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Best Way to Restore Black Mantel Finish?

jrbuzz

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Mar 10, 2013
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I've tried numerous methods to obtain a beautiful, glossy, smooth black finish on antique mantel clocks while retaining their original finish. I see these gorgeous clocks on eBay and no matter what I try (even if it's the same thing the seller used) I can not replicate that finish. What are the ways that work the best?
 

Bruce Alexander

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Who manufactured the clock jrbuzz? It may be a black enamel, or black adamantine finished wood case or perhaps something else entirely. Please give us more to go on.

Very generally all methods include a thorough non-abrasive cleaning to get to the true finish before proceeding any further. I use "Goop" without pumice with good results on both Adamantine and Black Enamel...
 

jrbuzz

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Mar 10, 2013
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Just black mantels in general. Mostly black enamel. But I wouldn't mind knowing how to polish Adamantine, either.
 

Bruce Alexander

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Just black mantels in general. Mostly black enamel. But I wouldn't mind knowing how to polish Adamantine, either.
I generally treat black enamel paint the same way I would treat automobile finishes. Clean thoroughly first (as mentioned before I like using non-abrasive "Goop" hand cleaner some folks use "GoJo"). Keep applying the Goop with a clean rag until no more dirt comes off. It takes a while with some finishes which can have a century accumulation of smoke film dirt and old wax on them. Once clean, re-evaluate the finish and go from there. If it is damaged, you have some decisions to make as to how original you want to keep the finish. If it is just dull/oxidized, you can apply an auto polishing compound (white paste) to smooth the surface and bring up a shine, then apply a good auto carnuba wax. It helps to remove ornamentation if possible. If not, use cotton-tipped applicators to get as far into seams and details as possible with the case still fully assembled.

Here's a LINK I've found useful when it comes to Adamantine Case Restoration.

Hope that helps a little.
 

ahemsley

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Nov 4, 2022
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Machiasport, ME
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I generally treat black enamel paint the same way I would treat automobile finishes. Clean thoroughly first (as mentioned before I like using non-abrasive "Goop" hand cleaner some folks use "GoJo"). Keep applying the Goop with a clean rag until no more dirt comes off. It takes a while with some finishes which can have a century accumulation of smoke film dirt and old wax on them. Once clean, re-evaluate the finish and go from there. If it is damaged, you have some decisions to make as to how original you want to keep the finish. If it is just dull/oxidized, you can apply an auto polishing compound (white paste) to smooth the surface and bring up a shine, then apply a good auto carnuba wax. It helps to remove ornamentation if possible. If not, use cotton-tipped applicators to get as far into seams and details as possible with the case still fully assembled.

Here's a LINK I've found useful when it comes to Adamantine Case Restoration.

Hope that helps a little.
Hi Bruce,

I can't get the link to open and I see it was posted 2014, and there have been platform changes at NAWCC. Any chance you still have the url?

Thanks!
 

Bruce Alexander

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Elliott Wolin

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I had a mantel clock with a totally faded enamel (or Japanned) finish. Actually, I thought it was lacquer, so I first sprayed it with black lacquer to cover the faded areas,, then put on innumerable coats of clear brushing lacquer to fill in the alligatoring and other imperfections. Between some of the coats I used wet 320 grit, then Maguiar's medium and later Maguiar's fine buffing compound using a rag and a lot of elbow grease.

It is not a restoration, since I inadvertently switched from enamel to lacquer, but it looks great anyway. See more details here.
 

ahemsley

Registered User
Nov 4, 2022
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Machiasport, ME
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I had a mantel clock with a totally faded enamel (or Japanned) finish. Actually, I thought it was lacquer, so I first sprayed it with black lacquer to cover the faded areas,, then put on innumerable coats of clear brushing lacquer to fill in the alligatoring and other imperfections. Between some of the coats I used wet 320 grit, then Maguiar's medium and later Maguiar's fine buffing compound using a rag and a lot of elbow grease.

It is not a restoration, since I inadvertently switched from enamel to lacquer, but it looks great anyway. See more details here.
Thank you for the insights, I tried laquering on my first project (1929 Ingraham mantel clock) after watching a video on how to use it. I didn't do a very uniform job, and will hopefully improve it when I don't have any ongoing projects. I used an acrylic gold paint on the metal parts. Just tried a new technique from Ben Fulbright, (thanks Bruce) - acrylic base color chosen from the clock color scheme touched up with a water-based gold highlight paint. After cleaning off 120 years of dirt and colossal amounts of caked-on Brasso which pitted the black paint finish badly, I applied black wax to the black painted areas and an antique mahogany wax to the marbled areas. Jeweller's sandpaper instead of Brasso allowed some clean-up of the dial ornamentation. I don't know if I should replace the paper face or leave it - major stains there. The movement needs rating, but soon it will be in one piece and a 1902 Wm. L Gilbert Blackbird will sing again, in my parlor.

PB300081.JPG PB300079.JPG
 

Bruce Alexander

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Nice looking cases ahemsley. From what I can see (2nd photo) the dial looks very legible and authentically antique. It's a preference call. I have reproduced/replaced badly discolored/damaged paper dials before but, FWIW, I think that I would leave it original.
 

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