Sunday, April 4, 2010

Trap Restoration

The other day I was getting something out of our laundry closet when I noticed some rust sticking out of a mess of garden tools and paint cans. The rusty objects were two traps that I kept from the farm where I grew up. Like the license plates I have written about in an earlier post, I initially found these traps in the old homestead that served as my great grandparents' home before 1916. I have hung onto them with the hopes of one day being able to clean them up without damaging them too much.

I recently started looking for different rust removers that might help me clean the traps, realizing that in order to get what is probably more than a half century's worth of rust off the traps, I would have to fully submerse the traps in the solution for an extended period of time. I found most rust removers that sell in large quantities end up running about $20 per gallon, which is a little out of my budget. My wife suggested I try vinegar, so I went to the store and bought a gallon of vinegar and gave it a try. I didn't soak the first trap long enough, but it still came out better than I had expected. This picture shows one of the traps in the vinegar. The other bucket is a bucket of water. In order to keep the vinegar as clean as possible, I worked on the trap in the water bucket, only using the vinegar to soak the traps. I had to keep them submersed as much as I could since the iron would quickly begin to discolor again with rust if it started to dry. Consequently, I had to empty and refill the water bucket numerous times. When I had finished cleaning it, I had to quickly run a cloth over it to clean it and then, with another cloth covered in oil, I oiled the trap before it could rust again.

This picture shows the difference between an uncleaned trap by a cleaned one. Gabs wanted to see how they worked, so I set one of them and sprang it with the metal rod used to anchor the trap. They still work as well as ever.

I soaked the second trap in the vinegar a little longer than the first, and it cleaned up even better.

The traps' pans, which were almost completely illegible when covered in rust, revealed that the traps date back to 1917 or 1918 based on the patent dates. Debs probably thinks I'm crazy to spend so much time repairing traps that I will never use, but it's a lot of fun preserving pieces of family history!


Richins Family said...

That is so cool that you are working on preserving those traps. We have a fox that roams the hills up here by us that we have seen right across the way, but we thoroughly enjoy watching him because we have no animals to protect. I remember when we were growing up how animals would come at night to get the chickens (not too often though). I remmeber foxes out there on the farm, but I don't remember them bothering the chickens. Is that because they were cooped? I remember skunks too. Did our grandparents have animals besides pigs that they used these traps to protect? Once again. Way cool. Vinegar is a great cleaner for so many things. I love it. Thanks for posting.

Arrow said...

Based on the number of traps that they used to have, I wouldn't be surprised if there was some commercial aspect to it--selling the fur--or perhaps to catch badgers or other subterranean animals that make holes that the horses might step in. I'll have to see if Dad knows.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe how well they turned out. Thank for keeping history alive. Mom - ah

cking said...

Wow. Amazing what a little (or a lot of) rust removal will do!

rantipoler said...

Wow, that is VERY cool. I love that you were able to preserve a piece of (family) history. :)