best way to polish a brass bell
April 11, 2012 at 9:45 pm #11978MurphyMember
I have just acquired a small brass outdoor bell 5 3/4 across mouth and 6 in. tall. I’ve been trying to polish it for a day or so with little result.VERY HEAVY tarnish. The part I have finished is now a mirror finish, but would really like a easier (faster) way to remove the tarnish. any help would be greatly appreciated.
April 12, 2012 at 1:42 am #16814Carolyn WhitlockParticipant
After you have searched for “Cleaning Brass Bells” in the “Search” box in the top right corner of this page and read the advice posted there, you may want to check out http://www.railroadiana.org/info/pgCleaningAndRestoration.php.
April 15, 2012 at 9:19 pm #16815hjlong3Participant
You can use a cloth polishing wheel with a sequence of Tripoli, Coarse Rouge and Fine Rouge if you do not wish to use “elbow greese”. A cloth buffing wheel on an electric drill with Brasso can do a good job on a small bell if you have some way of imobilizing the bell. Be sure to wear goggles and a filter mask as the polish and metal particles are toxic to the lungs. If you plan to place it outside again, you would be better to leave the patina intact as it is protective of the metal. A polished bell will rapidly pit and develop a patina again if kept outside.
June 7, 2012 at 9:08 pm #16816Willie B. HerdParticipant
IMO, Brass was made to stand up to the elements.
CLEANING: I use the old ‘Color Back’ auto paint restoration product, it works great, so does Turtle Wax, and Dark Magic works well as a finishing product as it’s non-abrasive. Use a soft cloth, (an old T-shirt works well). ALWAYS work horizontally. (A pottery wheel will save U some time/effort.)Also, take ALL the patina off…it’s nearly impossible to leave some of the patina, and have a uniform appearance. Use JUST a soft cloth to finish.U can use a clear lacquer to protect it, OR let it weather, the patina will develop fairly quickly.
NEVER use Steel Wool. DO NOT use abrasives, (see below for exceptions)…even a rough cloth can put very small scratches in brass, also clean out any pits/dents BEFORE U start polishing, they may contain sand/grit that could cause scratches. Use a high-pressure water sprayer IF necessary. DO NOT sponge off.
Brasso is O.K. for final finishing, but is not strong enough to remove heavy tarnish.
ABRASIVES: Use ONLY on a badly scratched bell.The process is similar to buffing out badly scratched automotive paint. Start w/ very finest grit sandpaper, (or skip this first step IF possible), then use a rubbing compound, then a polishing compound. Then use a non-abrasive wax/polish, etc.
CAUTION: When sanding a brass bell, U run the risk of uncovering flaws and/or air bubbles, etc.
REPAIRS: Cracks can be repaired, (or at least filled) by Brazing, (basically welding brass w/ a brass welding rod). This method may not restore the original sound, but will at least improve it.
Brazing can also repair dents, cuts deep scratches, air bubbles, etc. Build up repair above the surface, then sand down, etc.
CAUTION, the repaired area may not match the COLOR of the Bell.
June 9, 2012 at 9:27 pm #16817hjlong3Participant
Phosphoric acid is excellent at treating rust and will clean bronze but it will complex with the bronze and cause a bluish patina.
Harry Long, MD
August 14, 2012 at 11:51 pm #16818RockinEZParticipant
If it comes down to having someone polish your bell, I can vouch for “Top Brass” in Santee, CA.
They charge $75/hr. and do this type of work.
November 30, 2013 at 7:29 pm #16819Willie B. HerdParticipant
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