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Jax Pewter Black - not working for me - any tips?


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I received some Jax Pewter Black on Friday. I wanted to give it a try to see if it was better than Birchwood Casey Brass Black. So I did an experiment this afternoon and I'm pretty horrified by the results. Maybe I'm doing something wrong. Here's what I did - I cut some small strips of brass. On one side, I sanded them, then wire brushed them to make sure they were absolutely clean. I left the other side uncleaned to see if it made a difference. Then I soaked half of the pieces in white vinegar and the other half in diluted muriatic acid for 10, 5, & 1 minute plus I left two control pieces that were not soaked in any acid.

 

When I put some of the pieces in the Jax (full strength) they turned brown rather than black. After about 2 minutes, I removed them and rinsed them with tap water. The brown coating flaked right off! So I put them back in for 5 minutes. When I took them out and rinsed them again, there were a few spots that had some of the brown sticking to them but the pieces looked very splotchy - both on the sanded and unsanded side. I could never use those parts on a model.

 

I also decided to try the Jax diluted 50-50 with water and left the pieces in for 10 minutes. Equally bad results. Splotchy, brown, & ugly. They looked more like copper than iron.

 

The acid used appears to make no difference and I can't see that the soak time does either. Diluting the Jax didn't seem to have any effect one way or the other.

 

I'm very disappointed and this stuff was not cheap ($25). I'd be glad to have any tips on how I might do something different to achieve better results. For now, I'll be going back to Birchwood Casey, but it's a shame to have to toss out this expensive bottle of stuff since it seems to work for others. Like I say, maybe I'm doing something wrong but I can't think what it would be.

 

Thanks -

John

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Sounds to me like you did everything right John, at least what you did is exactly what I do with Birchwood Casey. I have used Jax Green Patina solution with good results but cannot speak for Jax pewter Black as I have away been pleased with the results from Birchwood Casey and have not seen the need to try anything else. Have you tried the Jax Pewter Black on any other of the metals it is supposed to work with?

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John,

 

It certainly sounds like you're doing everything right. For my own use, I found a 50/50 dilution with distilled water worked best. This may seem a silly question, but are you certain it is "Pewter Black" that you have? I only ask because Jax do a range of patinas, including a brown. Failing all else, you might just have a "bad batch" - can you take it up with the supplier?

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Well, I didn't realize Jax made a brass black as well as a pewter black. Somehow I got it in my head that pewter black was the right product. And, of course, their label comfirms that it is supposed to work on brass and many other metals. I did not try distilled water, so there could be something in my well water that causes it not to work although the instructions on the label say nothing about diluting the product and my results with the full-strength product were just as bad. I guess I'll be sticking with Casey's. I'm not going to spend another $25 to get a bottle of brass black.

 

Thanks to all for the thoughts and ideas.

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I use their Pewter Black on brass and copper and it works well.  I use it full strength, but I don't immerse the item in it.  Instead I paint it on with a brush, and when I get the results I'm looking for I rinse it in clear water. 

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Greetings jhe...

 

Yes, I have a suggestion - apply a light coat of flat black spay paint and be done with it. I have tried the various blackening products and have generally been disappointed. I expect many of the folks on this forum would frown on spray paint but, for me, it does the job. Keep the coats light to preserve detail.

 

wq3296 

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justsayrow - definitely not brass plated. It's a piece of K&S brass strip.

 

Frank - I did not try painting it on with a brush. I'll give it a try tonite - thanks for the suggestion.

 

I've written to Jax directly to see if they have any suggestions as well. I'm hoping I'll hear something today.

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I wanted to report back that thanks to Frank's suggestion to paint on the product instead of immersing the parts, it works! I don't know why it makes a difference, but it most certainly does. I looks very much like Casey's. I tried a freshly-cleaned piece (sanded and wire brushed) and another cleaned piece that I'd soaked in vinegar for 10 minutes. Both look pretty much the same to me. On the uncleaned side, the one soaked in vinegar did darken a bit but it was still kind of splotchy. On the one that was not soaked, it didn't do much at all to the uncleaned side. So as with any brass blackening solution, thorough cleaning is a must.

