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Derek A

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27
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Watford, Herts
Recently found my old Selmer in my mum's shed. It's around 60 years old. Pads/keys look OK. The bell is very marked with red/brown patches and blue/green spots. Looks pretty disgusting. Thought I might try hand rubbing with wire wool and Brasso, then a quick spray with car wheel lacquer. Don't think it could look any worse. Any ideas please.
 

RMorgan

Member
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110
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Brazil
Hey Derek,

The green spots can be removed with vinegar and a soft sponge/cloth.

Be gentle while cleaning the brown spots. They are caused by dezincification of the brass, while exposed for an extended period of time in humid places, without proper care.

I would just lightly rub them with zero steel wool and some anti-rust oil, then leave them as they are.

If you try to relacquer it with spray, you have big chances of making a mess. Also, it will devalue the selling price of your horn.

If you´re not the DIY kind of guy, maybe it´s better to take it to a tech.

Anyway, post some pictures, so we can take a better look at the sax.

Cheers,

Raf.
 
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jbtsax

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Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
Another option that I find works quite well is to use a Scotch Bright synthetic steel wool pad without Brasso or any other polishing agent. This thread on the Woodwind Forum shows some photos of how it looks. It is a lot of work to do the entire instrument. To do a good job requires removing all of the springs, pads, corks and felts and then replacing them when the cosmetics are finished.
 

RMorgan

Member
Messages
110
Locality
Brazil
Another option that I find works quite well is to use a Scotch Bright synthetic steel wool pad without Brasso or any other polishing agent. This thread on the Woodwind Forum shows some photos of how it looks. It is a lot of work to do the entire instrument. To do a good job requires removing all of the springs, pads, corks and felts and then replacing them when the cosmetics are finished.

I would gladly disassemble and fully overhaul it, if I had an old selmer in my mum´s basement.

Restoring a sax is one of the coolest things I´ve ever done in my life. It´s like zen meditation mixed with chess.

Derek, if you´re planning to really fix this sax, the guys here like jbtsax and kevgermany are awesome advisers.

Anyway, post some pictures if you can. I´m curious about this horn.

Raf.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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Just be very careful. Selmers of that sort of age are worth a lot of money. Steel woool, wheel lacquer could and will wipe a lot off the value. Many guys like the original finish, no matter how bad. Vinegar for the green bits is OK. Whatever else you do, don't strip the lacquer, especially with an abrasive like steel wool.

What model is it?
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
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London
Just be very careful. Selmers of that sort of age are worth a lot of money. Steel woool, wheel lacquer could and will wipe a lot off the value. Many guys like the original finish, no matter how bad. Vinegar for the green bits is OK. Whatever else you do, don't strip the lacquer, especially with an abrasive like steel wool.

What model is it?

Precious advice. Be aware that many of us are drooling already.
 

Morgan Fry

Senior Member
Messages
447
Locality
Leeds
Just be very careful. Selmers of that sort of age are worth a lot of money. Steel woool, wheel lacquer could and will wipe a lot off the value. Many guys like the original finish, no matter how bad. Vinegar for the green bits is OK. Whatever else you do, don't strip the lacquer, especially with an abrasive like steel wool.

Agree 100%. Be very careful. sure, wipe it clean, but don't use any solvents, cleaners, abrasives (even 00 wire wool will scratch), anything besides a damp soft cloth. With enough moisture for long enough to form verdigris on the unlacquered areas, I would also expect the pads to be shot (even if they look ok to the naked eye the condition of the felt inside is crucial) and some of the action to be rusted.

Really don't do anything to make it look pretty. Seriously, what you suggest -- wire wool, brasso, wheel lacquer -- can devalue the instrument by somewhere between £500 and £2000 depending on what vintage it is and the condition of the existing lacquer.
 

Derek A

New Member
Messages
27
Locality
Watford, Herts
Thanks guys for your advice. Brief history - it's a 1955 Mk VI, I bought it in 1964 when they were relatively cheap before the prices got silly. It had already been relaquered, kind of very pale orange or dark yellow. Only reason I can think of, when I played in big bands everybody had a shiny instruments (went with the bow ties). Played it 15 years then gave up. Found it 4 years ago and had it repadded. The repairer reckoned better not to relacquer again as buffing thins the metal too much and takes off the engraving. Bought a new alto (Elkhart DeLuxe) for my daughter kept it myself as it was such a good blower, and I'd lost my 'puff' to blow a tenor with a wide tip. I won't relacquer it as it's only a patch around 2" x 3" near the logo. Now I can blow OK will be nice to get back into the tenor.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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Brief history - it's a 1955 Mk VI...

