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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Uncleaned Ancient Coin Discussion (Moderator: bruce61813)  |  Topic: Using WD-40 to clean sludge off a coin 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Using WD-40 to clean sludge off a coin  (Read 1521 times)
daverino
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« on: September 13, 2011, 08:37:48 am »

I recently got this Magnentius which while not an uncleaned coin, needed some fixing up. The "patina" was a mixture of ancient grease, dirt, and tarnish which, while soft, is impossible to remove manually without scratching up the coin - it is like a slippery ugly black varnish. I forgot to photo the  coin before I began but the seller photo's show the look of the coin before cleaning. The obverse is particularly bad because it is lightly struck.

   After some scratching at it with hard tools I decided to let it soak in some WD-40 oil for a few hours and then work at it with a cotton Q-tip. The combination of light scraping, soaking in oil and rubbing with fabric basically removed this sludgey coating. Since WD-40 is volatile (and not cheap) I sprayed just enough to cover the coin in a porcelain screw-cap container.

    The final result is shown. The little brownish spots are what is left of the coating. My guess is that this stuff is ancient in origin -possibly the remains of grease that was put on the coin to help preserve it when it was put in the ground. The oil-base makes WD-40 reasonably effective at removing it without a lot of work.

There is of course some sacrifice when this stuff is removed but fortunately the metal underneath is in pretty good condition and the coin, in hand, is much more presentable.

Regards, Dave
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SkySoldier
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« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2011, 08:50:26 am »

It looks pretty good.  Have you used WD-40 on other uncleaned coins?  If so, how does it work and how long did you let them soak?
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daverino
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« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2011, 09:15:36 am »

It looks pretty good.  Have you used WD-40 on other uncleaned coins?  If so, how does it work and how long did you let them soak?

I used to use it on regular out-of the-ground types with some success. WD-40 is a lot less messy than olive oil but more expensive and not for use on the semi-industrial scale which some coin-cleaners seem to do.  I would do 2-3 coins and leave them in the oil for a day or two at most (not being the patient type). It did help some on hard encrustations but not enormously.

This greasy varnish is something that I would often find on uncleaned coins of all types. It sticks very closely to the metal and is very unsightly. WD-40 seems to work well after soaking the coin for perhaps an hour or two followed by vigorous rubbing with q-tip or cloth. But this is the first time I have tried it in this context.
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rapre
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« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2011, 02:13:52 pm »

superb detail - definitely no prisoners!
Raymond
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Raymond
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« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2011, 05:17:27 am »

It was very nice also with the dark patina...
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daverino
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« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2011, 10:13:21 am »

It was very nice also with the dark patina...

If the obverse had been as well-struck as the reverse I may have left it as it was. In-hand it looked pretty bad though. I am thinking of getting some darkener to tone down the spots where the bare metal is shining thru.

ps. I mean that the planchet was slightly concave on the obverse and the strike left  the outline of the head and hair badly defined.
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Dino
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« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2011, 12:34:49 pm »

So is this coin stripped to the metal essentially then?
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daverino
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« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2011, 01:06:19 pm »

There is some metal showing in spots, especially on the obverse. The coin never had a real  patina in the sense of a hard corrosion coat - just a layer of grease and dirt -sort of like the 'patina' on my kitchen floor- over a thin brown oxidation layer. The dirt had accumulated in the depressed section of the coin essentially making the portrait look like a face without a head.

I can't feel too bad about removing this stuff even if it leaves a few metal points bare. The coin Before cleaning looked much better in the photo than it did in the hand and now looks much better in the hand than in the photo.

Regards, Dave
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Salem Alshdaifat
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« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2011, 01:38:55 pm »

I am sorry to be negative, but  the coin was stripped , it was really nice if it was gently cleaned with keeping the patina intact, and the dirt removed while wet, it  was a superb cleaning project.
best.
Salem
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daverino
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« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2011, 01:54:00 pm »

I agree that the coin was a great cleaning project. That was a major reason that I bought it because I felt that it could be improved - usually they cannot. On the other hand I don't think that there was much patina to be preserved. I did most of my rubbing with a cotton Q-tip. I will try a little darkener to remove the brassy points.

Regards, Dave
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Enodia
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« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2011, 02:03:33 pm »

i have tried WD-40 on two coins, one an LRB which i didn't care about, the other a small bronze from Apollonia Pontica which i did care about.
while the WD-40 did remove some more crude which olive oil, DD, etc did not, it left both coins significantly darker than they were before.
i will think long and hard before using it again.
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renegade3220
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« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2011, 03:24:40 pm »

 I agree with Dino and Salem. I saw this post when it was first made and thought that the coin had been stripped.down to bare metal.  However, I was leery to voice that. It does look good for a stripped coin though. I guess if there was no stable patina to begin with then you didn't have much choice but to lose it... Maybe.
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mwilson603
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« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2011, 05:13:39 am »

I have to say that I don't think it is a bad job at all.  If the coating on the coin is what I think it is, then there is essentially no patina there to have been stripped.  Merely an oily, greasy, sticky gunk.  I've tried WD40 on coins as well, and have never seen it strip any patina, merely darken existing patina as has been mentioned by Enodia.  So as far as I can see, I reckon you have done what you could do with that one, and it's a nice example with good detail.
regards
Mark
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daverino
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« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2011, 08:38:56 am »

Thanks, Mark - and also for all other critiques and suggestions given. If you can't take a little heat you better stay out of the kitchen. Had I employed Salem's suggestion of a wet rub and taken a bit more time it could have turned out better. Now I will have to restore some of the toning (I won't call it patina) that was rubbed away.

Regards, Dave
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