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Polishing Brass

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Bob McBride

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Dunno, the Third Herd did their share! :)

I used to keep one of my rifles on the wall in the family room. The wife insisted that I keep the brass polished. When we moved i didn't hang it up again. She still notes the lack of shine at every opportunity. When I built a little 50 for her it didn't have any brass on it.
Yes it did. First Army baby! :thumb:
 

Artificer

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For you brass polishers. How do you keep your ramrod pipes and the inside of your trigger guards as shiny as your easy to polish buttplates? Do you take them all off or just polish what you can get at? Just shine the easy to polish parts? How about when you have a wedding band on your BP? How do you polish that without wear to your finish near those tough to polish areas over time? My brass would be tarnished back up in a month or so, so how often do you polish and do you polish your regularly fired guns that much more than your safe queens or do you just sort of get around to it once a year or so? What do you consider an acceptable level of dis-polish? The more I consider it done properly the more a bloody chore it seems.

Sincerely Curious in Tennessee.
Bob,

In my case, the Marine Corps was great prior training for when I did a Private Soldier in the Major's Company, 42nd Royal Highland Regiment, the Black Watch.

No reenactor I know of spends the 3 to 4 hours DAILY that the British Army did in Garrison in the 18th century to prepare for the daily inspections. My hair wasn't long enough to "dress" into a que and I chose not to authentically sew a dressed hair piece on my bonnet to replace my "missing" hair, as was the period British regulation. Grin.

Eventually I tried to use period materials to shine brass. As per period documentation, fine Emory powder mixed with oil on leather rubbing pads would shine up brass fairly well. Wooden sticks to help the Emory coated leather pads rub the inside of the trigger guard bow worked fairly well. I imagine they used leather "strings" so coated on the inside of the Rammer Pipes. I also got 18th century "soft" bricks to work into brick dust to shine the lock and barrel. I didn't know about period "black ball" they used on their leather goods, so settled on liquid shoe polish, which is not too far from it.

My second year we were invited to participate at Colonial Williamsburg for the weekend event "Under the Red Coat," we were informed ahead of time one thing the units would be expected to do was stand a "Grand Inspection." No big deal for a Marine. I always shined my Bess before going to an event, so it was MUCH easier to keep it that way during an event.

My new Commanding Officer had retired as a Mustang Captain in the modern Army. When he came in front me for the inspection, he could not find anything wrong to ding me on, especially as my shoes were newly blackened and my shoe buckles were shined. When he pulled my bayonet out of the scabbard, it was also gleaming and that was something he dinged most soldiers on. Shining my shoe buckles surprised him as I was the only one who thought to do it besides our Serjeant, who was a retired Marine Master Sergeant. (Even the Captain had not shined his shoe buckles.) So finally he asked why I had such fancy shoe buckles?

Now in our unit we were required to use period correct square military shoe buckles. However, they came in two sizes, one a bit larger than the other. Since I've had BIG feet since a young teenager, I chose the larger size to better match the size of my shoe, but that was the ONLY difference between mine and most of the rest of the unit. Actually I was a bit surprised he had noticed. So I replied, "SOR, the Private has wasted too much of his pay on whisky and loose women during his career, so the Private decided to have SOMETHING to show for his years of service and make himself more presentable for inspection, SOR!" It took my CO a few seconds for that to sink in and he did his best not to laugh, but did show a wry grin. As he turned to go to the next soldier, under his breath he commented, "G-D Marines." I smiled, but managed not to laugh.

Gus
 

Rudyard

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I once crewed an ex WW2 "SY Akauna''Steam Corvette (originaly' HMAS' Gladstone') as Fireman on the 8 to 12 .With twin triple expansion engines fed by three Yarrow boilers, We ran on 190 PS I just a delivery job Brisbane river to Singapore . NOBODY even suggested we should but a steam ships alive so we polished any brass visable out of pure Espree du cor. Like you would ? .Even got up on to the grateing deck in 112 degrees in the Stoke hole door doing 10 Knotts so as not the stress the old water tubes between the Great Barrier ref & the coast of QLD .That's brass polishing dedication .
Steam & black powder are related elliments both need jollying and coaxing to get the best of them. you cant just throw a switch or close a bolt & demand . some thing .
.Regards Rudyard
 
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Whitworth

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Brass handled daily will stay bright. The simple act of wiping your rifle down daily would have keep your brass looking good unless you had a polishing compulsion. A lightly polished patina on brass adds dignity, brightly polished looks cheap to my eyes. YMMV
 

mjcraw

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I only polish the brass & silver on my wife's rifle. Gets shot maybe once or twice a year. Not a lot of interest on her part. I mostly have iron furniture on my rifles & handguns. Some brass parts, not really polished. When I started my first flint kit (from Golden Age Arms in Ashly, O.) I read that polished brass might attract the Indians in the woods so I got all iron stuff (browned). How little I knew back then. Also didn't know I could change the sights on my CVA Hawkin. Always got a black eye from cheekpiece. My brass are not polished, just oiled w/ Barricade. Black powder really messes up shiny brass after just one shoot anyway. I do keep the pan and friction lock parts polished w/ 2000 grit wet/dry paper.
 

