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#154262 02/02/2006 04:58 AM
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Hey Guys, I just picked these up on Ebay and just wanted some opinions! I am assuming they are repros, and I paid repro price for them, but, Hey! Maybe I got lucky. I have a good water customs dagger that has been denazified on the Crossguard and figured this would do till I can find something. They ARE all Aluminum! What do you think? Louie.

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#154263 02/02/2006 05:25 AM
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I agree they are repro's no german dagger producer of the period would have let something with such horrible details leave the factory. But they do look like they would work for temp replacements although find the real replacements may be next to impossible for such a rare dagger.

#154264 02/02/2006 05:45 AM
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Adam, You are right as far as I am concerned, BUT, of all the daggers out there, the Land and Water Customs pieces that I have seen are really the lamest for detail. I do not have these in my hands yet, and haven't been able to really look at them. But the eagle really doesn't look that bad compared to the broken one I have which I KNOW is an original. I think they had some problems with the high melt temp of the aluminum or something which makes even the best original ones look totally crappy! The only thing that makes me even think these MIGHT be good is the fact that they are made of Aluminum and the guy I got them off of had them in a pile of parts he was getting rid of and told me these hadn't been touched since when he stopped collecting, over 30 years ago! I have NEVER seen a repro Land or Water customs made of the proper aluminum material.


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#154265 02/02/2006 06:37 AM
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This is an area I am just speculating in, my knowledge of this area is really slim. Vern and I think Manfred are two here that I know have original examples maybe they could better find an answer for you. Smile

#154266 02/03/2006 02:49 PM
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Hey, C'mon guys! 47 Views and only 2 Opinions!! Let me know what you think! Either way. Only takes a couple of seconds to report a gut feeling. Shout out! Louie


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#154267 02/03/2006 03:15 PM
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Those look like some of the unfinished customs dagger parts Tom Johnson had several years ago that have been plated. Most customs daggers I have seen were hand enhanced to bring up the detail in the eagle, wreath, and leaves. Finished parts were usually polished to remove the casting pits and flaws as seen on the crossguard scrolls and then detailed on the eagle's breast, wings, wreath and leaves.


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#154268 02/03/2006 03:37 PM
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Thank you, Vern! I really appreciate whatever input I can get! As you are probably aware, I do restoration work on daggers and have no problems with going back and finishing them out on the hand work. BUT, I didn't want to start futzing around with them until I, at least somewhat, had some opinions on whether they were original period or not. If the concensus was that they were Original, and about the quality they originally came from the factory with, I didn't want them to end up looking so good that they appeared phoney. I have heard this statement made about Water Customs Daggers in the past when people have made the mistake of fixing them up thinking they were repros and ruining nice Originals! I have an Original, I believe, dagger that I acquired missing the crossguard and have never had the chance to handle, or even get a good look at, a known Original. There is only so much you can tell from studying a photo! That is why I was looking for opinions here and getting frustrated that no one was replying! I know this is a really Rare Bear but I figured if anybody else had one of these, they would be here! Thanks again! Louie


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#154269 02/03/2006 04:08 PM
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Maybe this will help. T

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#154270 02/03/2006 04:53 PM
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I'll try to do a detailed closeup of the crossguard, but until then Wink

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#154271 02/03/2006 07:56 PM
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To my recollection of what I read in textbooks is that the aluminum based fittings were always kinda crude for both Sea and Land Customs daggers. Those three hilt fittings are probably original but should have been a little more polished. Its hard to tell from the picture if the gilting was plated or painted.

#154272 02/03/2006 08:08 PM
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I will let you know about the gilding as soon as they get here. Looks like fire gilding to me!


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#154273 02/03/2006 09:44 PM
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Iwould seriously doubt firegilting. That was en extremely hazardous process that wasn't used much after WWI. It involves mixing molten gold with mercury to bring down the melting point of the solution. Then the the esisting slurry was smeared on to the surface with a piece of wood. All that time the mercury was evaporating leaving only the gold on the surface. Thus, the place was saturated with mercury fumes. Folks in that profession didn't last very long. They are most likely electro plated.
Never really determined what a goldwash is. But there is also a ceramic gold paint. After painting it on it is baked and then polished to a shine. The resulting coating is not conductive, so when you check it with an ohm meter you would get infinite resistance.

