Cast Patina Procedure

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by pcrispy, Jun 6, 2007.

  1. pcrispy

    pcrispy LawnSite Member
    Posts: 24

    For anyone interested, I thought that I would post a couple pics of a Cast bullet that has had the "black" patina procedure performed to it according to Tony Grieco's tutorial at:

    For anyone like myself that does not like the typical "green" patina nature of copper materials (first a chalky white residue and then the slow turn to a chalky green color), this procedure did give me an instant "black" patina that I am much more happy with. The results were almost instantaneous on the bronze however it at first has more of a very dark green color to it (the color of the ammonia/sulfur liquid) but when it dries it is much more rustic black with hints of bronze. For kicks, I shot a spray of the solution on the "logo" side of the fixture record tag (which is copper) and that stuff went instantly to jet black. No speckles, gradation's or anything, just jet black. Some wiping with a rag while it is still wet will remove enough of the black to match the bronze coloring, but I will be removing all of the tags before spraying because it might be hard to read them when the entire tag is black. Anyhow, I saw the picture that Cast had on the web and so I thought that I would confirm that this procedure indeed provides the described results. The first pic shows a before and after comparison. Of course, the solution does smell like rotten eggs, but you probably want to do this outside anyhow. A good tip from Tony was to do color testing on the bronze stake first, then if you (or client) doesn't like the color in person, the stake gets buried in the ground anyhow so it doesn't matter.



  2. Chris J

    Chris J LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,830

    Ya know, I've always considered cast to be a pretty significant product in the market, but there aren't alot of cast installers in my area. A while back, I got some disturbing info that the cast fixtures that were installed in this area were failing miserably which caused me to stop my looking any further. Someone in the know, you have my permission to slam me to set me straight (I have strong shoulders). It may be the installers fault that these installations failed, but the name got the bad rape nonetheless. In regard to the above mentioned patina, I can't say one way or another whether I like the way this looks. What will matter, aesthetically anyway, is what will happen after the calcium deposits and pitting builds up. Will they then look like any other aluminum or brass fixture in coastal Florida? Corrosion here does not discriminate. I don't care if it is brass, bronze or copper. The fixture and it's finish will not look anywhere near the same in 2 years. Which brings me to my next point which is this: The critical point on the fixture is the socket... Are the sockets in these bronze fixtures any different than the brass or copper or even the marine grade aluminum? This thread is probably one that will go on for a while so here we go.......:cool2:.... Bring it on!
  3. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,181

    Crisp nice work on the patina. I did some outside and made a quick frame and covered it in chicken wire to make a drip rack. some people love it some hate it.

    in our experience CAST has been a staple. A few issues we have had...

    The way they pack the bullets in 6 packs sometimes lets them slam together causing the convex lenses to crack. Sometimes the o rings get stuck and break on removal so keep some of these handy..

    Wall Wash..Solid built fixture but non tiltable forcing you to stake in at an angle... a problem in soft bed areas.

    Every so often you get a "hat" in the area lights that is a bit warped... seems to be limited to the china hats. I attibute this to the hand made nature of the product ????

    ZERO problems with failure in the field with the exception of a bad batch of bulbs that seemed to go out within a month (all came from the same box and were babs). Some fixtures even get excessive water contact.

    In your sandy soils you may find you want to use a stronger stake like the cast heavy duty stakes or perma posts as the area lights are heavy and can have a hard time in loose ground remaining straight.

    Tree lights... I love the cast tree light and the mounting hardware. Its been really good for us but there is one drawback... The longer shroud (which helps cut down on the dreadded glare) does decrease the angle on a 60 degree bulb... how much im not sure.

    There is another company installing a few cast lights around here. Poor design and im not sure on thier workmanship but if they developed a rep for failing there I would have to say it was installer error... Its a solid product in my opinion. Zero problems with sockets. Remember this is my roasting of the brand and all the above issues are pretty limited with the O rings being my biggest gripe followed by the half a dozen cracked lenses out of the box.

    We yanked some FX fixtures 2 years old ... finish fading and peeling from bird droppings (ammonia????) and replaced with cast... they turned white... then dark bronze... been like then since... a little darker everytime we visit but still rock solid. I might just take one and subject it to alot of abuse and speed up the (kill the fixture) process to see.
  4. steveparrott

    steveparrott Sponsor
    Posts: 1,196

    Ok, I guess I have your permission to bring it on. I'm not aware of the failures that you describe. Unless you're referring to some early socket failures about three years back. That was a short term problem and we retrofitted new sockets in all the fixtures affected.

    You're right to question what components are used in the fixtures - sockets, crimps, wiring, etc. I'd love to elaborate on what CAST does but that would violate the forum rules. (I'm already treading the line.)

    You're wrong when you say that corrosion doesn't discriminate. Once bronze patinas to its bluish green color, it pretty much stays that way for the next 3,000 years - no pitting, no flaking, no cracking, nothing.

