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Cleaning A Benchmark?


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I would strongly urge not using any kind of metal or chemical. There are earlier threads on this subject. A soft brush is cool. Water is fine; these things are, after all, designed to survive for decades outdoors. But using a wire brush or Brasso (or equivalent) may make the disk brighter and more visible for your photo, but could compromise its longevity and usefulness in years to come.


I like the compressed air suggestion. A previous post, I recall, suggested using baking soda, not as a cleanser, but to highlight the relief. I suppose you could also use baby powder for this.


Lighting may also make a big difference in how your picture turns out. Mid-day light will flatten out the detail of the disk. Try using a piece of white cardboard or similar neutral-colored material to block the direct sunlight and instead reflect light from an angle. It may help. Natural light is almost always better, in my experience, than flash.


Finally, be sure you know how to use all the features of your camera, especially the macro setting for good, crisp closeups.



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To me it is about finding them, not getting museum quality photos of them. I have to admit that sometimes my pics don't turn out as well as they should--the designation is not always visible, but the pic IS evidence that I have found it, and that is all I am really concerned about.



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Being a sometime coin collector, I tend to be conservative about cleaning old metal. I guess I kinda like old benchmark disks to look old. Often with coins, it's the tarnish and how it collects in the engraved parts that make the writing show up more.


In my case, I keep some napkins in my benchmark hunting pack and usually use one to rub off the dirt. There are times when I have even rubbed a bit of dirt back onto the disk to get it into the lettering to make it show up more. It seems to me that a total scouring with metal brushes or pads might make a disk harder to read rather than easier to read.


Generally, shiny things are harder to photograph.

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For those benchmarks that have faint markings just use water and a rag to get the dirt off. Then to bring out the stampings sprinkle some powder (or fine grained sand) on the benchmark and 'gently' wipe the disk. If you go easy you leave powder in the lines and the light color of the powder stands out making it easier to read it.

I agree to use water but use paper towels for the cleaning and absorbing the water. Dry thoroughly then apply corn starch. Makes everything jump right into the picture, including flaws.

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I've got one (LE0255) that has been painted with aluminum paint and you can't read any stamping. I plan to take some organic solvent type paint remover (laquer thinner, and maybe carburator cleaner) next time I go there and try to soften it up enough to wipe off with a towel.


Any advice?



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