Saxophone Forum


by kennyz
(31 posts)
8 years ago

6M lacquer removing - which non-chemical techniques?

I would like to remove the lacquer of a 6m from '50, it is heavily tarnished, with a non homogeneous color and almost brown, very dark, the sax looks really badly. I have read the preceding discussions on the matter but I am firmly contrary to use chemical substancesand or abrasives, and I think that should not be difficult to remove a lacquer so old and tried. Departing from a bare brass area, the lacquer seems go away using a metal polish but I cannot use this procedure on the whole horn. I have read on the use of very warm water but I am perplexed; the warmth produce thermal expansion, do you not think that some post could detach ? I have used some vinegar for a hour on a small part of a key and the lacquer has easily gone away through the polish. Could a soak in the vinegar work on the whole sax without making damages? thanks to whoever can give me suggestions on this theme.

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  1. by Neilkalman
    (3 posts)

    3 years ago

    Re: 6M lacquer removing - which non-chemical techniques?

    anyone did this procedure and took some photos? I wanna see the before/after photos and everything to decide if it's a worthy procedure... if you didn't but you know if there's a photo set somewhere on the internet about this if you can send a link to the site I'll be grateful :-) thanks, Neil

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  2. by dgallego
    (27 posts)

    3 years ago

    Re: 6M lacquer removing - which non-chemical techniques?

    I would try the hot water technique first and add some mild soap. I found this works really well by accident. Years ago I bought a really nice top end bass trombone from a guy. It was a real basket case but I got if for almost nothing. I new It was going to have a major overhaul done to it because all the damage to the bell and other parts. On top of It it had been left in a barn for several years and it had mud daubers or other bug nests in the tubing. The case was so bad that I took it straight to the dumpster. Anyway I decided the first step was to clean it out so I filled the tub with hot water and mild soap an put the disassembled horn in it. about 20 minutes I came back and the lacquer had popped off all over. I thought 'good one less step. I flushed it out and repeated the bath with no soap. Any remaining lacquer came off. It was an amazing horn. (I do not remember which it was) Even as screwed up as it was it played really well and rattled the neighbors stuff. ( not happy neighbors) I took it to my tech who looked at me with that oh S*** look. About 2 weeks later it came back in beautiful condition with a new case, along with 3 buyers' offers.

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  3. by Tbone
    (120 posts)

    7 years ago

    Re: 6M lacquer removing - which non-chemical techniques?

    Kenny, try real hot water. Many times that will release the lacquer. Personally I like using a mild solution of Muriatic acid (1 gal of acid to 4 Gals of water) This mix is mild enough that I can stick my bare hands in the tank without any ill effects. Soak it over night and the lacquer will be floating on the top of the solution like "dead skin" the next morning. I then simply rinse with plenty of water. Next a 1 hour soak in water and baking soda. This helps neutralize any acid in the solder joints and helps prevent acid bleed later on. After it's dry get out your soft rags and some brass polish and have at it! I like to use Noxon as a first polish and then follow it up with Wenol. When you're done it shine like a baby's "you know what"! Instead of using a rag to apply the polish try this; Put a latex glove on one of your hands. Then put a white soft cotton knitted glove over the latex glove. Now apply the polish directly to the glove. Now rub it in like he11! ;-) I find less hand fatigue with this method.

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    1. by johnsonfromwisconsin
      (767 posts)

      7 years ago

      Re: 6M lacquer removing - which non-chemical techniques?

      Tbone, Out of curiosity, would acetic acid likely work as a substitute? Not that I'm consider trying this.

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      1. by Tbone
        (120 posts)

        7 years ago

        Re: 6M lacquer removing - which non-chemical techniques?

        JFW, I don't know for sure. You'd have to ask a chemist on that one. I do know that certain acids attack certain things more than others. Muriatic (weak hydrochloric) acid loves to attack lime. That's why it's so good for cleaning bricks and mortar. I also have a tank in the back of the shop with 1 part acid to 8 parts water. It's quite effective on that gunk inside the horns. I drop the bare horn in the tank for 5 to 10 minutes, run some bore brushes through the horn, rinse & dip in water and baking soda. The mildness of the acid and the short term in the tank don't seem to effect the finishes at all. BTW muriatic acid is available at most builders supply stores and hardware stores. Cheap too!