Bob McBride

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Folks sure get concerned over what another person wants to do with their rifle. Wonder why?
I know that's a rhetorical question but wondering why is a natural part of searching. Learning how others do things and why gives people more to consider than they might have otherwise thought of on their own. I've learned lots from this thread about the way other folks do stuff and what motivates them. I change the way I do stuff and why I do them all the time and this sort of conversation often triggers change in how I see subjects like this. I think it's pretty cool. I think that's why....
 
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longcruise

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I know that's a rhetorical question but wondering why is a natural part of searching. Learning how others do things and why gives people more to consider than they might have otherwise thought of on their own. I've learned lots from this thread about the way other folks do stuff and what motivates them. I change the way I do stuff and why I do them all the time and this sort of conversation often triggers change in how I see subjects like this. I think it's pretty cool. I think that's why....

For those who might want to clean up your brass, you can brighten your brass without elbow grease and without making it look like Midas's cache by running it through some NRA formula brass cleaner. Google it up.
 
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Kenn

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I know that's a rhetorical question but wondering why is a natural part of searching. Learning how others do things and why gives people more to consider than they might have otherwise thought of on their own. I've learned lots from this thread about the way other folks do stuff and what motivates them. I change the way I do stuff and why I do them all the time and this sort of conversation often triggers change in how I see subjects like this. I think it's pretty cool. I think that's
 
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gunnyr

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To many years spent polishing brass with , Brasso and then latter Flitz , to many years of not polishing brass, and I
don't miss it. I like the used look as long as it shoots and it is safe. I can remember putting my brand new brass
belt buckles in ammonia , to remove the protection covering , or so I was told . Talk about a work out , thus started
my love affair with polished brass, and as soon as it wasn't mandatory I quit and I am still of that view point.
gunnyr
Richard
 

VADSLRAM

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I stopped polishing my dress brass when I found you could buy plated buckles. A little more expensive but FAR less work.
As for the brass on my rifle. I polish it up after shooting , but just because it gets hung up over the fireplace.
Hawken.JPG
 
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VADSLRAM, when I recruited all my blues brass I had gold plated, prior to that in the fleet it was hand polished. The plating makes a world of difference and a great time saver.
 

Kenn

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I've just begun another .54 cal GPR, but this time I started with what for me seems the most difficult furniture item to complete: the trigger guard. Frankly, I'm always surprised by how steel coated with dull, tenacious, foundry scale will eventually develop such a lustre. I browned the previous GPR's furniture, but this time I'm considering leaving it in the white & allowing it to naturally age (with proper maintenance of course).

I have two (TC Hawken & 1853 Enfield musket) with brass furniture, & I don't mind polishing it during the normal cleaning following target practice, etc. Old habits die hard, I guess. However, I believe there's viable merit in allowing brass & steel furniture to develop its own patina. The aged appearance seems to compliment an already beautifully designed firearm of a century or two ago. As with being historically correct/period correct, so long as the firearm is well-maintained, then its ambiance, as it were, should be the decision of the owner -- bright & demerit-free for those who are avid re-enactors perhaps, & whatever is pleasing &/or practical for anyone else.

A buddy of mine has a half-stock that looks like it spent three years in the Rocky Mountains with its nicks, scratches & abundant patina. It's gorgeous! Could I do that with mine? Probably not. Again, old habits . . . & values. It's whatever winds your clock or floats your canoe.
20210121_080859.jpg
 

Dale Lilly

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What I call polishing would result in a satin finish. I use emory paper, normally 250, and it shines and does let brass tarnish more slowly. I like the look but don't keep up with all my guns. I will get around to it … just not today. [maybe next week sometime … or not] Polecat
 

longcruise

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I've just begun another .54 cal GPR, but this time I started with what for me seems the most difficult furniture item to complete: the trigger guard. Frankly, I'm always surprised by how steel coated with dull, tenacious, foundry scale will eventually develop such a lustre. I browned the previous GPR's furniture, but this time I'm considering leaving it in the white & allowing it to naturally age (with proper maintenance of course).

I have two (TC Hawken & 1853 Enfield musket) with brass furniture, & I don't mind polishing it during the normal cleaning following target practice, etc. Old habits die hard, I guess. However, I believe there's viable merit in allowing brass & steel furniture to develop its own patina. The aged appearance seems to compliment an already beautifully designed firearm of a century or two ago. As with being historically correct/period correct, so long as the firearm is well-maintained, then its ambiance, as it were, should be the decision of the owner -- bright & demerit-free for those who are avid re-enactors perhaps, & whatever is pleasing &/or practical for anyone else.

A buddy of mine has a half-stock that looks like it spent three years in the Rocky Mountains with its nicks, scratches & abundant patina. It's gorgeous! Could I do that with mine? Probably not. Again, old habits . . . & values. It's whatever winds your clock or floats your canoe.
View attachment 59651
Very nicely polished.

In my GPRs most recent face-lift I went with in the white and am liking it.

20201217_122933_copy_800x344.jpg
 

longcruise

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Thanks for sharing the photo. Yeah, I'm liking it too! I see you did away with the lock plate's case hardening as well. I was debating on that, but you solved that "dilemma" for me. Thx.
Mine is a vintage 79/80 kit and didn't have any case on it. I just buffed the plate smooth. However, I think it would be pretty easy to buff the case off.
 

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