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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Delaminating Iron Cross first class...any fix?


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Hello,  Anyone had any luck repairing an Iron Cross first class (1.EK) that has delaminated?..........or any ideas why this one suddenly decided to delaminate?......ghosts?.....Cheers, Bill




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Given recent record high temps in the desert SW, the flip answer would be: why aren’t you surprised that they have not yet melted.

My life experience with common adhesives/glues (wooden furniture/ doorstops on tile/ scotch tape on paper etc) tells me that sooner or later they dry out and the two parts just part company.

I would not have thought that an Iron Cross would be constructed using an adhesive, but then again would a process such as induction heating have been used to bond two metals together?

Must admit that I have very little understanding of industrial mechanical engineering.

Is there a local museum curator that you could run this past?

Good luck with the problem and please let us know if you discover anything re this Iron Cross.






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Hello JMB,  Thank you for your reply......here is an article describing how a 1939-1945 1.EK was constructed...


I assume the 14-18 cross was similarly constructed.  

That fuzzy gray bit around the edges of the open seams in my photos is solder......my first thought was just to add a bit of epoxy glue, clamp it up and forget about it............but the better angels of my nature decided to at least try to try for a proper fix.  My thoughts were to clean the components of the open seam and re-solder the joint......unfortunately (as past experience has taught) nothing is ever that straight forward......I've found that very old solder laughs at the torch........usually after areas which you don't want to melt come apart like.....well, like anything left out in the sun here in the Southwest........as there are many Navajo jewelers here, many of whom specialize in repair antique silver, I think I'll punt it to one of them.....

Cheers, Bill

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I’m almost ashamed to admit that “solder” never entered my mind when I first read your post, and yet it should have been the very first thing for how to join two pieces of metal.

Work with my hands much?? No, not much!!

I think that the Navajo metal-worker makes sense.



PS It does make you wonder though why the layers have separated now.

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I did know that IC's come in various fabrications. At militaria sales, the multi piece ones are desirable as the single piece ones are often suspects for forgeries.

working in engineering, as they are not riveted ,(the primary way of joining two materials), and Loctite or other products were not available then the only options would be butt / induction welding , brazing or soldering. all would involve heat and possibly distortion., brazing would leave a  gold finish so silver solder may be an option..


to repair... the surfaces would need to be very clean then fluxed and probably silver solder.

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OK, the Forum members over the years have been so generous to me with both their time and expertise I thought it might, in some small way, begin to pay them back with a foto illustrated explanation of how I repaired the delaminating 1.EK.  Please note that this was a first time effort on my part and also that the EK was not in the best of condition to begin with (note in fotos that apart from the delamination there are slightly wavy edges and bent corners).  Also, please note that while this operation was successful there are no guarantees when working with medals, especially in this case where there are three dissimilar materials, iron, silver and 100+ year old paint.  Also, I am not advocating that you try this at home...if you do please work in a well ventilated area, wear gloves and goggles and have a fire extinguisher handy. 

1. Determine if the piece is of such value that a professional should be used (an 1870 cross or any named, inscribed, crosses)

2. Using a very fine file, clean both interior sides of the delaminating silver overlays down to bright, shiny silver.

3. Apply flux to the bright shiny areas you have just prepared being careful not to get flux on the iron insert or exterior areas of the silver overlays.....the solder will flow onto any areas that have been fluxed and will be difficult to remove.

4. use a light gauge, low temperature silver solder (solder which melts at a low temperature).

5. Cut a short piece (1/4") of solder and insert it into the fluxed area at the end of the cross.  When it is melted it will be drawn up both sides of the cross. The flux will hold it in place while you perform the next step.

6. Remove the plastic cushions from a spring clamp (so they won't melt when you apply heat to the joint).......apply the clamp to the end of the cross being repaired.....note that the joint will not cinch up because of the piece of flux you have placed in the joint......if your clamp is in good condition it will draw the joint tight when the flux melts and flows across the end of the cross and up the sides.....in this case the clamp is placed over the hinge of the pin so that it will remain in place if the solder holding it is disturbed.

7.  The hardest part, requiring finesse....insert the clamp into a vice in such a way that you can easily access the area to which you will be applying the torch.....put on a pair of leather gloves and shatter-proof goggles (if anything slips your reflexes will cause you to try and catch it before your brain tells you it is extremely hot)......fire up the torch and GENTLY apply the flame to the end of the cross wherein rests the piece of flux......watch very closely (this is why you need goggles) as you apply the flame......when the solder is heated to the correct temperature it will flash melt......I truly mean flash melt...in an instant, and will be drawn up the sides of the cross and the spring clamp will cinch the joint tight......the instant the solder melts remove the heat to avoid damaging the paint and distressing the patina on the silver overlays of the cross.....

8.  Wait a few minutes for the solder to cool...if you dip it in water (like the old blacksmith) it will likely crack the joint.

9. With 3,000 grit sandpaper, gently smooth any solder that may have escaped the joint.

10. Put on your rubber gloves and goggles....using disposable swab applicators, apply separate applications (do not mix the products) of gun blue, aluminum black, nickle black touching up any bright spots that may have been created during the operation......using only one product will produce an unnatural patina.......work with small amounts very slowly....apply a small amount of darkener and wait until it has had a minute of two to take effect......to stop the darkening process simply wipe the area with a damp rag (you are, of course, wearing your rubber gloves and goggles)....as the quality of the metals, age, existing patina all have an effect on the process you'll have to experiment to get it just right.....

11. Put the 1.EK back onto the tunic and admire the results.

PS: see attached fotos by way of illustration...note that foto 5 show the short piece of flux inserted between the delaminating overlays and held in place by the flux in advance of applying the spring clamp.

Admittedly the joint is not 100% invisible, but the original patina of the cross is undisturbed and the new joint's patina is nearly a perfect match to the old.....if I do say so myself I doubt that a professional jeweler (today or 100 years ago) could have done much better.....

Cheers, Bill















Edited by dutchbarge
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Congratulations on a job well-done, Sir!

I know where to send my EK II if it starts to come apart……




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