#154274 02/03/2006 11:03 PM
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Whoa! Fire gilding sounds like a barrel of Laughs! I don't imagine they did last for very long!


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#154275 02/03/2006 11:38 PM
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Hey T.E., Looks like you dug that one up out of the mud back in the bayou some where! Is that one of the ones I heard about that went through Katrina? Louie


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#154276 02/04/2006 01:03 AM
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Louie, They quit doing fire gilding early in the 19th century when they discovered that the mercury fumes were killing off the workers - before they were in their mid 20ís give or take. The expression as used later in Solingen sales literature seems to have meant extra heavy gold electroplating. Iím leaning towards plating with the parts you posted myself, but the color of the aluminum looks a little off, and wonder if they might be anodized??

Attached: A center section of a fire gilt sword blade. With the heat used to burn off the mercury leaving a nice heat blued finish on a circa early 1800ís blade of a cavalry officerís saber. FP

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#154277 02/04/2006 01:45 AM
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A lot of WWI presentation swords were fire gilded. To restore the blades you need to work outside while wearing a good filter mask or breather.


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#154278 02/04/2006 04:22 AM
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Vern, That could be the case, although I would offer the observation that the gold/mercury amalgam tends to go where it wants to which could be all over the blade. On older brass hilts itís not as noticeable, but is present as a greater degree of thickness in some locations than others. A closeup image showing how the fire gilt spread out from the engraved areas. Where the amalgam was originally painted on before it was placed in a furnace to burn off (vaporize) the mercury. Also note the places where it is thicker than others in the image (and the arrows showing some of the locations where it spread out).

PS: We used to play with mercury when I was a kid. But knowing what I know now, I donít go near it without protection from contact with the skin, much less in a closed environment. IMHO electroplating after masking is much safer. But to each his own as everyone has their own preferences. Regards, FP

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#154279 02/04/2006 01:45 PM
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Very true, but you can control the degree of spread with the ratio of mercury to gold and the burn off temp Wink To get the correct color blue background, you do not want to exceed 570 degrees. You can use a two stage burn, running up to 1350 degrees to melt and fuse the gold. Then quench to harden the blade. Polish and heat the blade to 570 degrees to temper and color.


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#154280 02/04/2006 06:22 PM
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Guys, I just got the Water Customs parts in the mail! I will post some pics later in the afternoon. These are definately original! I am now a Happy Camper! Louie


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#154281 02/06/2006 03:35 AM
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quote:
Originally posted by 3-finger Louie:
Hey T.E., Looks like you dug that one up out of the mud back in the bayou some where! Is that one of the ones I heard about that went through Katrina? Louie


No Louie it not a Katrina dagger.Got it from a guy riding Bit-ch on a Indian in Houston. Big Grin

Best, Tom


Big Grin Big Grin Tommy

#154282 02/06/2006 11:06 PM
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Hi Tommy, I probably know that guy! Did the Guy driving have a British Accent?


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#154283 02/08/2006 05:29 PM
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Hey Guys, Here are the pics I promised of the parts, which have now arrived and are happily residing on my once broken Water Customs Dagger!

Let me know how you like them! Louie

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#154284 02/08/2006 05:38 PM
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By the Way, The blade that is on this is unmarked. Was it fairly common for these to have no Maker on the blade? They weren't some kind of special, one maker deal like the TENOS or Railway Police daggers, were they?

