I spent the better part of last week in the basement of the Grove job stripping one hundred years of paint off the hardware for the second floor windows and doors. It involved a process Judson (boy genius) found on the internet of boiling water and trisodium phosphate, roughly one cup dissolved in a five quart pot, over an old camp stove that he'd restored. I'd get the water just under boiling, so that I was still able to handle the stuff, let it soak and then peeled off layers of paint with a scraper and a brass-wire brush. I used a dull scraper to move the paint rather than scrape it as that would scratch the soft brass. One of the hardest parts to this operation was keeping the different piles organized, to do this I utilized a year's worth of sushi take-out containers from Akida. Here is a jig we came up with to soak the long brass arms that open the transom windows over the doors:

Skinning the paint left the brass in a raw state which rusted pretty easily, so I put a protective finish on it, by shmearing Brasso on the hardware, letting it dry and then hit it with a buffing wheel on a bench grinder. They make a polishing compound for the wheel that I used as well. To polish the screw heads (yes, because I didn't want them to stand out from the hinge faces and such) I used a pair of needle nosed pliers with electrical tape wrapped around the jaws so that they wouldn't mar the brass. To be able to do the transom swing-arms I had to run it with all the safety features removed, and even though I was careful, I still got myself a couple of times with the wheel on Firday cause I stayed up all night Thursday watching this damn thing.

It took a good while to do all this but I think it will make all the difference in the world with the house is finished. I don't know how many times I've worked on a place only to either half-ass scrape the hardware and re-install it, or else just chuck the whole batch and go with all new cheesed-out shiny stuff from Lowes. However, this is coming from a guy who has no problem spending an afternoon rummaging through piles of rusted-up hardware that will never find a home outside of the buckets they find themselves laying in.