Re-condition table lamps

I bought 2 end-table lamps years ago. Neither cheap nor expensive, like the common fare at a decent dept. store. 95% metal, the bottom 1/3 is brass (or similar) plated steel (according to my magnet), the upper 2/3 is evidently real brass.
The bottom 1/3 of each is corroding and looks pretty bad.
I don't wanna spend $100 for another pair of rustable lamps. Would like to re-condition what I have.
What can be done with plated steel? Surface-prep and paint? Anything else come to mind?
Thx, Will
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wrote:

If you really want to get into it, you could do some research on what they used on the Statue of Liberty or the Griffith Park Observatory dome when they renovated them several years ago. In fact let us know what you find out.
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I seem to recall that the Statue of Liberty was made of copper on a steel skeleton and developed the green patina expected from that metal especially in the moist harbor environment.
Joe G
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It was cleaned and coated with a special coating that would not effect the appearance and protect it from the elements as I remember. I never paid attention as to what that coating was unfortunately.
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On 12/28/2010 6:49 AM, Wilfred Xavier Pickles wrote:

Look into having it replated...might not cost much. I've had stuff silver- and brass-plated, many years ago, and neither was very expensive at the time.
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On 12/28/2010 4:54 PM snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.net spake thus:

True that--maybe.
I guess I'm lucky, in that I'm within walking distance of a place (in Berkeley) that does metal plating and finishing. Dunno what they charge.
If you go that route, you'll want to disassemble the lamp, separate the parts that need refinished, and clean them up first. Sandpaper, steel wool, wire wheel, whatever weapons you have at hand. This should make a bit less work for the plater, and hopefully less $$$.
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wrote:

Advice well taken. Already disassembled one.
Every great once-in-a-while my hindside is viciously attacked by a wild hair ...
Just occurred to me ... why not electrolysis?
Conceivably twice. Once to remove rust. Once again to apply new plating.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Thanks, Will
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On 12/28/2010 8:45 AM Wilfred Xavier Pickles spake thus:

Why not? It's fun. You can see where your other self is headed.
Speaking of electrolysis, don't know how to plate (and that involves nasty chemicals), but have done electrolytic rust removal many times. Mix sodium carbonate (available at many places for swimming pool pH adjustment, or as "washing soda"), place item to be cleaned in the soup as the cathode (negative terminal), put an iron or steel anode in, and let 'er rip. Works great. I use 12 volts DC at about 5 amps.
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wrote:

That's pert near -it-, in a nutshell.
I used it once to de-rust a 4-into-1 mot'cycle exhaust using a 12v trickle-charger. Was clumsy b/c of the size of the pipes.
De-rusting the lamp base oughta be a piece-o-cake. Have to look into the possibility of electro-plating. The easy part is reversing the anode/cathode IIRC. Choosing an appropriate solution/substance-to-plate is another matter. Any ideas for this most welcome.
Prost, Will
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On Dec 29, 12:54am, Wilfred Xavier Pickles
ns> wrote:

I googled "brass electroplating kits" and got about a half-million hits. Here's a random example:
http://www.caswellplating.com/kits/brass.htm
Paul
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wrote:

I googled "brass electroplating kits" and got about a half-million hits. Here's a random example:
http://www.caswellplating.com/kits/brass.htm
Paul
That sure looks like overkill for a pair of lamps. I have several lamps that were made form hand-blown glass. In humid Florida the bases got pretty cruddy. I checked the phone book for plating shops and brought all the bases over. I left it to the shop to clean and replate with chrome. The experts did it and I got expert work done. I don't remember the cost but it was less than $100 for the four of them.
Sometimes it is not a good idea to venture into a project that has to be done right the first time if you are an amateur.
Charlie
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Charlie wrote:

agreed. some of the chemicals involved in plating will turn your location into a hazmat problem. most of them are quite deadly to be around, especially if you like breathing and such.
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On 12/29/2010 2:19 PM chaniarts spake thus:

Yep.
I happen to have handy a little textbook on the subject, /Electroplating/, by A. H. Sanders, copyright 1950. In the section on brass plating, he gives the composition of the plating bath, which is:
CONSTITUENTS OUNCES PER GALLON ----------------------------------------- Copper cyanide 4 Zinc cyanide 1.25 Sodium cyanide 7.5 Sodium carbonate * 4 Water to make 1 gallon
Metallic copper 2.8 Metallic zinc 0.7 Free cyanide 2
I think I'd leave this stuff to a plating shop ... not to mention that being an art, there are things you have to know about plating to avoid things like a blistered surface or metal that doesn't adhere to the substrate.
* Hey, there's our friend from electrolytic rust removal!
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wrote:

This advice (also) well taken.
Well, it was an idea. For all I knew, there might've been an inexpensive solution kit ... that didn't have every known form of cyanide, etc. :-(
So I'll give 'em to a plating shop or just paint 'em.
Many thanks to numerous responders.
Will
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wrote:

Most of the posts above are typical of people who want to do things the hard way. Not much been there, done that. Here's what works: buy a glass bead blasting gun from Harbor Freight ($15). Fill it with clean sand, glass beads , mashed up kitty litter or whatever will go through the gun. Hook up to an air compressor, blast your parts to perfect clean metal ( leaves a matte finish). Elapsed time, maybe 15 minutes. Spray with Rustoleum primer and paint to suit. Or, take the clean parts to a metal plating shop if you really must, but frankly they would look just as good using Rustoleum silver or gold spray paint. Now sell the sprayer on Craig's list for $10 and you have reduced your outlay to maybe $10 total. Odds are though, you'll find quite a lot of use for the outfit and wind up keeping it. If you are tool poor and don't have an air compressor, any automotive machine shop will have a glass bead blasting cabinet and can clean your parts quickly. In fact some plating shops may use that system.
Joe Joe
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On 12/29/2010 8:47 PM, Joe wrote:

Silver spray paint looks as good as real brass? Oh, yeah. Think I'll go spray all my brass with silver paint so's I don't need to polish and recoat it ever again. A plating shop also would likely polish and coat the object. Since part of the lamp is solid brass, it suggests it is fair quality and worthy of doing it right.

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On Tue 28 Dec 2010 04:49:23a, Wilfred Xavier Pickles told us...

I'm all for DIY when it comes to most home repairs, replacements, etc. However, when it comes to refinishing metal, I'm all for having professional plating done. I've had various items silver plated, chrome plated, nickel plated, and brass plated. Brass plating is the cheapest of them all.
Paint will probably make the lamps look inappropriate and cheap. Check out some metal finishers/platers in your area and get some prices. You'll probably be glad you did.
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