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Thread: Restoration advice please for English 1740 backsword

  1. #1

    Restoration advice please for English 1740 backsword

    Just purchased a 1740 English backsword at a local auction. It is in lovely untouched condition with remains of an original liner but is heavily rusted. I do not want to use anything abrasive other than a light rub with steel wool to remove the worst of the rust.
    Advice please on whether to use cure-rust or similar to stabilise hilt. I would prefer to leave blade as is. I used a similar technique on an early heavily pitted Scottish broadsword. Although curesust originally left the metal shiny, I gently rubbed the surface with steel wool which resulted in a pleasing mat finish.
    Would I be ruining this piece by a similar treatment? Whayt would be an alternative to stabalise rust?
    Thanks
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  2. #2
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    This corrosion is from poor storage. If it were mine I'd clean it up to a higher degree than you suggest. The blade has that black hard rust which can be removed to reveal the original white of the steel. Look at other early basket hilts that are cleaned and decide what look you want.

  3. #3
    Thanks for your reply. What method do you suggest?

  4. #4
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    I've had good results with Muriatic acid mixed with water and stainless steel brushes. Need plenty of fresh air and gloves that do not react to the acid. This will get the hard black corrosion off the blade. Rinse with water neutralizes the acid. Some may cringe at this but many swords you see that are cleaned today have had similar processes done. This alone will not do it all, I use brass punch or something brass to put pressure on hard to remove rust to flake it off. Later a wire wheel with .005" wires that does not result in pulling the metal.
    This sword will take time to complete but well worth it. You can wrap the handle in plastic and tape it to be waterproof. I would keep the buff leather liner as not many are found with original liners.
    Once complete no one will realize what it once looked like and its value will rise considerably. Renaissance Wax or similar microcrystalline waxes to finally coat all the metal.
    Warming up the sword before applying the wax helps get it into the crevices and pits. Once dry and hard you can lightly buff the wax with a soft cloth.
    Last edited by Will Mathieson; 04-28-2019 at 07:30 AM.

  5. #5
    A beautiful sword.
    The corrosion seems relatively light and doesn't seem to be threatening the piece particularly. I would suggest that IMHO it can be easily controlled.

    Opinions on the best way to deal with this will vary and in the end it's your sword to do with as you wish of course.

    Here is my personal view.
    Overcleaning is a real problem with swords.
    As a collector of 35 years, I think that the thing I hate seeing most, is a blade that's been harshly cleaned or overcleaned.
    I would avoid using any harsh method that will remove metal.
    I would avoid using any corrosive substance that will eat rust out of pits.

    All I would use on the steel surfaces is fine wire wool and a good oil.
    With a few hours of careful cleaning, you can have a stable dark/slightly mottled surface that will look amazing and retain the historic look of the sword without damaging it's value.
    Remember, you can always take more of the oxidisation/patina off, but once it's gone, it's hard to put back!

    Here is an example of before and after (not quite as corroded as yours, but you get the idea):
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  6. #6
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    I would usually agree with Gene but on heavily corroded metal you rarely get a decent look with mild cleaning. Swords are conserved on a case by case basis and in general older items tend to be conserved only, the perception of value is greater, whereas Victorian era swords are cleaned to increase value. For myself the corrosion on your sword is not 300 years old but possibly 100 due to poor storage in a damp shed. Most cleaned swords that have any overall surface pitting once looked like yours.
    The most corroded sword I had was an 1821p troopers, blade black with hard corrosion as was the hilt and scabbards. Considered a relic once brought back is now a presentable sword. Now if this sword was 100 years older most would refrain from any such restoration and enjoy it as a relic. The before photo does not clearly show the black rust, worse than the picture lets on.
    I always take into account a swords age and condition and that they have all been cleaned many times previous.
    The worst thing anyone can do is use sandpaper and power tools, just adds scratches usually too deep to remove.
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  7. #7
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    Some excellent advice here. I will wade in and add that I think power tools are actually fine as long as they have sensible owners. Steel and brass wire wheels are hard enough to tackle quite a bit of rust and yet, with a light touch, they won't grind into the surface metal. The same goes for buffing wheels.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by M Forde View Post
    Some excellent advice here. I will wade in and add that I think power tools are actually fine as long as they have sensible owners. Steel and brass wire wheels are hard enough to tackle quite a bit of rust and yet, with a light touch, they won't grind into the surface metal. The same goes for buffing wheels.
    I've used brass wire wheel on a blade without issue however I will avoid using on a hilt again after leaving deep scratches on an 1895p. Presumably because the temper on the blade differs to that of the hilt.

