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help me refinish this nearly 100 year old light fixture
Posted by: mattkime
Date: April 22, 2021 12:14PM
My house was built nearly 100 year ago and came with a number of original light fixtures. I have two like this that are mounted outdoors and leave rush streaks on the side of the house. I placed this one in an evaporust bath for about a day. Now that there's less rust I can see the pain that remains. I was hoping to get it powder coated although I could be convinced of other finishes as well. Removing the glass appears difficult due to the amount of rust on the screw securing the glass.

Anyway, I'm realizing that I need to find someone who has experience with this sort of thing before I go much further. Has anyone completed a project like this before?



link to full image - full res image



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Re: help me refinish this nearly 100 year old light fixture
Posted by: Paul F.
Date: April 22, 2021 12:42PM
I would try an electrolytic crud removal... using a car battery charger in a washing-soda and water solution. I'd go easy on it... maybe an hour to start, then do some brass hand brushing in clean water, then back in the electrolytic bath for an hour, then some brass brushing, etc.

That glass is going to have to come out to powder coat it...
I would see if you can find an old jar or bottle the same diameter, and see if you can use a glass cutter to cut out panels to replace those broken ones.
Pulling out all the electrical parts and replacing them goes without saying...

It'd be a big job, but boy will you ever have not only a nice light, but a hell of a lot of pride in that light when you're done!



Paul F.
-----
A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer's hand. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca c. 5 BC - 65 AD
----
Good is the enemy of Excellent. Talent is not necessary for Excellence.
Persistence is necessary for Excellence. And Persistence is a Decision.

--

--

--
Eureka, CA
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Re: help me refinish this nearly 100 year old light fixture
Posted by: macphanatic
Date: April 22, 2021 01:49PM
Quote
Paul F.
I would try an electrolytic crud removal... using a car battery charger in a washing-soda and water solution. I'd go easy on it... maybe an hour to start, then do some brass hand brushing in clean water, then back in the electrolytic bath for an hour, then some brass brushing, etc.

That glass is going to have to come out to powder coat it...
I would see if you can find an old jar or bottle the same diameter, and see if you can use a glass cutter to cut out panels to replace those broken ones.
Pulling out all the electrical parts and replacing them goes without saying...

It'd be a big job, but boy will you ever have not only a nice light, but a hell of a lot of pride in that light when you're done!

It looks like someone rewired it at some point. The wiring looks a lot newer than the fixture.
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Re: help me refinish this nearly 100 year old light fixture
Posted by: Paul F.
Date: April 22, 2021 01:51PM
Quote
macphanatic


It looks like someone rewired it at some point. The wiring looks a lot newer than the fixture.

Yes, but, a new socket and wiring is like, $10... there's no down side to a new one during restoration.



Paul F.
-----
A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer's hand. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca c. 5 BC - 65 AD
----
Good is the enemy of Excellent. Talent is not necessary for Excellence.
Persistence is necessary for Excellence. And Persistence is a Decision.

--

--

--
Eureka, CA
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Re: help me refinish this nearly 100 year old light fixture
Posted by: testcase
Date: April 22, 2021 02:19PM
What material are you dealing with (iron, copper, brass etc)? A simple magnet can confirm / deny that it's a ferrous metal (or not).
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Re: help me refinish this nearly 100 year old light fixture
Posted by: DeusxMac
Date: April 22, 2021 02:28PM
Quote
testcase
What material are you dealing with (iron, copper, brass etc)? A simple magnet can confirm / deny that it's a ferrous metal (or not).

agree smiley

A critical piece of information for approach to restoration (or actual viability).
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Re: help me refinish this nearly 100 year old light fixture
Posted by: rgG
Date: April 22, 2021 03:02PM
If you wanted to leave the look just as is, you could stabilize the rust and then clear coat it or top coat it with black paint. That should keep it from streaking down the house.

I like the patina it has now and think it might look nice as is, but stabilized so that it doesn't mess up the house paint.

[www.amazon.com]


If you want a complete refinish, and glass repair/replace, I think that might need professional help.





