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topic 23853

Paint and Rust Removal from Cast Iron Eagle Statue


Q. I recently inherited a cast iron statue of an eagle standing on a globe of the earth with the legend "CASE" cast into the front of the globe. Overall height is approx. 60" and its weight must be maybe 300#.

What would be the preferred method to remove the old paint (2 or 3 layers) down to bare iron without damaging the iron itself? There is some spotty rust peeking through the paint here and there. I was getting ready to have it sand-blasted, but am having second thoughts.

Is there some sort of chemical stripping agent which would be safer and/or work better? (I understand that the eagle may be fairly valuable, but my intention is to keep it for sentimental reasons.)
Also, what would be a recommended finish once the statue is cleaned up?
Thanks very much for your help.

Paul Ritter
homeowner - Bridgeton, New Jersey, USA


A. Hi Paul,

A methylene-chloride based paint stripper will be your best bet. I don't know if you can find a hardware store that carries this type of stripper.

George Gorecki
- Naperville, Illinois


A. Use an aircraft grade stripper.

Simon Dupay
- Roseville, Minnesota

November 2014

A. George and Simon are correct about methylene chloride based "Aircraft Stripper", but it is important to emphasize that this is truly noxious stuff. You need at the least goggles [affiliate link to product info at Amazon] and Protective Gloves [affiliate link to product info at Amazon], and you need to work outside and upwind of the stripper.


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha


Q. I wanted to know if you have a picture. I also have a cast iron eagle of about the same size and weight. Mine, however, does not visibly show the case name.

Thank you,

Heather Frost
- Mill River, Massachusetts

November 26, 2014

A. This item is an antique and very valuable. I would get a second opinion from a farm antique expert about "restoring" it. You may significantly reduce its value. They changed over the years and, as you might expect, the older versions are significantly rarer and more valuable than the later versions.

Jim Div
- Atlanta, Georgia


Q. I am also contemplating removing spray paint from a japanned antique level -- is there a stripper that will not damage the japanning?

Thank you

Lane Pearson
- Austin, Texas, USA

November 2014

Hi Lane. Sometimes casual paint (like overspray) will come off while leaving factory applied paint largely undamaged, but it's always a risk and a guess. Unfortunately, the paint stripper is not a mind reader which decides which paint to remove based on your wishes; to the stripper, sometimes paint is just paint. But you might try something relatively weak like mineral spirits because aircraft stripper is nearly guaranteed to remove all the paint.


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
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