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Old 8th May 2019, 12:12 pm   #1
David Simpson
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Default A Hopeless Mahogany Case ?

Folk may have seen my "Rescued Test Equipment" thread of 16th Feb. One of the items - a Demolition Test set(pictures 3 & 4) - was extensively manky!
After recently renovating the Mahogany cased "Capacity Tester", & then just finishing an Oak cased "Desynn Tester", thought I'd attempt the demolition tester's mahogany case. No one seems to want the tester, but the well constructed case, now that all the much corroded &/or rusty hinges, catches, feet, etc. have been removed, could house another future project. As structurally, it hasn't suffered any damage, and I take my hat off to the chap('AP' - who had pencilled his initials inside the battery box) who did the excellent joinery.
Maybe my efforts in mank removal & hopeful surface restoration and varnishing might help others to consider such a task themselves.
The rust & verdigris penetration of the surface should hopefully be removable, but the oil stains worry me. Any suggestions, please ?

Regards, David
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Old 8th May 2019, 3:04 pm   #2
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Default Re: A Hopeless Mahogany Case ?

Might putting uncoloured absorbent (kitchen) paper on the stain and then applying a warm/hot iron to loosen the oil so that it gets absorbed by the paper help? I have no experience of this - it's just a thought.
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Old 8th May 2019, 3:24 pm   #3
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Default Re: A Hopeless Mahogany Case ?

Getting some solvent in to make the oil more mobile, followed by contact with an absorbent material may work. Absorbent materials used for stain extraction can be paper, flour, bentonite dust, all sorts of things. Powders are better able than papers to conformally contact the surface.

David
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Old 22nd May 2019, 6:15 pm   #4
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Default Re: A Hopeless Mahogany Case ?

God awful weather has driven me inside. Have followed Colin's & David's advice and soaked the lid(pre -warmed) in meths then weighted it down on top of some kitchen roll paper. That, along with a good scrape, then repeat sanding from P80 up to P600 has improved things greatly. Yep, there are still some deep stains which no amount of scraping & sanding will remove. But thankfully the oil residue has gone. Next - more sanding with higher grade paper, then a stain & varnish.

Regards, David
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Old 23rd May 2019, 10:58 am   #5
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Default Re: A Hopeless Mahogany Case ?

If you use it for a toolbox or similar, the remaining distressing will simply become interesting patina.

Pics show a similar sized less classy box I've used as a toolbox for 40 odd years. The frilly edges are from the attentions of several Staffy pups over the years.
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Old 23rd May 2019, 11:55 am   #6
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Default Re: A Hopeless Mahogany Case ?

That's a big improvement, David.

The solvent and absorber trick can be repeated, though it gets progressively diminishing effects.

Another dirty trick is to mask the good parts off and expose the bad areas to UV ot bright sunlight and let a bit of natural bleaching lighten things.

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Old 24th May 2019, 7:51 pm   #7
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Default Re: A Hopeless Mahogany Case ?

Boiled linseed oil diluted with meths might help make it a bit more consistent..
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Old 25th May 2019, 2:57 pm   #8
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Default Re: A Hopeless Mahogany Case ?

Well, the end is hopefully in site. Two coats of COLRON Deep Mahogany Wood Dye, & four sprayed coats of MOTIP Clear Acrylic Varnish with some gentle rubbing with P600 & P1500 after coat 2. I never expected the badly stained lid to recover 100%, thanks to some Mining guy spilling some god awful chemical(leaking dynamite ?) or liquid on it - maybe 40 or 50 years ago. Thankfully the scraping, sanding & wood dye has eliminated most of the scratches.
There were 12 wee rubber feet supported by brass rings. Those manky rings are presently soaking in Coca Cola, but will be cleaned up along with the rusty hinges & clasps. Next - put everything back together, then more wrist exercise applying a decent wax polish.
Mahogany cases like this - a toolbox like Herald 1360, a homebrew Crystal Set or 2 valve TRF, or a homebrew item of test equipment. Whatever I do with it, my two black labs wont be allowed near!
At the same time as all this sanding & varnishing, I've also been doing the Ambassador 545 veneered cabinet. So must get back to that pdq.

Regards, David
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Old 26th May 2019, 10:15 am   #9
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Default Re: A Hopeless Mahogany Case ?

Lovely colour. I sometimes see softwood dyed that colour (eg on tacky articles in garden centres) and they really are fooling nobody- it looks like exactly what it is!

I had an Avo (softwood) box that had deteriorated to the point where the joints were separating, and a large spillage of machine oil was in evidence on the lid. In such a situation i went in hard, reverse engineered it into a flatpack and soaked it in petrol for days, drying the pieces at intervals and leaving it in the sun- 2 or 3 times this resulted in extra oil coming to the surface, to be rubbed off with a rag. The condition was never going to be any more than 'functional' once pinned glued and screwed back together, but i did give it check straps to stop the new hinges going the same way as the old ones. Also had to move the Cheney latches inboard as the old screwholes were worn out. I noted that the petrol smell did fade away (it was quite fresh petrol)- which was nice.

