Sunday, May 31, 2020
Steamer Trunk Project
Remember that century-old steamer trunk I found in the basement? Well, I want to display it but when I found the trunk it was in very poor condition. So I decided to restore it -- a process I've never tried before. To accomplish this I researched a lot about restoring wood and metal. But before delving into that subject, let me report that I discovered the trunk's original owner -- and he has a fabulous name.
On top of the trunk are initials: "B.A.B." I learned they refer to Bernard Aloysius Beirne, an Irish immigrant. Aloysius! Government statistics say the name Aloysius is very rare, with babies getting it less than 0.001%. That's one in 100,000. Or about the chance of you being named in my Will.
Bernard Aloysius Beirne was born in 1886 and lived most of his life in New Jersey. He died in 1960. Bernard was Maura's grandfather. He owned the trunk in his youth, using it around 1905-1910. Remember, these trunks were popular from 1880-1920.
Back to the restoration. Restoration involves materials, techniques and physical labor. I researched how to remove rust and mildew, how to stain and finish wood, etc. Apart from picking the right materials, the process requires a lot of elbow-grease. I enjoyed doing it because you can visually see results of your effort. Here's what I did:
- Clean dirt and dust
- Pull off frayed canvas and wood
- Scrape off inner lining (decayed paper)
Metal parts (clasps & hardware):
- Hammer in loose nails
- Replace some missing nails
- Re-attach lid hinge
- Lubricate closing latches with WD-40
- Lubricate metal wheels on bottom with WD-40
- Scrub with wire brush
- Brush on vinegar and salt mixture; leave overnight; wash off
- Sandpaper metal to remove final bits of rust
- Sandpaper wood to smooth surface and remove aged surface
- Stain wood with wood stain
- Apply wood lacquer to protect the wood and give it a glossy finish
- Apply second coat of lacquer
Here is the final result and the trunk's new resident who lives rent-free. The process took a full week because of its multiple steps.
What do you think? Have you ever restored anything?