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Best Way to Remove Corrosion From Nickel Plating

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Sep 16, 2019 - 12:31:31 PM
683 posts since 12/23/2003

Just bought a late 60's Baldwin Model C banjo. Banjo is in great shape except for the corrosion on the nickel parts. I'd like to get some suggestions about ways to clean it up a bit - Thanks as always folks!

Sep 16, 2019 - 12:51:28 PM

907 posts since 12/2/2013

Clancy Mullins in TN just did a great job on my Gibson RB4. He's on the BHO - clancyc1.

Sep 16, 2019 - 1:10:33 PM

260 posts since 5/29/2015

Several methods. Best might be cheapest or fastest or with hand tools vs. power tools, or less likely to create problems later. Cleaning nickel parts is cleaning nickle parts. Lots of info and YouTube videos on this, you might be reading something on cleaning radio chassis or car parts.

Sep 16, 2019 - 1:29:37 PM

2223 posts since 3/30/2008

I've had success w/ Simichrome & t-shirt material. It takes some time, but is worth it in the end. (Depending on the degree of corrosion, your nickel may not shine up like  when it was new).

Edited by - tdennis on 09/16/2019 13:34:39

Sep 16, 2019 - 1:31:11 PM

1072 posts since 7/12/2004

If it's discoloration and not pitting, start with Simichrome polish (look for it at a motorcycle specialty shop) and a soft cloth. Chances are most or all of the tarnish will come off with a little hard rubbing. If you want it to be really clean, take it apart so you can get under the brackets and into other places that you can't reach otherwise.

When I change the head, I take the opportunity to polish everything. You might consider taking it apart to polish, and take the opportunity to change the head.

If anyone reading this is considering polishing a gold plated banjo, do not use Simichrome or any other abrasive polish, and don't rub too hard. On gold, I use Windex and a light touch with a chamois, no more.

If nickel or chrome plating is pitted, there's not much you can do. Polish will take care of the remaining finish surface, but the pitting will remain unless you replate the metal. Generally you're better off keeping the original finish, pits and all.

Sep 16, 2019 - 2:02:27 PM

113 posts since 7/28/2019

Simichrome seems to be a favorite on the hangout. But hardware stores surely have a few choices. Then there is the home brew. Mix one part vinegar to two parts salt to make a paste. Apply the paste to the nickel using a scrubbing pad. Wait several minutes, then scrub at the rust stains.

Sep 16, 2019 - 3:32:47 PM

683 posts since 12/23/2003

You guys are awesome!

Sep 16, 2019 - 3:35:57 PM

R Buck

USA

2677 posts since 9/5/2006

I've used those little green pads that come on sponges with a good metal cleaner. It worked well and did not take that long.

Sep 17, 2019 - 4:57:50 AM

505 posts since 5/19/2018

All good options above.

Just one additional note, if you use the salt and vinegar method, make sure to rinse the part well in fresh water to remove any salt residue.

Salt can be very corrosive over time, so it is imperative to remove any trace amounts or additional corrosion can occur.

Sep 17, 2019 - 6:29:20 AM

2688 posts since 5/29/2011

I have not tried vinegar and salt but I know that vinegar will tarnish nickel. Don't ask me how I found that out.

Sep 17, 2019 - 6:33:29 AM
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683 posts since 12/23/2003

quote:
Originally posted by Culloden

I have not tried vinegar and salt but I know that vinegar will tarnish nickel. Don't ask me how I found that out.


I'm picturing someone playing banjo and dying Easter eggs at the same time ..........

Sep 17, 2019 - 11:36:22 AM

76 posts since 3/9/2006

It would be nice if we could take the parts to someone to strip and re-plate them. That would be much better if the cost was less than new parts.

Sep 17, 2019 - 12:01:08 PM

683 posts since 12/23/2003

quote:
Originally posted by banjopicks

It would be nice if we could take the parts to someone to strip and re-plate them. That would be much better if the cost was less than new parts.


I actually had that done with my Baldwin Ode Model D. I only did the tailpiece, tension hoop, armrest and flange - it ran between 500 - 600 bucks and that was a few years ago.

Sep 17, 2019 - 12:07:21 PM

76 posts since 3/9/2006

No thanks. It would have to be a pretty special banjo to pay that. Mine is just a custom banjo from Janet Davis with no name to make it worth anything except to me. Of course I haven't price the parts in a long while.

Sep 17, 2019 - 1:14:56 PM

109 posts since 10/13/2014

Simichrome works great for cleaning old tarnish. I use Nevr-Dull to maintain afterwords.

Sep 17, 2019 - 1:37:28 PM
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1072 posts since 7/12/2004

quote:
Originally posted by banjopicks

It would be nice if we could take the parts to someone to strip and re-plate them. That would be much better if the cost was less than new parts.


The metal would have to be in pretty terrible condition or re-plating would actually lower the value of the instrument. At least in the bluegrass world, originality trumps everything. People value the "patina" of an older instrument much more than the minty fresh look of a restoration.

Sep 17, 2019 - 1:46:18 PM

76 posts since 3/9/2006

Yeah I know. I'm not one of those guys. I like minty fresh if I can get it. Sure I don't cast out my instruments because of dings and scratches but I really dislike pitted plating.

Sep 17, 2019 - 5:50:33 PM

263 posts since 2/22/2015

Wet 0000 steel wool works great for me.

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