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Easy way to remove paint from hinges and hardware

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Postby HappyInHartwood on Sun Jan 14, 2007 9:27 am

I've been doing really well with the crock pot for my brass hinges and screws. Nothing but water and a squirt of dish detergent. It's the water and the heat that do all the work. Let it stew for a few hours -- all day if you're distracted. The paint peels right off. Scrub off the last little bits with a scotch brite pad, and you're good to go.
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Postby mejane on Tue Jan 23, 2007 10:52 am

What about those cast iron clawfoot tub feet....would this work?
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Postby HappyInHartwood on Tue Jan 23, 2007 3:54 pm

I can't see why it wouldn't. Since your bath tub feet are cast iron, you may have a little bit of surface rust to deal with after the parts have been soaking in water, but it may not be too bad.

The paint is only soft while it's still hot. If the piece cools too much, you have to soak it again.

You just reminded me that I have a set of bath tub feet in the garage. I bought them years ago, intending to use them as the feet for an ottoman. I think I'm gonna try it out.
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Postby dfiler on Tue Dec 18, 2007 10:51 pm

Reviving an old thread:
Here's the first chapter in my doorknob trial...
(Sorry for the stream of consciousness back story but hopefully it is entertaining)

Almost all of the door hardware in my house is intact. In fact, only two doors have non-original hardware and all the internal doors are of a matched set. The back door has a home-depot-esque set and one bedroom has funky knobs, one painted purple.

The interior plates and knobs are an unadorned brass design which I think is common from the turn of the century. As a frame of reference, I think the home was built in the 1890s. They all have a double-sided hey-hole for a deadbolt. There are a few keys of the right size in the basement but they didn't work when when tried before. Once located (unlost) again, they'll be worth another shot. The keys probably wouldn't have worked anyway, before the locks were cleaned and oiled.

I'm hoping that the hardware is solid brass but it may turn out to be plating. Removal was quite simple. Although it would have been nice to have a slightly narrower bladed flat head screwdriver. The old screws have quite narrow slots. An old utility knife blade did the trick on the thinnest two. A tip to anyone removing similar locks from under paint: Be sure to score around the edges. I raised the top few grains around the lockset as the wood came up slightly with the paint.

An old crock-pot is going to be permanently relegated to cooking of non-food items. Perfectly normal right? On my first trial I'll be using a few shakes of TSP in a 2/3 full crock-potl. It will be left to cook on low for twenty-four hours. At that point, I'll gently scrub the paint off and see what's up. Gouging and polishing of the backside should indicate whether the brass is plating or solid. Also, I'll be able to experiment with different amounts of patina vs shine. Any suggestions?

If you look closely in the pictures, you can make out the brand and patent date embossings. They're from the "RUSSEL & ERWIN MFG. CO. NEW BRITAIN CONN. U.S.A." One lock has patent dates in 89 and possibly 98. Another almost identical lock as only two dates from 89. To date, it is best find yet for pinning down the age of my home. I'm thinking it would likely have been built within a decade or two of these dates at the latest.

Pictures on my blog:
Week 076 - Doorknob Cooking

Stay tuned for the results...
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Postby angolito on Wed Dec 19, 2007 7:46 pm

that is "barfbauer" copper. i am certain i just slaughtered the spelling on it, but they are supposed to have those black stripes. it is not tarnish, so don't remove it. i think you are right, it is probably original........
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Postby dfiler on Wed Dec 19, 2007 9:44 pm

Thanks for the heads up on the barf-bower copper Angolito. ;)
Any idea on the real spelling? I'm eager to read all about it. Here's the write-up from my blog. I wrote it before seeing your post.

Twenty-Four Hour Update:

Returning from work today, I eagerly went straight to the crock-pot. Peering through the dirty water, there didn't appear to be much change. But boy was I wrong. Just lifting the hardware out of the water was enough to make most of the paint fall clean off. A paper towel immediately wiped up the rest.

