PL53 - how to get a mirror finish?

Discussion in 'Fettling Forum' started by Alex74, Oct 27, 2019.

  1. Alex74

    Alex74 United Kingdom Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2019
    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Faringdon, Oxon
    I have just polished one of the PL53s I bought a while back. Below are photos of before and after cleaning. The hood appears to be chrome plated inside but all solid brass on the outside? I expected it to be chrome plated throughout... any ideas? How do I get a mirror finish on the tank now?
     
  2. Alex74

    Alex74 United Kingdom Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2019
    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Faringdon, Oxon
  3. AussiePete

    AussiePete Australia Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2015
    Messages:
    1,486
    Location:
    Toowoomba Australia
    A grand old lady is the PL53. I do like them and they do work well.
    I’ve not had a brass PL53 hood in my hot little hands yet.
    If you’re wanting a good shine on the brass fount you could try Mothers ....
    124AB360-D57D-47A9-B756-2C7718BECC3E.jpeg

    It works very well for me. I have heard that one shouldn’t use ammonia based cleaner / polishes, like Brasso coz it effects the integrity of the brass making it brittle. I don’t know how true this is, others here will expand on this perhaps.
    Cheers
    Pete
     
  4. Alex74

    Alex74 United Kingdom Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2019
    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Faringdon, Oxon
    Ok I will try that. cheers Pete. I don’t know how rare brass hoods are but they look quite nice when cleaned. Question is will it turn black again when the lamp is used? I suspect it will...
     
  5. AussiePete

    AussiePete Australia Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2015
    Messages:
    1,486
    Location:
    Toowoomba Australia
    @Alex74
    Unfortunately the polished brass will turn black from the heat.
    Cheers
    Pete
     
  6. David Shouksmith

    David Shouksmith United Kingdom Founder Member

    Offline
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2010
    Messages:
    6,652
    Location:
    North-East England
    These originally had a matt-chrome finish so why anyone would want to turn that into a mirror-finish is beyond me - I like originality. I guess someone's polished off all the original finish and that's why you now see the underlying brass. And as Pete says, it'll just turn black when you light the lantern so you can keep on polishing it every so often or lacquer it but no longer use it.

    Horses for courses, I suppose... :)
     
  7. george

    george United States Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2011
    Messages:
    1,142
    Location:
    USA
    Is the top really original? This looks like a repro to me. I thought the top on the PL53s were all brown enameled finished. All mine but one are. I have one repro brown top but the bottom is not white, just brown all over. I thought the bottom on these tops were usually white. I could be wrong and if I am I will be corrected, I'm sure.
     
  8. Henry Plews

    Henry Plews Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2014
    Messages:
    879
    Location:
    North Yorkshire
    @george yes, all original. I have (had) two such tops, the first came on a lantern which had lived in a damp shed for too long and what remained of the plating came off when I washed away the grime with nothing more aggressive than warm soapy water. The second one I got was in much better condition and retains all of its matt chrome finish.

    Not as common as the ones with white on the inside, genuine all brown tops do exist. Years ago, I picked up a PL53 with an all brown top - loooong before anyone was making reproductions.

    Henry.
     
  9. Alex74

    Alex74 United Kingdom Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2019
    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Faringdon, Oxon
    Hi George. That hood is original. The lantern has been hanging in an old English barn for the last 50 years and you can see the photo I took when I bought it. I was expecting chrome when I cleaned the black ‘crust’ off (like I got from another almost identical hood) but was surprised to find brass. And I didn’t even need to polish it. It shone straight away. The inside surface however is indeed chrome plated. Very unusual to say the least. I wonder if this one was a one off mistake by the company, or a limited number of ‘partially plated’ brass hoods were eventually produced? Anyway, the ‘mirror finish’ would be nice on the tank only, not the hood. I guess it’s all down to aesthetics and taste, but yes, of course these lamps did not come out of the factory all shone up. I know that. I have acquired another PL53 from a popular online auction site which I decided NOT to clean and polish at all, as the original finish is still present (see below). It has an integral heating torch with its original wick in place. I’m not sure if the assembly is original to this lamp but it would appear so. I haven’t serviced it yet. Planning to do it this weekend.
     
