Unusual but effective parts polishing method

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racoonbeast
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Unusual but effective parts polishing method

Post by racoonbeast »

I have stumbled on to a method of polishing all of the internal parts of any real that are metal, and ending up with a mechanism that is smooth as butter.

I have bought some "jeweler's rouge" powder. It is the stuff that they put the final gleaming polish on high-end jewelry with a buffing wheel. It is an extremely mild abrasive, and can be had for cheap.

I then bought some crushed walnut shells. Real easy and cheap to get. Go to any pet store and ask for "lizard litter". A popular type of litter that they use for these critters is crushed walnut shells, but they use crushed corn cobs and other interesting stuff too, so experimenting might find an even more effective product. The role of this stuff is only to become impregnated by the jeweler's rouge, which is basically industrially manufactured rust, and be the "sanding block" for the rouge.

Buy, or in my case "borrow" my grandson's, small rock tumbler that every kid seems to have, but never uses.

Toss in a good amount of walnut shells, and a healthy scoop of rouge, along with all of your metal internal parts, and let it run for a week.

You would be amazed. Everything comes out shiny enough to use as a mirror. All rough edges and burs gone. When assembled, your reel feels like the slickest, smoothest piece of machinery that you have ever touched. There is almost no chance of doing any damage to anything here because tolerances in most reel parts are not that anally close, and the abrasive here is so mild that it takes almost nothing, if anything, measurable off. It removes stains and corrosion spots nicely, though of course it will not replace material that is missing due to pitting etc... I had an Accurate gear set for a Penn that worked nicely but sounded like a coffee can full of marbles rolling down a hill. Can't even hear them now and they are beyond slick.

The rouge is "messy" and you will have to carefully clean all of your parts, and hands, with soap and water after removing them.

Just for what it is worth.

I have been trying this method to restore the shine to Bakelite, so far without huge success, but there is an improvement. Perhaps a few more weeks of tumbling would do it? Haven't tried that angle yet.

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john elder
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Re: Unusual but effective parts polishing method

Post by john elder »

I can see how that would work really well, R-B...but the reason the kids don't use the tumbler is because their mom started screaming after listening to that little bugger turn for 48 hr! I suppose if you have a deep enough basement or the garage is far enough away, you could stand it for that week. However, i would like to hear some other suggestions for the mechanism to do the agitation!

Don Champion
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Re: Unusual but effective parts polishing method

Post by Don Champion »

Sounds like a good medium for your ultrasonic cleaner. It shouldn't take as long either.

racoonbeast
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Re: Unusual but effective parts polishing method

Post by racoonbeast »

Some tumblers are quieter than others, I imagine. I actually keep mine in my bedroom, and after a few hours don't even notice it. But that's me. The other thing that I imagine helps hold down noise is that you don't have a bunch of rocks banging into each other. You just have a bunch of small parts swimming in a sea of fluid abrasive and tiny shell fragments. If they come into contact the noise is muffled by the media. There is no "agitation" to this method. It is just parts getting a constant flow of very mild abrasive running over them. It literally gets every nook and cranny equally as well as flat, exposed surfaces. Areas that you could never get to with a polishing wheel, or any other tool that I can think of.

One thing that I should add is that if you are doing large parts, like beauty rings, which will dazzle you with their shine when done, you probably don't want to do too many parts at once. They will be banging into each other and for all your polishing, you could be adding scratches while they constantly clunk into each other. I do them one at a time. But smaller parts with little weight, thus little ability to damage each other in a collision can go in by the handful.

It probably isn't the cure for every ill, or the answer to every problem. Huge burrs should be filed down before doing this, because, as I said, it takes off very little. But even then, if you leave them on, they will be nice, slick, non-sticky burrs.

I have not given up on returning the nice shiny luster to Bakelite panels yet either. A week shows noticeable improvement. Three or four weeks might do it.

I have used it quite a bit and can honestly say that I have yet to run into a situation where I wished that I hadn't done it. Everything that I have used it on, the goal being smoothing up the mechanism, has always come out at least some degree better than before the process. Often startlingly better.

I have never used an agitation tank, so can't say how they compare. But this is actually working the surface of, and polishing the metal. My uninformed view of an agitation tank, at it's best, seems like it would only clean. I arrived at this by looking for an inexpensive alternative to agitation apparatuses.It seems to me that it accomplishes the same results, and more, by attacking the problem from a different angle. A week or two sounds like a long time, but I can wait as long as something else is actually doing the work.

