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Market Square => Arms and Armor => Topic started by: Nagling on August 30, 2008, 05:02:07 PM

Title: Care and feeding of chain maille
Post by: Nagling on August 30, 2008, 05:02:07 PM
I recently purchased some blackened chain maille, but it didn't come with any instructions for care/maintenance.  I've surfed the web and the only thing I've been able to find is to spray it down with WD-40, and stick it in a wooden box for storage.  (I think this info was previous covered on the old forums, but they're now "lost".) 

Does anyone have any recommendations on how to properly care and store chain maille?  I've also picked up an arming cap and a gambeson, as an extra layer of protection.

The chain maille looks okay, but when I pick it up and handle it, my hands are covered with rust stains.  I assume this is normal...?  I just spent a small fortune, and I want to ensure it'll last for years.

Thanks!

Title: Re: Care and feeding of chain maille
Post by: ALS on August 31, 2008, 07:56:05 AM
You have a shirt of maille ( the " chain" was added by overly enthusiastic Victorian medievalists. It is reffered to as maille in all period texts the Latin root word for the Spanish, French, Italian and English spellings being the word for some sort of net) made in India of what is called black iron wire or sometimes mechanics wire. Black iron wore is not actually iron, it is steel the wire comming directly from the heat and the puller to the roll so it is covered in scale and soot making it black in color. Black iron wire will rust readilly and to an extent it sounds like you are lucky in that yours doesn't seem to be packed in cosmoline like most Indai maille shirts ( comoline has the consistency of white lithium grease or vasaline and used to be used to back guns and other military gear to make it damn near impervious to rust over long periods of storage). Cosmoline stops rust and is near impossible to get cleaned off. WD40 or Breakfree are really pretty much what you have avaliable. To clean rust, put the shirt in a five gallon pail, put the lid on and roll it around on its side alot. The agitation of the rings moving against each other will clean it up. This process sucks, i've done it but was pretty much how it was done 700 years ago.
Title: Re: Care and feeding of chain maille
Post by: Oldarcher on August 31, 2008, 04:57:17 PM
Amen to that. Also air it out for a week before wearing!
Title: Re: Care and feeding of chain maille
Post by: Nagling on August 31, 2008, 09:00:00 PM
Thanks for the info!  Will get right on it - TRF is 40 more days to go.
Title: Re: Care and feeding of chain maille
Post by: escherblacksmith on September 02, 2008, 10:13:10 AM
I haven't tried this stuff myself, but I have friends who swear by it; there are some things you can get from a hardware store that you can leave with your chaimail in a closed location (wooden box, rubbermaid tub, whatever), that will inhibit oxidation for the most part . . .

http://www.bull-frog.com/products/
Title: Re: Care and feeding of chain maille
Post by: ALS on September 02, 2008, 01:22:27 PM
Those are little packets of descicant, they contain a chemical that will pull moisture out of the air. They will need to be replaced periodically as the chemical inside can absorb a set amount of moisture before it is played out and inactive. Wood is a natural descicant ( the reason the entire inside of the armoury at Graz is built from it) and certainly wouldn't hurt froma storage perspecive if such a container were avaliable. You will still need to cover the shirt in a penetrant ( WD40, Breakfree) for use as black iron wire will start to rust nearly immediately when exposed to the salts and ammonia in sweat.
Title: Re: Care and feeding of chain maille
Post by: Ladyfair on September 24, 2008, 03:32:50 AM
Adding my two cents here..... "used" motor oil works best, as does sand in a closed box.

For some reason there is a chemical reaction when using the old oil, especially if you have galvy..... it helps cut down on the rust and slows down on the ordor

Alot of the blackened rings being sold now are galvy that has been treated to make it black.
Title: Re: Care and feeding of chain maille
Post by: ALS on September 24, 2008, 08:14:41 AM
The chemically treated galivinized shirts don't rust or rather they shouldn't as the electrical treatment process to get the zinc to bond with the steel called galvinization isn't effected by the dip to turn the zinc surface black. There are still several Indian companies peddling black iron wire maille shirts out there ( International Steel Crafts comes to mind and I beleive Deepeka still does to name a few) and from the sounds of the rust described his shirt doesn't sound like one of the Windlass dipped " black maille" shirts they came out with a while ago along with the brass dipped and copper dipped ones. If they just dipped black iron wire and the surface of the dip were scratrched or worn off ( which can and does happen often fairely quickly) then the dipped shirt, black or any other color would be subject to the effects of ambient moisture in the air as well as the grease and oil from skin and rusting would certainly be possible.
Title: Re: Care and feeding of chain maille
Post by: Nagling on September 25, 2008, 06:35:40 PM
I picked it up from Museum Replicas (they've been running 15% off coupons and I couldn't pass up what appeared to be a good deal).

When I look at it, it does not appear to be rusty.  But when I pick it up, my hands are covered with rust.  I also picked up an arming cap, so I won't get the gunk on my head.  Also picked up a hortload of dessicant.
Title: Re: Care and feeding of chain maille
Post by: Nagling on September 25, 2008, 06:43:33 PM
My bad - forgot to mention that I also reload, and I've been toying with the idea of tossing it in a tumbler (low setting) with fresh corn cob-type media and run it through for like 15-30 minutes.  I've been hesitant to do so, as it may strip off the black coating, but at least it should take care of the rust problem.

Anyone have experience doing or not doing this?  I'd hate to take off the black coating, which I definitely paid "extra".  Like all of my ren garb, it's an investment and I want it to last a long time.

I'm not actually going to wear it 'till TRF Hallow's Eve weekend, so I've got a bit of time.
Title: Re: Care and feeding of chain maille
Post by: Chris B on September 26, 2008, 02:35:27 PM
I have all mild steel, flat, wedge riveted maille without zinc plating (2 sets of chausses, two coifs, hauberk).  I simply hung it all on my armor stand for the last year and it does fine.  I coat all my metal (which is a LOT) with Choji Oil, and I do not have any problem with rust.  I use choji (clove oil) because of the cinnamon smell and because it works so well on my katana.  Just my two cents on storage and because I live in Houston (I am assuming you live in the area since your going to TRF).

I personally would not put it in a tumbler.  I would bet money that it would strip the black.  ALS had the best recommendation.  See you on Halloween weekend.  We will also be there, although as Greek.  My maille won't come out until Celtic Christmas.
Title: Re: Care and feeding of chain maille
Post by: L Dale Walter on October 01, 2008, 09:08:28 AM
been toying with the idea of tossing it in a tumbler (low setting) with fresh corn cob-type media and run it through for like 15-30 minutes. 
Anyone have experience doing or not doing this?  I'd hate to take off the black coating, which I definitely paid "extra".  Like all of my ren garb, it's an investment and I want it to last a long time.

Yes I did do this as I had the same problem.  The black coating seems to prevent nothing, as mine rusted immediately upon wearing.

Corn cob media will not do anything in 15-30 minutes, or really 3 days.  I tried it.  I went with a sillica glass sandblasting media, and ran it in a vibratory tumbler for a day.  Rust was mostly gone, but so was the black.  However this is easily solved with a can of blueing.  Paint it on, hose it off, oil (I use fogging oil as it sprays a mist, you and also use PAM cooking spray, but I don't like the smell), and good to go.

As I do this professionally, and got tired of the continual cleaning and oiling of 10 or so suits of maille, I switched a couple of years ago to all stainless steel from Azon corporation, who sell through ringmesh.com They are a bit more expensive, but it is lighter, and has NO maintenance issues.  I take mine off and put it in a zip lock bag.  Done.

Hope that helps,

LDW