Restoring Columns on Ansonia Iron Case Mantle Clock

Discussion in 'Clock Repair' started by derwiener, Dec 25, 2016.

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  1. derwiener

    derwiener Registered User
    Old Timer NAWCC Member

    Aug 8, 2009
    Below are pictures of the columns from an Ansonia clock that I would like to restore. I'm not sure what the metal is, but the main columns seems to be of different material than the tops/bottoms. The bottom column part on the left is shiny yellow, and I assume the rest should be the same. I have tried cleaning with Brasso, etc, but I think the finish, whatever it is, has worn away. If there is no way to restore them without getting them refinished, I'd like to paint them a gold color. I's appreciate any suggestions about what paint is suitable for this purpose.
    Thank you, and Merry Christmas!


    Column1.jpg Column2.jpg
  2. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

    Dec 2, 2016
    Western NSW or just this side of the black stump.
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    I had to use quote reply to see your images. Not sure why.

    To restore these as they were, you'd need to gild them I believe. Some were still available to buy and presumably some still may be.

    If you do decide to paint them or get them regilded, they will still need to be meticulously cleaned first.
  3. Bruce Alexander

    Bruce Alexander Registered User
    Sponsor NAWCC Brass Member

    Feb 22, 2010
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    Probably not a good idea to use Brasso or any kind of polish/abrasive on these types of ornaments. A lot of them are spelter with a thin finish. I agree with roughbarked, application of gilt would look best. The problem with metallic paint is that it tends to obscure detail and it is not as stable over time as gilt will be. It doesn't have to be true gold, but gold "colored" leaf or gilt will need to be sealed. Good luck with it.

    BLKBEARD Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Nov 15, 2016
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    They were likely Fire Gilded, a process no longer available due to the involvement of Mercury in the process.
    Gold Leaf Gilding is easy enough to accomplish without any high tech skill set. That will leave you a bright Gold Finish. Should you desire, a antiquing glaze is available to tone down the brightness. You could also send the components out to be brass plated, or paint them. I've done Gold Leaf Gilding, and I barely have an artistic bone in my body.

    You might google "restoring fire gilded objects" or similar searches to see what pops up
  5. doug sinclair

    doug sinclair Registered User

    Aug 27, 2000
    Calgary, Alberta
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    Or have someone anodize them gold. As in, gold electroplate.
  6. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

    Feb 9, 2008
    Rub-n-buff makes em look good to me. Originally they had various finishes from paint to guilding. I am in the camp where an old clock should look like an old clock. This is a practical choice to me, mainly because when you make one single part of an old clock look like new, that part sticks out like a sore thumb, looks terible. So once you start down this 'slippery slope' there is no good place to stop ... Even if a clock is a total wreck you still have to take a measured and well planned approach to come up with something nice.
    In short, I would try to make all look like the left one if possible.
    Willie X
  7. Bruce Alexander

    Bruce Alexander Registered User
    Sponsor NAWCC Brass Member

    Feb 22, 2010
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    #7 Bruce Alexander, Dec 25, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2016
    Another option would be Sculpt Nouveau products. You can replicate patinas but the "restoration" may differ as the parts with original finish continue to age. The final overall finish of the clock needs to be stabilized and preserved. Periodic application of wax finishes is one way to accomplish this. See: to get some idea what is possible. I have used these products alone and over gilt finishes and I think I've attained some good results. I've heard some good things about rub-n-buff but I have never tried it myself. This is another area where art overlaps with Horology. Have fun.
  8. Fitzclan

    Fitzclan Registered User

    Jul 20, 2014
    Long Island, New York
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    #8 Fitzclan, Dec 26, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2016
    As you can see, there are several ways to approach this kind of restoration. If you use rub n buff, I suggest that you use it sparingly leaving the recesses dark. This gives you a more natural Antique look.
    Fake gold leaf is also easy. I use a spray adhesive, then leaf. This gives a very brash gold. color which can then be toned down with an oil based wood stain. Paint the stain on with a small brush and then wipe it off with a rag leaving the recesses darker..
    After it dries a spray of semi gloss polyurethane will keep the finish from rubbing away..

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