But, like everything else, it probably isn't for everyone. It's probably worth knowing about and adding to your arsenal of methods for cleaning reels up and making them look, often actually better, than they came from the factory. Nothing to use on antiques where "patina" or factory original condition is desired. But just the ticket for really slicking up a "user", or making your favorite antique feel like it has a butter smooth action.

Dale Noll
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Re: Unusual but effective parts polishing method

Post by Dale Noll »

J-B Thanks for info. Where do you get the Jewelers rouge? What size tumbler, speed, etc. How much of each are used? Can you reuse the Mix, or do you need to change batchs every so often.
Thanks for any help.
Dale

racoonbeast
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Re: Unusual but effective parts polishing method

Post by racoonbeast »

I can't remember where I got the jeweler's rouge. It was online and a while ago. I suggest that you just Google jeweler's rouge. It comes in bars, and as powder. You want powder. If I remember correctly the shipping was the most expensive part. I bought a tumbler for about forty bucks off Amazon. I got the lizard litter locally at a pet store. I really didn't follow any formula. I filled the container about two thirds full of the crushed walnut shells and added a half cup or so of the rouge. It does not ever seem to wear out. It probably would not hurt to change it once in a while because it picks up grease and crud over time from the parts that eventually has to have an effect on it's performance. I will change it if I start seeing lumps. You can hold that a bay by cleaning obvious excessive grease and oil off before adding. At the rate that I am using my ingredients up, my grandson will have plenty if he wishes to do it in twenty years.

Tumblers in the range that I was willing to pay for at the time had no specifics as to size and speed. Pretty much a kid's hobby tumbler. I did not want to invest a lot in what was then just another of my crazy experiments. The tumbler barrel is kind of small, which is really messing with my restoring Bakelite program. It is not quite big enough to hold a 4/0 size side panel, so I broke up an old useless and ugly one that I had here and tumbled the pieces. There was noticeable improvement in shine. Far from looking brand new but a nice, even shine was coming back. Ran out of pieces though, so I quit at that point and decided that I really need a tumbler with a larger barrel to make much more progress there. But you can stuff lots of small parts in there. The only noise that I hear is the rather gentle whirring of the tumbler.

I think it boils down to slower tumbler = longer tumble time. Faster one = less.

I wish that I could be more specific, but this is all new to me too. Trail and error is the way to go. If your crushed walnut shells become the color of the rouge, then they are impregnated and you are good to go. They probably break down in time and should be replaced, but I have run mine on various projects for probably six or eight weeks now and everything looks like the day I added it all. If you are hoping to do bigger parts like beauty rings on 4/0 and up reels, the size of the tumbler barrel is really the only dimension that you have to get too anal about. There are larger ones that are not much more money.

One word of warning, though not a big thing. This rouge gets into every crook, cranny and crevice. Your parts need serious careful washing with soap and water when they come out, and crevices like teeth on gears need the shells and rouge poked out with a tooth pick or old tooth brush. If you have an ultra-sonic cleaner that would speed that up, but a half hours worth of elbow grease works just fine too.

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Kelly L
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Re: Unusual but effective parts polishing method

Post by Kelly L »

Great idea. I am going to have to try this in the future.

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jimbofish
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Re: Unusual but effective parts polishing method

Post by jimbofish »

FYI you can get the walnut shells at most gun shops that carry reloading supplies. Reloaders use it to polish shell casings before reloading. Vibratory tumblers with an open top are preferred so they can check the progress easily. They're also relatively quiet.

racoonbeast
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Re: Unusual but effective parts polishing method

Post by racoonbeast »

I have not tried either method of procurement or method of cleaning. My only two thoughts, though I have no proof, is that walnut shells specified for gun cleaning in a gun shop are probably going to cost more than litter for lizards to do their thing in a pet shop of big box store. They are both the same product.

The other thought is time. I have seen others on here suggest vibrating tumblers and ultrasonic baths, and I am sure that they would work. I am sure they would be as effective as any type of spinning tumbler in the long run, but it might be a very long run. This stuff is super mildly abrasive and takes a while to do its work. I say this freely stating that I have never tried this or any other tumbling in and ultrasonic bath or vibrator type of tumbler. It just looks to me like it would be slower.

I also want to emphasis. We have all heard a bunch of rocks banging into each other in a spinning tumbler, or a couple of hundred rounds of brass. This does not rise to that noise level. There are fewer, smaller parts very cushioned by the media. I would be willing to bet that just the sound of any vibrating tumbler running puts out more noise than this, then again, I have never heard one of them. But I believe that it is an intelligent guess from just knowing how other vibration activated things sound.

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