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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups Warmoth.com
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups Warmoth.com

How to Relic Metal Parts? How to pit Chrome?

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by coco, Nov 29, 2008.

  1. coco

    coco TDPRI Member

    Age:
    55
    66
    Nov 26, 2008
    Portland, OR (Go Ducks)
    I've got some Tele parts like bridge, ferrules, tuners, all the screws etc and have tried sealing those parts in a plastic container with a few cups of fuming muriatic (HCL) acid. The fumes from the acid definitely took the shine away from the nickel parts and discolored everything somewhat but that was over the course of a few days. The muriatic acid has a concentration of about 30 percent so it was plenty strong. The fumes had little to no effect, however, on the brass saddles and there isn't much rust to speak of on the screws etc.

    Also, the acid had no effect on the chrome covered control plate.

    Does anyone know of other ways to distress/age/and or relic nickel parts to create some rust and especially how do you get the chrome pieces to pit, like the kind of pitting you would see on an old chrome bumper?

    Yes, I've done a search here but want maybe some up to date info!!

    I've got some parts I purchased pre-reliced from a well known relic service (MJTelecaster) to base my comparison on and those purchased parts are probably 25% more aged looking than what I tested, they have more rust, discoloration etc, and the brass parts are discolored and aged also.

    tks for reading, any info would be appreciated!!
     

  2. Alamo

    Alamo Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 15, 2006
    Berlin, Germany

  3. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Age:
    71
    May 1, 2003
    Jacksonville, FL
    Most of the better quality parts use a 3 part plating process to "Chrome" the part, first, it is copper plated, followed by Nickel plating, then the Chrome plate is added.

    The Muratic acid process will completely remove the chrome in short order, revealing the nickle, The acid will not touch the nickle. So the trick is to time the process to prevent the complete removal of the chrome.

    Ron Kirn
     

  4. coco

    coco TDPRI Member

    Age:
    55
    66
    Nov 26, 2008
    Portland, OR (Go Ducks)
    My experience and everything I've read is contrary to that, as it is nickel that actually discolors and ages rather than anything with chrome. In fact, the parts I purchased that discolored are nickel while any chrome pieces were impervious to the acid fumes.

    So, not quite sure about your last post?
     

  5. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Age:
    71
    May 1, 2003
    Jacksonville, FL
    OK... I stand corrected... just scratch 40 years of fooling around with Chrome and muratic acid...

    I wonder what was happening... ;)

    rk
     

  6. Fatmanstratman

    Fatmanstratman Poster Extraordinaire

    coco - welcome to the forum!

    After you have been here a while and read through many thousands of posts, you will come to realise that Mr. Ron Kirn is a man of great wisdom, gleaned from far too many years in close proximity with far too many guitars.

    Thankfully, Mr. Kirn is also very humble and has a great sense of humour....:cool:

    My advice - if it is indeed advice which you seek - would be to listen to HIS advice......;)
     

  7. coco

    coco TDPRI Member

    Age:
    55
    66
    Nov 26, 2008
    Portland, OR (Go Ducks)
    Well, maybe I have the wrong kind of acid? I purchased it at a pool supply, 30% muriatic acid aka (HCL) hydrochloric. I've read that nickel will discolor or age with the fumes and that's what I'm noticing here, I specifically purchased parts that were advertised as nickel while other parts I know to be chrome plated (ie control plate) had no reaction with the acid fumes. The tuners, ferrules, all screws, bridge plate, all have discolored and the shine is completely gone from these parts. The brass saddles and chrome pieces are completely unaffected by the fumes, so there it is, and that's consistent with what I've read. I'm curious how to get the chrome to pit and how to get the brass saddles to age, I read somewhere on how to pit chrome but can't remember where I saw that.

    As far as your 40 years of experience I don't doubt you know what you're talking about, I'm probably just not understanding completely.
     

  8. Danocaster

    Danocaster Tele-Holic

    628
    Nov 18, 2003
    Coco -

    Muratic acid solutions vary from state to state - your solution isn't as strong as some. ( I heard it's used in Meth production possibly )

    So , in my experience , the nickel would be affected by fumes - but it would take MUCH longer for it to have any effect on the chrome parts

    Some guys put the chrome IN the solution when it's only 30% and it WILL have an effect - it just looks kind of like "chemical" wear. Some guys think it looks great

    You may also try "etchant solution" - radio shack used to sell it but no longer does. It works faster and often looks better than muratic acid ( which will really RUST things )

    anyway .. my 002
     

  9. coco

    coco TDPRI Member

    Age:
    55
    66
    Nov 26, 2008
    Portland, OR (Go Ducks)
    I'm going to place the brass saddles and the chrome control plate directly in the muriatic acid and see if that has any effect...
     

  10. Cole

    Cole Tele-Meister

    330
    Apr 22, 2008
    Louisville KY
    welcome to the forum coco... how to pit chrome or nickel parts: put a small variety of screws, nuts & bolt or nails in a 1 gallon can, add you guitar parts and shake to taste. It's a little noisy but it works pretty good.

    Aging brass saddles: play your guitar every day. Work yourself into a sweat. Takes about 2-4 weeks to get "the look"!

    Good luck...
     

