Removing old wax

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Glug
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Removing old wax

Post by Glug » Thu Aug 09, 2018 9:06 am

Hiya folks.

Just discovered my Lucia IV P has a loose reed plate, so it's time to learn how to do waxing :)
I'm going to try the Charlie Marshal brush method since it's only 1 plate (so far - need to check).
The Lucia has 'pins' holding the plates and it's then waxed, not sure that makes any difference, though it did stop the plate falling off.

So the question is what's the preferred method for cleaning the reed block surface and reed plate before applying new wax ?

I'm guessing wooden scraper and then Qtip with a solvent (naptha ?) but I haven't found a detailed explanation yet.

Cheers,
Gareth

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debra
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Re: Removing old wax

Post by debra » Thu Aug 09, 2018 10:14 am

When a reed plate is loose due to brittle wax it is an indication that all the wax is brittle. But for starters you can try just the one reed plate and see how it goes.
First remove the pins, then pop out the loose reed plate. Scrape off any wax from the reed plate with a knife. You can use a knife, small screwdriver or any other small thing to scrape remaining was from the reed block. Try to get it all off without damaging the wood, but also without causing the adjacent reed plates to come loose. I use what I call a "pinger" which is a steel flat tool used for holding the reed while tuning. Afterwords the pinger needs to be thoroughly cleaned with naphta before using it again as a pinger. All tools you use need to be cleaned with naphta to remove any trace of wax.
How to wax in the new reed (good method for beginners): for starters, have the leather or plastic valve on the side of the reed plate that goes on the inside of the reed block and leave the valve off on the outside.
Cut a small strip of wax from a block of accordion wax, and roll it between your fingers so it is long round and thin (a bit thicker than a toothpick). Warm a soldering iron to maybe 70 or 80 degrees centigrade (use a dimmer to lower the power of the iron). You can melt a drop of wax on the base of the reed block and slide and press the reed plate onto it so it stays temporarily in place. Then melt some wax to bond the top side of the reed plate with the reed block (so the reed plate is now "connected" to the reed block on two ends). Make sure all of this is done without getting any wax between the reed plate and the wood: the plate needs to lay flush on the wood.
Then for the tricky bit: the wax in between the reed plates. I'm assuming you have at list half a millimeter of room here (a different technique is needed for reed plates that almost touch each other in extremely compact instruments). Cover the edges of the reed plate and the adjacent reed plate with painters tape, leaving only the empty space between the reed plates exposed. Now melt some wax to flow into the opening between the reed plates. Fill up the space but don't fill more than that. If there is too much wax (a "mountain"), remove it by sliding a small screwdriver through the (top of the) space between the reed plates. Remove the painters tape. Repeat the process for the space between the reed plate and the other adjacent reed plate. Then melt some wax around the base so the gap between the "base" edge of the reed plate and the reed block is filled up. Maybe melt the existing wax around the top edge for a nice, professional looking, finish.
Then clean the reed plate thoroughly with a paper towel soaked in naphta.
Finally, glue the valve that goes on the outside. You can choose to put the pins back, or not.
It takes longer to write all this down than to actually do it...
What I found very instrumental in successful waxing (which I do with the Italian spoon method, just "finishing off" using a soldering iron) is that you first leave the valve off and that you cover the reed plate edges with painters tape. When wax gets on the reed plate, or worse, on the reed, it is a mess to clean up with naphta. Much better to avoid it in the first place.
One final important word of advice: once you have the reed plate waxed in and the reeds are working properly, do not consider tuning for at least 2, better 3 weeks. The wax needs to harden and the tuning will change in this period.
Paul De Bra (not Debra...)
http://www.de-bra.nl

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Re: Removing old wax

Post by WaldoW » Fri Aug 10, 2018 7:18 am

Glug,
I don't recommend the brush application method. I tried it out, and while it does "glue" the reed plate to the block, there is very little wax "radius" between the block and the plate edge. The method Paul described above, is what I ended up using, with more factory like results.
The brush method also had the drawback of the brush cooling off too rapidly, when coming into contact with the block/plate interface. Obviously, the "wax spoon" method is the best, or else the factories would use another. Also, just look at the results.

