Metal cabinet restoration/preservation


I bought about a 6' high x 3' wide AC/DELCO metal cabinet today, plus a horizontal one of about 3' wide and 18" high. Original paint, and nice AC/DELCO lettering on the fronts of the doors. The sides of the cabinets are blue, but much more faded than the deep blue of the interior and interior shelves. The outsides look like they have been out in the weather.
Would simple washing take some of the white streaking off without taking off too much oxidized paint? Would a coat of clear help stabilize it, and if so, what type of clear? Lacquer, enamel, polyurethane? I would imagine the paint to be plain automotive enamel.
They're real cool and I got them for $10 for the pair. Just want to keep them from going downhill further.
Steve
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SteveB wrote:

Same steel and same finish as a car fender. Wash, then buff them out with rubbing compound, wash again, and apply a good coat of paste wax. Careful on the 90-degree corners- you can buff right through the paint. If that doesn't make them presentable enough to tolerate, you are looking at repainting, which means you can probably kiss the lettering on the front goodbye, unless you can find matching decals or know a sign painter. I have seen people mask lettering like that and paint around it, but it is usually pretty obvious.
-- aem sends...
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I just went out and took a wet paper towel and tried a couple of small areas. On the side, it cleans up the white oxidation acceptably and no blue comes off, but on the white face, the black lettering comes off onto the paper towel (I didn't wipe hard, just enough to see what it would do). I think I'll take the approach of washing the outside with a microfleece cloth and a light dishwashing detergent, then spraying with clear. I just have to try different clears to make sure it doesn't react and bubble. Will try that on inside. Now that I look at these, they are really awesome. Got a dozen or so old quart cans of oil that are about fifty years old that will look great atop them, and other garage antiques.
I'm going to try to preserve what's there rather than redoing it. I think even if it comes up short, it looks better, as a redo looks like a cheap Chinese new clone.
If they could only talk and tell what they've seen.
Steve
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wrote:

I would try TSP, damp micro-fiber cloth with a pale of water. Wash them AND then see what you have to work with.
Nothing drastic yet. It's tool storage.
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