Smoke Damage

Submitted by LK on 11/3/99. ( )

Looking for advice on cleaning Deer and Antelope head mount
damaged in a house fire.

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Fire Damage

This response submitted by George Roof on 11/4/99. ( )

I use drum brake cleaner from the auto supply store. Take the mount outside and set it on the ground, face up in the air. Start at the nose and spray heavily. You can see the soot "washing down the hide. (The solvent is tricholorethane tech. 1/1/1 or dry cleaning solvent. It evaporates quickly and leaves no smell. Buy a case, though, it will take 2 or 3 cans per mount.)
Once you complete this step, treat the hair with Mount Brite or Hair Sheen. This will restore the oils to the hair and give a nice clean smell to the mount. Repaint the nose, eyes, and ears as necessary.

Whoa ... Wait A Minute!!!

This response submitted by John Bellucci on 11/4/99. ( )

Hey LK,

I've had this experience first hand, and I developed what I feel is the best method for cleaning a "ruined" trophy, and making it look good again.

Before you spray anything on a soot-covered mount, the first thing that needs to be done is to blow off all the surface soot with air. Anything that is sprayed on top of the soot will drive it into the coat of the animal. You don't want that! Blow off as much of the soot as you can. The more you remove from the surface, the better shaper you're in for the next step.

The next step is to spray Windex on the surface of the hair. Not a lot! Just enough to dampen the hair slightly. This is wiped off immediately with paper toweling. Work in the direction of the hair, not against it! Don't press hard at first ... remove the residual soot from the surface with a gentle wiping-down.

Air is again blown over the hair. This helps drive off soot and air dries the hair to boot!

Windex is again sprayed over the hair, and again it is wiped off. This is repeated until the mount is again clean and fresh. The ammonia in the Windex, combined with the cleanser (soap) in the product, produces excellent results.

The horns and antlers can be cleaned with the Windex also.

After the hair has had a chance to dry, run a paper towel over it. If the re is any remaining soot, repeat the cleaning steps. Depending on the severity of the fire and the intensity of the smoke penetration, it is not unusual to expect at least a second cleaning, if not a third.

After the mount is fully cleaned and dried, you will need to "refresh" the appearance of the mount. This is best done by applying a light "spritz" of a lemon-oil furniture spray. I prefer the store-brand version of Lemon Pledge. Apply this to the hair, and - wiping in the direction of the hair - wipe down the mount. This will impart a sheen and luster to the hair, not to mention a fresh scent. This also works on the antlers.

Then there are those times where the mount cannot be saved. In these cases, a remount should be considered. A fresh cape is the remedy for the mounting procedure.

In these cases, the antler or horns need to be "super cleaned." For this you will need "Easy-Off" No Heat Oven Cleaner. After removing the antlers from the mount, take them outdoors and place them on some sort of elevated surface. Heavily spray them down with the Easy-Off, and let it sit and work through the soot and grime. After about 20 - 30 minutes, hose them off, and reapply the Easy-Off ... lightly. After letting them sit for a few minutes, don a pair of kitchen or household rubber gloves (Platex Gloves, etc.) and scrub them down with a soft brass wire brush, and a stiff scrub brush. Rinse and repeat as needed.

If the antlers need the color restored, use Potassium Permanganate dissolved in water, and re-color the antlers.

That's it. It can take some doing to restore a fire-damaged mount, but it is not impossible. Which mounts are too severely smoke damaged for restoration work? That's a question only you can answer. To me, if the hairs are singed, and the antlers or horns are actually burned, then it's time for a remount. Period. Especially when the hairs are singed!

Hope this has been of help to you.

Good luck to all ... John B.

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