Louie


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#154285 02/14/2006 08:25 PM
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Louie, As purely a technical curiosity on my part now that you have the hilt parts: are they plated, painted, or anodized.?? Regards, FP

#154286 02/14/2006 09:27 PM
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Hi Fred, All the parts are solid aluminumwith some kind of a gold wash. Even though the finish is shiny in places, I don't really think it is substantial enough to be called Plating. It is almost like they are painted. Hard to describe except as somewhere between paint and plating. The scabbard fittings have the finish a little thicker. On these it is more like plating but still very thin, it is thick enough to bubble and do a little bit of flaking. I will take a picture of the middle fitting where it is flaking for you.


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#154287 02/14/2006 09:35 PM
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Here is a pic of the center fitting. The "plating" is very simila, or the same as, that found on the marine SA Daggers I have seen.
3FL


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#154288 02/14/2006 09:35 PM
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#154289 02/14/2006 09:42 PM
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Refering to the blade. the central plain looks very narrow, is it or is it the picture?Tiep

#154290 02/15/2006 12:53 AM
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Hi Tiep, Must be just the pic! The blade is exactly the same as an army or 2nd luft.


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#154291 02/15/2006 04:23 PM
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Louie, By current U.S. standards ďgold wash/gold flashĒ electroplating is 2 to 5 millionths of an inch. ďGold platingĒ is a minimum of 7 millionths of an inch. And ďheavy gold platingĒ can be 100 millionths of an inch. Electroplating was introduced in about the middle of the 19th century but I donít know exactly when Solingen makers started using it or how close their standards were to ours. Electroplating will or should be smooth in appearance. Which was one of its other major advantages over the original fire gilt process (besides safety and economics) because fire gilt had to be polished smooth after it was applied.

The Germans also used a process called Brennlak. Which was a paint that when baked left a finely divided metallic powder in a carrier adhering to the base metal. Under high power magnification (preferably in sunlight) separate metallic particles can usually be seen. Brennlak will also tend to form little areas/clumps of excess material in miscellaneous locations (looking something like the fire gilt picture I posted). And while both plating and Brennlak can flake off. With Brennlak/paint the edges of the flakes wonít be sharp edged. (Anodizing is smooth and doesnít flake, chip, or peel because itís an integral part of the base metal.)

I donít know if that helps or not. But those are some of the things I would be looking at if I had the dagger in hand. Regards, FP

#154292 02/15/2006 04:46 PM
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Hey Fred, The last process you described, Brennlak, is probably what I have here. Did you take a good look at the pic I posted of the fitting? It is flaking and bubbling a little but you are correct about the way it is flaking. You can't really "peel" it off, but if you rub it hard, it kind of crumbles. 3FL


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#154293 02/15/2006 04:54 PM
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Supposedly, they make something similar to the Brennlak Paint / plating, but I have not been able to find it anywhere. The stuff they make now is supposed to be like some kind of ceramic glaze or something that you paint on then bake. I don't like to futz around with stuff just for the sake of messing with it, and I normally just leave it alone unless it is close to being irretreivable, but I have considered refinishing this scabbard if I could find something proper. The main problem areas are on the scabbard fittings. The one I posted the pic of is the worst. I can live with the Grip fittings the way they are. 3FL


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#154294 02/15/2006 04:57 PM
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Of course, you know that none of this stuff is REALLY anodized, but It would be nice if I could find something that worked the way the Blueing, Blackening, Browning, chemical finishes worked that would make the finish gold.
3FL


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#154295 02/15/2006 07:08 PM
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Louie, Offhand I donít know of any small scale solutions for color anodizing or touching up anodizing. Commercially the process is somewhat involved, as is gold plating aluminum, which IMO is a Ďpain in the elbowí with a number of steps involved. There is a craft store metallic gold glaze for ceramics - but it doesn't do you much good if the parts are melted in the process Frown.

The real problem with trying to refinish a dagger such as yours (IMO) is that you canít (or shouldnít) have a mint handle and worn scabbard. Or a mint scabbard and worn handle. And if everything is refinished itís going to: 1) possibly look like a modern reproduction 2) if itís noticeably refinished possibly be worth much less - like some refinished guns (?). And you canít go back if it all gets messed up somewhere in the process of refinishing and original finish has been removed.

