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BRASSO is my FRIEND? What other things do use?
Hello all...

I am still working on putting together my first Roman 1st Century Optio Impression. Because of a limited budget I have taken the route of searching the world for "Used" or semi broken but fixable equipment.

I have purchased my share of (Buyer beware... "I'd laugh you off our field" inferior... no where close to historically accurate junk) because I didn't know any better. I was stuck in the Hollywood glamor of the idea of Roman Armor and purchased things blindly.

For the things that I purchased that will work... I have started to access what it will take to make them look great! I want my Impression to be as clean, fresh, and new looking as possible. (I don't have a Centurion looking over my shoulder to tell me what to do or how to do it.)

I purchased a Concentric Circle Balteus on Ebay from a private party who was giving up reenacting. (Pictures Below) When I got it, I got extremely upset about it because of it's condition. I tried to contact the company that distributes it and ask them if the plates were bronze and brass plated... or if they were solid brass. (I was very frustrated because, this was the first major piece of my "Kit."

I confess that I have never seen a Roman Reenactor... I have never seen (other then pictures) any Roman Equipment. So, maybe you can imagine or appreciate my "First" experience of Tracking a United Parcel Service Package... Waiting for it to arrive at my door... and opening the box to find my new "Buy" and the disappointment I felt when I saw it was so poorly taken care of.

Well to make a long story even longer... I never heard from the distributer as to what the plates were made of. They appeared to be made of Bronze and then Brass plated with the Brass Plating flaking off. I started to clean it up last night with Brasso... Because I am told.. "BRASSO IS MY FRIEND."

Well I did find out that the Plates are Solid cast Brass with Copper Rivets. Smile

So here is my question... Knowing that "Brasso is my friend..." what do you do... and what do you use to get into the nooks and the crannies and the tight places to get things cleaned up and shining? Do you use anything other then Brasso for a tarnish remover?

I tried a soft bristle toothbrush to get around the rivets... which seemed to work ok. But what do you use when working with your "Kit"? Has anyone ever used a jeweler's rouge and a polishing wheel?

Second Question... What do you use on your Lorica Segmentata to clean it up? I purchased one that I know will not fit me but I wanted it to be about to use and dress students in. I got a good deal on it but is is pretty tarnished and has a light haze of rust. What do you use?

And finally... I heard that if you have a Brass Helmet that after you are done cleaning it that is is a good idea to use Automobile Wax on it to give it a layer of protection... WHat are your thoughts on that?

Below are a few pictures of the Balteus as it was when I got it on Ebay. I will post pictures of it when I have it cleaned up totally and when I dye and Neats Foot Oil the leather.

Thank you for your input.

Attached Files Thumbnail(s)
I use NEVR-DULL on the brass/bronze elements of my panoply. The tin is full of saturated raw cotton batting. I just pull off a piece and start polishing. It turns the cotton black and takes quite a while. Suddenly the corrosion/fingerprints/etc. lets go and the metal gleams. I use a flannel rag to pull off the excess "oil". I then polish with a clean flannel. Paper towels can do some of the early work. I got the NEVR-DULL at Pep Boys Auto Supply. I tried Brasso - it cleaned but left green dried gunk in the seams of the metal. HTH.
Cheryl Boeckmann
I never liked brasso, as it leaves green sediments and isn't that good for your kit. I personally always use a polishing weel (when available) for a rough cleaning and then hand-finish with steelwool or very fine sanding blocks.

Afterwards all my kit gets a layer of olive-oil mixed with beeswax as a protective cover.
Jvrjenivs Peregrinvs Magnvs / FEBRVARIVS
A.K.A. Jurjen Draaisma
CORBVLO and Fectio
The plates look like raw castings(sand cast?)to me and have never been smoothed and polished, I would suggest taking it apart and filing everywhere you can with small files to get rid of the rough surface effect(Rat tails etc) and then polishing the surface with different grades of emery cloth untill smooth, with a final polish using a course metal polish such as autosol, after that brasso or duraglit wadding will be fine to keep it bright... it will take some effort but the results should be worth it... you could add some better hidge pins with turned finials, if you have a small pillar drill or even a decent hand drill with a clamp or vice to hold it you can turn these up from brass rod fairly easily...

"And the four bare walls stand on the seashore. a wreck a skeleton a monument of that instability and vicissitude to which all things human are subject. Not a dwelling within sight, and the farm labourer, and curious traveller, are the only persons that ever visit the scene where once so many thousands were congregated." T.Lewin 1867

I would follow the advice of Jurjen on the cleaning of those plates in fact looking at the surface finish of them you could even use a course emery coated foam buffing pad finished off with a smoother one.

In fact there are also brass wire brushes that might even shift the rough surface but you should try to stay away from Brasso as it does leave that geen deposit as we can already see around the rivets and these are the places where this kind of polish sticks to the metal.
Brian Stobbs
Quote:I use NEVR-DULL on the brass/bronze
Yep. Excellent product. A gazillion military people can't all be wrong. Smells a little like paint thinner, but that goes away.
M. Demetrius Abicio
(David Wills)

Saepe veritas est dura.
Hello Patrick,

If these were mine, I might be inclined to try a going over on a wheel with a cotton buff and bobbing compound which is more aggressive than rouge. In the photos they almost look like they've been painted with gold paint Confusedhock: but I expect that look comes from the lack of actually having been polished.