  10. Alex74

    Alex74 United Kingdom Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2019
    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Faringdon, Oxon
  11. Alex74

    Alex74 United Kingdom Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2019
    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Faringdon, Oxon
    I’m not sure why I keep posting the same photo twice? I am only seeing one preview before I hit the ‘post reply’ button!
     
  12. george

    george United States Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2011
    Messages:
    1,142
    Location:
    USA
    @Henry Plews @Alex74 , Thanks to you both! Appreciate the lesson. I didn't realize that different hoods existed on these Tilleys. I saw what appeared to be "rivets" holding the top to gather and I thought it was a repro. I've seen repros before that looked like this.
    Lesson learned here! The more I'm on this site, the more I realize the less I know. It's a real learning experience!
    :D/:thumbup:
     
  13. AussiePete

    AussiePete Australia Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2015
    Messages:
    1,486
    Location:
    Toowoomba Australia
    @Alex74
    Wow .... a PL53 with the preheater ....... I would dearly like to get one of these. I have a BR49 in good nick and it needs a PL53 version as company.
    Enjoy the fettle of this PL53 and plenty of pictures please. Alternatively, I could send you my address :lol:
    Cheers
    Pete
     
  14. Alex74

    Alex74 United Kingdom Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2019
    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Faringdon, Oxon
    Ok Pete. Will send photos as soon as I get I manage to get it going...or, more likely, fail to! In which case I’ll need your help guys to diagnose and solve the problem(s). The third fettle to follow is another recent find which I think is a 1930s lamp? The glass and cage aren’t original sadly. The pump may well be. Tank is good with no dents. Good appears to be almost pristine.
     
  15. Alex74

    Alex74 United Kingdom Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2019
    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Faringdon, Oxon
  16. Alex74

    Alex74 United Kingdom Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2019
    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Faringdon, Oxon
    So, guys, what would you do with the fount of the 1930s lamp in the photo above? It’s well crusty and oxidised. It spent the last 40 years in a shed. The pump is caked in grime. Should I just change seals and preserve ‘originality’, or clean and polish? By the way, apologies for the bad English but I’m from Italy.
     
  17. Tony Press

    Tony Press Australia Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2012
    Messages:
    4,866
    Location:
    Stinkpot Bay, Howden, Tasmania, Australia
    @Alex74

    First clean it with soap and water and a cotton cloth so that you get to see how the surface metal looks.

    Then you can decide.

    Your English is fine!

    Cheers

    Tony
     
  18. Alex74

    Alex74 United Kingdom Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2019
    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Faringdon, Oxon
    Thanks Tony,

    ok, I will try that tomorrow. Nah, the English is still not as good as I’d like it to be. I have lived in the UK for 15 years now, but I still can’t quite match the written and spoken fluency of a native speaker. I’ll probably never will. Ah well! Vorrà’ dire che pubblico il prossimo messaggio sulle lampade Tilley in Italiano! Ciao a tutti.
     
  19. george

    george United States Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2011
    Messages:
    1,142
    Location:
    USA
    Hey, I can't speak Italian at all! I think your English is fine - probably better than mine!
    :clap::thumbup:
     
  20. AussiePete

    AussiePete Australia Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2015
    Messages:
    1,486
    Location:
    Toowoomba Australia
    Hey @george I’ve heard, from liable sources, that you can speak left hand braille when partaking of certain beverages ........ I can too, but it hurts .... next morning.
    Cheers
    Pete
     
  21. george

    george United States Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2011
    Messages:
    1,142
    Location:
    USA
    Yeah, know what you mean! My "hand" hurts like hell next morning. They tell me I can correct this by using it more often!!!:whistle::mrgreen:
     
  22. Alex74

    Alex74 United Kingdom Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2019
    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Faringdon, Oxon
    So, not quite a mirror finish (yet) but the fettle is complete for two of the old PL53s. They hold pressure now and I get a jet of paraffin out of the vaporisers. I haven’t started the one with the preheater yet. Keep the best for last? 24A17F3F-1EAE-4A20-99C2-AFB444DCDAB2.jpeg
     
