Nickel Silver Tarnish/Corrosion

You got 'em, we know how to clean 'em
Post Reply
Paul Roberts
Advanced Board Poster
Posts: 402
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2020 1:35 pm

Nickel Silver Tarnish/Corrosion

Post by Paul Roberts »

I recently attempted to remove the corrosion and "tarnish" (dark stain) from the pillars of a 1930's Nickel Silver reel. I used lemon juice (lacking vinegar on hand) and 0000 steel wool. Turns out the NS on this reel is plated on. Beneath appears to be brass. The corroded pillars are now a shiny brass. Thinking I should have left the tarnish and called it "patina". I'm guessing I was simply too aggressive with the steel wool? I could say "live and learn" but... we do have the internet nowadays! :bash:

Any suggestions/comments on removing the tarnish and corrosion in NS? I ask -and attempted to clean up those pillars- after seeing a thread in which someone did a marvelous job of bringing a corroded NS reel back to surprising beauty. I'm taken with these NS reels and will end up with more. I'd like to know at what point I consider a reel too far gone, or when it should be left to its current state of "patina".

The reel with brass pillars. (Spool spindle was not plated to begin with):
ORCA 2020, 2021

User avatar
kyreels
Super Board Poster
Posts: 606
Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2006 6:12 pm
Location: Louisville, Kentucky

Re: Nickel Silver Tarnish/Corrosion

Post by kyreels »

Paul,

I think the Reel Restoration methods would indicate never using Steel Wool to clean metal reel parts. 0000 steel wool is the rough equivalent of 400 grit sandpaper. Soaking in Acetic Acid (or vinegar if you prefer) plus the use of Semi-Chrome or Flitz (a metal polish with very small oxide particles for polishing) should do the trick. If you are showing true "brassing" or removal of plating, you have used the wrong polish. Of course, even with Flitz polish you can wear away the plating, it just would take much longer, and you are unlikely to remove enough plating as in your example.

I think that it would be very rare to see any NS plating in my experience, usually it is Nickel plating over brass. I suppose that other parts on this reel are fully Nickel Silver alloy. Still not sure of those pillars. I have an oceanic and may go examine mine more closely.
Matt Wickham
Collector of Casting Weights, KY Reels and KY Tackle

Brian F.
Star Board Poster
Posts: 3412
Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2003 1:23 am
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii

Re: Nickel Silver Tarnish/Corrosion

Post by Brian F. »

I think it looks better than the original, at least the posts do. Not much you can do about the plating loss. Would be nice if the base metal didn't take on that pinkish hue but I still like it better. I and John Elder use 0000 steel wool pretty regularly. I might not use it on a reel that's got less patina or tarnish.
Aloha
Brian F.
_________

ORCA Member 1997
Got a spare reel stamped "Pflueger" or a Montague Imperial?
"Caution, objects in reel view mirror are older than they appear."

User avatar
john elder
Star Board Poster
Posts: 8084
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2003 2:44 pm

Re: Nickel Silver Tarnish/Corrosion

Post by john elder »

There is no “too far gone” point with nickel silver! Its amazing stuff that just gets better and better as you clean it up. On really tarnished NS, i will use 4/0 steel wool lubricated with simichrome or initially, held under a stream of warm water. With mild tarnish, Simichrome and a rag is all thats needed. Plated brass is another matter and if plated reels are your cup of tea, its better to stick with soap and water (dish soap works well), followed by mineral spirits to get the water out and then light lubrication.
ORCA member since 1999
Honorary Life Member

Specializing in saltwater reels...and fly reels...and oh, yeah, kentucky style reels.....and those tiny little RP reels.....oh, heck...i collect fishing reels!...and fly rods....and lures

Paul Roberts
Advanced Board Poster
Posts: 402
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2020 1:35 pm

Re: Nickel Silver Tarnish/Corrosion

Post by Paul Roberts »

Thanks, guys. I guess I was surprised the reel was plated. Perhaps most NS reels are plated. Are reel frame made of solid NS? John's comment would suggest it is. Plating is likely a cost cutter?

The corrosion on this reel was indeed fairly deep, starting to pit; Apparently pitting into the plating alone. I was able to smooth it out but could then see the brass coming through. Guess I'll have to experiment with acids, and go easy on the steel wool. Not a big deal. It's the reel I am most looking forward to fishing with and am still happy with the way it looks.
ORCA 2020, 2021

User avatar
john elder
Star Board Poster
Posts: 8084
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2003 2:44 pm

Re: Nickel Silver Tarnish/Corrosion

Post by john elder »

Also keep in mind that nickel silver is, in fact, described a having a yellowish hue. I have certainly had some older nickel silver reels that yellowed a bit when polished. This usually fades with time.
ORCA member since 1999
Honorary Life Member

Specializing in saltwater reels...and fly reels...and oh, yeah, kentucky style reels.....and those tiny little RP reels.....oh, heck...i collect fishing reels!...and fly rods....and lures

Paul Roberts
Advanced Board Poster
Posts: 402
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2020 1:35 pm

Re: Nickel Silver Tarnish/Corrosion

Post by Paul Roberts »

Thanks, John. I've seen that soft yellow in some reel images, but couldn't tell whether it was a lighting artifact. I find it pleasing.
ORCA 2020, 2021

Post Reply