Now the droolers will be beside themselves. And asking questions like 'How many digits in the serial number?'....

Take care of it. They're worth a lot now. And still going up.
 

breathless

Member
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270
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Dunmow, Essex
For the benifit of newbies (but interested) like myself, what (in this case) does "worth a lot mean". Speculatively speaking?

Lee.
 

aldevis

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For the benifit of newbies (but interested) like myself, what (in this case) does "worth a lot mean". Speculatively speaking?

Lee.

3k to 6k in the UK, 2k to 8k in the US (£)

I can have a whole lot of 4 professional horns (SATB) for 8k, I can have 4 horns that do the job for 3k
 
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kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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For the benifit of newbies (but interested) like myself, what (in this case) does "worth a lot mean". Speculatively speaking?

Lee.

I agree with Aldevis. They're being collected and players still want them. Horns being collected are (generally) no longer played or available for purchase. Which drives prices up.

And there's even higher demand for the early ones as they're supposed to sound better due to a different grade of brass being used. I don't want to drag Derek's thread off topic forther into a discussion on the merits/demerits of a Mk VI compared to other saxes - or whether they're worth the money. But if someone wants to start a thread about it.....
 

llamedos

Senior Member
Messages
429
Locality
Lincolnshire England
Whilst we are on the subject of abrasives, so far as I can ascertain the finest grade of wire wool is 0000. This is extensively used loaded with wax polish for buffing up hardwoods on a lathe and is capable of being brought to an extremely fine and high-gloss finish. It is, however, still an abrasive and will damage any kind of surface softer than itself and I would hesitate to use it on a "vintage" lacquer. I have applied pre-catalysed lacquer to, for example, ebony, and have then used 0000 wire wool with various wax polishes to achieve an acceptable finish which can be varied in glossiness by the buffing process. In terms of vintage instrument refurbishment I would imagine than any grade coarser than 0000 would be bad news - after all, if the object of the exercise is to remove the finest possible layer of material, be it an applied lacquer or the metal of the instrument itself, then the aim will be to remove the absolute minimum consistent with achieving an acceptable cosmetic finish. To be honest, the mention of even 00 steel wool made me come over all unnecessary, but then I am not in the business of instrument renovation/restoration.

I suppose what I am looking for is some expression along the lines of softly, softly catchee monkey. Sorry to go on at such length about a minor aspect of the topic, but I have seen what a heavy hand can do and too often the effects are irreversible.

Dave
 

jbtsax

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There are actually two steps to restoring the finish on an older sax showing tarnish where large portions of the lacquer are gone. The first step is to remove all the remaining lacquer on the body and keys. This can be done chemically, or in the case of old nitrocellulose lacquers, by boiling the parts in water with a bit of baking soda added. It is not unusual to have to use some type of mild abrasive to get all of the old lacquer out of the "nooks and crannies" regardless of the method used.

At this point you have patches of shiny brass where the lacquer has just been removed, and areas where the brass has tarnished and corroded over time. To make the surface uniform once again, one can either polish the entire area back to a shine or apply what is known in the trade as a "scratch brush" finish. The "scratch brush" finish can be achieved by using a motor driven scratch wheel with soft brass wire bristles, by using steel wool, or by using a synthetic "steel wool" pad. It is true that all of the methods remove a miniscule amount of brass from the surface, including the polishing by hand or with a buffing wheel. If done carefully to avoid toneholes and posts, this process has no effect upon how an instrument plays in my judgement based upon my experience.

If the market values an ugly looking vintage Mark VI over one that has been carefully and beautifully restored, it is based upon myth and heresay in my opinion. If an owner does not plan to ever sell a vintage sax, then the resale value is secondary to the owner liking how it looks and plays. Below is a Mark VI Tenor I overhauled for a customer. Yes, I warned him that it may affect the resale value in the marketplace, and he assured me he wanted it overhauled with this unlacquered scratch finish.

DSC02669-1.jpg
 

gladsaxisme

Try Hard Die Hard
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3,436
Locality
manchester
There are actually two steps to restoring the finish on an older sax showing tarnish where large portions of the lacquer are gone. The first step is to remove all the remaining lacquer on the body and keys. This can be done chemically, or in the case of old nitrocellulose lacquers, by boiling the parts in water with a bit of baking soda added. It is not unusual to have to use some type of mild abrasive to get all of the old lacquer out of the "nooks and crannies" regardless of the method used.