  23. AussiePete

    AussiePete Australia Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2015
    Messages:
    1,486
    Location:
    Toowoomba Australia
    @Alex74
    They look great. :D/
    Looking forward to the money shot.
    Cheers
    Pete
     
  24. Alex74

    Alex74 United Kingdom Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2019
    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Faringdon, Oxon
    And here’s the money shot. Last night I lit one of the restored PL53s with the polished ‘all brass hood’ (no tin plating) to see how well the lustre on the hood would resist the fierce heat of the burner. Result: as predicted the top of the hood tarnished to an uneven brown oxide coating after only 3 hours of operation. However this thin layer seems to come off again using standard Brasso pads. DEE4BC71-7F38-4B29-A974-CB6A63EF8814.jpeg 7F0EB50D-53BA-4A26-8832-41CE8BB1EA97.jpeg 3B4202D4-8FF6-444A-B964-3D2CD0D06434.jpeg
     
  25. MYN

    Offline
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2018
    Messages:
    1,047
    Location:
    Malaysia
    Fine lantern and fettle @Alex74 .
    Mirror finishes are indeed attractive but they don't last very long on a working lantern. Especially so about brass. They tarnish too soon. But then, the tarnish is basically sort of rather stable passivation on the metal surface. They actually preserve the metal from further oxidation to some extents.
    I've mirrored some of mine as well but maintaining the shine without lacquer protection is way too tedious for me.
     
  26. AussiePete

    AussiePete Australia Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2015
    Messages:
    1,486
    Location:
    Toowoomba Australia
    @Alex74
    Congratulations on your PL53’s money shot. Well done and well saved.
    She looks good and runs very well. I do like the PL53s.
    I too have some polished hoods on my Pork Pie Tilleys and they do tarnish as I use them.
    Cheers
    Pete
     
  27. Alex74

    Alex74 United Kingdom Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2019
    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Faringdon, Oxon
    Thanks guys. The next one to restore is the one with the preheater. I think I’ll tackle that one during the Christmas break. By the way, the handle of the cylindrical hood of the preheater is threaded, indicating it once had a knob of some kind. It’s missing on my example. Does anyone know what it might have looked like? The preheater on this lamp looks identical to those found on BR49s. But would it be original to this PL53, or did someone add it in the past?
     
  28. Mackburner

    Mackburner United Kingdom Founder Member Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2010
    Messages:
    5,969
    Location:
    Hertfordshire
    Same knob as the control cock. Those pre heaters were an optional accessory and could be fitted to just about any Tilley lamp. Most commonly used by the rail companies of course but were never exclusive to them. ::Neil::
     
  29. Alex74

    Alex74 United Kingdom Subscriber

    Offline
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2019
    Messages:
    61
    Location:
    Faringdon, Oxon
    Thanks. I’ll try to find another knob then. Meanwhile today, on my way to Birmingham, I stopped to visit a good antiques shop near Warwick, and couldn’t resist an Eccles No 6 miners lamp in pristine conditions which I bought for a fraction of their usual price. Question: what fuel did the miners originally use? Presumably ordinary paraffin doesn’t ignite from the flint striking wheel? Was it alcohol?
     
  30. David Shouksmith

    David Shouksmith United Kingdom Founder Member

    Offline
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2010
    Messages:
    6,652
    Location:
    North-East England
    No, miners' lamps used some sort of fuel more similar to petrol than either paraffin or alcohol. I forget the name of it but it begins wilt 'Col...'

    Edit: found on the binternet:-
    "For a Protector lamp Colzaline is the official stuff, more timely they use a solvent based stuff, called Sovent 40. I will try to get more details to you later, but you should be able to order through your local oil central heating supplier, you should get a gallon (lasts long, long time) for about £25. A gallon in small lighter fuel tins = £150 or more..."

    Incidentally, I think he means 'Solvent 40'
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2019

Share This Page