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Restoring Scratched Slabs, Version 2.1, New & Improved

BryceMBryceM Posts: 11,729 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited April 6, 2021 6:21PM in U.S. Coin Forum
2021 edition:

I first posted this in 2015, but the gentlemen at Photobucket took it on themselves to put their ugly watermark over everything. Here it is again, polished up and fixed, as well as I could manage:

I posted about this a while ago, but I refined the technique and took some photos of the process. Using this method, there aren't too many scratches, gouges, or abrasions that can't be fixed. Why bother? Rattlers, OGH, and rare holders are sometimes worth preserving. Copper and certain toners are often best left alone as the old holder suggests stability of the coin inside. Sending in coins for re-holdering is inconvenient, expensive, and slightly risky. Stickers are lost, and the coin is out of your possession while it's being fixed. Things do sometimes go missing in the mail.

I severely abused a slab to demonstrate the process. This 1922 Peace dollar is in a round-gasket, no-prongs, blue label, PCGS MS61 holder with the older plastic (the obverse is responsible for the assigned grade). The newer, more optically clear plastic is even easier to work with. Here's a before photo:

image

As you can see, the slab is in pretty good condition, with only a single scratch visible through the "O" in "OF". I then took my favorite gouging instrument to it, with particular attention paid to the area around the eagle's head.

image

The results are pretty nasty:

image

To repair deep damage, simple polishing with PlastX or another product like Novus would take an eternity, even using a buffing wheel or drill. To fix this one I turned to the big guns. I bought this hobby sanding film from a local variety store that sells model cars and airplanes. The film is plastic-backed, and can be washed with soap and water when it gets plugged up with debris.

image

The $4 package comes with 5 grades of film from Coarse 150 grit Dark Grey all the way down to Ultra fine 600 grit Red.

image

Starting with the Coarse film, and working in one direction, I got this after a few seconds. Don't panic. image

image

If you look closely, you can still see some gouges around the eagle's head. A few more seconds of careful effort produced this:

image

Moving to progressively finer sanding films results in this progression:

image
image
image

Finally, after using the Ultra fine paper, it looks like this. The coin is starting to reappear:

image

At this point, the damage has been effectively removed and we're left with some fine scratches, which are relatively easy to remove.

My favorite polishing compound (which also worked very nicely on the hazed headlights of my daughter's car) is this stuff from Meguiar's. It's easy to find in auto stores.

image

After literally only a few seconds of rubbing this around with a cloth I had this, which is an improvement, but there is still a haze over everything obscuring detail and muting the luster:

image

Break out the big guns. This removes all the effort and cussing, unless you get careless and the slab gets thrown against the wall where it shatters, the coin falls to the concrete, and a huge rim gouge is produced. Be careful! There's a reason I'm practicing on a MS61 common-date Peace dollar. :) With a little practice you'll find a technique that works well. Again, I like to polish in a single direction, alternating 90 degrees between methods. Use enough PlastX to keep things moving along. Be careful around holograms and stickers. It's pretty easy to mess them up with the power tools.

image

After a minute or two of this, things are looking up:

image

I gave this a final hand polish with a clean microfiber towel (also from the auto store) and a bit of PlastX. The final result isn't too bad:

image

My apologies to the re-slabbing department at our host's place. Hopefully the guys will find something else to do with their time.
;)

Comments

  • LindeDadLindeDad Posts: 18,766 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Those polishing papers actually go all the way 4,000 grit or so. Used get them for furniture repair from Novus back in the day.
    Like to drill and buffer. image

    image
  • keyman64keyman64 Posts: 15,454 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Excellent post! It is worthy of bookmarking. I have always just used PastX and hand power. It removes some for sure just by itself but it is not a miracle worker. Many of the steps you put in place are things I have thought of but never tried. Thanks for being brave for the rest of us. image

    What attachment is on the drill? Any specifics you can share with that? Or an specific things you have tried to use to hold the slab in place while polishing with the power tools? Thanks!

    Oh and by the way, I agree, PlastX is awesome one headlights! image
    "If it's not fun, it's not worth it." - KeyMan64
    Looking for Top Pop Mercury Dime Varieties & High Grade Mercury Dime Toners. :smile:
  • LanceNewmanOCCLanceNewmanOCC Posts: 19,999 ✭✭✭✭✭
    .
    kudos to your effort, results and presentation.
    .

