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Cleaning advice needed please?
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Picture of shakari

I have a small and very diverse collection of edged weapons.... everything from Zulu asagaiis to Masai simis to old poignards to a few old and not so old swords.

I've just added an old/bloody old Sollingen sword that could probably be best described as a ceremonial naval cutlass. The grip, guard and parts of the scabbard are deeply hand chased brass with the pommel being the head of a lion and the mane foing the length of the back of the grip.

Some well meaning soul has at some point spent a lot of time cleaning it with brass polish and the result is the chased and engraved parts are smeared with hardened pieces of thet off white/green cleaning agent...... and it's a right bastard to get out. I don't want to clean the whole thing up and make it shiny because I want to retain that patina of age but am really battling to clean that dried polish out of it...... other than hot, soapy water and a toothbrush, can anyone suggest any other way to getting it clean please?

The other question is a large part of the blade has been hand engraved and then etched with naval symbols..... some of that etching has been removed by careless cleaning but some remains. The other parts of the blade are stuffed up with fingerprints that have gone rusty etc....... So, can anyone tell me the best way of cleaning off the crap but not damaging what's left of the etching please?

Posts: 12415 | Registered: 01 July 2002Reply With Quote
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As you are aware, anything beyond preservation type cleaning will hurt the value of the knive/sword.

AFA the dried polish goes, I'd consider placing the whole sword in a pot of soapy water (simple light motor oil might work as well and then you wouldn't have the water in the handle problem) with the depth just up to the top of the brass. I wouldn't leave it there forever, just long enough for the polish to soften where you can easily brush it out with a soft bristled tooth brush,which might be a few hours or a day or two. I think that will work, but this is a guess. I'd also shake it out, warm it up in an oven or the sun after cleaning the dried polish off, spraying the crevices with WD40, and then possible even immersing it in oil for a day or so, again up to brass level, all to remove any of the soapy water inside the handle.

You also might try simply spraying the dried polish with WD40, letting it sit for a few minutes and see if that loosens it up. Might or might not work.

One other thought, if you know or suspect what polish/cleaner was used, you might get some of that and put it on the caked areas and see if it loosens it up, then remove with toothbrush or cloth.

AFA the rust goes, I'd try the simplest method first, which is to spray/wipe it with WD40, or any light oil, then lightly use the finest steel wool you can find to remove the loose surface rust. Wipe and clean with cloth or kithchen paper towel, then oil with a good preservative type oil. We've got a knife/metal polish called Flitz that might also work, which is a VERY mild abrasive but I dunno whether it is available over there. It also is so mild that I think it would try your patience unless you do the oil/steel wool process above. Hope this helps but it is pretty elementary, I admit.

PS: If you have a bunch of potential rusting items, a lot of people use ATF (automatic transmission fluid)as a preservative, probably not the absolute best, but cheap enough and it does work.

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I have come to understand that in hunting, the goal is not the goal but the process.
Posts: 17099 | Location: Texas USA | Registered: 07 May 2001Reply With Quote
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Hot soapy water is what I woud use Then WD40 and light steel wool.
Posts: 18041 | Location: wis | Registered: 21 April 2001Reply With Quote
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Not really aware of anything that doesn't offer some concern of changing the patina. You certainly want to avoid anything too acidic or basic, so most cleaners are out. About the only thing I'd be willing to try besides a soft toohbrush and mild soap would be sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), and I'd test an inconspicuos area first, even with those. .

Posts: 34 | Location: Montana | Registered: 01 July 2009Reply With Quote
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Thanks guys....... it took me damn near 2 days but I finally got ALL the dried polish out of everywhere..... then I gave the blade a good coating of CorrosionX which although expensive, is magic stuff and then after leaving it overnight, used a suede leather cleaning brush on it.

The fingerprint and other rust marks still show but I reckon it's now as good as it can be..... unfortunately, all the etching was gone when I got hold of it..... but damn, it pisses me off that such a beautiful item should get so badly damaged because of such shoddy & thoughtless treatment by previous owners. Confused

Posts: 12415 | Registered: 01 July 2002Reply With Quote
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