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Author Topic: Lead rot, or not...?  (Read 193 times)

Colonel Kilgore

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Lead rot, or not...?
« on: December 13, 2017, 03:57:42 PM »
I have just re-discovered some figures that had been sitting in the garage in a not-quite cleaned up state.

They (German WW2, including some of the newer 440 / 450 series sculpts) have developed what looks very much like the photos of "lead rot" that I see online.

There seems to have been some form of chemical reaction at certain places on the surface of each casting, and the little plastic tub (formerly home to some glacé cherries: these infantrymen clearly like the finer things in life...) has some loose "lead dust(?)" inside it (looks like it has rubbed off the castings).

The problem doesn't seem too bad: I can rub the surface "blistering" off and the castings seem solid underneath. Other figures (both cleaned and undercoated, and those still in packs) in the same Really Handy Box appear unaffected. I'm guessing there may have been some residual damp inside the cherry tub...?

I'd welcome thoughts on:

a) whether it is likely that a bit of damp in a sealed container did indeed cause the issue
b) how best to clean up (I've heard diluted wine vinegar, rinsed thoroughly and then repeated)?
c) whether this problem could contaminate other castings (I'm assuming not, following cleaning, proper priming and painting) if I base / store them with "cleaner" brethen?
d) whether it's best to just chuck them out (there are probably 3 or 4 packs' worth) to avoid any possible risks...?

martin goddard

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Re: Lead rot, or not...?
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2017, 04:07:12 PM »
I suggest chemical remedy. It is cheap and easy.  From folklore i wold suggest he vinegar thing just once. Alternatively Coke/Pepsi should do a similar job after a night of soaking (the figures not you). the amount of lead in the figures is only about 6% so lead rot will not be  major problem. Probably just a bit of reactive metal spume? Should go easily.
Let us all know how this mercurial magic performs (or not).

Colonel Kilgore

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Re: Lead rot, or not...?
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2017, 04:08:49 PM »
Thanks Martin, that's helpful.

To be clear, I soak the figures in Coke overnight, and THEN drink the Coke... ?  ;D

Colonel Kilgore

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Re: Lead rot, or not...?
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2017, 04:48:18 PM »
So, I washed the powdery stuff off with water and let it all dry overnight.

I was left with some blackish spots on the figures - which seemed to be where the powder had been forming, and looked like the contact points where they'd been touching when piled up in the tub.

I then soaked the figures in neat vinegar overnight (Mrs Kilgore has not yet spotted that her vinegar's gone missing...), rinsed well in plain water and left to dry.

So far so good. The black marks are still there, but there is no more powder and there seems to have been no visible damage to any of the figures. I'll give them a quick clean-up with a knife and file and then undercoat before they get any further ideas about getting themselves covered in dust.

Thanks for your help Martin.


Leslie BT

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Re: Lead rot, or not...?
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2017, 04:58:33 PM »
Keep us updated on how this goes.

Duncan

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Re: Lead rot, or not...?
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2017, 07:53:59 PM »
I had this with some old pre sports Runequest figures I got as a kid in the mid 80s (In think?) They came in boxes with foam cut inserts for each figure to sit in. After 30 years being stored in the original boxes with foam inserts for protection, I opened some last year to find that many of them have literally just turned to powder with just a stump of a body left, whole legs, arms even years gone. What was more when I picked up the remains some just crumbled to nothing. I was really gutted as I assumed kept in a dark cool place in specific safe packaging that they would have been OK. Obviously I was incorrect in this assumption.😥

Colonel Kilgore

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Re: Lead rot, or not...?
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2017, 08:11:37 PM »
Ouch - I'd heard stories like yours Duncan - so sorry.

I'd feared something like that might be happening to mine, but fingers crossed I've caught them in time.

Apparently once they're fully covered in paint (and I think that has to include the underside of the bases) nothing untoward should happen.

I hope!

Stewart 46A

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Re: Lead rot, or not...?
« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2017, 01:54:29 PM »
Hope it goes well Simon, another reason for the games weekend, let’s your little men have an outing at least once a year

Colonel Kilgore

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Re: Lead rot, or not...?
« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2017, 03:55:17 PM »
That's a very nice way of looking at it Stewart :)