  9. #9
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    Using high quality fine wire wheels work. A .005 inch wire on a wheel does not drag the metal. Buffers are also good when used correctly and require a true buffing motor with long shafts to avoid buff wobble. Highly unlikely you are removing original metal finish if the blade is corroded, the corrosion has done this for you . Highly polished blades repel moisture and would be strived for by the original owner.

  10. #10
    Thank you all for your excellent all be it differing opinions! I think I will go for the lighter touch at first, and spend some time rubbing with oil and steel wool.I'll update you with progress but from the looks of the task ahead, it may take some time before I get back!!.

  11. #11
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    For what itís worth, rather than resorting to abrasives, Iíve very happily used molasses and water (at about a 5/1 mix) to remove heavy rust from a couple of old somewhat insignificant swords and bayonets after having had great success on old clamps, tools, machinery parts and so on. Itís not quick (a few weeks depending on the amount of rust) but itís very gentle on the base item itself.

    Iíd be interested in the general opinion of using it on older more historically valuable swords.

  12. #12
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    Hi,
    I tested NEVR-DULL on the tip of a newly acquired sword. The blade is quite dirty with some black hard grime and a bit of old rust with pitting. When I run a cloth along the blade there is a lot of friction and you can feel that the steel is covered by something. I polished with the NEVR-DULL wadding and left the oil on for about 5min and polished with a soft cloth. It seems to work although perhaps other substances might clean more thoroughly. At least I’m now able to see the glint of the steel which makes a big diffrence.
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    Last edited by Magnus K; 04-29-2019 at 04:04 AM.

  13. #13
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    Cully do you have an update for us? How did your restoration go?

  14. #14
    sorry not to reply sooner. I'm sitting on the sword for present. I hate to rush things. I'll update you when I get started.

  15. #15
    Finally got started!
    Firstly, I protected the original leather liner from the treatment. Nice to see this original feature still present. It was fixed through the tang so must have been assembled with the original sword.The grip had completely gone probably from worm, leaving the original sharksin grip with wire. A restoration project fro another time!
    On examining the hilt, I found the metal to be in better condition than originally thought.
    Secondly, I rubbed the exterior of the basket hilt only with a copper coin to remove any surface rust. I left the inside with the the original light rust. A copper coin is softer than the metal and wouldnt scratch.
    Thirdly, I treated the outside with cure-rust and left ir overnight to cure.
    Next day, I touched up the small areas I had missed.The final result was a smooth overall dark shiny patina which I rubbed down gently with steel wool to remove the gloss. I was pleasantly pleased with the final result.
    Images to follow

  16. #16
    Finally got started!
    Firstly, I protected the original leather liner from the treatment. Nice to see this original feature still present. It was fixed through the tang so must have been assembled with the original sword.The grip had completely gone probably from worm, leaving the original sharksin grip with wire. A restoration project fro another time!
    On examining the hilt, I found the metal to be in better condition than originally thought.
    Secondly, I rubbed the exterior of the basket hilt only with a copper coin to remove any surface rust. I left the inside with the the original light rust. A copper coin is softer than the metal and wouldnt scratch.
    Thirdly, I treated the outside with cure-rust and left ir overnight to cure.
    Next day, I touched up the small areas I had missed.The final result was a smooth overall dark shiny patina which I rubbed down gently with steel wool to remove the gloss. I was pleasantly pleased with the final result.
    Images
    Attached Images Attached Images      
    Last edited by CullyPettigrew; Yesterday at 09:00 AM. Reason: missing images

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