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"Do I have lead rot ?" Topic

16 Posts

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Patrick R24 Oct 2006 1:42 p.m. PST

I just picked up a track of a Sherman tank in metal and part of it has has a beige, powdery residue on it with the edges darkened and glossy. Is this lead rot and what should I do ???

nycjadie24 Oct 2006 2:20 p.m. PST

My lead rot has been green to blue to red to brown but always powdery. You might have lead rot. The best way I've battled lead rot is to scrape off the rot, wash it, let it dry thoroughly and then prime it.

The only pieces I've had rot came from the early fantasy manufacturers. My early historicals never had lead rot, even 1970's Minifigs.

What is the manufacturer and year of your piece?

Karnophage24 Oct 2006 2:21 p.m. PST

It sounds like lead rot, how old is the miniature? There is not much you can do other cleaning it off and priming the miniature.

Grizwald24 Oct 2006 2:26 p.m. PST

If YOU have lead rot you should see a doctor… oh, sorry, you mean the model!! :-)

yeoman24 Oct 2006 2:30 p.m. PST

I am always surprised when someone mentions lead rot.
Is it a genuine condition or is it a wargaming myth?

The reason I ask is besides all my figures some of which are decades old I have many lead artifacts, some hundreds of years old and none have 'lead rot' despite many being in the ground for all that time.

I thought lead was a very stable substance which is why lead flashing is used on roofs to keep the elements out.

Perhaps the 'lead rot' is the product of a bad reaction with another chemical during manufacture?

Space Monkey24 Oct 2006 2:32 p.m. PST

The only minis I've ever seen with lead rot were the old TSR spaceships for Star Frontiers… and they CAME that way… mind you they were old when I got them.

Kind of looked like they had started to 'grow'… nasty stuff.

nycjadie24 Oct 2006 2:45 p.m. PST

Early Grenadier and Partha have also suffered lead rot.

mdriscoll24 Oct 2006 2:53 p.m. PST

The well known fantasy author George R.R. Martin has a very extensive collection of 54mm medieval knights. He has lost some irreplacable figures to lead rot, and wrote a small article about it here. It explained it well for me, and only seems to happen with older figures or when companies use cut rate metal blends.

ChrisF24 Oct 2006 3:01 p.m. PST

It's not a myth, in fact it's a real problem with museum models like ship models that have lots of lead parts made 40 years ago and have been sitting in acrylic display cases for decades. It is usually only a problem with miniatures castings that have a high lead content.

Patrick R24 Oct 2006 3:23 p.m. PST

It's a Sherman Firefly from MMS I picked up a few months ago.

Farstar24 Oct 2006 3:46 p.m. PST

Brand new, then? Lead rot is pretty unlikely in that case, as it usually takes years to develop.

I see "burnishing" fairly often in bare metal stored with cheap foam padding. The metal takes on a thin red-orange-brown surface coat as it reacts to the aging by-products of the foam. I see this far more often in low- to no-lead mixes, actually, but I've never seen it go any further. If you can take a knife blade, file, or some other abrasive to scrape the discoloration and find nice shiny metal a molecule or three down, you're fine.

Lead rot will usually show as both increasing pitting and matting of the metal surface and eventually the surface will get rough then develop fungus-like blooms that destroy the metal. Early stages will turn dead flat grey, losing any hint of being a metallic surface. Most people have seen normally oxidized lead; it's how most lead-bearing minis look when purchased, and it still looks recognizeable as a metal surface. Early rot appears non-metallic.

Personal logo Endless Grubs Supporting Member of TMP24 Oct 2006 5:49 p.m. PST

Don't store your lead or lead alloys in oak display cases or cases made with formaldahyde based glues. Off-gassing is one major comtributor. Buy heavy duty acid free boxes from Gaylord or Light Impressions. Avoid anything plastic (read: foam) as the plasticizer degrades. If you need padding, use ethafoam.

vojvoda25 Oct 2006 5:18 a.m. PST

Do a search on the subject on TMP I posted a thread about the links to the topic about two years ago.
James Mattes

John the OFM25 Oct 2006 5:21 a.m. PST

I have had some Irregular minis from the late 70's, or early 80's snap of at the knees, with a crumbly residue.

Back in the 70's, when some would cast their own figures from tire weights and such rubbish, it was common to first prime the metal with, I think, floquil primer, a dark green solvent based plastic sealer. THEN, put on the white undercoat. I don't know if it helped or not, but that was the general advice in the air.
Lovely solvent smell, one of the rankest around.

Jovian125 Oct 2006 8:29 a.m. PST

I doubt that it is lead rot – probably a rotting of the other alloy in the casting, either the tin, zinc, bismuth, or those other metals commonly used to harden the lead which are the most likely culprits. Best way to get rid of it is to clean it, let it dry, and prime it.

krieghund26 Oct 2006 7:32 a.m. PST

When I was a child, my brother and I played with some lead " Cowboys and Indians " my Father had been given in the late 1940's. Quite possibly the only model soldiers widely available at the time.

These had holes at the armpits of some of them, also the horses seemed to suffer from gaps in the leg and neck area.

This I assume was lead rot, though all the figures had been painted.

I doubt very much any figure produced in the last 20 years would suffer from the same affliction.

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