Powder Coating Heirlooms
Q. I have inherited my grandfather’s and father’s World War I and II medals and badges, and I am curious about powder coating them to preserve them for display. Years ago, my father tried lacquer (which failed miserably), then nail polish, which lasted for a few years, then peeled off, as well. They are not particularly valuable, but I would like to have them powder coated clear (after polishing, of course) so they would look good for home display without having to polish them every week. Will the heat of curing them damage or discolor them? Most of the badges are brass or silver and several of the medals are bronze. I know that the heat of soldering brass will usually discolor the brass, but would the heat of a powder coating oven be sufficient to melt the solder or discolor the metals? N. M.
A. DO NOT POWDER COAT THESE FAMILY HEIRLOOMS!!!! The heat may not only discolor them but may melt the solder that holds them together. The only safe way to protect them is to polish them carefully, then clean them with denatured alcohol, then apply two coats of clear liquid air-dried lacquer. This protection will last many years, as long as you don’t handle them every day. Prolonged handling of these items with bare hands will leave hand oils and salts that will discolor the medals and eventually wear the lacquer off the surface.
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