Classic Rotary Phones Forum

Telephone Identification, Repair & Restoration => Telephone Restoration Projects and Techniques => Topic started by: TelePlay on September 10, 2017, 02:36:09 PM

Title: How to remove thick, dried on paint from cloth cords
Post by: TelePlay on September 10, 2017, 02:36:09 PM
I've been removing old cloth cords from a box of handsets I bought some time ago. One of the first that I worked on was quite dirty. Used Woolite in water in a large, covered container to give it a machine wash (several) and rinses. Kept putting in clean Woolite until the water stayed clean.

Dried the cord to then find paint embedded in parts of the cloth. After some research and trial and error, decided to use full strength Downy Fabric softener. I put it on the paint using an eye dropped and fully saturate the painted area, cover the area with Saran Wrap to keep it wet and let it sit for an hour or two.

I then use a J-Roller, the same tool used to attach Formica laminate to wood using contact cement, to roll it over the paint breaking it up. Wash out the Woolite with water and dry to damp by squeezing the wet cord area with paper towels. If paint remains, I repeat the process until it's gone. This cord took 3 or 4 cycles to get it acceptably free of paint.

The before and after cloth cord images are below along with a photo of the J_Roller. Probably any type of substantial roller could be used. The bigger or heavier, the better in that it applies a larger pressure point and not wearing or damaging the cloth.

The clean and paint free cloth is lighter (no more dirt in the weave) and can be taken back to it's near original color by dying.
Title: Re: How to remove thick, dried on paint from cloth cords
Post by: Jim S. on September 10, 2017, 02:43:10 PM
Used Woolite in water in a large, covered container to give it a machine wash (several) and rinses. Kept putting in clean Woolite until the water stayed clean..


I wonder about doing this method in a salad spinner. $10.00 Spin wash.
https://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/prepworks-reg-salad-spinner/1017118943

Just a thought,
Jim S.
Title: Re: How to remove thick, dried on paint from cloth cords
Post by: TelePlay on September 10, 2017, 03:04:08 PM
I went with a large, glass pickle jar which with it's glass walls does not abrade the cloth when shaking. It's also a small volume so I use less Woolite and water for each wash and rinse. The smaller diameter also keeps the cord tight against the glass so the interior conductors would stay stationery, not rub on each other.

There are probably many ways to clean a cord. That's just what I thought would be the safest for an old, cloth cord due to it starting condition.

These handset cords needed cleaning first because they were filled with mineral deposits from having been either removed from a flooded area (the handset elements were quite water corroded so I assume someone had these in storage that got flooded) or taken from some place that was flooded. The cords were hard as a rock stiff so putting them into a jar was easy, they had been wrapped around the handset so were "locked" into a tight spiral to begin with and trying to "unbend" the coil was not an option.

Couldn't see the paint on the cord until it was clean and the Woolite didn't even begin to soften, much less remove the paint.