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The Challenge of Unanticipated Rusting on Reeds

There had been a solid storm in Hobart one Sunday night recently, with unexpected

consequences for the Tuesday Weavers group. We knew that the ceiling in the library/equipment store had a leak that was being investigated by the landlord at St Georges Church. Usually, a container was placed under the area and all the yarns stored in plastic containers with lids to protect them from any water.


We checked these at the Tuesday evening group the Tuesday after the storm. Then one of our weavers went looking for a reed of a particular size and discovered the reed was wet on the end!


On checking the container holding the reeds, plus the one holding shed sticks and stick shuttles it was found that both of these containers, as well as some bundles of paper used for warp winding, were all wet.


We found that the water had well and truly leaked through the roof and down the back of the bookcase on which the plastic containers were stored and into the those on the floor in the equipment area. The evening was spent checking all the items affected and drying what we could. The wooden items were spread out to dry on the tables in the Long room. There were 9 reeds that had started to develop rust as a result of being wet.


Our Equipment Officer, Brian, was not available due to emergency surgery. Eric, our amazing President, was committed to demonstrating at the Royal Hobart Show and other functions. I contacted several other members who were able to provide some advice and help me consider what to do.


I brought the reeds home and spent time exploring the internet for options. The first thing was

to stop any further rust. This was done by cleaning each reed with a wire brush. My arms learnt that I don’t use them this way very often! So, the following is the process I used over two weeks and the images show the success of the process. It took two weeks because I had to wait for fine sunny days to ensure that the spaces between the dents could dry after treatment.


The Rust Removal Process

I bought 6 litres of Cleaning Vinegar in which to soak the reeds overnight. But first I had to find a container that was long enough to soak 24-inch reeds. Eventually I emptied an under bed plastic storage container and used that. It would

only hold three reeds at a time, even the shorter ones so this aspect took three days. The rustiest reeds created bubbles as the vinegar did its work.


After soaking I hosed the reeds thoroughly and set them to dry in the sun. Then I had to clean each reed, both sides, with steel wool. Again, my arm muscles complained, and I could only do one reed at a time then needed a break.


Each reed took about half an hour to clean with steel wool. I then applied Rust-Remover gel to each reed and worked it between the dents with a paintbrush. This was left on the reed for two hours, then hosed off using a scrubbing brush to ensure the gel was removed from between the dents. The reeds were set to dry in the sun.


The next day the reeds were much cleaner but I felt that there was still some residual gel. I filled the laundry sink with very hot water and washed them with the scrubbing brush before putting them in the sun to dry again. I was prepared to give them a light sand with fine sandpaper, but this did not appear necessary.


The final treatment was to spray both sides of each reed with silicone spray. Some of the reeds had paper binding which deteriorated during the soaking phase, so this was removed and the edges bound with Duct tape.


By Jillian

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