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  1. #1
    bariman's Avatar
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    Default Finish problems on my horn, red rot?

    Hi all,
    So I know this isn't a saxophone, but finishes are finishes, right? Anyway, I just came by this mellophone, a Bach USA. It was a school horn, and of course needs some work, but I was wondering what you all thought was up with the finish. It appears to be some corruption of the original lacquer (still intact on inside of the bell), I think I remember something called red rogue? I've tried to use some bare brass polish, but the red tint remains. I would say it covers about 80% of the horn. I want to get this horn down to bare brass, but was just wondering what this was.

    Thanks,

    Bariman

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    Default Re: Finish problems on my horn, red rogue?

    Here you go:

    Red rot (brass)
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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    This article is orphaned as few or no other articles link to it. Please help introduce links to this subject in articles on topics related to it. (February 2009)

    Red rot is a term commonly used to refer to any reddish patch of corrosion on a copper-based alloy, such as brass. However, this loose usage covers two distinct but related conditions, surface corrosion and deterioration of the alloy due to de-zincification.

    De-zincification results from the chemical reaction of acidic compounds left from the breath of the musician. Carbon dioxide is a natural part of human breath and when it comes in contact with water it forms carbonic acid. Drinking carbonated beverages such as sodas can increase the level of the acid inside the instrument. Also some metal cleaning compounds have acid in them and can attack the zinc in the brass. Also, moisture left inside the instrument can encourage the growth of bacteria that produce acids. The effect can be minor and only cosmetic or it can become severe enough that the metal actually leaks air through sponge like holes. Eventually the copper becomes so soft that it can be crushed with very little effort. Cleaning the instrument after each use can usually keep red rot from ever affecting the instrument

  3. #3
    bariman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Finish problems on my horn, red rogue?

    Oh ok, red rot, knew it was something like that. Thanks for the effort! I'll look around some more now, but is there anything I can do about this superficial rot? The horn feels solid and resonates well.

    Bariman

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    Default Re: Finish problems on my horn, red rogue?

    Ok, update, I took some serious polish to the horn and layed into it with the old elbow grease, and the red oxidation came right off! Apparently the bare brass was just let go to the point that an almost bright red came out. This is good though, as the horn's brass seems to be just fine underneath, and hopefully it'll clean up nicely. Anyway, I guess my problem is solved, thanks spike421 for the red rot info.

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    Distinguished SOTW Technician. Oric Muso's Avatar
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    Default Re: Finish problems on my horn, red rogue?

    Red rouge is a jewellers polishing compound. It's the stuff they leave behind on relacquers. My Martin has it on the inside and you can't get it off because they've stuck the lacquer on top!

    How are you going to maintain the polished surface? Once it's done you need to use something to keep it from reverting back to the patina it had? If you want it shiny you should have it lacquered. Otherwise you'll need to keep polishing which isn't good.

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    bariman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Finish problems on my horn, red rogue?

    Well, using the right preventitive measures, it is not that difficult to maintain a good barebrass finish. Most of the surfaces of a mellophone are easy to get at compared to a saxophone, and a light touch-up with a polishing cloth and keeping it in a case lined with treated cloth should do the trick. It won't get played that often, so i'm not worried. Even if I did let it patina, it would go to a dull brown, not this red corrosion. See JayeSF's thread on this page.

    And yeah, I saw after I posted where my brain got 'red rouge' from when investigating polishing options. That stinks about your Martin, not much you can do about that.

    Bariman

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    Default Re: Finish problems on my horn, red rogue?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oric Muso View Post
    Red rouge is a jewellers polishing compound. It's the stuff they leave behind on relacquers. My Martin has it on the inside and you can't get it off because they've stuck the lacquer on top!

    How are you going to maintain the polished surface? Once it's done you need to use something to keep it from reverting back to the patina it had? If you want it shiny you should have it lacquered. Otherwise you'll need to keep polishing which isn't good.
    Hopefully there are other options to keep the red from returning.

    I don't think that frequent polishing is bad for a horn, IMHO. There are urban legends about it actually removing metal...but I think that has been dispelled by now.

    I can say, definitely, that you cannot leave the brass bare afterwards for sure. It has been a whole 24 hours since I stripped the lacquer and rot off of my first key cup...and already there are signs that the redness is returning.

    So some sort of product would be required afterwards. Apparently Hagerty has some additives that are tarnish preventatives...or one could go with a wax.

    I am still trying to find a thread or a report which raves and gives an absolutely glowing report about a particular wax, however. I cannot find one, yet.