    <--- look what's behind the mask! - cool link 1/NO ~ 2/NNP ~ 3/NNC ~ 4/CF ~ 5/PG ~ 6/Cert ~ 7/NGC 7a/NGC pop~ 8/NGCF ~ 9/HA archives ~ 10/PM ~ 11/NM ~ 12/ANACS cert ~ 13/ANACS pop - report fakes 1/ACEF ~ report fakes/thefts 1/NCIS - Numi-Classes SS ~ Bass ~ Transcribed Docs NNP - clashed coins - error training - V V mm styles -

  • keyman64keyman64 Posts: 15,454 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Great job on that Buffalo by the way! image
    "If it's not fun, it's not worth it." - KeyMan64
    Looking for Top Pop Mercury Dime Varieties & High Grade Mercury Dime Toners. :smile:
  • braddickbraddick Posts: 23,080 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Wouldn't it be possible to simply forgo the first few steps and go straight to the polishing compound?

    peacockcoins

  • lkeigwinlkeigwin Posts: 16,887 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Thanks for that, Bryce. Excellent post.

    Tell us more about the power tool and attachment. Once it's used with PlastX do you have to wash the cotton wheel before it can be used again? I'm always careful to use a clean part of a colored t-shirt because the stuff dries hard and will scratch the slab if reused.
    Lance.

    edit: here's a before and after of mild scratches removed by hand with just PlastX and a t-shirt.

    imageimage
  • BryceMBryceM Posts: 11,729 ✭✭✭✭✭


    << <i>Those polishing papers actually go all the way 4,000 grit or so. >>



    Good to know. I think around 1000 would be idea for setting up the PlastX.



    << <i>Tell us more about the power tool and attachment. Once it's used with PlastX do you have to wash the cotton wheel before it can be used again? I'm always careful to use a clean part of a colored t-shirt because the stuff dries hard and will scratch the slab if reused. >>



    This particular buffing wheel came in the Maguier's Headlight kit. I just wash it out with soap & water and let it air dry. I still do a little finish polish with a clean microfiber cloth for the final step. The drill & buffer seem to leave a few scratches no matter what you do. You can get small buffing wheels on eBay for reasonable prices.
  • AUandAGAUandAG Posts: 24,533 ✭✭✭✭✭
    That MS61 Peace is probably a strong MS63 now!

    bobimage
    Registry: CC lowballs (boblindstrom), bobinvegas1989@yahoo.com
  • bolivarshagnastybolivarshagnasty Posts: 7,348 ✭✭✭✭✭


    << <i>

    << <i>Those polishing papers actually go all the way 4,000 grit or so. >>



    Good to know. I think around 1000 would be idea for setting up the PlastX.



    << <i>Tell us more about the power tool and attachment. Once it's used with PlastX do you have to wash the cotton wheel before it can be used again? I'm always careful to use a clean part of a colored t-shirt because the stuff dries hard and will scratch the slab if reused. >>



    This particular buffing wheel came in the Maguier's Headlight kit. I just wash it out with soap & water and let it air dry. I still do a little finish polish with a clean microfiber cloth for the final step. The drill & buffer seem to leave a few scratches no matter what you do. You can get small buffing wheels on eBay for reasonable prices. >>



    I think you'll find that 1000 grit will leave some micro scratches visible to the naked eye. I did a thread on this a few years ago. I start with 800 grit automotive paper used on clear coat finishes. Advance to 1500 and then to 2000 before polishing with a wheel and buffing compound or your PlastX. Got the best results doing this. Nice write up and thanks for posting.
  • topstuftopstuf Posts: 14,803 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Would it also work well on the coins themselves?
    You know, prior to sending in.

    image
  • TigersFan2TigersFan2 Posts: 1,442 ✭✭
    Awesome post.

    I just received a PCGS coin from an Ebay auction. The reverse over the center of the coin has some light abrasions from likely rubbing against another slab. I'm really scared to do all the scratching steps. Is it acceptable to go straight to the PlastX step first just to see if it cleans up the abrasion?
    I love the 3 P's: PB&J, PBR and PCGS.
  • BryceMBryceM Posts: 11,729 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited April 6, 2021 6:11PM
    Most scuffs and light scratches can be cleared up with a little PlastX and a cloth. It's only the really deep ones that require reworking the entire slab surface.

    Try it. If it doesn't work you can always resort to the big guns.

    For me, it's pretty rare to get a slab in the mail that doesn't require at least a little touch-up before photography. This is sometimes even true of new slabs that are shipped directly from our host.