At this point I would have been ecstatic but I was also coming to the realization that none of it was solid brass. A magnet off the fridge is attracted to the metal so I'm figuring that it is simply plated steel. The latch catch that pops into the door jamb is solid though. Knowing that they're plated, I'll have to give careful thought to any further measures as it could do more damage than good.

For now I'm happy to clean and reassemble everything. After drying, I used a bit of alcohol to clean off what appears to be many years of grime mixed with a bit of shellac. Next up was disassembly of the locks so that they could be cleaned internally. WD40 and paper towels were used to wipe down each piece. This should prevent rust from forming by getting rid of every last trace of water.

Reattaching to my master bedroom door revealed that the two lock sets were indeed different as I first tried to use the wrong one. So I went back downstairs and cleaned the other lock. It was the one with only patents from 89 and not 98, which I assume means that it is older. Sure enough, the internals were different. Check out the pictures for a comparison. The newer lock is the lighter colored one.

Once reattached, the knobs worked quite well. However, they do need a couple of spacers to prevent moving in and out from the door surface. There was only one usable set of mounting holes in the square rod that connects the knobs. The other holes were obviously intended for drastically different door widths. I'm assuming that washers were the standard way of getting door knobs just right.

Any suggestions on further restoration? Should the hardware be left as is now that the paint has been removed? I'm worried that attempting to improve the finish would just make it worse. Also, the color is almost that of copper rather than brass. Is it possible that the plating was actually copper?

Doorknob Cooking
.
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Postby angolito on Wed Dec 19, 2007 10:15 pm

okay so i spelled it phonetically. don't "improve the finish" !!! i took all the black off and lost the value of the piece. i finally took it down because it became a sore subject. seriously.

man, i can remember the first time i cooked hardware. the darn stuff had so much paint on it the details were a complete mystery. i had struggled through another batch of hinges and oddments once before i had read this tip. good ggawd almighty!!!!!

the darn eastlake hinges came out of the water. the entire paint "carcass" lay in the bottom of the cooker like some freaky kind of mold. the kind you cast iron in. seriously, the hardware i have on "my pretties" was all cleaned by a friend who didn't know this trick. can you imagine????
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Postby lrkrgrrl on Thu Dec 20, 2007 11:51 am

I'm a big fan of the boiling off the paint trick, but I use an old enamel pot on the stove, and it really only takes about five minutes. Don't have an old crock-pot...and I guess I'm impatient.

Just one caveat regarding patent dates: they don't necessarily reflect the date of manufacture, it's basically the date the design was registered as original with the patent office.
"Oh, Time, Strength, Cash, and Patience!"
(H. Melville, Moby Dick, Ch. 32)
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Postby dfiler on Thu Dec 20, 2007 12:11 pm

Yeah, 24 hours is excessive. :lol: (I was asleep and at work for most of that time)

I've been truly fascinated by the patent dates. For one thing, it is somewhat humorous that they were referenced by date rather than number back then.

Upon disassembling the locks, I gained an appreciation for what those patents represent. The lock internals were simple to comprehend but probably not so simple to invent. In 1861 patent term were extended to 17 years so i'm assuming that these locks were manufactured within 17 years of the stamped dates. (plus or minus whatever filing grace period was in affect at that time, which is quite confusing actually)

The differences between the `89 and `98 versions are pretty significant. The newer version looks more durable, cheaper to make, and easier to assemble. Also, the newer lock rotates with a more similar force whether turned clockwise or counter-clockwise. The old lock was definitely stiffer in one direction than the other and it is a direct result of how the internal components leverage each other.

It was interesting to read up on changes in the patent law around the time these locks were produced. Here's what I used as a reference: US Patent Law

Any suggestions on what to do with the finish?
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Postby Dusa on Sun Jan 20, 2008 4:49 pm

Would this process work for what appear to be laquered wood (very marled/burled) which has been painted over (in a lovely shade of cobalt blue - :( )

I'm interested in using a non-toxic method to remove the paint.
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