1898 Cast Iron Sign

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Raul_Duke

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Hi!

I've recently become the owner of this cast iron sign. My question is, do I leave is, 'as is,' or do I break out the wire wool and black and white hammerite for a restoration?

Thank you!:D




 
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ComUtoR

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Cut out each letter and turn them into keyrings and sell them on ebay ?
 

NSEFAN

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If you're going to leave it exposed to the elements then I'd have thought that doing it up would be essential? Otherwise it'll soon be little more than rust!
 

John Webb

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At St Albans South Signal Box we've a number of cast iron signs, mostly also Midland Railway. Those being displayed outside are cleaned and repainted, but we have several we're keeping indoors which we're leaving in their 'as received' state for comparison. But that's 'museum' practice.

I understand that there are two ways that memorabilia collectors look at things. Some prefer to restore, as you plan to do, some prefer to leave in the 'as is' state in the belief that that's not interfering with its original condition.

There is a photograph of an identical sign to yours in "Midland Style" by the Historic Model Railway Society, published (2nd edition) in 1978. The accompanying text says that the background was dark blue with white letters, so it may not be black Hammerite you need! By the way, clean and paint the back as well - the MR sometimes didn't do that and the sign will deteriorate even more if it's displayed outside without the back being protected. (And note that £10 in 1893 could be rather more than a month's wages!)
 
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Raul_Duke

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Thanks for the advice!

I have to admit, I'm new to the collecting thing. My plan was:

Good clean with a brass brush.

Two coats of cast iron primer paint

Blue enamel/hammerite all over

Go over the lettering with a hard roller and white hammerite.

Does that sound about right?

Sorry if it's a daft question.
 

John Webb

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Thanks for the advice!

I have to admit, I'm new to the collecting thing. My plan was:

Good clean with a brass brush.

Two coats of cast iron primer paint

Blue enamel/hammerite all over

Go over the lettering with a hard roller and white hammerite.

Does that sound about right?

Sorry if it's a daft question.
Suggest the first three are OK, but it's better to hand-paint the white onto the letters as that would have been how it was done in the distant past. I appreciate the hard roller is a lot quicker, but it's likely to put paint where you don't want it. Regret I haven't got details of the shade of blue required.
 

Bevan Price

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Do nothing without consulting professional restoration experts - if possible seek advice from a good museum.

Many old relics have been ruined by using the wrong procedures. Preferably store indoors in a dry environment.
 

Committee man

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Do nothing without consulting professional restoration experts - if possible seek advice from a good museum.

Many old relics have been ruined by using the wrong procedures. Preferably store indoors in a dry environment.

Good advice Bevan but it should be a good 'railway' museum (I know that's what you meant) the OP speaks to as from what I've seen some non railway museums are not up to much when it comes to railway matters despite giving the impression that they are.
What is always important with cast iron plates like this is you must NEVER 'restore' the back. It must be left as found as this is proof to other collectors as to its age/authenticity.
Hope this helps.
 

Raul_Duke

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I'm hoping to display it outside, would a clear coat over the back to prevent corrosion be acceptable?
 

pdeaves

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I'm hoping to display it outside, would a clear coat over the back to prevent corrosion be acceptable?

Ooh, outside. Where do you live, and when are you out? :D

Seriously though, make sure it is VERY secure.

I can't answer for use of varnish, but if the sign is rusty the corrosion has already happened...
 

Committee man

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I'm not sure that even clear varnish is acceptable on the rear although a general 'clean up' might be. While most of the cast iron signs in collections are on display in doors quite a few are outside.
How these are treated I'm not certain but given the age of them I would imagine that although 'rusty' they have not yet rusted away despite having spent 100+ years out in the elements. Cast iron is a very durable material hence it's use for such things.
An idea might be to visit a Railwayana auction and speak to some of the collectors there especially those that specialise in collecting cast iron.
Here is a link to a section of the Railwayana.net page on restoring signs which may be of interest. I'm sure there are other web pages that also cover this subject.


http://www.railwayana.net/restoration/index.htm

Best of luck with the restoration.
 
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Bevan Price

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I'm hoping to display it outside, would a clear coat over the back to prevent corrosion be acceptable?

No varnish is totally impervious to moisture penetration, but if done correctly, it should minimise corrosion. Beware, however, that it could make matters worse if you trap any moisture below the varnish layer when you are applying it.

Beware also of metal thieves if you display it where the public can see it - the low life scum even take metal grid & hydrant covers, etc., from streets, although they may only get a few ££ for the scrap value.
 
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