Cleaning Pressed Steel Toys|
Cleaning pressed steel toys such as Tonka, Wyandotte and others
can often be a challenge if there is rust involved. Since the toys worth
cleaning are generally older toys they are going to have rust and dirt imbedded
in the paint. Depending on just how far you intend to go with the cleaning or
restoration depends on the cleaner or solution you will use.
If the toy is in fairly good condition with good paint and very little rust the
option would be to use a mild soap and water solution to remove the dirt and
grime. This will allow you to then make a further judgment on whether or not
more work is needed. There are times when a good cleaning job with a mild dish
washing liquid and warm water will accomplish cleaning the toy without further
cleaning or damage to the surface. There are some toys rare enough to have some
paint lose and some minor rust on the surface and not restored.
There are times when a toy or parts of a toy need to be cleaned and stripped of
the paint and the years of rust that have accumulated on it. There are only a
few options for cleaning this toy. One would be sand or bead blasting which not
everyone had access to or the funds to invest in professional bead and sand
blasting services. The best option for cleaning this toy is with a acid
solution. This will clean not only the dirt and grime but also remove the rust
and paint from the surfaces.
Years ago we always used Oxacylic acid to clean old beer cans for our
collections. A nasty smelling and dangerous chemical we purchased from the local
pharmacy. A couple of table spoons in per gallon of hot water would remove any
rust from the old steel cans in a few minutes. Using this acid requires constant
monitoring to insure you don't allow the paint to also be removed or faded by
the acid. We learned the hard way not to place any aluminum cans in this
solution as it would turn the bare metal yellow at the least and if left in the
solution too long would disolve the cans.
Now to clean the old paint and rust from steel toys I use a safer type of
chemical called Muriactic acid, used in cleaning brick, concrete, and stone
around homes. Also used in the water mixture of swimming pools if you can
believe that. Although a safer chemical to use there are still some safety
procedures you need to follow if you use this chemical.
It can be bought at Lowes, Home depot and even your local hardware in gallon
containers. I always use a large plastic tote with a lid when cleaning larger
toys and auto parts and smaller ones for smaller parts. Make sure you have
safety glasses, old work clothes you don't mind getting stains on and a good
pair of rubber gloves. I use the same ones my wife uses in the house for washing
dishes. Fumes are a problem with this acid so make sure you use in an open area.
A good solution mixture is about 20 gallon of water per gallon of acid. Make
sure you are not standing over the container when pouring in the acid. The fumes
are extremely bad. Depending on the condition of the toy or auto part I want
cleaned I usually leave the part in the solution at least 24 hours and up to 48
hours on some toys and parts. Make sure the part or toy you are cleaning is
steel and not pot metal or aluminum as the acid will dissolve these metals. Use
a magnet on all parts of the toy to make sure it is all steel. Some people will
take the toy out of the solution and spray with high pressure water first. I
find the best way to insure I am going to stop the action of the solution in the
crack and seams is to place the toy in a solution of hot water and a mild dish
detergent for up to an hour and then spray the toy off. Once you start painting
it makes it hard to back up and re-strip the piece again.
If you are going to leave the part or toy without primer or paint for a few days
then the best option would be to use a hair dryer to make sure the piece is
completely dry in the seams and cracks. Rust will start almost immediately on
bare metal and drying with a towel or rag with not get the water out of the
metal. At times if I am to busy I will leave the piece out in the sun to dry out
throughout the day but remember rust will come back almost immediately if the
metal is not reated with primer or paint..
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