For any collector, whether beginners or advanced, the search of a piece that could complement its collection is a privileged moment. But, all thoses efforts are sometimes frustrated when he is in front of this piece on the vendor's display, in a rusted out condition, with a already deep corrosion or pitting.
Indeed, it is rare to find pieces of which the condition is almost mint as in the previous example.
So you have to do a quick choice: either giving up, or buying it with some worries because we know exactly that we'll not be able to restaure it in its original condition. But who knows? and what if there was a way to make the aspect looks better?
In this page, we'll see that there are opportunities to reduce the rust without altering the original blue,but of course, we need patience and a some equipment.
Here we can see a bayonet 84/98 2nd pattern which seems in good condition : (click on pictures for details), the blue scabbard looks good without much surface rust. In reality, when I found it, it was pitted by rust, I hesitated before buying but its original blue covering a large area, and its good overal condition changed my mind.
However, it is a pity that
people dammage these pieces that reflect a
glorious past, often leaving them in a damp basement, thinking that
this is the only place that can suit. In this case, we can see that the
whole area shows scattered rust spots and rust pittings.
We note that rust, a kind of metal cancer, is light brown and may suggest that the piece was in contact with oxygen and humidity, and thus we hope there are not a lot of internal dammages.
To do this, I take as an example a rust pit in the middle of the scabbard which is an area easily accessible. The rust on it is important but its volume is formed outwards and it is a good sign.
As a first step, I coat the surface with oil or petroleum jelly which are not not too aggressive for not chemically alter the blue (avoid the WD 40). I spread oil to penetrate deeply and I expect that the rust be soaked.
It is easier to work the rust once it is weakened by the oil. Then it allows to make slight movements as a "8" without pressing with a small steel file or diamond file. Gradually, as the rust goes away we can note that steel is not scratched. You have to repeate this operation and you have to wipe out often with a cloth.
Sometimes, when the roughness of the rust is too important, I take a small brush with steel thread (or brass thread according friability of the rust) that I use with a small drill. It is better to use the brush at low speed.
It is important to understand that we should not use this same small brass brush on the whole surface because there are big risks to make disappear quickly the original blue. It may cause irreversible marks leaving a polished steel aspect.
Once this rust disappeared, we can remove the small close rust patchs.
Now, our work will be done on the side of the scabbard.
We have to be careful because the steel become thiner.
Until then, work is relatively easy because the areas are free of obstacles and steep angles. The most difficult is located around the frog stud. We have tendency to file the stud edges and to digg in the cylinder with the side of the file.
To get a good result, we must remove the screw which retains the internal springs. As often the rust jams the screw and it is difficult to remove it with a screwdriver.
If the oil and time have no effects, I advise to give up because the screwdriver may enlarge the slot, or worse : break up the screw head.
Now we can improve other areas, including the lower scabbard.
Take care with the ball-tip. The advices about the frog stud are also valid here.
That work is finished and we only have to watch the work as on the first 2 photos.I always let new oil soak on the surface in the small crevices for one night. This is important because it stops the process of internal rust.
There is no doubt that this work is long and pretty boring and it requires some patience. Once this hard work is done, the bayonet looks nice, not like its repugnant aspect with all the rust. If we take care not to dammage the original blue, we can assume that the scabbard has regained its original condition. Many collectors do not want to remove this rust thinking that this is a part of the heritage of the bayonet and that it modifyes the original appearance. We can see here that this is not true and this work is far from the bright polishing done by sellers hoping to make better sales.