problems with lead toys

Lead toys were popular in the 1920s-30s. Makers such as Kansas Toy and Novelty, C.A. Woods made many different types of toys.

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problems with lead toys

Postby grwebster » Tue Dec 08, 2009 4:42 pm

Some years ago I put all of my lead planes together in a box. I had acquired these over a period of 20 years, but most were nothing special so into storage they went. The other day I got the box out to look at and was surprised to see a white dust over most of the models. There was a bit of this on some models when I put them away but now it has spead. This stuff came off in my hands when I handled the planes. Guess it is lead oxide but I didn't realize it spread from one plane to another when they are in contact. Also realized hand washing after touching them is a good idea.
Is there any one with a metals background that could explain what is going on?
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Re: problems with lead toys

Postby MichaelB » Tue Dec 08, 2009 4:57 pm

(No metals expert here, but)
It is lead oxide and it occurs naturally when lead is left exposed to the air. It is toxic and yes, you should wash your hands after your play session.
I don't know what could be done to offset it except to paint and seal the exposed areas after cleaning. That wouldn't be in the best historical interest of course.
See...there really was a reason for banning lead from toys!
Question for our metal experts: Does the same thing happen with Pewter? I have never seen any oxide dusting on any of my Pewter pieces. I would expect that the actual lead content would vary, and that would affect the oxidation as well.
I bought a collection of Danbury Mint planes several years ago and they all had an interesting "champagne" coloration to them, rather than the deep "silver" of Pewter. Turns out they came from a smoker's home and had been absorbing smoke and tar for 15 years! Yuuchh! ...nasty habit folks!
Michael
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Re: problems with lead toys

Postby ramseyd » Tue Dec 08, 2009 6:22 pm

GR,
I found this on the web:
"Pewter, in general, is a silver-white alloy consisting principally of tin. The properties of pewter vary with the percentage of tin and the nature of the added materials. Antimony adds whiteness and hardness.

Modern pewter, better known as fine pewter, is a lead-free alloy of tin mixed with a small proportion of another metal, (generally copper, antimony, bismuth or silver). It is ranked as the fourth most precious metal in the world after platinum, gold, and silver. It is a comparatively soft metal, silver gray in color and does not tarnish, rust, or deteriorate.

Old Pewter has lead which imparts a bluish tinge and increased malleability; HOWEVER, lead tends to escape from the alloy in poisonous quantities if the percentage used is too large and may cause the item to rust, tarnish, or deteriorate. "

As to storing the comets, anyone have any ideas on how to create a non oxygen environment in a small case?
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Re: problems with lead toys

Postby grwebster » Tue Dec 08, 2009 7:36 pm

I am wondering if using a coat of Johnson's Clear as someone mentioned on another thread would not be a good way to protect those Comets and my old Lead items.
Oddly I have not seen the lead 'rot' on any of the Comet/Authenticast models so perhaps they used an alloy of some time.
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Re: problems with lead toys

Postby MichaelB » Tue Dec 08, 2009 7:42 pm

"As to storing the comets, anyone have any ideas on how to create a non oxygen environment in a small case?"

Jokingly...do what the phone company does and attach a nitrogen tank to a pressure vessel!
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Re: problems with lead toys

Postby angelreader » Mon Dec 28, 2009 12:13 am

This really is a dire and serious situation that needs solving,perhaps a word with some of the lead soldier lads and lasses would not come amiss ? Johnsons Kleer would certainly neutralise the powder and seal the lead and make it safer,you can also stop lead corrosion with a mixture of watered baking powder but I am not sure how evasive it would be on our models ? this is a technique we used on aluminium corrosion on real aircraft.
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Re: problems with lead toys

Postby BWBrown » Wed Dec 30, 2009 7:14 pm

if you want to read a comprehensive study of the problem, go to: http://www.dt.navy.mil/cnsm/lead_01.html

Page through this article by the US Navy's Curator of ship models. These are often made of lead, too. Basically, the article says that lead models need to have air circulating around them, and be kept away from contact with wood. The article says that there is no known cure, and: "It is important to recognize that the formed lead carbonate is not just a substance clinging to the surface of a casting, it is the surface of the casting transformed to powder. For practical purposes, a portion of the lead is gone and lead carbonate is left in its place."

I have about 700 old ship recognition training models, and I have found that I can clean up old lead castings by soaking them for a few minutes in vinegar. This loosens up all of the corrosion, and with some soap, water, and a toothbrush I can restore a lead model to a shiny new condition. Of course, then it becomes necessary to seal the model in an attempt to stave off further oxidation.

Hope this helps! -- Bryan
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Re: problems with lead toys

Postby grwebster » Wed Dec 30, 2009 8:54 pm

pure vinegar? do you then use the flood polish?
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Re: problems with lead toys

Postby BWBrown » Wed Dec 30, 2009 9:33 pm

Regular old white vinegar in a ziplock bag. According to the article, this may only retard the process, not stop it altogether. Electroplating to seal the lead seems to be the only permanent "cure", and that's not practical for most of us. I just repaint the models, keep them away from wood, and keep some air circulating around them. That seems to be about all that can be done.
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Re: problems with lead toys

Postby angelreader » Wed Dec 30, 2009 10:23 pm

The vinigar neutralises the oxidisation much like the baking powder does,it will arrest the problem but is not the final cure,Johnsons will help seal the surface and at least retain the original colours,leave a small area untreated so that everything can breathe,we can only slow down the process and in effect make it inert,only time will tell the final outcome.
Can I suggest GR that if you have a duplicate model do some tests using what has been suggested so far.
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