Roswell, GA (Atlanta suburb)



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/22/2021 03:04PM by rgG.
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Re: help me refinish this nearly 100 year old light fixture
Posted by: mattkime
Date: April 22, 2021 05:37PM
It’s ferrous



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Re: help me refinish this nearly 100 year old light fixture
Posted by: Paul F.
Date: April 22, 2021 05:46PM
Quote
mattkime
It’s ferrous

I suspected that... Electrolysis only works on conductive metals. Works best on ferrous ones. The rust will "de plate" to the other piece of metal you hang in the bath from the other jumper cable (I forgot to add that part... I can never remember if your workpiece is the red wire or the black wire... the one with bubbles coming off it should be your lamp, the crap will collect on the other hunk of sacrificial steel).



Paul F.
-----
A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer's hand. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca c. 5 BC - 65 AD
----
Good is the enemy of Excellent. Talent is not necessary for Excellence.
Persistence is necessary for Excellence. And Persistence is a Decision.

--

--

--
Eureka, CA
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Re: help me refinish this nearly 100 year old light fixture
Posted by: mattkime
Date: April 22, 2021 06:44PM
Quote
Paul F.
Electrolysis only works on conductive metals. Works best on ferrous ones. The rust will "de plate" to the other piece of metal you hang in the bath from the other jumper cable (I forgot to add that part... I can never remember if your workpiece is the red wire or the black wire... the one with bubbles coming off it should be your lamp, the crap will collect on the other hunk of sacrificial steel).

Why would electrolysis be superior to evaporust?

---

At this point I suspect the next steps should be addressing the glass (keep or replace?), removing the light socket, and then getting it sand blasted and powder coated. The glass is the part with the least certainty.







Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/22/2021 10:13PM by mattkime.
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Re: help me refinish this nearly 100 year old light fixture
Posted by: Diana
Date: April 23, 2021 12:05AM
Quote
mattkime
Quote
Paul F.
Electrolysis only works on conductive metals. Works best on ferrous ones. The rust will "de plate" to the other piece of metal you hang in the bath from the other jumper cable (I forgot to add that part... I can never remember if your workpiece is the red wire or the black wire... the one with bubbles coming off it should be your lamp, the crap will collect on the other hunk of sacrificial steel).

Why would electrolysis be superior to evaporust?

---

At this point I suspect the next steps should be addressing the glass (keep or replace?), removing the light socket, and then getting it sand blasted and powder coated. The glass is the part with the least certainty.

The evaporust or other stuff you paint on chemically binds with the rust, rendering it inert. If you strip it electrolytically or using a sandblasting method, no matter how gentle the process may be, you may find that there is very little solid metal, or what is there is more like Swiss cheese than actual metal. It all depends on how much exposure it has seen and whether it was dipped in something to make it inert (or powder coated) sometime in its life. I can't be sure, but it almost looks like someone may have tried using evaporust and then painting it in the past. That would have certainly been the easiest and cheapest way to "fix" them.

You may have to (very carefully) drill out the screws holding the glass in place. You can sometimes get glass made to look similar to what is currently in the fixture; I know that "good enough" for some may not be nearly right for others, so be prepared to have to buy enough glass to have the entire thing redone if you can't find what you need.

The time to address the socket and wiring is now. It looks like someone has already done something to it, as 100 years ago the wiring would have been wrapped in cloth. To be on the safe side, I would look at replacing it prior to rehanging it outside.

Whatever you do to the one, please do the same to the other one, as it can (and often will) look funny if you don't.

I think it's a neat piece; restoring it would be great. Take it easy on it, it looks like it's lived a hard life.
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Re: help me refinish this nearly 100 year old light fixture
Posted by: Paul F.
Date: April 23, 2021 10:27AM
Quote
mattkime

Why would electrolysis be superior to evaporust?

---

At this point I suspect the next steps should be addressing the glass (keep or replace?), removing the light socket, and then getting it sand blasted and powder coated. The glass is the part with the least certainty.

All that paint, and tar (?), and crap on the metal that evaporust didn't take off, the electrolysis will loosen so it can be easily washed/brushed off with a lot less elbow grease or sandblasting.
Diana does raise a good point that electrolysis will REMOVE rust, not convert it to "black rust" (which is stable, unlike red rust), so, if the rust is a structural component, that would be a problem. From what I can see in your picture, the layers of paint have kept it from rusting badly... but, you can see it better than I can.

For the glass, I'd try to go with replace if you can find/cut replacements... but, that's me.



Paul F.
-----
A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer's hand. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca c. 5 BC - 65 AD
----
Good is the enemy of Excellent. Talent is not necessary for Excellence.
Persistence is necessary for Excellence. And Persistence is a Decision.

--

--

--
Eureka, CA
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