I would like to restore the cames in these windows. I am unsure which metal they are made from. How do I go about this?

This is a picture from the outside which has been exposed to the weather (including salt air): Outside of windows

This is a picutre on the inside:

Inside of window

Should this be polished or painted or sanded back?

  • it looks like there might be some salt build-up there, but that should wash off with just a low pressure stream of water from a garden hose. or someone might have lacquered them in which case you can re-coat with clear lacquer, or wait for the remnants of the old lacquer to flake off.
    – Jasen
    Mar 14, 2020 at 7:18

2 Answers 2


In my honest opinion, I would not do a thing to them. Sanding will scratch up everything, paint will get on the glass, polishing will ruin the patina, besides the polishing agent will get around places that will be hard to get out, taking away from what you are trying to accomplish. Let alone, all these procedures making it possible to crack the glass

  • 1
    The cames are almost certainly lead. First, it's the normal material for that application. Second, they appear to be by visual inspection (patination, etc.) Third, they don't appear to be in need of "restoration."
    – Ecnerwal
    Mar 14, 2020 at 3:16
  • Agreed, since I am pretty sure it is lead caming as well, polishing it will be like polishing silver, once a week to keep things shiny. Well maybe once a month or two...
    – Jack
    Mar 14, 2020 at 3:26
  • So there is no way to make them black other than constant polishing?
    – WW.
    Mar 14, 2020 at 4:21
  • Polishing will not make them black, just a shiny gray color. If you really want them black, first you must get rid of the oxidation, the dark gray all over the surface. Somebody else may know how to do so without looking it up, but I would lookup the possibility of using 0000 steel wool or bronze wool. Vinegar may clear it off too, but it will oxidize right away, so you need to get it the color you want before it does. Using stove black comes to mind, just applying it without it getting everywhere will be the trick.
    – Jack
    Mar 14, 2020 at 4:35
  • 1
    Then again, you might be able to just "color it" with permanent marker, the excess will wipe off the glass. And if you do not like it, lacquer thinner will remove it like it was never there. The permanent marker will soak into the patina, so it will not need to be cleaned first, simply go right over it.
    – Jack
    Mar 14, 2020 at 4:37

OK, you do not want to sand the cames if a lead solder was used. Since you probably don't know what type of solder was used, let's assume lead. Sanding it would introduce fine particles in the air and since lead it toxic, you don't want to breath it. Clean the cames with a household cleaner. You can scrub it with a toothbrush, just don't scrape it. Then polish the cames with regular car polish. Finally coat the cames with a black patina.

  • 1
    the came is probably lead too.
    – Jasen
    Mar 14, 2020 at 1:40

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