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I was wondering what is the best, and quickest, method of cleaning and removing large amounts of rust and dirt from large artifacts (think tractors, wagons, etc.) on a budget. Our museum has a massive cleaning project ahead of us on objects that have been heavily exposed to weather for a long time, but only has a couple of people to do it. What products are safe and easy to use while staying as close to best practices as possible, but also cost efficient as we will be needing a lot on a very tight budget?
I have reached out to some experts regarding your query and firstly, there need to be some questions answered:
– are the objects in question painted, and is the paint layer something that the institution wants to preserve?
– are the objects in question meant to run or have moving parts that need to retain motion?
– is the corrosion surface only, or is there delamination of layers due to deep corrosion?
– are there areas of wet looking pustules on the corrosion?
There are all of the above. We have a large number of pieces which vary from iron pieces to mills, to gas pumps and most everything else. Some of the pieces have paint, others, I can’t even tell if it does due to exposure to weather. Nothing absolutely must retain motion though. There are a wide number of levels of deterioration and layers, but it is a large number of items (above 50). I am really just hoping to get a general “approved cleaning supplements” idea within a small budget. Many objects may be deaccessioned, but should be cleaned first regardless.
Any help is greatly appreciated!
Liz will be finding you some methodologies and solutions for your large objects. I wanted to let you know that we will probably have a webinar on care of large objects like machinery, farm implements and transport materials, etc. as you describe sometime early next year. We had hoped to have this webinar this fall, but our prospective presenter could not do it until later. So, stay tuned and in the meantime, follow the advice that Liz can glean from our experts.
I just viewed the 2011 vehicle webinar on C2CC, and it has what seems like very good information on this. Since it’s now six years old, though, if you find from the experts that some of the products mentioned in that webinar are no longer recommended, I’d love to know that, too! Looking forward to another webinar on the broader topic of large objects next year.
This sounds like an enormous undertaking. Given your situation, I highly recommend you consult with a conservator in your area to determine what the best way forward will be. I also highly recommend that you not attempt to treat anything on your own before consulting with a conservator first.
You can find the nearest objects conservator in you area by using the “find a conservator” search tool on AIC’s website:
It will be money well spent to at least have a conservator triage your collection to determine the best way forward.
Please let us know how it goes!
I am looking forward to the webinar as I also have this issue but no solution.