paraffin wax and only immersed the burner, inverted, up to its "neck", where it normally joins to the upstand. The outer part of the burner is thus cleaned and the paraffin wax is easily removed afterwards. Your cleaning needle should be protected in this way. For normal roarer and silent burners it is OK to totally immerse the burner. A Scotchbrite or similar pad is useful for shifting any residual dirt or corrosion product


    8. After using the citric acid soak you can neutralise the acid using a solution of bicarbonte of soda, or alternatively just give the items a good wash in plenty of fresh water, containing a little detergent. Dry the items well. The wife's hair-dryer can be useful.


    9. I promised you the secret of GSR ( George's Stove Restorer). You must NOT reveal this to others!.
    If you do not favour full immersion, or only have "spot" corrosion to treat, the answer could be GSR. Make up a pint-or-so of cellulose wallpaper adhesive. Add a couple of teaspoonsful of anhydrous citric acid crystals and stir. The mixture needs to be thick enough to adhere to vertical and horizontal surfaces, but thin enough for the citric acid solution to do its job. The mixture should be painted onto the brass item and periodically agitated with a toothbrush or similar. Once the object is clear of tarnish, rinse and dry as described earlier.


    10. After the citric acid treatment you should polish using an extremely fine abrasive on a polishing buff, or go direct to "Brasso" or similar metal polish. As you have avoided harsh abrasives earlier your job should be much easier now!


    11. HEALTH WARNING :The above advice is given in good faith and is believed to be conservative and sound but please develop your skills on a less valuable stove before tackling the Crown Jewels!


    In Part 3. I will discuss the options for lacqering brass stoves.
    Regards
    Kerophile
     
  5. barrabruce Australia

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    Came in late caught up an the lessons on the black board. Looked around and everyones gone to smoko.

    Sir, Sir , Ohh Ohh. What in the hell is "anhydrous citric acid crystals"? :oops: For those of us that don't speak English.
     
  6. kerophile

    kerophile United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Hi Bruce, Anydrous Citric acid is what is written on the small boxes you can buy from a Pharmacy.
    "Anhydrous" merely means that there are no water molecules included in the solid citric acid crystals.
    Citric acid is also widely used by home Brewers, bakers, and drug-addicts.
    The latter use Citric acid to "Cut" heroin powder and also increase the potency of the drug.
    Last year in Scotland there was a scheme to limit the supply of citric acid to members of the Public (some idiot thought it would cut drug use). In fact the addicts started using sugar, bicarbonate of soda, bleach and other dangerous substitutes for cutting their fixes and there were a lot of emergency Hospital admissions due to blood poisoning, septic ulcers etc.

    I was trying to buy citric acid at the time and it was a real problem. One social worker said it was easier to buy heroin than citric acid in Edinburgh!

    Hopefully you should be able to source some citric acid in Aussie.

    Best Regards,
    Kerophile
     
  7. ArchMc

    ArchMc United States Subscriber

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    :!: :!: This little revelation is worth the price of admission, all by itself.

    It goes without saying that I'm closely following this thread. Thanks very much for sharing your expertise.
    ....Arch
     
  8. kerophile

    kerophile United Kingdom Subscriber

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  9. DougR

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    Lacquer!...
    I've only ever bought three brand new brass stoves - I failed to notice any lacquer at all.

    Hovever, "lacquer" is a commonplace on saxophones - and has been since about 1930 - prior to that they were usually left bare but plenty of pre 1930 instruments were lacquered later on..

    A stove is a fairly hostile environment for many of the commoner types - anyone for nitro cellulose? Which type would you choose?
     
  10. rik_uk3 United Kingdom

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    Just use vinegar, fill a bucket with a few litres, soak your stoves, works well and lasts for ages
     
  11. David Shouksmith

    David Shouksmith United Kingdom Subscriber

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    I use vinegar, too. It's far easier to obtain than citric acid. OK, it stinks a bit so just use a plastic tub with a lid - e.g. an old emulsion paint container. I use cheap vinegar from Makro - God knows what it does to your stomach, because it really shifts the sh*t off the stove.

    The trick is to immerse the stoves for 20-30 minutes only and then rinse them thoroughly to remove the crap. I sometimes use a wire brush with brass bristles - not steel! - under running water. Then repeat as necessary, only until the crud is gone.

    I find that works far better than soaking for hours because doing it that way, the top layers of loosened crud prevent the vinegar getting to the stuff underneath.