    BTW, I recently did a threat ATS about NGC slabs. They're harder to work with, but can be repaired in the same way. The link is here.
  • 3keepSECRETif2rDEAD3keepSECRETif2rDEAD Posts: 4,285 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Nice Work and thanks for posting it here!
  • Bayard1908Bayard1908 Posts: 3,981 ✭✭✭✭
    I have found Happich Simichrome polish to work much better than Plastx. Plastx takes way too much time and labor.
  • jmski52jmski52 Posts: 22,358 ✭✭✭✭✭
    This is one of the more useful threads that I've read in a long time. Very cool. Thanks for the writeup!!
    Q: Are You Printing Money? Bernanke: Not Literally

    I knew it would happen.
  • panexpoguypanexpoguy Posts: 1,239 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I can personally recommend Zona polishing papers. Available on Amazon for about 10 a pack. You get one sheet each of polishing paper ranging from 30 down to 1 micron grit. I cut a square about the size of a postage stamp out of each grit type and worked on a slab using a wet sanding approach.

    Slab had scratches and a scuffed patch. Took less than 5 minutes and not much elbow grease and the slab looked great. The paper is reusable, even when wet sanding, many times. One pack would probably last you many years.
  • ColonelJessupColonelJessup Posts: 6,442 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Originally posted by: jmski52
    This is one of the more useful threads that I've read in a long time. Very cool. Thanks for the writeup!!



    +1

    POTD . . bookmarked . . image
    image
    "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." - Geo. Orwell
  • ms70ms70 Posts: 13,946 ✭✭✭✭✭
    image

    Great transactions with oih82w8, JasonGaming, Moose1913.

  • BryceMBryceM Posts: 11,729 ✭✭✭✭✭
    An update.....



    I posted this a while ago and then I messed it up by trying to edit it on the new forum software with my smartphone. All the photo links went **poof**.



    I've fixed it all and it's here again for reference if anyone needs it.
  • bolivarshagnastybolivarshagnasty Posts: 7,348 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I wanted to add that I have found the newest generation slabs to have a much softer plastic. After fine sanding and buffing, the mere wipe of a finger across the slab surface scuffs said surface. Can still get fair results, but notice they scuff and scratch more easily.
  • thefinnthefinn Posts: 2,653 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @topstuf said:
    Would it also work well on the coins themselves?
    You know, prior to sending in.

    Only if you want a "PL" designation. LOL

    thefinn
  • rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Great old thread... well worth resurrecting... Cheers, RickO

  • BryceMBryceM Posts: 11,729 ✭✭✭✭✭

    So, just for fun I went back and removed the original links to Photobucket and changed them to my links at Imgur. I couldn't find the images for the buff nickel slab, but at least I was able to find some of it.

    I hope it helps someone. With the expense of re-holdering, the risks of shipping, needing to resubmit for stickers and such, it seems better to take a few minutes and do it yourself. PCGS slabs are easy. NGC slabs are the devil. I did a writeup for those and the link is somewhere a few posts above this one if you're crazy enough to want to try it.

    I know JA has said that sometimes slabs are so badly damaged that he doesn't give otherwise perfectly nice coins a sticker - it's just too easy to miss something.

  • KindaNewishKindaNewish Posts: 827 ✭✭✭✭✭

    This is a bookmark.

  • Mr_SpudMr_Spud Posts: 4,428 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thanks 🌞> @BryceM said:

    So, just for fun I went back and removed the original links to Photobucket and changed them to my links at Imgur. I couldn't find the images for the buff nickel slab, but at least I was able to find some of it.

    I hope it helps someone. With the expense of re-holdering, the risks of shipping, needing to resubmit for stickers and such, it seems better to take a few minutes and do it yourself. PCGS slabs are easy. NGC slabs are the devil. I did a writeup for those and the link is somewhere a few posts above this one if you're crazy enough to want to try it.

    I know JA has said that sometimes slabs are so badly damaged that he doesn't give otherwise perfectly nice coins a sticker - it's just too easy to miss something.

    Mr_Spud

  • BryceMBryceM Posts: 11,729 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Before you try it on a GSA, get some experience with some cheapies. It would be a shame to ruin one of those.

  • nwcoastnwcoast Posts: 2,837 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Great post!
    Thank you for bringing it back as my retirement gift to myself coin/slab is in need of this attention and I had recently been pondering it. The timing couldn’t have been better- for my case anyways. :-)

    Happy, humble, honored and proud recipient of the “You Suck” award 10/22/2014

  • Bruce7789Bruce7789 Posts: 397 ✭✭✭✭

    Just for reference, Ace Hardware stores carry wet or dry sandpaper down to 3000 grit. I sometimes needed ultrafine grit when polishing out a weapon I was restoring.

  • PerryHallPerryHall Posts: 45,382 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Bruce7789 said:
    Just for reference, Ace Hardware stores carry wet or dry sandpaper down to 3000 grit. I sometimes needed ultrafine grit when polishing out a weapon I was restoring.

    Don't use sandpaper on a slab. You'll ruin it. :o

    Worry is the interest you pay on a debt you may not owe.

