Polishing Engine Brass

| October/November 1994

4001 Fox Run Road, Powhatan, Virginia 23139

For those collectors with just a few engines to maintain for the shows, polishing brass at these events is a pleasurable pastime. However, as our collections grow in number, polishing brass becomes more time consuming, and looking at other engines becomes more enjoyable. I have solved this dilemma by initially cleaning all the engine brass, and coating it with lacquer for a high-gloss permanent finish.

Begin by cleaning each individual brass piece with paint thinner, to remove all the oils. File off deep cuts and 'dings,' and start sanding surfaces with 200 grit emery paper. Sand again with 400 grit emery paper, until all of the scratches are removed. Now, begin the buffing process, but don't forget to wear a dust face mask. Using a cotton buffing wheel, apply a buffing compound, Tripoli, liberally to the running wheel and buff all surfaces until a luster is achieved. Then, wash the item with warm soapy water and an old toothbrush to remove all of the grit completely. If an even brighter finish is desired, buff again on a separate buffing wheel applying jeweler's rouge in the same manner as before. Once a high brightness is obtained, again remove all residue with soap and warm water. Dry thoroughly and spray with clear lacquer suitable for metal surfaces. Now, forget the brass and go enjoy the show!