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von_landstuhl
12-13-2006, 08:49 PM
My wife is graduating from the US Army's First Sergeant Course in two days and I have a M1840 NCO sword (Ames 1864) that I will be presenting to her.

I'd like advice on cleaning the brass grip/guard and the blade. I've seen god-awful results with brasso residue left behind in the faux-wire grip, so I'm looking for another method.

Also, the blade is rust-free, but it has black spotches on it. Can I take that off with fine steel wool or a new buffing wheel with jewler's rouge?

Here's a pic:
http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y126/von_landstuhl/m1840_sword.jpg

Lastly, one of the kidneys is missing in the guard. How common is that? I'd imagine that makes the sword a lot more comfortable to wear.

BTW, before anyone recommends me not to clean it:
- the lack of patina would indicate it's been cleaned before
- I don't care about resale value, since it will never be sold in my lifetime.

Thanks,
Joe

Trooper Graham
12-13-2006, 08:54 PM
Wax it will Johnson's paste wax. Have none, good car wax is OK too. It will not only clean it but it will leave a protective coat against future fingerprint moisture.

Forquer
12-13-2006, 09:34 PM
Joe -

One of the first lessons I learned about cleaning brass when I was in was that Brasso was for crap.

Nevr-Dull or, my personal favorite, Blitz Cloth are aces for brass. Neither leave anything like the residue that Brasso does. Nevr-Dull is probably the easiest to find. Blitz may be found at some music stores (brass instruments need cleaned too), and can be ordered online at their website at http://www.blitzinc.com/ . My dad swore by it in WWII, and it got me through my time.

YOS,

Rob Weaver
12-14-2006, 07:57 AM
What a lovely sword! I'd recommend car wax on the blade, too, as well as the brass polishes previously mentioned. I use a paste that simply proclaims itself to be "silver polish" and it leaves no residue, although it requires a lot of rubbing. If you're really into elbow grease, vinegar will polish brass without residue and leaves a nice period shine without "over-shine." However, be prepared to have carpal tunnel from the effort. Congratulations to your wife, also, and "Haugh." (As it was spelled in the mid-1860's)

jda3rd
12-14-2006, 08:18 AM
Brasso, or any chemical polish only as a last resort.

A period polishing compound is wood ash on damp cloth. We keep a shine on a pair of field howitzers that way, it's good on bright metal of any sort but precious, and it washes completely away with water. It will work well on the blade, too. And then give both a good coat of wax. Do you have the scabbard? Is it metal or leather? I wouldn't store or display for long periods in the scabbard, and it makes a good place for humidity.
Frank

von_landstuhl
12-14-2006, 08:54 AM
Brasso, or any chemical polish only as a last resort.
Do you have the scabbard? Is it metal or leather?

This one doesn't have a scabbard. It's going hang in her office, so that wasn't a big deal for me. The reason I got this particular sword was half the guard is removed, which makes it lay flat on the wall.

I have another sword for ceremonial wear, if she ever gets the opportunity. I'm at work now and can't recall the manufacturer, but I remember it was made in New Jersey (Emerson & Silver?). It came with the original metal scabbard and still has the bit of leather around the blade near the hilt.

cblodg
12-14-2006, 09:41 AM
Joe -

One of the first lessons I learned about cleaning brass when I was in was that Brasso was for crap.

Nevr-Dull or, my personal favorite, Blitz Cloth are aces for brass. Neither leave anything like the residue that Brasso does. Nevr-Dull is probably the easiest to find. Blitz may be found at some music stores (brass instruments need cleaned too), and can be ordered online at their website at http://www.blitzinc.com/ . My dad swore by it in WWII, and it got me through my time.

YOS,

I second the Nerver-Dull. This is what I use on my brass to get the brightest shine that I need. But it is just that, you will get an almost mirrored finish on your piece.

I too have used vinegar to clean/polish my brass pieces. It is a tone of work, but the results are well worth it.

From a conservation stand point, handle it as little as possible. No amount of polish will remove the oils that your hands deposit on to the piece. I would recomend using gloves when polishing to keep the oils on your hands off of the blade. Also, be aware of humidity in what ever room you put it in. People seem to foreget, sometimes, that even after you have polished a piece, if the room is suseptible to high humidity, your piece will rust no matter the amount of work you put into it.

If your wife wants to remove it from the mount to show to her family, get a pair of white, lint free, gloves for her and her viewers to wear. This too will reduce the amount of oil from the skin being deposited on the piece.

this is probably waaaay more than what you were looking for though.

***This section goes against original poster's wishes****

Such a purdy piece, and I know that you said don't polish it, but that would almost be my recomendation as well. Just leave it be. The sword has seen years of use, now it will find a place to live the next phase of its life. But since you already said that you want it clean, go for it.

von_landstuhl
12-14-2006, 11:37 AM
Thanks for the info and the recommendation on Never-Dull.

Yes, I know that cleaning antiques is a touchy subject, especially with collectors, but I believe tools should be maintained and used.

I like to "rescue" wooden planes. You should have seen the look on the faces of the staff of the local woodworking shop when I came in with one that I had run through my jointer. Sure, I took off the patina, but now the bottom is flat and it's a functioning tool. Somehow, I think the planemaker would have preferred it that way.