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This Yearís Cleaning Challenge (Read 137 times)
Russell Ware
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WAGS: Heartbeat of Cast
Iron Cookware Collecting

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This Yearís Cleaning Challenge
Nov 3rd, 2017 at 1:51pm
 
This post was written with newer members in mind. Iíve seen many people come here who are new to cast iron. Some tend to buy just about anything and everything they find, so I wanted to temper that impulse with a discussion about picking, purchasing, and cleaning a specific piece I have been looking for.

Every so often I pick up a piece just to see if I can clean it. It helps me to set a clear boundary limit when reviewing potential collector pieces. Here is this yearís candidate. Itís a Martin 230 24-inch wide fire grate. I have seen many portable fireplaces/grates, but I would immediately think about the difficulties involved in trying to restore one. Well, this year was different. I found one at a good price that looked relatively intact. I do not like the way many of these pieces look when people simply paint them; because, you never really know what is under that paint any way. Iíve even found wood filler painted over on one piece. This one was in as-found, unrestored condition. A good candidate for closer scrutiny.

The challenges:
1. The parts are bolted together. It must be disassembled for a proper restoration. Can the bolts be salvaged, or do I need to cut them off. Two of them are already missing.
2. Itís 24-inches wide. Will the parts fit in the lye bath and electrolysis tank?
3. There is some significant rust on it, so are there any surprises under it? After all, it has actually been used for its intended purpose - containing a fire!
4. Can I season it in the oven so it will match the pieces I want to display it with?
5. Lastly, the original owner assembled it incorrectly! (I didnít know it initially either.)

Here are the answers:
1. Clearly if 2 bolts are missing, Iíd need to replace them. I managed to free 2 others, but the slot on another bolt was rusted off, so it had to be cut off. I got the nut off another, but of all things, the bolt would not release from the 2 pieces of cast iron it was holding together. The remainder of the bolts were also firmly rusted in place and had to be cut.
2. As far as fitting the pieces into the electrolysis tank, only the front piece is 24-inches wide. So only that one piece was tricky. One end of that piece had to rest on the bottom of the electrolysis tank. I just inverted it after a couple of hours to even things out. Before electrolysis, I knew from the get-go it wouldnít fit bolted together in my lye bath, but a brief soak and a few rotations of the piece in the bath wouldnít hurt. I wanted to see if any bolts would loosen. They didnít. WD-40 and PB Blaster werenít much help either.
3. Aside from the absolute corrosion of the bolts by fire, weather, and rust, it turns out that there was some type of paint at least on the front piece, but it came right off in the lye bath. Never underestimate the benefit of pretreating in a lye bath. This grate has seen plenty of use, so there is some fire pitting, but no big surprises.
4. As far as seasoning went, again, the 24-inch wide piece was the one part that had to sit on an angle during seasoning. Luckily, that positioning didnít leave any unwanted marks. Now I can assemble it.
5. I did not know this piece was made by Martin when I picked it up. I thought it might be BSR, but it ended up not matching the BSR grates in the catalog PDFís. Turns out the memberís side has some King/Martin PDFís too, so I took a look through those. That is where I found this grate. So I have WAGS to thank as well as the member who donated that catalog. It was that catalog photo that alerted me to the correct part orientation for the 2 side pieces. So for the first time in what could possibly be over 50 years, the piece is assembled correctly, and it finally has a sturdy feel to it when picking it up. It was a little shaky and loose when I found it, but itís solid now.
Iím happy with it.

Here are the before pics:
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230_1.jpg (157 KB | 6 )
230_1.jpg
230_2.jpg (162 KB | 6 )
230_2.jpg
230_3.jpg (157 KB | 7 )
230_3.jpg
 
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Russell Ware
Forum Administrator
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WAGS: Heartbeat of Cast
Iron Cookware Collecting

Posts: 1203
USA
Re: This Yearís Cleaning Challenge
Reply #1 - Nov 3rd, 2017 at 1:53pm
 
Here are a couple finished photos. The back and sides actually have a hammered finish on one side:
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230b.jpg (136 KB | 8 )
230b.jpg
230a.jpg (132 KB | 9 )
230a.jpg
 
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Doug R. Hoffman
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WAGS: The heartbeat of
cast iron collecting.

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Roseburg, OR
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Re: This Yearís Cleaning Challenge
Reply #2 - Nov 5th, 2017 at 6:56pm
 
Looks like a real challenge with great results! Seeing other's restoration projects with the process description and pics keeps my eyes open to future personal challange's!

Great Job and info Russ!
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