Cleaning old bayonets

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Vladimir_Ilyich_Crab, Jun 13, 2012.

Welcome to the Army Rumour Service, ARRSE

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial military website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  1. What is the best way to clean old bayonets?

    Thinking of both the wooden furniture (if that is the correct term) and also the metal work.

    Looking at a range from French Gras to 1907 LE sword bayonets.

    Whilst I could crack on with scotchbrite thought someone on here may have a gentler way more appropriate to century old weapons.

    Thank you,
  2. I would not use anything that is abrasive, it will remove the years of patina and devalue it. A light rub down to remove old cosmoline is all I would do and even that is frowned upon by some collectors.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. What he said.
    If you want something shiney for display, find a re-enactors supply shop for a new copy.
  4. I recently restored the beechwood stock on an old air rifle by sanding it down, soaking it overnight in warm water in the sink, and then placing a tablecloth on it and applying an steam iron to get all the dinks and dents out. I'm going to try oiling the stock next, but my previous attempts at oiling have been poor.

    But do many military bayonets would have a beechwood handles/inserts? Perhaps as a wartime economy.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Thank you your highness but I didn't want to wade through acres of google shite when there may be expertise from this august body of opinions on Arrse...

    Thanks for the answers all.
  6. I find the best way is to wipe it on the victims back... pref whilst the blood is still hot and wet.
  7. I've managed to get my grubby little mitts on one of these.

    The only thing wrong with it is the handle and scabbard are covered in white paint flecks, how do I get rid of them carefully so as not to ruin the finish to the sword.

    Attached Files:

  8. sirbhp

    sirbhp LE Book Reviewer

    they dont like it uppem
  9. Paint them white and tell everyone that it was arctic issue.
    • Like Like x 3
  10. Try ordinary Vinegar for the metalwork as long as it isnt blued. may take a soaking of 2-3 days but will remove rust without further damaging the surface. Have used it on an 1851 Colt Navy revolvers Nipples (Awaiting comments) and some older pocketknives to good effect. If you must use abrasives look into Bronze wool 0000 grade. Kroil is also a good rust remover (dont know if available in UK) but basically Kerosene penetrating oil. Seen it used to remove surface rust from a Maxim 08/15 after a nights soak.
  11. I've got two German WW1 bayonets, one is a pioneer bayoet with a whopping great saw on the back. And two drum sticks, which have the 'skin tighteing key' inset in to the base of ht edrum stick.

    Somebody in my family attempted to 'clean them' up. Fortunatly only the scabbards, and they are pretty fcuked now.

    If you are going to try anything, ie vinegar, make sure it is in dilute quantities to start with, and on ly in a small area. Take the time, or you may find that you fcuk your bayonets right up.
  12. There is only one way to clean a bayonet:


  13. Always a difficult one, and not easy to give a quick answer.. however:

    You need to make a decision whether to conserve or restore.. The idea of conservation is to halt the deterioration process and "freeze" the artifact in its present state. Restoration is when you try to change the state of the object back to some arbitary point in the past. This covers the whole past history of the object from the point of manufacture, to its last time of use..

    In practice, you probably need to do a bit of both, based on what it is you are trying to achieve. If you have aquired the object as an investment, and simply want to preserve it for resale, then you need to look at the market into which you are selling. Some markets are looking for "out of the attic" states, while others are looking for cetain degree of restoration to achieve a price. Know your market if this is what you are trying to do. I tend to restore an object to the "point of last use" i.e. try to reverse the effects of storage, but leave the item with it's history..

    Otherwise, the watchword is "Do no harm" in other words, try to do the mimimum necessary to restore an object to the state you have chosen to restore, and were possible do things in a way that is reversable, and for Gods sake FORGET anything you ever did in service - 90% of damage to service equipment is done by overcleaning & bullshit..!

    A few tips:

    1. Be very careful soaking anything in anything... liquids get to places they cannot be controlled! Better to use a damp cloth than immersing something..

    2. Try not to remove material from objects.. steam wood rather than sand - hammer metal rather than file. Attack burred over screws with a polished hammer first - push the metal back to where it was rather than remove it!

    3. You have to remove rust to halt the deterioration process. A very soft iron brush will remove suface rust from a blued surface without removing the blue (but test first) - start fine and step up the harshness of the cleaning process.. but remember, even a cotton cloth buffing wheel will cut metal under certain conditions. Use chemicals very carefully and sparingly. Again always start mild and progress through planned steps. Take your time - you can ruin years of careful preservation by one stupid action..! I would suggest that vinegar is a strong acid.. try a little mild washing up liquid or lighter fluid first..

    4. Make sure you preservation regime is correct and will not cause future problems.. Extremes of acid and alkali will promote corrosion, as will excess moisture - however if you let things get too dry, wood in particular will become damaged. Never leave an object after you have cleaned it without considering preservation. Grime can protect a surface - strip it off and leave it bare can result in corrosion within hours! Above all, check you items for deterioration on a regular basis. Remove surface contamination, remove old oil etc and replace..

    Remember - you own nothing - we simply hold items for a period of time in trust for the future..

    Take your time, research your subject and do it right!