  11. jefrs

    jefrs Doctor of Teleocity

    Nov 20, 2007
    Newbury, England
    From what little I remember of chemistry, corrosion on a car is a galvanitic reaction brought about by the action of universal solvent on disparite metals. Water is the universal solvent, having the property of being both acidic and alkali at the same time. Get that on different metals and electricity flows, hey presto: lovely corrosion, usually as rust. HCl 'fumes' are chlorine, that's not going to do much to chrome except bleach it clean. The liquid acid will dissovle metals (except gold). Immersion of the components will result in even dissolution, not random pitting. We made decorative etchings by coating the components in wax, then scratching the design away before immersion in sulphuric acid (used battery acid). But that does leave rather clean neat edges.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2008

  12. dandhr61

    dandhr61 TDPRI Member

    86
    Oct 13, 2008
    Ontario Canada
    I know about ageing the saddles by playing, it works well becouse of this I have to watch how much I play insterments I plan to sell!, though brake ins are fun.
     

  13. coco

    coco TDPRI Member

    Age:
    55
    66
    Nov 26, 2008
    Portland, OR (Go Ducks)
    With respect to the chrome control plate it is starting to get a "cloudy" aspect to it, where once it was like a mirror it is now somewhat discolored. That seems to validate RK's assertion, however, the changes aren't dramatic. And the brass is still resisting change, quite stubborn. I have seen the control plates on vintage intruments that have that pitting, it's usually a circular area with a bunch of little dots showing rust, ala the old chrome car bumper. You see this pitting on tweed style amp control panels that are older, pitting and rust on the chrome setting in, but simulating this effect is quite elusive.

    Thanks for all the awesome input, btw, if I haven't mentioned that. The muriatic acid has some effect on plain ole nickel evidently, but doesn't seem to be the answer for some other subtle relic effects.

    Jefrs seems to be on to something up there, sounds right!!
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2008

  14. Lostheart

    Lostheart Tele-Afflicted

    Nov 26, 2005
    Germany
    OK, I have messed with many relic methods over the years and here's my $ 0.02.
    Muratic acid fumes do nothing to chrome...they start fogging up but when you clean them under water all that is removed again and they look brand new just like the way they were starting out.
    If you throw chrome or nickel platedhardware into the muriatic acid and submerge it it will eat away the different layers of plating down to the bare steel. Can do its trick on certain hardware like screws but on everything else it's not recommended (tuners, control plate, bridge etc).
    A brine solution will only rust the parts and looks unbelievably fake IMHO. You cannot control where the rust will appear and it's likely going to appear - in case of the bridge plate - around the string-through-holes etc...something you won't see much on an actual vintage guitar.

    When I age a bridge I
    a) dull the section that used to be dull in the 50's & 60's (making sure not to go through the chrome to reveal the yellowish nickel underneath)
    and
    b) selectively apply a rust solution in places where rust and grime used to sit on actual vintage bridge plates
    c) dirty it up a little with genuine German shack dirty ;-)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    A tedious and lengthy process but IMHO much more convincing than those
    acid/brine relics.

    Control plates and neck plates are reliced in an altogether different way...

    Remember...most of the vintage axes are pretty clean and shiny and over-the-top relics look nothing but fake...

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers,

    Sascha
     

  15. 59TweedVibrolux

    59TweedVibrolux Tele-Holic

    695
    Jun 1, 2008
    Australia
    The only person I know that can Relic an axe to look genuine is.....Father Time :D
    I'm no expert but own a couple of originals, no Relic I've seen
    passes a side by side test with a worn original.

    I wanna know how you unpit chrome :lol: then I can fix some of my
    old Tweeds ;)
     

  16. Lostheart

    Lostheart Tele-Afflicted

    Nov 26, 2005
    Germany
    Sorry, but the OP wanted help on how to relic.
    If you start with wether or not relics look authentic it turns into a "relic - yes or no?" discussion in no time...
     

  17. coco

    coco TDPRI Member

    Age:
    55
    66
    Nov 26, 2008
    Portland, OR (Go Ducks)
    So here are some pics of the final product, and seems like once I took the parts out of the fumes and left them in the night air overnight, some really cool rusting and discoloration set in. I didn't take a pic of the control panel because the discoloration of that part simply wiped off right back to a mirror shine, so I'm guessing a more mechanical means of getting the chrome plate roughed up to allow moisture to attack the nickel or whatever underneath would help.

    The brass didn't do much either but did oxidize or get more dull at least after exposure to air etc. I like the rust look which is what I was after, and I mitigate the rusty parts with a pretty subtle relic job to the bodies and necks etc so they don't look over the top.

    Anyway, thanks for the input all!!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     

  18. madmark

    madmark Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    48
    Nov 18, 2007
    New York
    They look great... Nice job..
     

  19. coco

    coco TDPRI Member

    Age:
    55
    66
    Nov 26, 2008
    Portland, OR (Go Ducks)
    Here's a side-by-side with my bridge shown in the first/last pic on the right next to an MJTelecaster.com bridge I purchased on the left for comparison.

    Mine is also shown in the third pic vs. the MJTelecaster.com bridge in pic 2.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     

  20. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Age:
    71
    May 1, 2003
    Jacksonville, FL
    Here's a formula for aging brass.. apply it let it dry.... rinse is off...

    1 qt white vinegar
    1 qt ammonia
    1 cup lemon juice
    1 tbs salt.

    rk
     

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