March 3, 2006, Newsletter Issue #166: Cleaning Your Shanks

Tip of the Week

When it comes to Western tack maintenance, donít forget about cleaning your shanks! In order to clean the shanks of an all-stainless-steel bit, rub off all dirt with a 3M cloth (you can generally find these at any large grocery store). If your shanks are engraved, however, use a terrycloth towel to preserve the natural wear of the shanks. If your sterling silver shank is new, light will refract from the angles on any freshly engraved cuts. As the silver gets old, however, the cuts will fill with murky blackness; this will accentuate the cuts in such a way that they will have a rich, beautiful three-dimensional appearance. If you use a silver polish you will eradicate the blackness. Silver polish is also likely to strip away the dyed-blue background that will develop on some engraved shanks. If this happens to your bit you can save it. Try spraying the bit with WD-40, this will turn the metal a gorgeous deep brown color.

*There are many good silver polish sprays available at tack stores. You can spray down your shanks with one of these and polish them with a terrycloth rag. These products work quickly and won't stain the leather on your Western bridles.

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