  • Namvet69Namvet69 Posts: 8,662 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited April 7, 2021 3:13AM

    Thanks Mr. Wizard. I am a big fan of simichrome. Peace Roy

    BST: endeavor1967, synchr, kliao, Outhaul, Donttellthewife, U1Chicago, ajaan, mCarney1173, SurfinHi, MWallace, Sandman70gt, mustanggt, Pittstate03, Lazybones, Walkerguy21D, coinandcurrency242 , thebigeng, Collectorcoins, JimTyler, USMarine6, Elkevvo, Coll3ctor, Yorkshireman, CUKevin, ranshdow, CoinHunter4, bennybravo, Centsearcher, braddick, Windycity, ZoidMeister, mirabela, JJM, RichURich, Bullsitter, jmski52, LukeMarshall

  • Bruce7789Bruce7789 Posts: 397 ✭✭✭✭
    edited April 8, 2021 12:06AM

    @PerryHall said:

    @Bruce7789 said:
    Just for reference, Ace Hardware stores carry wet or dry sandpaper down to 3000 grit. I sometimes needed ultrafine grit when polishing out a weapon I was restoring.

    Don't use sandpaper on a slab. You'll ruin it. :o

    Isn't the polishing papers just an ultra high grit sandpaper? Someone suggested that 1000 grit would be perfect, and I use 3000 grit wet or dry on special projects. Will have to get some polishing papers and evaluate the difference since both are wet or dry!

    Nice post though and will remember it!

  • LanceNewmanOCCLanceNewmanOCC Posts: 19,999 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @LanceNewmanOCC said:
    .
    kudos to your effort, results and presentation.

    .
    i reiterate for 2021.

    tyvm @BryceM

    <--- look what's behind the mask! - cool link 1/NO ~ 2/NNP ~ 3/NNC ~ 4/CF ~ 5/PG ~ 6/Cert ~ 7/NGC 7a/NGC pop~ 8/NGCF ~ 9/HA archives ~ 10/PM ~ 11/NM ~ 12/ANACS cert ~ 13/ANACS pop - report fakes 1/ACEF ~ report fakes/thefts 1/NCIS - Numi-Classes SS ~ Bass ~ Transcribed Docs NNP - clashed coins - error training - V V mm styles -

  • fiftysevenerfiftysevener Posts: 896 ✭✭✭✭

    Doesn't anyone believe in reholdering ?

  • coinbufcoinbuf Posts: 10,752 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @fiftysevener said:
    Doesn't anyone believe in reholdering ?

    Waste of money when you can get great results with a bit of elbow grease.

    My Lincoln Registry
    My Collection of Old Holders

    Never a slave to one plastic brand will I ever be.
  • LanceNewmanOCCLanceNewmanOCC Posts: 19,999 ✭✭✭✭✭

    VERY glad to see this one bumped. there are a few good ones like this floating around too.

    <--- look what's behind the mask! - cool link 1/NO ~ 2/NNP ~ 3/NNC ~ 4/CF ~ 5/PG ~ 6/Cert ~ 7/NGC 7a/NGC pop~ 8/NGCF ~ 9/HA archives ~ 10/PM ~ 11/NM ~ 12/ANACS cert ~ 13/ANACS pop - report fakes 1/ACEF ~ report fakes/thefts 1/NCIS - Numi-Classes SS ~ Bass ~ Transcribed Docs NNP - clashed coins - error training - V V mm styles -

  • BryceMBryceM Posts: 11,729 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 21, 2023 3:03PM

    @fiftysevener said:
    Doesn't anyone believe in reholdering ?

    Sure, when it doesn't mean service fees, shipping fees, wait times, and the possibility that something will go missing in the mail.

    Sometimes a slab is so far gone that there isn't any other option. As long as I can see the coin clearly and the coin is protected, who cares what the rest of the slab looks like? I've seen the Mona Lisa 4 or 5 times. I have no idea what its frame looks like.

  • messydeskmessydesk Posts: 19,679 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 21, 2023 3:36PM

    @BryceM said:

    @fiftysevener said:
    Doesn't anyone believe in reholdering ?

    Sure, when it doesn't mean service fees, shipping fees, wait times, and the possibility that something will go missing in the mail.

    Sometimes a slab is so far gone that there isn't any other option. As long as I can see the coin clearly and the coin is protected, who cares what the rest of the slab looks like? I've seen the Mona Lisa 4 or 5 times. I have no idea what its frame looks like.

    Wood frame, rectangular with three concentric layers of decoration, painted with gold and soup.

  • logger7logger7 Posts: 8,069 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Excellent information. I usually use a Maguire's product and a microfiber cloth which is enough for most minor issues. Also have a number of low value PCGS coins with schmutz on the front which may be sticker residue. Some people use WD40 for that.

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