Cleaning rusty cover plates?


I used to fool around with harmonica playing about 30-35 years ago and then lost interest. Recently I found 2 of my old instruments, a Hohner 364 and a 365, both in C and made in Germany.

The 364 is OK but the cover plates on the 365 have quite a bit of rust on them. I called Hohner about parts and they told me that new covers are made of stainless steel but mine are the older style that are nickel plated. I know I can buy new plates from Hohner ($22 + shipping) but truthfully I can buy a high condition 365 on eBay for that (in fact I just did get a 40 year old G for less than that).

Tried to attach a picture but got message file was full.

Any recommendations about what to do? Just use steel wool and try to keep it clean and dry? Does anyone ever use any type of wax and buff on the metal to prevent rusting?



I personally wouldn’t use steel wool on anything nickel-plated. Iron skillet, yes. Covers, no.

Try a good rust remover with a cotton ball first on the insides. If that works, then you can do the outsides. A jeweler’s buffing wheel might add some shine to it.

But don’t forget, a little age and patina to those old harps adds personality to them as well!

Good luck!

Keep On Harpin’!

Could try CLR. I agree with the previous poster: try it on the inside of the CPs first, just to see what it does. I can’t remember if you can use CLR on plated metal or not…

If not, I’m sure there are some organic cleaners out there that would work.

Don’t use steel wool though, it will scratch the metal - unless you don’t care. ;D

As far as polishing the metal, any non-abrasive metal polish should work. Be aware of toxicity though since your putting the harp in your mouth.

I ended up swabbing them with some naval jelly which neutralized the rust. I gave them a scrub with bronze wool which is softer than nickel plate so it just took off the black rust.

The plates have mottled appearance but they are smooth to the lips. I finished or with an application of hard carnuba wax and buffed on a wheel. Feels good, tastes good and wipes clean very easily.

I’ll get a pic up later.