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    2. by kennyz
      (31 posts)

      7 years ago

      Re: 6M lacquer removing - which non-chemical techniques?

      Thanks Tbone, you use the muriatic with hot or cold water? How many parts of baking soda and water (also here hot or cold)? To clean the bore you use the same procedure or other products? I've read around products called "Super C - Powerful Citrus Brasswind Cleaning Soap" or "Dr. Dan's Famous Horn Soap" they works also for a saxophone or metal clarinet?

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      1. by Tbone
        (120 posts)

        7 years ago

        Re: 6M lacquer removing - which non-chemical techniques?

        Kenny, Cold water with both the acid and the baking soda. My neutralizing tank is maybe 15 gallons of water and there's @ 5lbs of baking soda dissolved in it. I say @ because I add some soda to it every once in a while. ;-) For bore cleaning I like to dip in the very mild acid solution to soften it up then my trusty bore brushes and good old Simple Green. After a good scrubbing it's time to flush it out. (garden hose outside if weather permits) A quick dip in the neutralizer and dry that puppy off. PLEASE REMEMBER! ALWAYS POUR YOUR ACID INTO THE WATER AND NEVER THE OTHER WAY AROUND! Please be careful.

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        1. by kennyz
          (31 posts)

          7 years ago

          Re: 6M lacquer removing - which non-chemical techniques?

          Thank you so much TBone, well: 1 muriatic part for 4 parts of water and 1 lb of baking soda for 3 gallons water... A last explanation, you have said that a soak of 1 hour in the solution with baking soda is necessary to definitely neutralize every action of the acid. Does this neutralization also work for the small acid infiltrations between the pads and the cups and through the holes well where the springs are inserted? Detach the pads would not be a problem for me (the sax needs a complete repad) but to remove the springs would be more complicated. Fundamentally I am not a technician and I know well which complications and which damages can arrive in this operation, especially when the spring doesn't want to go out... so, can I leave them to place? As you will have understood, I desire to do the de-lacquering and polishing and leave to a good technician the job of repad, springs substitution, etc. Finally, can the action of the acid produce some alterations in the threads of the dwarfish screws?

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        2. by Tbone
          (120 posts)

          7 years ago

          Re: 6M lacquer removing - which non-chemical techniques?

          Kenny, I always completely dis-assemble a horn before stripping. The acid would surely promote rust. If you're planning to have it re-padded anyway then talk to your tech first. He may be willing to dismantle your horn for you and allow you to do the stripping and polishing prior to him re-padding.

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        3. by Sax Mom
          (964 posts)

          7 years ago

          Re: 6M lacquer removing - which non-chemical techniques?

          Please do not leave a pad on the piece you are soaking in anything. The pad will be completely ruined.

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        4. by kennyz
          (31 posts)

          7 years ago

          Re: 6M lacquer removing - which non-chemical techniques?

          Yes Sax Mom, but the pads must have replaced, they are hard, ruined and also broken I have tried with the first set-up that I had nearby and the sax still plays, even if few notes, but from what have heard will have a great sound! I don't absolutely have any problem to get off everything and then to assemble, I could have some difficulties to take off the springs if these are too nailed with some rust, but also a lot of of they must be replaces. I have attentively read the repair article of Mr. Goodson about removal, really very exhaustive, however if I won't succeed to 100% I will leave this job to the technician Thanks to everybody

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        5. by Tbone
          (120 posts)

          7 years ago

          Re: 6M lacquer removing - which non-chemical techniques?

          Kenny, If you're going to try and dismantle your horn get yourself a can of PBblaster at your nearest auto parts store and one of those syringes that come in an ink cartridge refill kit. The syringes make a great oiler for musical instruments. Spray the PBblaster into a cup or jar and let the foam subside. Draw in a syringe full of the orange liquid and put a couple drops on every screw, rod, pivot & spring. Let it sit over night and repeat the next morning. By the next afternoon you should be able to turn just about any screw on the horn. (With a little luck that is!)

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