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Ormolu Cleaning

Do Not Use a Buffer

As Buffing or Polishing with Abrasives will remove Most of the Gold from the Ormolu and Change the Color.

The best way to clean Ormolu is by soaking it in a solution of Lemon Detergent and Ammonia (the lemon content will speedup dissolving of the oxides).
Use 1 parts household Ammonia to 2 parts of water, then add Lemon detergent till the solution is a very strong soapy one, if no lemon detergent is available a lemon ( one for each gallon or 5 liters of solution ) should be squeezed into the solution.
As this concoction is very strong it is recommended that gloves are used during the handling of the ormolu.
Care should be taken that all objects are completely submerged and no air pockets are allowed, as the fumes of the ammonia will cause oxidization on the ormolu in those air bubbles, leaving a green patch.
The container should be non-ferrous, preferably glass or plastic, but should be sealable to avoid excessive evaporation of the ammonia.
If the pieces are thickly covered with wax or grease then Mineral Turps should be added to this mixture up to approx. the same quantity as the ammonia. ( This is also a very good degreaser for car parts )
Do not insert any iron parts into the same bath as iron may plate onto the Ormolu covering it with a red Copper like coating.
After a thorough soaking, between 2 and 24 hours lift a piece out and scrub it with a Brass wire brush, dipped in a little of the solution, which is in a separate container.
It is important to use a brass wire brush as this will, not only give it the right sheen, but will not excessively remove the gold from the brass and also help to match the brass parts which are worn trough, to color in with the gilded parts, so that it practically impossible to tell which is which.
Wash the brushed piece straight away with clean water after brushing.
If the drying is to be done in groups then submerge it into clean water until one has a group of pieces together for drying.
Drying; rub dry with a clean towel taking care that no skin touches the object then wash it ( submerged ) in white spirit to remove any water from the piece and lift out and let dry in a safe place.
Do not handle the pieces unnecessarily as contact with the skin will leave oxidization marks way before the natural time.
It is best to wear white cotton or plastic gloves when fitting the pieces.
Left clean and dry those pieces of Ormolu would not need such a thorough cleaning for up to 20 years.
Clock parts ( dissembled movements ) may be cleaned in the same manner, taking care to use a separate container for this.
Do not leave gears on steel shafts and other iron parts excessively long in the solution.
Non Gilded clock parts requiring a shine can quickly be buffed up especially since the oxides and greases are already removed.