    Do not, on any account, soak the stove until it's pink. Apart from the fact it's a bugger to polish off, the pink is actually copper left on the surface because the vinegar has leached the zinc out of the brass. Also, avoid having brass and iron/steel in the vinegar at the same time...
     
  12. exeter_yak

    exeter_yak United States Subscriber

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    Greetings all,
    I'm normally nervous about posting but here goes.

    I learned the Citric method from Kerophile a good while back, & thanks once again. After some experimenting and much joking about what to call the stuff, the term GSR came into being with some chuckles here and there.

    I had purchased a 5 pound package of Citric Acid in crystal form from an internet source which caters to cooking afficianados. It is sometimes used for making sour ball candies and other goodies. It should be mentioned that going to the pharmacy for the material in bulk may not be the preferred method because cocaine is cut with it by drug dealers, and you may get the hairy eyebrow from the pharmacist. Hence my internet purchase. I store my citric supply in a large clear plastic container in the kitchen.

    The GSR paste is particularly effective on the burner and body of a Svea 123 or 123R .
    For the windscreens on 123 I remove the steel pot legs first and immerse the whole think in a beaker of citric acid solution.

    In the past I have received some very hard working stoves that were nearly black all over. A pre 1911 Primus model 1 comes to mind as it looked to be hard to clean, but the GSR worked well and allowed me to avoid dipping the tank. I'd supply a photo but have not tried photobucket yet.

    I should also mention that cleaning a silent burner (with nipple and the steel cleaning needle removed) in a beaker with citric acid solution, placed down in a warm water bath in an ultrasonic cleaner is unbelieveably fast. After cleaning, I have found that in a few cases it took about half as much spirits in the cup to get the burner to operating temperature to light up the stove. I just performed this on two Opt 5R and an Optimus 48 over the weekend.

    Good luck to all in clenaing those lovely stoves,
    & Regards,
    Doug
     
  13. Doc Mark

    Doc Mark United States Subscriber

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    Hey, Doug,

    Nothing to worry about, when it comes to posting stove stuff at CCS!! You are amongst your Brothers and Sisters, here, Mate!! Great post, by the way, please keep them coming! And, Photo Bucket is not nearly as hard as I'd one thought. Stove Mate, Chuck Wilkins, babied me through the hoops, and now it's as easy as dunking your stove in the citric acid bath!! ;) :lol: Glad to have you posting, Doug!

    George, that a fanastic bit of info you have shared with us all!! Many, many thanks to you for this great stuff!!! No wonder the stoves in your photos look showroom bright!! Your magic elixer of stove cleaning does a wonderful job!! Thanks, again, and God Bless!

    Every Good Wish,
    Doc Mark
     
  14. David Shouksmith

    David Shouksmith United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Let us into the big joke, then - what's GSR? - Georges Stove Restorer or something... :?: :lol:
     
  15. exeter_yak

    exeter_yak United States Subscriber

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    Hello again,
    Yes, I think it was jokingly named George's Stove Rejuvenator because it almost sounds like some kind of snake oil derivitive that a medicine man of the old West in the US would sell to you from the back of his horse drawn wagon to cure all your ills, if you happened to be around in the 1800s.

    It was perhaps more humorous at the time, but GSR sounds better and is faster to type than "wallpaper paste and citric" goop.

    Regards,
    Doug
     
  16. exeter_yak

    exeter_yak United States Subscriber

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    Hello all,
    Here is a first attempt at photo attachment from photobucket which seems to work.

    This is an older Optimus 1 with the wrong silent burner on it as received from the Northwest US. Please excuse the Optimus 111B also in cleaning in the pic. The model 1 stove has citric acid/wallpaper paste applied:

    Pic1.jpg

    Regards,
    Doug
     
  17. kerophile

    kerophile United Kingdom Subscriber

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    Hi, by popular request here are my thoughts on Lacquering :

    1. Stove manufacturers used to lacquer their brass stoves ( and still do). Why do they do this? Well a polished and washed stove will oxidise in front of your eyes and in a matter of days will look very scruffy.


    2. Most metal polishes, like Brasso, contain oils or waxes in their formulation so that the surface is slightly darkened, and also protected from oxidation for days or even weeks.
    However, oxidation is relentless and eventully you will need to re-polish the stove if you want a bright finish.