Press on...
Waldo

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Re: Removing old wax

Post by jollyrogeraccordions » Fri Aug 10, 2018 7:53 am

Mostly I use a biggish flat screwdriver to clean off wax. I have found anything sharp like a knife can cut chunks out of the reed block wall, esp if they are thin. And small a screw driver is too narrow. If the wax is brittle it'll come off easier enough and probably just come off with your fingers. To rewax a single reed, esp when it is sitting in between other reeds, use a soldering iron (don’t breath in the fumes). If you use pukka reed wax (e.g. from Charlie Marshall) you'll find it is exceptionally sticky, which means you don’t need that much to refit your Reed. It doesn’t need to look like mortar on a brick wall. You just need enough to hold it in place and to stop any holes.

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Re: Removing old wax

Post by boxplayer4000 » Fri Aug 10, 2018 10:21 am

Wax Application and Removal.
Any opinions on using a suitable soldering iron to melt and place the wax?
I have had no adverse reactions from glues, varnishes etc. in using methylated spirit, sparingly/on a cotton bud, to remnants of old wax. It has the added advantage of evaporating quickly with no after effects that I can detect and has saved the day on many occasions when new wax has got too near to a valve and the result blinded by some chalk dust.

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Re: Removing old wax

Post by debra » Fri Aug 10, 2018 10:29 am

boxplayer4000 wrote:
Fri Aug 10, 2018 10:21 am
Wax Application.
Any opinions on using a suitable soldering iron to melt and place the wax?
I have had no adverse reactions from glues, varnishes etc. to using methylated spirit, sparingly/on a cotton bud, to remove old wax. It has the added advantage of evaporating quickly with no after effects that I can detect.
Any round-tip soldering iron will do. (the round tip helps to get in between the reed plates when the gap is narrow) But you do need to use a dimmer to reduce the power. Soldering irons are made to melt solder, which requires a temperature of over 200c and you want less than 100c (typically something like 70c and 80c).

Wax is best first scraped off and then anything left can be removed using naphta. My experience is that naphta is a great cleaning agent for many types of grease, not just for wax. You can for instance wipe the celluloid of the accordion with it to clean it. In dutch it is called "wasbenzine" which means that it can even be added to the laundry. (I never tried that though.) So far I have not had any trouble with "wasbenzine" that does not list "naphta" as an ingredient any more. (The Netherlands is really crazy about the environment so many stores now sell naphta that isn't real naphta, thinner that isn't real thinner and acetone that isn't real acetone (and for instance cannot be used to work on celluloid). WIth all types of chemicals nowadays you have to look at the small print on the labels to see what they really are, often *instead* of what the large print on the can or bottle says...
Paul De Bra (not Debra...)
http://www.de-bra.nl

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Re: Removing old wax

Post by WaldoW » Sat Aug 11, 2018 8:43 am

BP4000,

I scored an artist's wood burning tool (Excalibre marque) at a yard sale for $5.00 US. It came with an attached box with adjustable heat controls for two irons. There are also two coil rests for the hot irons. They are adjustable independently. I have a broad flat tip on one and a narrow 10mm long tip on the other. Works great. Probably pretty pricy ($30-50.00 I'd guess) when new, tho.

Press on....
Waldo

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Mr Mark
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Re: Removing old wax

Post by Mr Mark » Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:27 am

For what its worth. I've rebuilt three and repaired half a dozen. So I have erred on the side of caution.

I generally presumed the wood blocks would absorb moisture of any kind so stayed away from applying naphtha directly (in my case ronsonol) or any liquid as I wouldn't want the wood to swell or not adhere to the wax as well due to chemical interactions. Perhaps overkill, perhaps not.

