Cleaning Brassware by Anthony King

Copied and adapted from spanner. February 2002

"Horolene" is a special solution available from some clock shops that is specially designed for cleaning the brass on them. It is often recommended for cleaning brassware. Unfortunately, like ammonia and a lot of cleaning solutions, it can leave the parts looking like copper (particularly the older brass items) if they are left soaking for too long. Dip, brush with a toothbrush and repeat if necessary is probably the safest method. Always dry thoroughly, for example with a hair dryer.  Horolene is available at:
You could try paraffin/kerosene, particularly if the parts are covered with grease or oil.  Personally I get perfectly good results even on greasy/oily brasswork with ordinary household ammonia and a toothbrush.
If you want to get rid of the tarnish off brass, I have found even brass polishes do not give as good a result as "Astonish". There are now many similar products to "Astonish" available though.  What you are looking for is a cleaner that is a thick white paste in a small plastic tub. It is made mainly of silica flour (a very fine abrasive - Just like polish), and the main cleaning ingredient seems to be sodium silicate. The active ingredient in dishwashing powders.

 I do know not to use vinegar, or presumably any other weak acid, as while it brings them up a treat, it seems to leach out the copper, meaning that even if well dried off, they develop a layer of green/blue verdigris fairly quickly.

Note that Horolene can be made:
Dissolve a teaspoonful of green soap and a teaspoonful of crystallized oxalic acid in a coffeecupful of hot water.
Now comes the outdoor part.  Add a little concentrated ammonia - just enough to "make it smell."
Ten minutes in the bath is ENOUGH - if you wait too long, there is a risk that your couplings etc. will be "cuprified."
Rinse in methylated spirit.  Note that oxalic acid is poisonous. 

Also go into The Smithsonian site on cleaning antiques…ammonia and liquid soap.

Part 63a, octagonal coupling, obsolete 1940Part 63a

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