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Cleaning Copper

Post about things you have launched or thought about launching. Also post about various materials used for building cannons. No posts about explosive projectiles!
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Cleaning Copper

Unread postAuthor: Velocity » Fri Feb 08, 2008 10:08 pm

After years of a cannon-submission drought, I finally finished one which I have been working on. No details other than its copper. It took me a while, but I finally got everything aligned correctly, through resoldering and bending. In doing this, I got droplets and smears of solder everywhere. To most people, it would still appear to be a clean solder job; however, to us obsessive compulsive wackos, I might as well have dumped the cannon in grease, rolled it in dirt, and smacked it with a big rock.

I would like to improve the aesthetics of this cannon before I post it. The two options are cleaning the copper or painting it. Painting it would be easy, but it would also take away from the potentially good looking copper. So if possible, I would like to end up with a shiny copper cannon.

The way I see it, there are a few steps:
1) Removing any large solder droplets by using a dremel tool.
2) Sanding down the copper
3) Polishing the copper
4) Protecting the copper, so it doesn't turn an ugly dirty brown in a few days.

Can anyone help me with this? Step 1 is pretty straightforward, so I doubt that I will need too much assistance. Possible topics include what grit sandpaper(s) to use (I thought I might finish the polishing with some fine steel wool), how to protect it (varnish?), how to go about protecting it (using a certain chemical protectant), etc. Any information you have on the subject would be appreciated.[/list]
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Unread postAuthor: jimmy101 » Sat Feb 09, 2008 11:43 am

Besides removing the oxidation by sanding ...

You can save yourself some work by removing most of the oxidation with strong acid. You can get a gallon of muriatic acid (hydrochloric acid) at most hardware stores for a couple bucks. Just wipe the gun down with a cloth soaked in the acid (protect your hands with gloves, wear safety glases, etc.). Most of the oxidation is removed almost instantly. Then a light sanding with fine sand paper will bring it up to a shinny copper color.

You'll probably want pretty fine sand paper if you want a shinny surface. Perhaps 400 or 600 grit carbide paper (the black stuff) lubricated with water.

I believe lacquer is usually used to protect copper. You might google "transformer wire" and see if you can find out what they use to coat it.
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Unread postAuthor: dewey-1 » Sat Feb 09, 2008 12:18 pm

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Last edited by dewey-1 on Sun Apr 20, 2008 1:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread postAuthor: ralphd » Sun Feb 10, 2008 12:12 am

I work in the HVAC industry so I can tell you that steelwool is good for copper but a wirewheel would be better. If there is heavy oxidation there are always foaming cleaners with sulfuric acid. As for long term protection try the clearcoat in a spraycan.
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Unread postAuthor: Velocity » Sun Feb 10, 2008 12:33 am

Yeah... i sanded it down with 150C sandpaper, followed up by 0 steel wool, followed up by 000 steel wool. I plan to spray on some lacquer tomorrow. The finished result should be good!
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Unread postAuthor: hi » Sun Feb 10, 2008 12:35 am

im building a copper rifle right now and as i was soldering tonight i made a couple black spots, which i didnt want for obvious reasons, so i heated it up again and took a towel and wiped it off. it works very very well, its shinier than it was before it soldered it. just heat it up, wrap a rag or towel around it and twist it as you work your way up the pipe.
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Unread postAuthor: sjog » Sun Feb 10, 2008 12:43 am

Try buffing it with pipe joint compound, you should all ready have it.
Try not to sand unless it's scratched , factory finish on copper pipe is real smooth . Any steel wool will take off the factory finish as well.
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Unread postAuthor: rna_duelers » Sun Feb 10, 2008 1:25 am

Cut n Polish car cleaner,works wonders.The clear coat in a spray can is good as well I haven't had any troubles with it so far.
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