I will use a sharpened bit of plastic or wood to do most of the wax removal to minimize potential damage to the block. From there I have a very small and fine steel blade sharpened to get the rest and in the corners. I like to run a very fine sandpaper over everything when I am done to be sure then brush the dust off with a fine paintbrush - finally wipe the are down with a fine cloth.

Funny though, I soaked the reeds in Ronsonol and to this day the accordion still smells of it over a year later.

For spot repairs I definitely stayed away from fluid as my thoughts are it weakens the surrounding wax you don't want to remove. Im no expert though.

Still struggling somewhat with the spoon but much less so than when I started. For the fine in between spaces I do the roll up method (again on spot repairs) and melt it in with a hot spoon.

Also, at first I reinstalled the nails, but found I couldn't fill in around them with wax so eventually got rid of them altogether. Highly unpurist I realize, but thus I am satisfied there will be no leaks between plate and block.

YMMV.

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debra
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Re: Removing old wax

Post by debra » Sun Aug 12, 2018 7:54 am

Mr Mark wrote:
Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:27 am
...
Funny though, I soaked the reeds in Ronsonol and to this day the accordion still smells of it over a year later.
With the naphta I use there does not seem to be a smell residu. It evaporates rather quickly and the only thing that smells like naphta for a while is the room I work in.
Mr Mark wrote:
Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:27 am
...
Still struggling somewhat with the spoon but much less so than when I started. For the fine in between spaces I do the roll up method (again on spot repairs) and melt it in with a hot spoon.
I'm still a beginner with the spoon method and I only have accordions with narrow spaces to work on. Knowing that I am bound to make a mess I use the method I described earlier: 1) leave the outside valve still off, 2) cover the edges of the space in between the reed plates with painters tape, 3) fill the gap with wax using the spoon method, 4) trace after it with a soldering iron (this may reveal that there were air bubbles still needing to be filled again), 5) when satisfied remove the painters tape, clean the reed plates with naphta and then glue on the valve. This never leaves a mess. Looks professional and conceals that I am still a beginner with the spoon method.
Mr Mark wrote:
Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:27 am
Also, at first I reinstalled the nails, but found I couldn't fill in around them with wax so eventually got rid of them altogether. Highly unpurist I realize, but thus I am satisfied there will be no leaks between plate and block.
...
I too have not reinstalled nails. They are not needed for the next 30 to 50 years after a rewax job.
Paul De Bra (not Debra...)
http://www.de-bra.nl

Glug
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Re: Removing old wax

Post by Glug » Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:18 pm

Well, turns out you were all right :)

I removed the old wax around the plate with a screwdriver leaving a gap of 3mm to the old wax. I didn't use naptha because of adjacent old wax, used turps on the plate itself.

Then I tried heating some wax (from Charlie) and using a brush - complete failure.
I have got a soldering iron but no dimmer, so I crimped an old electrical spade connector onto the end and that worked fine. I could melt new wax onto it and it ran straight into the gap. The iron was almost certainly too hot but didn't seem to be burning the wax.

The old wax isn't brittle, but it seems to have unstuck from the reed plates in a few places, with the new tool I went round melting new wax onto the dodgy bits.

And I see what you mean about the nails being a problem, I left them in this time.

Couple of items I spotted while on Amazon:

Pebaro Candle Decorating Pen https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pebaro-0271GB- ... rating+Pen

Antex Wax Master https://www.amazon.co.uk/Antex-R5L82TW0 ... ax+art+pen

Cheers,
Gareth

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Re: Removing old wax

Post by WaldoW » Thu Aug 16, 2018 7:32 am

Mr Mark
Ronsonal has a "perfume" added to cover the naptha smell and give it a distinctive (read Trademark) odor. Fingernail polish removers have a similar perfume added. It's probably the "perfume" hanging around. Pure naptha will wick off cleanly and fairly quickly, to boot.

Waldo

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