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Brass cleaning


Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Hi, has anybody got any suggestions on the best way to clean brass i have a 75mm case thats been laying in the ground for 90 years its solid and i know it wont be brilliant when its clean but i don't like to throw it out i have tried vinegar on the base the case looks as though its going coppery if thats the right word any help would be much appreciated.

If the case has been in the ground that long, much of the zinc will have leached out of the brass by electrolysis, so whatever cleaning method you use the end result will still have that copper appearance.

I have found vinegar to be quite good for buried cases, admittedly on SAA which can be immersed, as it is not too corrosive.

I am not sure if Sainsbury's sell special extra large bottles of vinegar for 75mm shells, but you could ask Customer services.

how do you get rid of the blue stuff? I have a couple of cases that were allegedly in a ditch since 1944
You can of course,after cleaning use electrolysis to replate the brass,you need a plastic container with a saline solution(salty water),12v car battery(battery charger will do but have a supply of fuses ready!),two lenghths of insulated wire with crocodile clips attached & a clean lump of brass( if you are doing your 75 the bath springs to mind as a container,but could get you into trouble and you may have a cast iron bath!) connect the shell to the positive lead?(not sure if this is the right way round,but I'm sure someone will put us right) & the brass object on the negative,do NOT let them touch and wait for several hours/days,you can also use this method with a stainless spoon connected up the other way round to remove crud & scale.
I have already got wrong from the little women for nicking her pickling vinegar so i am going to put it on the lathe and use fine wet and dry that will sort it.
If i ever polish any metal i use metal sol metal polish,its the dogs boll.... bull i wouldnt really polish anything old really.
i usually age brass by by leaving out doors for a few months!
Hi, I have just cleaned the case, i spun it on the lathe and used vinegar and a scourering pad i decided not to use wet and dry, its a bit coppery in places but it will do


  • Relic case.jpg
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cleaning Brass & Copper;

Believe it or not, try ketchup.
Nice job on the case Andysarmoury, I have spun smaller ones in a lathe before and used fine wet or dry and then metal polish on a rag to remove the marks left by the wet or dry. If you use this method, I have always found it it best to wipe over with meths afterwards to remove the metal polish residue. You can they put a patina back on it if you want to.
Thanks Falcon, its a pity i can't find the before pic i have been looking all day if you had seen it you would never believe it was the same case, its the first time i have done this on a big case, i just need a shrapnel projectile for it know:tinysmile_fatgrin_t
A mild solution of Citric Acid / Water is also worth of trying on brass. It does not eat Zinc off as fast as other acids.
Phosphoric Acid !

Afraid I used to be a bit "Belt and Braces" when it came to cleaning Brass,
I needed quick results and used "Phosphoric" acid, does a superb job and leaves a sort of mildly sandblasted finish with a nice Goldy/Brass finish similar to the Russian cases or about 57mm and upwards.

Doesn't do to leave it in too long mind, as it can dissolve almost anything totally:hmpf:
nyone conremplating this idea be warned it produces "Phosgene" gas, so all the usual Health and Safety precautions MUST be used, Goggles/Visor/Gloves/Apron etc etc and good ventilation is a MUST !
When i had a steam engine and was in a hurry brick acid (used to clean block paving) worked a treat.
Here in the States, the acid for cleaning concrete or blocks is muriatic, which is a diluted hydrochloric acid. It is really strong stuff and I would caution to be very careful when you use it, if you do. A more mild version is called Lime-away for cleaning the hard water calcium deposits from plumbing. Considering that these brass items are valuable, my advice would be to start with the weakest thing that will work, and work up, otherwise, if you start with the strongest stuff, then you could ruin your brass. Also I would advise starting with the least valuable case you have, to work out your process, and if using acid, use a neutralizer like baking soda in water, to kill the action of the acid.

One of my favourites to try is ceramic hob cleaner, basicly mild citric acid and abrasive, will some times just take off light corrosion and leave a good finish all by itself. For those really difficult ones wet and dry, very fine grade otherwise you have to take out the scratches caused by coarseer grades and lots of water finishing with T cut or similar. 2pr
I found I had some limescale remover which is dilute phosphoric acid, i tried this on a small area of a case covered in green crud and it seemed to work well. The case is immersed in it in the shed as I type this.

Can anyone say for certain which way round the case and stainless spoon have to be connected to use electrolysis to remove crud? I might try this with an old CB radio power supply.