Incidentally the fire risk associated with linseed oil rags is still not as widely known as it deserves to be- so i'll just repeat it here.

I recall i tried Fuller's Earth as a means of absorbing oil bleeding out from this particular wooden case- not very successful, and a bit messy.

Dave
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Old 26th May 2019, 10:50 am   #10
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Default Re: A Hopeless Mahogany Case ?

Right enough, Dave, some boxes & cabinets do require extreme measures. Thankfully this case was structurally sound, with just one corner of the bottom half needing partially gluing, G clamping, and pining of the lovely mortice & tenon joints. For ease of sanding down the top & the bottom, I removed all the brass screws(which were re-polished), and worked on them separately.
I'm intrigued, Dave, as to which "AVO" box you worked on ? The biggest I've seen is an ex military AVO 2Panel Valve Tester box. Weighed a ton.

Regards, David
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Old 26th May 2019, 2:25 pm   #11
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Default Re: A Hopeless Mahogany Case ?

Just a plain old box! I wanted to retain what was left of the logo on the lid; i don't think it's a Marconi logo but it's quite similar. i replaced the strap last week, and cleaned the verdigris off the fixing screws at the same time (lemon juice not cola, but it does work)

The Model 8 meter came with the box, a MkIII rebuilt with a MKII battery box.

The check-straps for the lid are re-purposed anti-topple safety straps from flat-pack furniture. Once biased inwards for the first closing event, conveniently they have a memory and never get caught in the lid. This might be because the plastic is woven multi-filament type.

I have a much smarter box than this, but this is one of my mobile meters and needs a box that under-sells itself to potential thieves when out and about!

Dave
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Old 31st May 2019, 8:01 pm   #12
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Default Re: A Hopeless Mahogany Case ?

Well, that's it finished for now, until I decide what to build inside. Once the current spell of rain is past - no more workshop-ing for me - our wee smallholding has many outstanding jobs.
Its well worth saving these old mahogany cases & boxes etc., I reckon, as well as all the vintage radios we're keen on. The worn or manky ones us old uns get our hands on these days were probably built by skilled tradesmen who served their time before the war, but can still be used for projects in the 21st century.

Regards, David
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Old 1st Jun 2019, 8:22 am   #13
The Philpott
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Default Re: A Hopeless Mahogany Case ?

I have great admiration for timber that furniture beetle can't touch.

...If you can't think of a role for it by the end of the year I bet you end up putting the demolition tester back in!

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Old 1st Jun 2019, 8:56 am   #14
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Default Re: A Hopeless Mahogany Case ?

There is a large country house to the south of me where all the timber in its stables and the frames of its greenhouses are in virtually indestructible wood.... teak.

It was the home of the family who owned the shipbreaking yard at St David's Bay and the wood was recycled deck planks.

I once holidayed in Somerset, hiring a holiday apartment from a retired chap who'd been a project manager building and rebuilding hospitals. He'd bought a lot of scrap timber from his employers, taken out in the refurbishment jobs. It seems that places like Rampton are supposed to avoid jail-like steel doors on psychological grounds, but still need doors and frames that can survive someone on the rampage, so that recycled timber was iroko. Next best thing to iron, hence its other name. He told me that carbide blades didn't last very long before needing reground.

Good wood is gorgeous and I've enjoyed the photos of David's refurbished case, and Retired's veneering work.

David
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Old 1st Jun 2019, 10:44 am   #15
David Simpson
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Default Re: A Hopeless Mahogany Case ?

Right enough, two other Dave's, mahogany & other similar hardwoods(Iroko & Sapele) are a joy to work with, as is oak, pitch pine & decent redwood.
Many of the crystal sets & early radios from the 20's, were boxed or cabineted in mahogany. Of Chippendale quality some of them, hence fetch huge prices these days.
I've quite a few metres of 7"x 1 1/4"mahogany unused planks for boat's decking, which I acquired in exchange for some diving work, plus more metres of 3" x 8" of ex distillery roof pitch pine collars, which I acquired in exchange for electrical work at a pal's farm. (there is a Sgt Bilko theme to many of my dealings for stuff).
I guess if I didn't have such an affinity for wood, I wouldn't spend so much time scraping, sanding, & re-varnishing knackered old boxes & cabinets. This thread hasn't been for blowing my own trumpet, but to encourage others(particularly younger guys) to take an interest in the cases/cabinets/boxes which contain many items of vintage radio & electronic equipment.

Regards, David
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Old 1st Jun 2019, 1:02 pm   #16
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Default Re: A Hopeless Mahogany Case ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Simpson View Post
Many of the crystal sets & early radios from the 20's, were boxed or cabineted in mahogany. Of Chippendale quality some of them
Hence the unintended consequence of more surviving cases than complete sets.
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