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Rust on the Chain Mail


falconj
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hi all,

there is a small area of light rust that has developed on the fine chain mail on one of the sleeve guards from a suit of armour I have, this could possibly from being stored incorrectly.

To try to contain this, should I ( after taking steps to the protecting of the fabric under and beside the chain mail ) spray or brush on some form of rust removal or rust preventative the likes of "CRC" or similar to the effected area? any advice welcome

thanks

regards

John

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It is probably due to the demise of urushi lacquer on the small rings of the chainmail.

 

Do you have a picture of it ?

 

In Roman re-enactment, with chainmail which is not painted, we regularly put a chainmail in a plastic bag filled with coarse building sand and then start shaking the bag for a considerable time. It gets rid of the rust and afterwards we shake the sand off and oil it.

 

This however would not be advisable with Japanese mail of course.

 

The best thing to do is to remove the chain mail from the fabric of the Kote sleeves first. Be sure to have photos or drawings of the attachment points so you can restitch the mail back in place. (Now whether you would want to do this on an original Edo period suit of armor is another thing altogether). When the mail of the Kote is removed, you try brushing away all active rust with a soft to medium brush so as not to damage the lacquer coat remaining. Then you can still oil it lightly but be sure not to overdo it because oil of course can stain the brocade of the sleeves or if they are made from hemp cloth that fabric.

 

What really should be done is relaquering the chainmail (at least the parts where the lacquer is gone).

But that can (in my opinion if you use Urushi) only be done by an armor restorer like for instance Dave Thatcher who is a member here.

 

Alsi Ian Bottomley could help with information in this case.

 

Hope that helps !

 

KM

 

Here is an image of a modern piece of removed armor which only needs to be reattached to a sleeve (the same goes in general for Haidate and Suneate) :

post-109-14196937054375_thumb.jpg

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John, I really don't think you should take the metalwork off the iyeji - that involves taking off the lining to sewn the metalwork back and then the hassle of resewing the lining. Far simpler is obtain a short-haired stencil brush and gently brush off as much loose rust as you can, being careful not to break any stitching or rubbing the fabric - especially if it is silk (hemp is far more robust). Hold a piece of gauze or netting tightly down over the area and then use the smallest nozzle of a vacuum cleaner to suck off any residual rust. Finally using the same brush, apply an inert wax such as microcystalline wax to the mail, again being careful about the stitches and fabric. It should look a heck of a lot better and should inhibit any further rusting.

Ian Bottomley

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I know nothing of armor preservation but I wonder if a fiberglass pen (search NMB for details) might help here. Maybe have the nozzle of a vacuum cleaner positioned to catch any rust particles and fiberglass that come loose. I know the pen will remove rust but not effect patina when used on a tsuba.

Grey

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Grey, I'm sure that would work provided care was taken to avoid the stitches and fabric. The brocade used for so many armours is a weft based fabric having the most delicate warp threads so they don't interfere with the design. When these go, the weft just floats off as loose threads and there is very little you can do unless you are a skillful fabric conservator. As I have said, if the fabric is hemp, it is normally so tough you can be a bit more robust with it. Usually, provided the armour is kept in a dry place and it isn't that 'wet' looking rust it isn't going to get much worse. Better leave it well alone than cause more damage.

Ian Bottomley

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Agree absolutely with what Ian says above. Original fabric should not be tampered with by anyone not knowing what they are doing.

 

This can of course be different with chain mail attached on new sleeves, but then again it is difficult when you do not know what you are doing just because of the way the sleeves are constructed. I have a pair of fairly modern suneate in which there are no kikko present. I put kikko in, which was quite some work. But that is okay in my book since the suneate were not old and original anyway.

 

KM

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I have a similar set of sleeves and am sorely tempted to try a technique I use on antique cars. Mix 4 parts water to 1 part Vinegar and paint the rusty area after lightly brushing off loose bits. The solution will STOP the rusting process and turn the active rust black - it then can be waxed and will stay that way for a long time .

 

Not nuts enough to try it on a blade but it may be neat to put it on an old red rusty nakago to see what happens :dunno: :dunno:

 

Any chemists or engineers out there?

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