At this point you have patches of shiny brass where the lacquer has just been removed, and areas where the brass has tarnished and corroded over time. To make the surface uniform once again, one can either polish the entire area back to a shine or apply what is known in the trade as a "scratch brush" finish. The "scratch brush" finish can be achieved by using a motor driven scratch wheel with soft brass wire bristles, by using steel wool, or by using a synthetic "steel wool" pad. It is true that all of the methods remove a miniscule amount of brass from the surface, including the polishing by hand or with a buffing wheel. If done carefully to avoid toneholes and posts, this process has no effect upon how an instrument plays in my judgement based upon my experience.

If the market values an ugly looking vintage Mark VI over one that has been carefully and beautifully restored, it is based upon myth and heresay in my opinion. If an owner does not plan to ever sell a vintage sax, then the resale value is secondary to the owner liking how it looks and plays. Below is a Mark VI Tenor I overhauled for a customer. Yes, I warned him that it may affect the resale value in the marketplace, and he assured me he wanted it overhauled with this unlacquered scratch finish.

DSC02669-1.jpg

I'm with you all the way on this I can't imagine why making a quality sax like new again should devalue it,it's got it's serial number to tell you how old it is,if it looks and plays like new that must make it better and more valuable surely.Give me new any day.

By the way did you use anything to protect the finish on the sax in the picture ......john
 

jbtsax

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No I didn't on the one pictured. I have however put a carnauba wax polish on a sax I did more recently with the same finish. It would also be possible to put a clear coat of lacquer on it to help protect the finish but then you are back to the same problem of the lacquer wearing unevenly. The idea behind not adding a protective coating is to allow the brass to age naturally and darken evenly throughout. I have been experimenting with sulfur compounds to hasten the process and create a dark patina much more quickly. It turns out that it is the same sulfur molecules that turns silver black that causes brass to darken over time. I have found that the Doctor's Gleam Anti Tarnish Sachet does an excellent job inhibiting tarnish on not only silver instruments, but raw brass ones as well.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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21,912
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Just north of Munich
There are actually two steps to restoring the finish on an older sax showing tarnish where large portions of the lacquer are gone. The first step is to remove all the remaining lacquer on the body and keys. This can be done chemically, or in the case of old nitrocellulose lacquers, by boiling the parts in water with a bit of baking soda added. It is not unusual to have to use some type of mild abrasive to get all of the old lacquer out of the "nooks and crannies" regardless of the method used.

At this point you have patches of shiny brass where the lacquer has just been removed, and areas where the brass has tarnished and corroded over time. To make the surface uniform once again, one can either polish the entire area back to a shine or apply what is known in the trade as a "scratch brush" finish. The "scratch brush" finish can be achieved by using a motor driven scratch wheel with soft brass wire bristles, by using steel wool, or by using a synthetic "steel wool" pad. It is true that all of the methods remove a miniscule amount of brass from the surface, including the polishing by hand or with a buffing wheel. If done carefully to avoid toneholes and posts, this process has no effect upon how an instrument plays in my judgement based upon my experience.

If the market values an ugly looking vintage Mark VI over one that has been carefully and beautifully restored, it is based upon myth and heresay in my opinion. If an owner does not plan to ever sell a vintage sax, then the resale value is secondary to the owner liking how it looks and plays. Below is a Mark VI Tenor I overhauled for a customer. Yes, I warned him that it may affect the resale value in the marketplace, and he assured me he wanted it overhauled with this unlacquered scratch finish.

Fair comment, but there's a world of difference between an experienced and skilled restorer doing the work, and an untrained someone having a go. We're talking about a highly sought after sax worth thousands, not a junker. I agree with you about the market and what it values, but we'd be doing Derek a big disservice if we didn't point out the pitfalls and risks, in the way you did for your customer.
 

jbtsax

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Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
Fair comment, but there's a world of difference between an experienced and skilled restorer doing the work, and an untrained someone having a go. We're talking about a highly sought after sax worth thousands, not a junker. I agree with you about the market and what it values, but we'd be doing Derek a big disservice if we didn't point out the pitfalls and risks, in the way you did for your customer.
Thanks Kev. Your point is well taken. I was attempting to describe the process and the results more than giving advice to a novice at repair to try it themselves. Besides, there are lots of old junkers around to practice on before tackling an expensive vintage horn.
 

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