Thursday, July 12, 2012

Sticky Situation

I was blessed with a Singer Puzzle Box a week or so ago but something sticky had adhered to the surface.  From a telltale hair and previous experience with a Singer 128 from a barn with similar spots inside the base, I suspected mouse droppings.  To remove the rather large splotches in the 128 base, I soaked them with oil and scraped with a putty knife.  To cover the oily spots, I put in a nice new piece of black felt.  That process wasn't going to work for a nice looking Puzzle Box with a decent finish.
The picture above shows the worst of the droppings and two spot faintly circled in red that were test spots for cleaning products. 
Since I had used oil on the Singer 128 base, I thought maybe something oily might work but it had to have more solvent action than just oil.  Since the Treadle On members are adept at cleaning old treadles stored in unusual places, I asked for suggestions.  Murphy's Oil Soap, Paul's Elixir (a specialty home brew that seems to work similarly to Dr. Woodwell's)*, and OxiClean.  I put Paul's Elixir as a last resort because it will soften the finish on the wood and redistribute it.  If the droppings were embedded in the finish, I would need to use it to blend in the spots where the finish lifted.

I didn't have any Murphy's Oil Soap and I was afraid the oxygen peroxide created by mixing the OxiClean in hot water would cause discolorations.  So, looking through my own multitude of cleaning products for an oil base cleaner that would act like the wood oil soap, I turned up two, Ultra Krud Kutter and De-Solv-It.  I tested both but the organic De-Solv-It was more effective at softening the spots.  Even so, I still had to lift them with a flat blade screw driver and then smooth the area with fine steel wool.  They came off, but they took some of the finish with them.  Eventually, I will have to use Paul's Elixir to restore the finish but since the biggest spot is on the section that is usually sitting on the bottom when the emblem is upward, the box is now nice enough to display in my office near the Singer treadle cabinet.
*Note:  Paul Hayes (the Fenman) has an extensive article at  Chapter 4 of the article specifically demonstrates The Elixir while to rest of the article is worthwhile for understanding the pros and cons restoration. 

1 comment:

yarndiva said...

Nicely done, and I am looking forward to hearing and seeing how the elixir does on this project.