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September 13, 2009 / ebretzel

Uncovering a Treasure

A few months ago I came across this rusty, old, dome-topped trunk at goodwill. 35 dollars? I’ll take it! Ryan couldn’t believe that I wasted my money on such a piece of junk, but we have an understanding about each other’s projects: Just go along with it.

rusty, antique dome trunk

rusty, antique dome trunk

Ok, I admit it’s in terrible shape. The hinge is broken, half the metal decorations are bent, or rusted away, and the handles are completely missing. But think of the possibilities! Hank thinks I should rig it up to a bubble machine, add some fake plants and a skeleton to make a life-sized aquarium decoration. However, I have different plans. I scoured the internets for tips on how to restore trunks.

First things first, remove the rust. Now, I examined the trunk thoroughly to get any clues to its history. There is a small piece of a sticker on it that says “C.W. Miller’s Coach and Baggage,” (cool!) and the hardware has the date of 1890 stamped into it. That means the rust is over 100 years old. Yikes!

I didn’t want to ruin the awesome alligator skin tin so I started out with a piece of steel wool and scrubbed delicately in an inconspicuous corner. I wore out half of the steel wool without making a dent in the rust. This was serious business people. I needed something stronger.

norustFast forward to today. Ryan equips me with safety glasses, a face mask and ear covers. Fully protected, I blast into the rust with a metal brush attached to a drill. I have to admit, I felt pretty powerful wielding a power tool and decimating century-old rust. After about 30 minutes my efforts bring forth a tiny patch of shiny, silver tin.

Success!! Since that went so well I switched to the front side and spent the good part of an hour demolishing the black grime off of a panel in the front. I accidentally got into part of the wood, and embedded tiny splinters into my skin, but oh well, I’m going to have to replace that stuff anyway. The difference is amazing! I estimate that in only about 500 more hours it will be completely rust free.

Rust be gone!

Rust be gone!

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