    All the other materials you mention suffer from progressive types of corrosion that eventually compromise the integrity of the metal. For some interesting info on corrosion, go to
  5. High Performance Lighting

    High Performance Lighting LawnSite Senior Member
    from So Cal
    Posts: 326

    Chris, Can you be more specific about the nature of the alleged fixture failures. As for the finish your main concern should be that the fixture won't rust. And they shouldn't if they don't have any exposed ferrous metals that were mixed into the brass castings. I would be concerned about what appears to be an aluminum lock nut (I may be wrong perhaps it's stainless- can't tell from the photo-should be brass though to better match the fixture). The only acid finish I've experienced looking pretty good after an extended period of time in the field is verde. You have to remember though we are not selling ornaments (with the exception of wall mnts and post mnts etc) we are selling landscape lights that should blend naturely and conceal within the landscape. Mother nature doesn't take pity on them and they are exposed to the harshest of elements. A good bullet should lock in place and stay in place over the long haul, should keep the socket and lamp dry. Definately keep insects out. Be able to accept optional lenses and mounts. provide excellent shielding and be easy to re-lamp. Sockets must also be built to last. I don't like the bullets that have a butt splice between the socket wire and the spt cable. I believe the wire should be continuous until it is connected to the power cable and then buried directly under the fixture. Obviously I'm not a proponent of the hub or spider system which features 16 gauge spliced on wire leads. oh did I leave out that they should be user friendly and field adjustable without tools. This really helps during nightime aiming sessions. I'm also not a fan of the "jack in the box fixtures". the ones that spring out at you when you take the lens cover off because the body is too small to house the lamp. I prefer a stationery socket mount that places the lamp not right up against the glass but 1" recessed behind it
  6. Chris J

    Chris J LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,830

    The only specifics I ever heard were just general statements like "melted sockets" "fixtures falling apart" etc... At the time that I heard these statements, which were in fact about 2 years ago, I really didn't even care that much as I was pretty content with what I was using.
    I absolutely agree with what you are saying about not selling ornaments (hence my statement on sockets). I'm all for longevity over pretty.

    Pcrispy is working with appearance here. My statements are to encourage discussion on the "appearance" after weather happens. Even if you take corrosion out of the equation, there are still factors to consider that will effect the appearance of any fixture: Sun (UV fading), Irrigation, iron, calcium, other minerals found in the water. All of these will find their way onto the fixture which will influence the "appearance". I acknowledge that the product is substantial, but I am simply addressing the issue at hand. Please don't take my statements as an attack on Cast.
    Again, the bottom line is that the interior of the fixture continues to work. The outside of the fixture is not what is lighting up your objects; correct or no?
  7. High Performance Lighting

    High Performance Lighting LawnSite Senior Member
    from So Cal
    Posts: 326

    In all fairness I will tell you that every manufacturer has had their share of failed product. The good ones don't deny it, learn from it , make future adaptations and repair or replace without a song and a dance.
  8. Chris J

    Chris J LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,830

  9. Eden Lights

    Eden Lights LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 805

    When I first saw the Cast marketing materials and read the web site, I thought these people got it together. I thought I got to check them out, so I bought a package and donated it to my Daughters' school spring auction. I had to order out of NC and the shipping was very expensive due to weight of the products, I think we have a closer supplier now. While I did like the materials, here are a few things that stopped me from selling any of the fixtures.

    MR16 bullet: some shrouds were tight and some were loose, tight ones were all lubed up, but I still had to move some of the shrouds around to stop the o-rings from getting cut. Some of the fixtures were loose between the body and the knuckle at the large o-ring. All that wire slowed me down when burying in a mature landscape. Prismatic spread lenses were cut very shallow and too small, clips didn't work well and the overall spring, lamp, lens, and clip slowed me way down. I ended up using different clips and lenses from another supplier. I like to hammer my stakes in with a rubber mallet and that is very slow with 25 feet of wire going through the stake that should be removed, so you can dig holes or you can remove the stake from the fixture, either one is very slow. Last thing was a big one for me, was that the fixture is not aimable because you cannot lossen or tighten the lock nut because it is recessed. ( Take a look at the above pics, please explain if you can?)

    Path lights: looked great and look even better today. I cut the wire short on the them and then hammered the stakes and reinstalled the fixture since no aiming is required on a pathlight. I did have trouble with the odd looking single contact lamps due to short life (single contact xenon maybe?) I ended up using conversion plugs to go to a Bi-Pin Lamp which solved the problems.

    Tree downlight: excellent

    Transformers: excellent ( I love the extra common on the big boys to help with balancing loads)

    While I think the system will stand the test of time now that it's installed and the kinks are worked out, but who's got the time go through all that? Maybe some of these issues have been resolved?
  10. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,181

    Eden thats funny you mention aiming... I have had Zero probs with aiming the bullets. Perhaps these were past issues and are resolved now ? What I do when prepping fixtures and lamping is losen up the lock nut (Mike I think this is stainless) and give my self some room then when I aim at night a simple push on the lock nut with a screw driver will lock it down.

    I have had 1 or 2 "bad" castings which I returned for credit with no prob where the hoods didnt fit right. I dont use the clips with lenses either. Just slip then lens in and put the hood on.

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