 

Just for grins, I tried it on a piece of pot metal (some cast metal fitting in the scrap box) and solder. Both blackened perfectly. One thing to be sure of is that the solder is clean. I had some badly oxidized Stay-Brite (which doesn't, in fact, stay bright, by the way) and where it was oxidized, the blackener had no effect but on the bit that I filed clean, it turned black as night.

 

I tried one other experiment. I inserted a small-diameter brass rod in some basswood, which I sanded flush so just the end  of the rod was showing. I've done this sort of thing to simulate iron nails in the past. Back then, I used gun bluing on steel wire because the gun blue was clear and wouldn't stain the wood. But Casey's Brass Black is blue and will stain the wood. I dabbed a bit of the Jax on the brass and it turned black right away. There is no visible discoloration of the wood itself. The only thing with that technique is I don't see a good way to flush it with water without raising the grain on the wood. So there could be problems with the brass over time. I just can't say.

 

Anyway - again - thanks to Frank for the suggestion. I'm very happy that it worked!

 

Cheers -

John

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Hi John

 

Glad I was able to help.  Another JAX product that I really like is their Brass and Copper cleaner.  When I use it, I scrub it on the piece using an old artist's paint brush that has been cut down to about 1/8" of bristles.  I had some brass pieces that I didn't like the blackened look, so I scrubbed them down with this cleaner.  It not only removed the blackening, but also removed the discoloration from being annealed and soldered.

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Hi John,

 

I think you are soaking it for far too long in the Jax Pewter Black.

 

I have recently had the need to use some of it when I ran out of Birchwood Casey Brass Black, and I only soaked my anchors for about 2 minutes with very good results.

 

I don't do anything flash like using Distilled water to dilute it, only plain tap water (where I live it's not real pure either) at a ratio of 50/50.

 

Cleaning after silver soldering is done by first soaking in white vinegar for an hour or two, then sanding as much of the part as possible with a fine grade foam-back paper followed by another soak in vinegar for a couple of hours (or overnight in this case as they were large pieces).

 

A final rinse under the tap and then it's into the blackener. I polish off any residue with some kitchen paper.

 

BTW - I don't aim for a Full Black color, rather more like a bronze. Here's a pic of my anchor to show the result. The actual color is a little blacker than in the pic, my fluro lighting isn't great for bringing out the true color :

 

Anchors 015.jpg

 

Another BTW - I prefer the Birchwood Casey Brass Black over the Jax Pewter Black. The Jax also blackens my Stainless Steel tweezers which is a nuisance  :huh:  .

 

Hope this helps.

 

:cheers:  Danny

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Danny - you may be right about letting the pieces soak too long in the Jax. I was just looking at them as they blackened and deciding when to pull them. I prefer a blacker look to my parts, so that's what I was going for. Still, as I say, painting the product on full-strength seems to work very well for me so I'll probably stick with that method.

 

Franks - thanks for the tip on the brass & copper cleaner. I'll give it a look.

 

Cheers -

John

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  • 1 month later...

justsayrow - definitely not brass plated. It's a piece of K&S brass strip.

 

John, if I remember correctly there have also been issues reported with the use of Blacken-It on K&S brass. Read the Blacken-It trials for more. Maybe it is the K&S brass which does not let itself be blackened so easily?

On another note: I use a blackening product from Germany (nerofor; see my build log) which is completely hassle-free. I did not try it on K&S yet (but I will) but compared to procedures as seen in the blacken-it trials it is sooo much easier: just rub the brass with steel wool, de-grease (with acetone or so) and apply the Nerofor (brush or soak). Afterwards rinse with water. But here's the thing: I have parts which I blackened months ago which I did not rinse and these still look great! No sweating or anything. 

 

Good luck with your project!

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