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Topic: old steamer trunk  (Read 1333 times)
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skapendee
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« on: July 12, 2009 10:53:46 AM »

My great-grandmother gave me a trunk that used to be her ex-mother-in-law's. Its a steamer trunk from at least 1914, but probably much older, the kind people immigrating to America used in the late 1800's to early 1900's. Its mostly tin, with wooden slats here and there and lots of hardware that is completely tarnished... All brown and yucky, especially the ornate corners and such. We tried like practically soaking it in chemical stripper and using steel wool, but it's long, hard work. Any ideas, other than just painting it or taking hours and hours and hours to sand it down? (My dad took almost thirty minutes just to get all the gunk and tarnish off the corner, and there are probably 30 of those decorative tin hardware pieces, not including hinges and latches.)
Anyways, I hope all this makes sense? Any suggestionson cleaning all the tarnish/getting off paint from raised tin-anything-would be great!! Thanks.
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sew_DIYlicious
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« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2009 02:51:56 PM »

I found an old trunk beside a dumpster a few months back. It had obviously been in some rain and it was all rusty/gunky too. And someone bore a hole through the side of it. My solution was to decoupage it. I used a pretty damask pattern wall-paper in light light blue. the corners are still tarnished but overall I like the balance between the feminine paper and the hard worn edges of the decorative corners etc. Mine had thick cardboard (or thin wood?) for the large panels, rather than tin, but I imagine it would work as well? I have decoupaged onto metals before with success...
http://www.craftster.org/pictures/showphoto.php?photo=268074&ppuser=184922   <--- a link to my trunk (i'm new and haven't posted enough yet to post the pic here apparently)
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skapendee
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« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2009 06:02:50 PM »

yours looks awesome! i'm not sure if  i'll be able to do that though, its a family heirloom kind of thing... i love yours though!
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sew_DIYlicious
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« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2009 07:41:21 PM »

well thank you. i know you were looking for advice more relative to removing the tarnish but i thought i'd throw the idea out there. i figured your trunk might be more valuable since it's old and not found beside a dumpster lol.
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tomico
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2009 12:32:44 PM »

I'm not sure stripper is the best thing to use for taking off rust. I think you may want to use something a little less harsh. People have used tooth paste to get rid of tarnish on silver. Maybe baking soda or lemon or vinegar but those may be specific to certian patinas. Maybe some type of oil that wouldn't ruin the rest of the trunk.

http://www.finishing.com/160/32.shtml

that was an interesting link that may help you.

There was a suggestion of using either fine steel wool and vinegar or if the rust ia real bad using a brass wire brush disk on a drill. caution was made that if the rest os too bad and you aren't careful you could go straight though.
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skapendee
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« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2009 09:03:00 AM »

stripper wasn't working, even on the paint on the flat (well flattish, its covered in like bumps and such-- if that makes sense at all). i may try taking the toothpaste, baking soda, lemon, AND vinegar (i'll try all of them, until i find something) thanks for the suggestion!!! i will definitely be trying it out today.
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skapendee
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« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2009 12:30:39 PM »

so as soon as i replied this morning, i went out and tried lemon juice, tooth paste, and vinegar. the tooth paste didn't work, but the other two are starting to!!! i've been using lemon juice with ultra fine steel wool. its got the brown nasty junk looking pretty brassy and shiny! thanks for the suggestions!
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tomico
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2009 09:56:51 AM »

Oh good! I'm glad to hear that some of the suggestions worked. I'm glad you've been able to save a wonderful piece of memorabilia.
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