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Caring for your Brass

Like all lacquered metals, brass (and nickel) must be maintained to continue looking new. Just like your car, the finish will discolor and corrode if you don't wash it and wax it. Since brass is such a soft metal, it can start to deteriorate very quickly. Depending upon where you are, it can start to turn within forty-eight hours. Maintaining your nameplates, however, is relatively simple.

First and foremost, keep all corrosives off your nameplates. Corrosives include, but are not limited to, sweat, saliva, salt, insecticides, soap, dirt, and all the interesting chemicals you people insist on putting on your leather equipment. And never-NEVER-use an abrasive cleaner or polish on a lacquered brass surface. These include household cleaners like Comet and metal polishes like Brasso. 

We're now going to tell you something that some people don't want you to hear-there are only three things you need to maintain any type of leather: glycerin saddle soap, neat's foot oil, and wax (leather or shoe polish). That's all that you need, and all that should be used. Wood cleaners, multi-purpose cleaners and solvents should never be used on leather. 

"Proper" care of leather would be to clean it with saddle soap after each use, oil it once a week, and polish it several times each year. I'm sure we all do that, don't we? At the very least, we should clean our leather when it gets dirty and oil it a few times each year. Polishing leather seems to be reserved only for riding boots and fine harness these days. No matter what you do, however, you can't leave any of these materials on your nameplates - they will corrode and discolor the finish. Just ask us, we can tell you what type of cleaner you've been using by what color the lacquer has turned. 

So, after you have cleaned and conditioned your leather, wiped any residue off your plates, what do you do? You wipe off the plates with either dish soap or car wash, then you wax it. Use non-abrasive automotive wax, the same type you use on your car (or should be using on your car). It doesn't matter what type you use, but the better wax you get, the better it works. You can also use a neutral leather polish (Kiwi makes a neutral shoe polish). Apply it every time you clean your leather, or at least four times every year. 

What do you do for plates that aren't on leather, like stall plates? When they get dirty, wipe them off with a damp cloth and either dish soap or car wash, nothing else. Use the same non-abrasive automotive wax on them at least twice each year. 

Most of all, keep your plates dry. Nothing will destroy a lacquered brass finish like any type of liquid left standing on the surface, including water. 

When you receive your nameplates, they are not waxed. That should be one of the first things you do once your plates are installed. Just as with your car, if you live in an area where there is a high salt or pollution content to the air, you will have to clean and wax your plates more often. A little time and effort will keep you nameplates looking new for a long time.

***Information Taken Directly from the Engraver