Itís up to you, but for the present I would probably leave it as it sits. Regards, FP

#154296 02/15/2006 07:39 PM
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Fred, You are absolutely correct on the plating, anodizing, comments! I redo SA and SS Scabbards all the time doing restorations for people and it is not as easy as a lot of folks think! Same with plating aluminum! Having, at least, 3 flash coats to contend with. Like I said before, the grip fittings are not all that bad and I am probably going to do just as you suggest and leave it alone for now. Still, I have an uneasy feeling that the scabbard fittings are continuing to corrode under that stuff and it just bugs me no end! I just got in a Diplomatic Dagger to restore and maybe that will take my mind off it for a while, re-plating Pot Metal is almost as much fun as Aluminum. ;^) 3FL


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#154297 02/15/2006 08:47 PM
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Louie, Iím afraid that you are correct with corrosion going on underneath the plating. Once the corrosion Ďcellsí are initiated they donít stop - although if moisture is kept completely away it could take a long while before it becomes more obvious. What many folks donít realize is that plating tends to be porous. And if moisture penetrates it eventually will start corroding depending on the base metal.

From my perspective newly made zinc parts arenít too hard to electroplate. And in fact the Germans sometimes used zinc as a base layer for other metals like aluminum to get around the problem with raw aluminum immediately forming a protective oxide layer. Zinc that is corroded is an entirely different matter!!! If the corrosion isnít removed completely there are going to be problems. And when they started using lead to extend zinc supplies it gets even worse.

I wish there was an easy answer to completely stopping corrosion already started without getting down to bare metal. But I havenít found it yet, and have to content myself with slowing it down, while trying to preserve as much as possible the original finish. Good Luck!! FP

#154298 02/15/2006 09:28 PM
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Fred, I don't know if you will agree with me or not, but for those that may be reading along, a lot of people think that stuff like "Osfo" stops rust. While it is technically true that it converts the rust from an oxide to a sulfide which is an improvement, as it doesn't continue to fall apart, this is good if you are using it on a battleship or a barbecue pit! The problem is not causing the change to occur but getting it to stop! The rusted Iron turns black and hard because of the chemical reaction but the reaction will continue from sulfur in the air and the metal will continue to deteriorate! It just doesn't look so ugly! The only way to Cure the problem is to take it back to bare metal and refinish it! 3FL


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#154299 02/15/2006 09:30 PM
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The point of that little story is...Don't be tempted to just osfo that old SA/SS scabbard and throw a coat of paint on it! 3FL


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Frank Zappa
#154300 02/15/2006 10:27 PM
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Hey Louis: I've been plating diecast (potmetal) and aluminum all the time. I'm brushplating using the cyanide gels sold by Texas Platers, Inc. When I plate aluminum, I usually use an activating solution that I apply with a q-tip, but sometimes some aluminum alloys can be activated with aluminum jelly, depending on the alloy. Then I plate with copper or brass, and then silver or gold. I never use nickelplate on aluminum or diecast.

#154301 02/15/2006 10:50 PM
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I'm Sorry, I think your first name is Martin, correct? Anyway, Yeah, that's what we were talking about on the aluminum. Count 'em up: #1 your base coat Activating solution or aluminum Jelly, #2 Copper or Brass, #3 whatever your finish coat is. So that is 3 times you have to plate something to refinish it. Not Horrible, but a pain in the A at any rate! And what I am afraid of is it won't look like the original stuff that is on the fittings to begin with! So that would make it neccesary to strip EVERYTHING down and refinish the whole mess! Did you look at the grip fittings I got, The stuff that is on them is not really like regualr plating, more like some kind of paint / plating. Fred was telling me about "Brennlak" Paint Plating that the germans used to use and I kind of have the feeling that this is what I have on these pieces. I don't mind the look of the Grip fittings, but I am concerned about the scabbard fittings because the stuff is bubbling and kind of "dusting" off. I know that the fittings are corrodng under the stuff and am trying to decide the best way to go. 3FL


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