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    Default Re: Finish problems on my horn, red rogue?

    Wow, that is super quick oxidation. Perhaps our horns' conditions are different. Mine has been polished for 3 or 4 days, and it still looks fine, regular tarnishing schedule. Do you see any pitting on the metal? Perhaps it has something to do with the use of brasso on the horn. Let me know how it looks in a few days.

    Bariman

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    Distinguished SOTW Technician. Oric Muso's Avatar
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    Default Re: Finish problems on my horn, red rogue?

    Quote Originally Posted by JayeSF View Post
    I don't think that frequent polishing is bad for a horn, IMHO. There are urban legends about it actually removing metal...but I think that has been dispelled by now.
    Metal polish is basically fine grit with some other stuff which may contain antitarnish chemicals. You need to rub polish on the metal so that it will grind the surface away. Silver polish contains a finer abrasive than brass polish.

    Brass is a mixture of copper and zinc. Over time the copper can separate and form copper oxide(?) on the surface. If you get rid of this you are removing metal or at least some of the metal content that was in the brass. Any further polishing to bring up a shine will grind the brass down further.

    It may be a small amount but any polishing of the brass is going to remove metal. It's best to keep that to a minimum and follow up with a lacquer.

    Other options are wax and oil which will come off after a while. Lacquer can last decades.

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    Default Re: Finish problems on my horn, red rot?

    Brasso contains ammonia. That can contribute to red rot. Brasso is fine to use, but the brass surface should be rinsed with hot water, dried well, and aired thoroughly. I'd use carnuba wax to slow oxidation, and keep the horn in a case. You should check out the old case too. If the liner is damp or acidic, it could be causing the problem.
    D.R.
    Martin and Grassi tenor. HR Link Phil-Tone. Grassi jade alto.

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    Default Re: Finish problems on my horn, red rot?

    Good advise DavyRay, Brasso seems too industrial to me. Find something more oriented to use on musical instruments.

    What is all of this hostility to Bare Brass horns around here? All I hear is how we (Jaye or I) should just lacquer our horns. I think there's some bare brass jealousy going on here... But really, Bare Brass is an attainable finish, can look gorgeous, and really dosen't take nearly as much work to maintain as people would have you think, as long as your prepare and think smart.

    And yes, I will admit, polishing your horn will take off a micro layer of metal, but so does polishing silver or goldplate. It is a very small layer, I have been assured.


    Bariman

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    Default Re: Finish problems on my horn, red rot?

    Quote Originally Posted by DavyRay View Post
    Brasso contains ammonia. That can contribute to red rot. Brasso is fine to use, but the brass surface should be rinsed with hot water, dried well, and aired thoroughly. I'd use carnuba wax to slow oxidation, and keep the horn in a case. You should check out the old case too. If the liner is damp or acidic, it could be causing the problem.
    D-R....how does carnuba FEEL on the hands...is it oily, slick, sticky....does it tend to fingerprint more easily ? Just one coat or more ?


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    Default Re: Finish problems on my horn, red rogue?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oric Muso View Post
    Metal polish is basically fine grit with some other stuff which may contain antitarnish chemicals. You need to rub polish on the metal so that it will grind the surface away. Silver polish contains a finer abrasive than brass polish.

    Brass is a mixture of copper and zinc. Over time the copper can separate and form copper oxide(?) on the surface. If you get rid of this you are removing metal or at least some of the metal content that was in the brass. Any further polishing to bring up a shine will grind the brass down further.

    It may be a small amount but any polishing of the brass is going to remove metal. It's best to keep that to a minimum and follow up with a lacquer.

    Other options are wax and oil which will come off after a while. Lacquer can last decades.
    Oric...you are dead on about 95% of all you said....I just don't subscribe to the belief that one can actually remove anywhere near an amount of metal from a sax via a polishing cloth to adversely impact the surface at all...seems too herculean a task. So the terminology "grind it down"...that just seems a bit over the top to me....

    http://www.cybersax.com/QA/Q&A_BareMetalSaxes.html states similar:

    " ...If all you do to your sax finish is wipe it down with these treated cloths.... you will not live long enough to wear away a significant amount of actual surface metal. If you don't believe that just get yourself a piece of stock brass plate about 25 to 30 thousandths of an inch thick and see how long it takes you to rub through it with your polishing cloth. Your brass experiment may gleam like a diamond, but your cloth will be in shreds and you still won't be able to see any negative effects to the metal from your rubbing.

