Hurricane Ike and my HI khukuris

Discussion in 'Himalayan Imports' started by wldmn13, Apr 9, 2010.

  1. wldmn13

    wldmn13

    56
    Apr 13, 2004
    I know it's been a year and a half, but after a divorce, custody battle, and rebuilding my house I haven't had a chance until now to look over the damage to my collection.

    My whole collection got submerged in a 5 foot mixture of salt, fresh, and sewage water. We threw 98% of everything we owned away, but everything I couldn't bring myself to trash I threw into a storage unit planning to go back to it in a month or two.

    Which brings us to now. I have a large number of blades in terrible shape, and I'd like to try and salvage them in the best way possible. Most of them seem to have retained their edge, and the one I picked out to experiment on still chops like a champ, but they look like something I dug out of an old archaeological site.

    What's the best way to deal with the rust and damage done? Are they a lost cause or can I save them? I've included pictures of just one of them, but they all look pretty similar.

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  2. 1066vik

    1066vik Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 28, 2009
    2 things I would consider - wire brush followed by scotch brite pad on a drill or dremel to clean it up to a satin finish, or handheld scotchbrite and some penetrating oil to knock off the worst of the rust and convert the rest to patina.
    yes there is rust and you will be left with some pitting unless you go after it with a belt sander, but by no means is that a "lost cause".
    I'd also use neverdull, flitz, or peek to polish up the brass.
     
  3. killa_concept

    killa_concept

    May 19, 2009
    Oh goodness - practical use of chemistry. Sometimes I'm thankful my chem teacher back in high school practically drilled the stuff into our heads :eek:

    That said, if you're into blackened blades, you could use electrolysis to remove the rust and leave a sweet black oxide layer... there's also letting the blades soak overnight in some sort of mild, cheap abrasive mix like a water/citric acid (pick it up in bulk at an agricultural store where it will be significantly cheaper. I believe it's used to block up pigs :p). Both will take a decent amount of time, but at least you can be doing other things while chemistry does its thing.

    Whatever you decide to do, I'd definitely rely on some sort of chemical reaction before moving onto elbow grease... it'll save you a crazy amount of time/effort :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2010
  4. lal chatri

    lal chatri

    308
    Sep 2, 2008
    thats a crying shame that happened to your kuks but what ever you do
    i hope it turns out well for you if its any consolation to you
    i bought one just as bad and after a lot of elbow grease it turned out as
    good as new with a final polish with 2000 grit wet and dry the blade looked like it had been chromed polished:thumbup:
    mick
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2010
  5. eygen

    eygen

    513
    Dec 19, 2009
    I second electrolysis. Very effective. Use Google, since it's too long to explain here. Most guides in those results are good.
     
  6. GUN SNOB

    GUN SNOB

    294
    Jan 30, 2007
    I have had luck with Navel Jelly and steal wool to start and sand paper to finish. How much elbow grease will depend on how finished you want them.

    The users I would say 220 wet dry (may need coarser if the pitting is real bad and your worried with it)and oil. The oil helps the paper last longer. I like mineral oil but any oil will work.

    Tape the brass to protect it from scratching. Brass/ flits or the polish of choice will fix the brass.

    You may want to soak the handles in the oil of your choice while waiting for the blade treatment. I use Boiled linseed, cheap, easy to find. reapply to touch up and works well.
     
  7. warty

    warty

    Mar 2, 2010
    Well, I had flood damage here in IN so don't feel too bad. I have been through what you are feeling. I just went ahead and used a wire wheel on them to remove the rust then lubed them up as I worked through the stuff I kept. Then, when I was done with rust removal and had it all in check, I went back and fixed the finish on some things. Steel wool makes a nice satin finish and a felt wheel and rubbing compound can polish them back to shiny wonder, but those can be quite hazardous to use.

    The key is to arrest the rust ASAP and stop the damage. Then you have time to do what you are going to do.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2010
  8. stickfred

    stickfred

    803
    Nov 6, 2009
    wldmn13,
    A hurricane, divorce and rebuilding your house one after the other sounds like a pretty rough time. You have my sympathies. Hopefully lots of good times ahead for you.

    When you do go to elbow grease, you can use tightly rolled up newspaper held together with masking tape to apply polishes, chemicals, etc. While holding the newspaper you can exert pressure on the end to work the blade without risking your fingers on the edge. When the end gets worn, soaked or shredded, just cut off the used end and you have a new one ready to go. This is an old tip from RayC that I thought was a pretty good one.

    Those khuks aren't a lost cause. You've still got lots of steel. The Scotchbrite will leave them with that satin finish, just remember it will take off the edge if run across it and you may need to re-sharpen. With enough time you could sand the blades progressively finer and shine with buffing pads and compounds.

    Rick
     
  9. Karda

    Karda Banned BANNED

    Jun 1, 2007
    0000 steel wool, WD-40 and elbow grease will remove a majority of the surface rust, but some of that darker red brownish rust will probably go a bit deeper and leave some pitting. You can also use a scotchbrite pad, but it will leave a more satin or villager like finish. In order to get any mirror finish back you will probably have to restore it with a buffing wheel and rouge, Buffing a khukuri with a wheel can be extremely dangerous. If it gets pulled from your hands it will turn into a sharp projectile. If you are not experienced in mechanical buffing, it is best left to someone who is. Follow up your cleaning with proper oiling for storage. Sadly any scabbards you had are probably garbage and will be pretty stinky. You could however try washing them with some dishsoap and water and let them dry thoroughly before deciding wether or not to throw them out. If you could find someone who could do a good job of re- covering them with some new hide in the traditional manner, you might want to save the inner wood inserts, as they are fitted to each blade individually.
     