Emery paper is another option but would definitely be tedious. You might also want to try a brasso-like stuff called "Penny Brite" it cleans copper and copper alloy and once its well rinsed in water it doesn't leave residue. I use it after pickling for chamleve and cloisonne enamels I'm making because it will get all the crud off and not leave a film.

If I don't want to take something to the polishing wheel (because when you polish on a wheel you will lose sharpness on any designs), I like to wet my thumb and index finger and then dip them in pumice powder and then just rub the piece between my fingers. It won't get things to a super high polish but it will give it a nice shine.

Its a bit "stream of consciousness" but hope these suggestions might be a help,

L.E. Pearson
I always use Brasso, but specifically the type which can be bought as fairly squat tin full of Brasso impregnated wadding, which can be used in exactly the same way as the Nevr Dull mentioned above. I have never noticed a green residue with this version of Brasso, although there is plenty of black/dark grey residue which is easily cleaned away with a cloth or paper towel.

Why is this thread in the beginners section rather than the 'Re-enactment and Reconstruction' section by the way?

Who is called \'\'Paul\'\' by no-one other than his wife, parents and brothers. :!: <img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_exclaim.gif" alt=":!:" title="Exclamation" />:!:

<a class="postlink" href="">
I, as well, like the impregnated wadding, also known as Eagle One's original NEVR-DULL here in the States. After 8 years in the Navy, I got very familiar with the product.
Non mihi, non tibi, sed nobis

Joe Patt (Paruzynski)
Milton, FL, USA
Sorry Crispvs... my original post was 2+ months ago. Because I was a beginner and still am, I thought that is where it belonged.

It is funny that this thread was activated again today... OK... I am no longer a Seg. cleaning virgin! I cleand a Lorica Segmentata for the first time but wait... I purchased a set of Lorica Segmentata a couple months ago that was on Craigslist. (An online classified ad online in the USA). It appeared to be tarnished and slightly rusted when I saw it on the website and I was able to talk the guy down to $50.00. I met the person and purchased it while it was a bit dark outside and I could see the discoloration, slight rust and staining when I bought it. But, today I decided to begin to clan it... NO WONDER THE LEGIONARIES GOT BEATEN FOR SEG. THAT DIDN'T SHINE!

I need a Slave! I unbelted the shoulder plates. Tried using naval jelly... that was a joke. Using an abrasive Scothbrite seems to do the trick.. but man oh man... what a work out! It took about an hour and a half to two hours and I am still not totally done win ONE SHOULDER! Good Grief!

At least I talked the guy down to $50.00 for the seg. You get what you pay for... I know. But at least it is beginning to look good. I am actually using the scotchbrite and a penetrating oil to bring it back into a shine. I guarantee...
It will never get to that condition again!

personally i use autosol by solvol, still available in the uk, been around since they had proper chromed parts on cars lol, its a thick paste thats pretty cool at cleaning most metals but especially brass, just a thought, why do you want to be shiny and new? lol
martin ward

carpe diem[/quote]
Well... Doesn't everyone want their first one shiny and New? I do... Smile
I'd rather tarnish it up myself... However, this is one that won't fit me anyhow. I will be using it to allow others to feel what it's like to wear it. IN "Hands On" atmospheres.

It is being cleaned up more as a Parade Armor. It will be used in an Full length Drama called "REVEALED". THe SOldier must present himself before his authorities. Must be clean.

THanks for the input.
I would be inclined to avoid autosol myself, unless I wanted to walk around looking like a walking hall of mirrors. In any case, it seems unlikely that the Romans themselves had armour that shiny. It would be extremely difficult to achieve the level of shine autosol provides on something as large as a piece of armour. In any case, normal wear and the effects of the weather would quickly have reduced all that effort to a waste of time. It is more likely that they would have polished armour only as far as a 'satin' finish (assuming, that is, that they polished it at all, rather than using a rust proofing treatment such as browning or oil bluing) and a scotchbrite pad is fine for that. I use them myself. I know what you mean about the effort to get armour into rust free condition. I would normally take mine apart into its four sections before the start of the season and polish one section per day. After that, I would simply take the pad to any spots or patches of rust which then appeared over the season as and when necessary.

Who is called \'\'Paul\'\' by no-one other than his wife, parents and brothers. :!: <img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_exclaim.gif" alt=":!:" title="Exclamation" />:!:

<a class="postlink" href="">

Good luck with whatever you use to clean your brass. I also restore antique fishing rods; and for the metal furnishings I use NEVER DULL "magic wadding" when possible. If the brass or German silver is too dirty/tarnished, then I will use 0000 Steel Wool, the finest grade that doen't scratch like Brasso. Smile
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
Thank you all...
When I started the Seg. I did what Crispvs had suggested before I read the thread. I broke it down to the four sections. It appears to me that the original owner may have used vegetable oil on it. Some areas are yellowed, almost but not quite sticky. You can tell that they only oiled the areas that were exposed and did not oil up and under the plates above them. You can see the image of the plate on the plate just beneath.

Ok... so let me ask if I am doing this right. Do you keep your scotchbrite pad moving in the same direction... like you would when sanding wood "With the grain" so that you are not putting swirls in the surface? I am trying to at least.

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