    What is true is that the aggressive wear that high powered buffing equipment causes to a saxophone will eat away significant metal if buffing is carelessly done. But there is no comparison between your polishing cloth and a 2 to 5 horsepower electric motor spinning a wheel of perhaps a foot or more in diameter at 1,000 to 3,000 revolutions per minute."

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    Default Re: Finish problems on my horn, red rot?

    Quote Originally Posted by bariman View Post

    What is all of this hostility to Bare Brass horns around here? All I hear is how we (Jaye or I) should just lacquer our horns. I think there's some bare brass jealousy going on here... But really, Bare Brass is an attainable finish, can look gorgeous, and really dosen't take nearly as much work to maintain as people would have you think, as long as your prepare and think smart.


    Bariman
    OY ! OK, Bariman...glad YOU said it FIRST ! But, based upon all of the threads I have been reading here, I concur. A whole mess o' folks here seem to feel that way. I have read some good factual reasoning, but also a fair amount of pretty absurd statements regarding delacquering and such. I mean...the folks who say that only advanced players deserve to delacquer their horns...if you aren't a kick#ss player and you delacquer, you are a poser....where does this come from, exactly ?

    Also, the idea that it is better to leave a vintage horn lacquered even though its finish has really had the crap kicked out of it over the years and it literally just looks like leprosy on the horn....yes, beauty is in the eye, etc; but to me, as Bari said, these type of horns would be prime candidates for a strip job and bare finish. There seems no shortage of suggested ways to treat and upkeep a bare brass horn...and I have seen some stunners. I think it's a very viable alternative in a lot of instances.

    (Of course, once mine is done and should it end up looking bad, I will come back and change my tune a bit...but at this point, nothing can look (or feel, quite honestly) worse than the condition the finish is currently in....)

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    Default Re: Finish problems on my horn, red rot?

    Carnuba wax is the main ingredient in most good car waxes. It is not usually slick, actually the opposite. The term is "stiction". Some people use Lemon Pledge, as the finish is a bit slicker than carnuba wax. Both slow oxidation, especially from ozone. Ozone (O3), by the way, converts quickly to plain O2 if it has to bounce off of surfaces. That is why the O3 levels indoors are much less than O3 levels outdoors. That is why instruments in cases are less likely to corrode, unless the corrosives are trapped in the case lining.
    D.R.
    Martin and Grassi tenor. HR Link Phil-Tone. Grassi jade alto.

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    Default Re: Finish problems on my horn, red rot?

    Pure carnauba wax is hard and brittle. It is shiny and slippery, with only the tiniest hint of greasiness or stickiness.

    However it is often mixed with other ingredients.

    For example beeswax in wood polishes, even when the label says only "Carnauba wax".

    Beeswax is quite the opposite: sticky, soft, dull, smeary. You could even call it low viscosity "slimy".
    Contentment is not the fulfilment of what you want, but the realisation of how much you already have.

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    Default Re: Finish problems on my horn, red rogue?

    Quote Originally Posted by bariman View Post
    .... I took some serious polish to the horn and layed into it with the old elbow grease, and the red oxidation came right off!...
    Quote Originally Posted by Oric Muso View Post
    .... Once it's done you need to use something to keep it from reverting back to the patina it had?...

    The thing is, this is not oxidation, and nor is it "patina", which is an "accepted" tarnish. It is dezincification, a destruction of the surface metal by the removal of the zinc, caused by acids.

    See
    http://www.saxontheweb.net/vbulletin/showthread.php?p=1079974#post1079974
    Contentment is not the fulfilment of what you want, but the realisation of how much you already have.

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    Default Re: Finish problems on my horn, red rot?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gordon (NZ) View Post
    Pure carnauba wax is hard and brittle. It is shiny and slippery, with only the tiniest hint of greasiness or stickiness.

    However it is often mixed with other ingredients.

    For example beeswax in wood polishes, even when the label says only "Carnauba wax".

    Beeswax is quite the opposite: sticky, soft, dull, smeary. You could even call it low viscosity "slimy".
    Yes, I renovate vintage drums and carnuba is one of the magic finishes for drum shells as well. EXCEPT, as you point out....although carnuba is an ingredient in many common polishing/wax products...pure carnuba with no additives is not usually an over-counter product around these parts. I usually have to order it from a woodworking supply shop.

    I just wanted to know its texture/feel on metal. I know how it reacts with wood and it's quite a good and solid surface in the end.

    But if it were either sticky or slimy (or very ephemeral in it's staying power) on a brass horn, that would limit it's potential for me and I ould probably be inclined to use something else.....

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