  10. garand1911

    garand1911

    120
    May 11, 2008
    you could also try soaking it in some Kroil, then normal scrubbing and cleaning as described above.
     
  11. wldmn13

    wldmn13

    56
    Apr 13, 2004
    How bad is pitting for the integrity of the blade?

    I asked my Facility Manager at work for advice and he let me try out a dremel with some sort of rubbery polishing tip. The initial results were pretty encouraging, so I went ahead and did one whole side. I want to compare some of the methods suggested with that side. I'll try and get a picture up later. There is some pitting and some black stains(?) scattered around.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2010
  12. 1066vik

    1066vik Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 28, 2009
    as long as it's not really deep, it's not significantly worse than sanding off the same amount of steel.
    Think of all the "forge finish" blades you see for sale - all that they're doing is leaving off the post heat treat rounds of sand and polish for a rougher finish.
    If you clean off all the active rust and do something to prevent it's return, like soaking in a penetrating oil, the blade should be fully functional - just not as pretty as it used to be.
    just my $.02
     
  13. Karda

    Karda Banned BANNED

    Jun 1, 2007
    The pitting should'nt affect the integrity of the blade at all. It will all be cosmetic. The handles are what get most affected. The wood or even bone could swell and then crack as it dries. It could also affect the adhesiveness of the Laha to them. Fortunately the peening at the buttcap should prevent a catastrophic failure. IIRC, Howard Wallace had a khukuri that had a similar fate and while he had to throw out the sheath, he repaired the khukuri back to good usable shape with no problem. i've been looking for that thread, but i can't seem to find it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2010
  14. stickfred

    stickfred

    803
    Nov 6, 2009
    Really good input Karda. Handle wasn't my first thought but would be the earliest and most significant impact of these conditions. I'm glad someone was thinking and I'm (hopefully) learning.

    Rick
     
  15. Gunmonkey357

    Gunmonkey357

    24
    Feb 9, 2008
    I think these guys are giving you the wrong advise. My suggestion would be to just sell them to my for very, very cheap. ;) Just kidding.
     
  16. stickfred

    stickfred

    803
    Nov 6, 2009
    Dang, Gunmonkey, you made me laugh. What're you gonna do with them all? jim clifton tried to get people to give them to him for research (he didn't have HIKV-no way). Maybe you have to go about this some other way. Perhaps you could offer to take them in for reconditioning for placement in future disaster locations as reconstruction tools.
    The Khukuri Disaster Relief Foundation. "Donations cheerfully accepted."

    Anyway, if I haven't said it to you before I want to welcome you to the HI forum. I like your style.

    Rick
     
  17. huntair

    huntair

    3
    Feb 17, 2010
    I would wet sand it, starting with 400 grit, then 600, then 1000 and finish with 1500. I learned about wet sanding when I used to do body work. You cut a medium square of wet/dry sandpaper, dip it in a pail of water, and start sanding. After the sanding, I would use a buffing wheel and jeweler's rouge.

    I did the wet sand/jeweler's rouge thing recently on a blade with scratches on it and the finish is now like a mirror.

    Le Huntair
     
  18. warty

    warty

    Mar 2, 2010
    The only thing with the wheel is, as both myself and Karda mention, they are dangerous for those who really don't know what they are doing. If you can have a person who can show you how to use one properly and stay around while you use it, by all means they do a fantastic job and you really will get a mirror finish back on them. If however, you screw up and the big, heavy, khukuri is ripped from your hands when it catches on the wheel and flies off it at some random angle at the speed of sound... well I think you can imagine the kind of damage such a projectile can do...
     
  19. Dave Rishar

    Dave Rishar

    Oct 25, 2004
    That's nothing to worry about. As others have said, it's just cosmetic. I'd expect that it would take a number of years of saltwater exposure to affect integrity.*

    Electrolysis will work, but it may be a bit of a pain to set something up with something so big and you probably don't want the electrolyte to get on the handle. (It's a been a few years since I've done an electrolytic cleaning and I don't remember the entire process, but I remember the electrolyte being toxic afterward.) Instead, get yourself one of these:

    [​IMG]

    And some of this, or something similar:

    [​IMG]

    Lay a thick coat of oil on and scrub away. The active rust will come right off. Any passive (black) oxides underneath will resist the scrubbing longer and should remain mostly preserved, if you're careful. If you want that gone too, just keep scrubbing. Buff with power tools afterward if that floats your boat, but I'd recommend keeping the "Scotch Brite Satin" finish for its ease of maintenance. The green kitchen pad is my preferred kind for regular cleaning but it may not handle something like this; the gray pad is more aggressive and will bust rust like nobody's business.

    This procedure also works very well on firearms constantly exposed to ocean spray (how I learned it, actually) but the finish will be removed. Of course, if you've got this much rust on a firearm the finish is pretty much toast anyway.

    *A few years ago I did some detecting on a long-abandoned homestead and recovered a few century-old axe heads. One was still quite usable after cleaning. Pitted? Extremely, but it was still solid. It looked far worse than your khukuris did.
     
  20. Berkley

    Berkley

    May 5, 1999
    The kukri design is so robust that it takes a great deal of corrosion to affect the structural integrity of a blade. If I had no other kukri and needed one, I could put a fresh edge on this old warhorse and be good to go.
    [​IMG]
     

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