Cleaning nickel safely.

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Mike Robinson
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Cleaning nickel safely.

Post by Mike Robinson » Sun Sep 22, 2019 1:48 am

I purchased a 1926 nickel radiator shell that was wrapped in rags and then wrapped in duct tape in 1979. The tape caused a stain on the finish that doesn’t wipe off. What product would be safe to polish it out? The staining is just dull areas.
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Rich Bingham
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Re: Cleaning nickel safely.

Post by Rich Bingham » Sun Sep 22, 2019 8:46 pm

It's my understanding that nickel is impermeable, and a proof against corrosion; unlike chrome, which is porous and can allow under layers to tarnish or corrode.

Nickel is given to oxidize and become dull, requiring minimal polishing to remain bright. You could try most any good metal polish safely to see if the discoloration responds to treatment. Other than that, it almost appears the nickel has reacted chemically. It couldn't hurt to consult someone well versed in plating chemistry. Beautiful shell, I hope it will clean up ! Good luck.
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TRDxB2
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Re: Cleaning nickel safely.

Post by TRDxB2 » Mon Sep 23, 2019 12:21 am

What type of tape was it (masking, duct, electrical....)? Is it an actual stain or glue residue?


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Mike Robinson
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Re: Cleaning nickel safely.

Post by Mike Robinson » Mon Sep 23, 2019 1:07 pm

It looks like a chemical reaction from the duct tape through the cloth covering that was protecting it.

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A Whiteman
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Re: Cleaning nickel safely.

Post by A Whiteman » Mon Sep 23, 2019 4:18 pm

I have a regular 'rendezvous' with the nickel (and aluminium) in my 1924 Morris.

I found that metal polish works best BUT not all polishes actually work as advertised.

U.S.Brands are different to those we have in New Zealand, so naming a brand my not be helpful. It took me several attempts with 4 different polishes to find the one that works best - not all metal polishes are the same. The one for nickel barely marks the aluminium and a third one works best on brass.

Read the labels carefully and select one that particularly mentions nickel (might not help as all 4 I tried did). The one I have that works has a light blue tube - all the writing has fallen off it and I can't recall its brand name - I buy it by the colour!!

A good polish will restore even very tarnished nickel to a bright gleam, use a soft cloth. The only thing to be aware of is that depending on how thick the plating is, you may soon arrive at the copper layer or the underlying metal faster with some parts than others if it is really badly tarnished.

With a fairly 'new' component like yours that should not be a worry, but start with an area in a less visible location first.

All the best,
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Mike Robinson
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Re: Cleaning nickel safely.

Post by Mike Robinson » Mon Sep 23, 2019 5:11 pm

Thanks . That is what I am worried about . Doing damage to the finish. It’s to nice to wreck it by rubbing through or making things worse with the wrong process or chemical.

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A Whiteman
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Re: Cleaning nickel safely.

Post by A Whiteman » Mon Sep 23, 2019 5:49 pm

A good polish does not remove much material. Abrasive ones should be avoided - that is like sandpapering the parts. Cheers

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George Mills
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Re: Cleaning nickel safely.

Post by George Mills » Tue Sep 24, 2019 5:32 pm

Mike,

As others have posted, you need to somehow determine if it is actually nickel curdling, or is it adhesive residue that seeped through and 'time welded' to the surface.

If its' NOT the later, you're kind of between the rock and hard place anyway.

So...

Start with something simple...vegetable oil or WD-40 or even mayonnaise. Let is sit a bit and if its' going to emulsify (turn to fluid again) it doesn't take long and then a wipe off with a dry rag followed by a standard cleaner...

That don't get it done, get a hair dryer and set it on high and hold it up next to the goo for a while and it either softens it or it doesn't...

No luck yet? DON'T TRY silver polish or toothpaste!!! Repeat...DON'T TRY silver polish or toothpaste...even fine abrasive will dull what's left.

Turn to something like Weiman's Induction Range Top cleaner....it's a host of chemicals that are not too bad....with like zero abrasive. Just goo it up on the surface, and if necessary use your fingernail as the scraper. Using soft cloth or paper towel, rub it out and dry. Then a light coat all over the area and let it fully dry. Then scrub it off with something soft. (Sort of like old glass-wax, if you remember that)

Somehow, in the course of the above you 'should' find a solution...

IF not, it's vinegar or ammonia time. Forcing the pH to shift many times causes a molecular 'pop' of a contaminant and while I certainly don't advocate using muriatic or toilet bowl cleaner...to cause a shift...these two are pretty good at it if it's going to work.

At this point if it isn't off...its probably then nickel curdle or nickel pickled and under-metal curdled and it will make a great tall BLACK radiator when sanded out. You are correct to be concerned about too much rubout and abrasives...I am not aware of the Ford specification but in the era the reason for going to nickel almost universal was it was cheap and quick and in the time was actually called 'deco-nickel' by the trade and usually no more than 0.0005" thick. That's right, 1/2 a thou'

Good luck


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Re: Cleaning nickel safely.

Post by Kingsford-Smith » Tue Sep 24, 2019 10:17 pm

I use Blue Magic that is an American produced metal polish and works well on brass and chrome


jiminbartow
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Re: Cleaning nickel safely.

Post by jiminbartow » Wed Sep 25, 2019 10:48 pm

Try water diluted toothpaste using a very fine and damp cotton T-shirt. Toothpaste is an abrasive, but much less so than metal polish or rubbing compound. Use a very small amount and rub very lightly in a small circle over just the stain. Jim Patrick


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Re: Cleaning nickel safely.

Post by Terry_007 » Thu Sep 26, 2019 11:46 am

I've used nothing but SemiChrome on my 1912 Triumph motorcycle.
Terry
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Mike Robinson
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Re: Cleaning nickel safely.

Post by Mike Robinson » Mon Nov 11, 2019 2:00 am

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Just a follow up on stains on my nickel radiator shell from duct tape . I tried a few products but the stains remained . Then as suggested I looked for a product that mentioned Nickel in its line up of metal it would clean. I tried Flitz Metal polish an it removed all the stains in only a few minutes. The shell looks like new again. Thanks for all the suggestions.
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Scott_Conger
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Re: Cleaning nickel safely.

Post by Scott_Conger » Mon Nov 11, 2019 10:35 am

Michael

excellent of you to follow up with that review!
Scott Conger

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