    3. The stove makers polished and lacquered their stoves to make them attractive and desirable to customers. They knew that the final bright factory finish would be preserved in transit and storage until the happy customer, seduced by its beauty, paid the money and took it home.


    4. Lacquers can be very good at preventing oxidation but the service conditions of a stove can be very challenging. As well as heat, you have exposure to paraffin, alcohol, and cooking ingredients. You are also likely to get abrasion and possible impact damage.


    5. The manufacturers chose their lacquers well and it is not unusual to have areas of residual lacquer, even on very old, well-used stoves. This is particularly true of the base of the fuel tanks. The 67 years-old Primus stove I worked on this morning had about 40% of its original laquer remaining.


    6. However lacquers are not indestructible and if you allow meths to burn on the tank surface, or clean off spilt food with a scouring pad you will soon lose the bright initial finish.

    7. Choice of lacquer is important. The copper contained in brasses has the property of catalysing the cross-linking of polymer chains. In practice this means that most varnishes and lacquers will rapidly discolour and crack if applied to brasses or pure copper items.


    8. There are at least two suitable lacquers readily available to the general public in the UK, and there will be equivalent products in other countries. Rustins market a fast-drying clear metal lacquer suitable for brass, copper,chrome, and silver. The "Joy" paint company have a similar product. They are cheap: you can get about 125 ml for around £2.50 to £3 and a little goes a long way. I have used both products successfully.


    9. The product I currently use is made by the wonderfully-sounding "Indestructible Paint Company". It is an excellent lacquer but unfortunately not available for retail sale as far as I know. It is also illegal to send paints and flammable materials through the mail in the UK so it is difficult to share with friends. They have a good web-site.


    10. My good friend Exeter Yak has recently sourced a similar? product in the US and will be carrying out trials in the Autumn ( Fall).


    11. "Cut the Crap!, How do you do it?" I hear you say. Well; Clean and polish your stove. Remove all traces of oils, polishing compound and metal polishes with a solvent and then warm water to which detergent has been added. Dry your stove thoroughly and wipe with a clean duster, or tissues, to ensure no smearing or water marks. Apply the lacquer with a soft brush quickly and evenly. The trick is to use the brush to guide the flow of the thin lacquer, rather than brushing, and leaving brush-marks. Clean your bush in cellulose thinners.


    12.You can later remove cured varnish with paint-remover if you change your mind. However, the well-cured, baked-on Manufacturer's lacquers seem to resist most commercial strippers and some mild abrasion is generally needed to shift them.


    13. Professional metal finishers use spray and dip-tanks to apply these metal lacquers. This is not really practical for me and I generally strip the stove down to a number of component parts, use a brush to apply the lacquer, and then re-assemble in an hour or so. You can apply more than one coat but this is not strictly necessary for most applications.


    14. Now,The Health Warning: This advice is given in good faith and is believed to be accurate. This method works for me and is worth a try. It is reversible so that if it doesn't work as you want, or if you change your mind you can always remove the lacquer coating and go back to endless polishing or the "Rustic Look" favoured by some of our correspondents.


    15. Best of Luck.

    Regards,
    Kerophile.
     
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  18. fyldefox

    fyldefox Subscriber

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    16. Thanks very much, most informative !
     
  19. paul United Kingdom

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    If it isn't one thing catalysing my polymer chains, it's another. Damn you. Damn you to hell, polymer chains!!!
     
  20. New Camper

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    Very good Master Kerophile: But please sir, with all due respect could you impart on your apprentice any pertinent facts regarding the effect of Tremclad clear coat on our fine brass parts? Furthermore Master, is it sinful and normal that I, your most humble apprentice, be mislead by these seductions of which you speak of in section three of your worships lesson on laquering brass parts? :lol: :lol: :lol:

    Sorry couldn't help that... I do thank you for these thoughts though. I had thought of clear coating a stove to avoid constant polishing, but now I am nervous with these wicked catalyst polymer chains running about! Canada is at the handle of the proverbial knife(well behind the cutting edge) in regards to brass stoves, so options are limited. To illustrate this point: I went to a plumbing store and asked for packing cord and the guy looked at me as though I was asking for a bucket of steam or a left handed pipewrench. :roll: :lol:

    I ended up making my own packing cord with a fibreglass stove door gasket, and a gasket sealing type of gooh!(It allows the gasket to be removed without being damaged) :D My Meva2140 was the victim here, and rarely it spits a small flame from the spindle. :? :D
     

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