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Trunks1446 of 2539Steamer Trunk?GEM CITY TRUNK CO. W. L. BOWLES 1898 signature
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    Posted 6 years ago

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    Hi! I'm new here! I've thoroughly enjoyed looking at all of your beautiful trunks on here the last few days. I have always loved trunks since I was a little girl. My mom had 2 in our house that she had gotten from antique shops and I adored them. I have always been interested in restoring furniture, too. Well, I was at a tag sale this past weekend and this little trunk caught my eye. It's covered mostly in metal, then painted over, and the metal is damaged and peeling away at the very bottom edge. I bought it cheap, but I have loved (well, kind of) peeling away the paper from the inside and beginning to remove the paint from the outside.

    I have a couple of questions. 1) What is the best way to remove paint from the metal? I'm seriously new to this and all of the websites I've found barely talk about this in terms I understand. The middle sections are embossed with a floral design while the outer sections and sides are just a bumpy metal that appears to be smooth underneath. 2) Do I need to remove all of the hardware or can I leave it on? 3) Any idea on the history of this trunk? I'm thinking it's nothing special, but I still like it and am putting a lot of love into it. :)

    Any help would be greatly appreciated. I will also need to know about the metal on the bottom that's frayed and pulling away from the wood, but I'll post about it later. One step at a time. :) Thanks in advance!

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    1. fortapache fortapache, 6 years ago
      It is a great start.
    2. Drill Drill, 6 years ago
      Ok, well welcome to CW ,No you don't have to remove the hardware unless you would like to replace some of it.

      As far as removing paint there are only two real methods. Chemically with with paint remover/stripper (I prefer a product called Citri-strip paint remover due to less chemicals and it smells like oranges.) The other method would be mechanical, I.E. sandpaper/rotary wire wheel in a Dremel or drill) / steel wool etc. It looks as though you have begun that process already(we call that fun here). As for the interior paper, wallpaper stripper or warm water in a spray bottle and lots of hard work with a flat scraper(love of painful positions helps too.) . As for the metal damage you could re-nail it. or a new strip of 1/16" sheet metal purchased at the hardware store and then re-nailed could do the trick.

      As for missing parts: There are many trunk web sites:This Old Trunk. com, Brettun's Village trunk shop,and many others(Goggle: trunk parts). for new slat clamps , leather handles, and other parts.

      As for the trunk it's any where from 1880's thru early 1900s that cloud swirl pattern
      you don't see very often. neat to have the interior tray. As for the hardwood slats difficult to remove paint from the grain( especially with those two cute kids tugging on you,but it can be done.). I would consider a darker stain once sanded and cleaned for them. Embossed tin can be painted in relief or a solid one color approach,others like the clean metal look it's all preference. Much luck with the piece thanks for the post.
      P.S. Stripping Trunks teaches tenacity, I'm sure you'll do a wonderful job, post picks when your done and don't be afraid to ask for advise ,thanks for saving the trunk from oblivion.
    3. spicebnp spicebnp, 6 years ago
      Thank you, thank you!! I was afraid my newness would render zero comments! Haha!

      Drill: Yes, I've started the sanding process just to figure out what works. Omg, I've never used power tools before now & it is addictive!!! I have to make myself stop! I'm trying to not be too aggressive so that I don't mess anything up. I have a Dremel but haven't figured out which accessory is best for the metal that has the design on it. The couple that I had that seemed forgiving enough not to damage the embossing but strong enough to remove paint were used up in no time. It'll take a thousand of the same to (un)cover the whole trunk. Is there an optimal Dremel attachment? Or should I use the paint remover you mentioned first? Is the paint remover for wood and metal? (Told ya...I know nothing!)

      I've removed all of the paper inside. YES on the pain!! I had to take many breaks, and finally had to stop working on it at all while my 2 yr old was around. He thought it was fun to climb on mommy's already aching back & laugh hysterically. (Maybe I should have put it on a table! Lol) However, the tray is pretty damaged. Is it best to try to repair it, leave it out, or replace the bottom piece of thin wood that is broken?

      I was thinking dark stain for the slats, as you mentioned. I haven't decided about the metal, though. Can you tell from the that rust between the metal & the black paint? Is that possible? Even the wood slats have a brownish/goldish tint beneath the paint, In some areas it looks almost like it was once painted a bronze color, but maybe it is just rust??

      I have just found a new trunk on Craig's List in my area that is GORGEOUS. I think I've caught the bug!!

      Thanks again for all of your advice!
    4. Drill Drill, 6 years ago
      Hello Spice , glad you caught the bug. Important to establish what look you want /what you will use it for. I like to say "Begin with the end in mind", as they can be a lot of work .You could repair ,replace the wood/recover the inside tray .That would be just how much time effort and money you want to put into it.

      Originally this trunk could have been a crystallized finish that could explain the secondary color. It could be rust under the paint though(rust never sleeps). If it were mine I would cover the whole thing with Citristrip paint remover let in sit overnight, Wipe it down with isopropanol Alcohol and a whole lot of rags in the morning. See how I did. I sometimes reapply .Important if you use the stripper to not paint over paint remover, clean with alcohol first.

      Dremels are really only useful for fine work
      in tight areas ,I would use a 3/8 drill with a (medium or fine) steel wire wheel
      (safety glasses).This will help with the power tool addiction ,as it builds muscles. The wood slats I use medium and the fine grain sandpaper in a small palm sander,or by hand. much luck.

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