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Thread: Instructions for spray lacquer/

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    Forum Contributor 2009 DanF's Avatar
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    Default Instructions for spray lacquer/

    HI, I'm kind of new at the repair business. I was thinking of expanding my services to include relacquering of different colors (LA Sax). Any place to get some quality instruction? There are no techs doing this near me so taking O.J.T (on the job training) is not an option. Thanks!

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    Distinguished SOTW Technician tbone's Avatar
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    DanF, With all the new EPA regulations you might want to re-think this idea. With the cost of a spray booth, ventilation & filtration equipment, compressor, water and oil separator, regulators, guns, breathing apparatus, etc. you may never recoup your expenses. The old places are grandfathered in but a new shop would require a whole bunch of expensive equipment to get permits to operate. Don't get me wrong, I do do some lacquering but I constructed my booth many years ago before all the new government regulations came to light. Besides, the lacquer really stinks and it's real dirty work.

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    Forum Contributor 2009 DanF's Avatar
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    Default Instructions for spray lacquer

    Thanks tbone. Having been in the gasoline business for 30 years I am well aware of the EPA "torture factor" and expenses involved. Never-the-less, I'm still interested in learning. I'm not in a metro area and I keep a low prefile (if you know what I mean) Thanks for the input.

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    Distinguished SOTW Technician tbone's Avatar
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    DanF, Well, since you're intent on going for it let me start by saying it isn't rocket science. Yup, the cat's out of the bag! You'll need:

    1. A spray booth. {Well lit, well ventilated room with smooth surfaces on walls floor and ceiling. Smooth to aide in dust control}

    2. Air compressor. 60 gallon, 6.5 hp 220 VAC minimum. nothing worse than waiting for the air to build back up

    3. High quality spray gun, pressure regulator, water separator, hoses, etc.

    4. and most important, a good respirator. {don't need the inside of your lungs lacquered}

    Now for the "secret" part:

    Surface preparation is paramount. In most cases the horn shows through the lacquer. Most people prefer a translucent finish to an opaque one.
    After cleaning up all the dents and imperfections you have to polish to a high lustre. Either by traditional buffing or by intensive hand polishing. Then you have to "TOTALLY" degrease the instrument. Lacquer will not stick to a dirty horn. I use a bath of very hot water and TSP. Then a bath in a mixture of Acetone, MEK and Lacquer reducer. Now you're ready to spray. I thin my lacquer 50%-50% with lacquer thinner and then add one ounce of Zylol per every quart of mixture. The Zylol retards the drying time to prevent blushing. For the final, or "bright", coat take your mixture and cut it again 50%-50% with lacquer thinner.

    Dan, drop me an email if I can be of assistance. I'll explain to you how to build your own ventilation setup with dust filtration.

    Dust is your enemy!

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    Forum Contributor 2009 DanF's Avatar
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    Default Instructions for spray lacquering

    Thanks tbone, That was what I was looking for. Terrific info. I may have to be in contact from time to time. Thanks again, Dan

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    Doing lacquer work will drive you crazy. Of all the repairs I do lacquer work was the hardest. It took me about two years of doing it before I could do a decent job. The first horns I did i did for free not because I planed it that way but because the finished job was so bad I didn't think the customer would pay for the job.

    You are trying to get that perfect job and you never can. Somthing always goes wrong.

    I lacquered horn for twenty years and never could get the job I wanted. The work was O K but never perfect.

    I still do a lot of repair work byt not lacquer work. I am glad it is out of my life.

    I would glad to give you advice or answer your questions.

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    Distinguished SOTW Technician tbone's Avatar
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    Geeze, I never had those kind of problems doing a relacquer! If something went wrong then you musn't be doing something right. Like I said, "it isn't rocket science"!!!!! You just have to eliminate all of the undesireable variables like temperature, humidity and contaminants like dust, lint, oil, etc. Follow the rules and measure everything exactly. Tipping up the can and counting to ten isn't an exact measurement. I keep my booth at 85 deg. F. I run the de-humidifiers (2) for a minimum of 12 hours before attempting to spray. And all airflow into the booth goes through filters to minimize airborn contaminents.

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    DanF---I will give you a complete rundown on how I do lacquer work and some of the problems you will run into. I can't do it all at once ,I don't have that kind of time , I wil do it a little at a time.

    First I have been repairing horns since 1958 and have done almost everything. I have relacquered everything from pocket trumpets to bass saxes and sousaphones. Always relacquered horns in my garage.

    You said you wanted to add lacquer work to your skils so I guess you will do all instruments.I think it would be best to start on trumpets because of thier size and because the simple design.

    I will explain in detail how to lacquer so the instrument does not matter that much it is how the lacquer is done.

    First go to a music store and look at some new horns. See how great the lacquer work is. Try to match that quality. You can't but still try.

    Here is why you will not be able to match that work. I worked in a horn factory for ten years and here is how it is done.

    If you are a buffer you buff horns all day long. That is your job. If you spray lacquer you do that all day long. If you assemble horns that to you do all day long. After years of doing that job you get pretty good at it.You would also be working on the same brand of horn. Nothing ever changes , it is always the same. You could do things with your eyes shut and still do a perfect job. You would be working with the best ,most expensive equipment money can buy.

    One person does not do all the different jobs. Each person becomes expert at that one job.

    As a repair person you have to do all the jobs yourself . You are working on many different makes and models of horns. You have to become expert at all the jobs and this takes some time. You don't have the same equipment .

    A factory worker who is a buffer can buff a trumpet completely in ten minutes.It could take you hours.

    It will be a learning process. It will take time so don't give up. The more you do the better the work will get.

    Being that this is a sax site I will use a sax as a example for now.

    Here is how you relacquer a sax.

    Lets start in the middle and go back. You have just done a perfect job relacquering a sax body and keys. Now the hard part starts. Putting it back together without messing anything up. The more you handle it putting it together the more chances you have of messing it up So---Lets go back to the begining.

    Takeing the horn apart. BEFORE you do adjust the horn. Put a light inside and straighten all the keys. and try to seat all the pads the best you can.Line every thing up. Make notes on the design of the horn. Set the key height and wright down the cork thickness of the corks on the keys. Do any bending you have to. Get it as good as you can BEFORE you start takeing it apart. Because after it is lacquered you want do do as little of this work as possible on the newly relacquered horn.

    Now began taking off the keys. Lets start with the palm keys. As you take them off you must swedge the keys to make them tight. After you do this put them pack on the horn and make sure they work like like new. Then take them off again and go on to the next group. I take the octave keys off next and do the same thing, Then the top stack. Put them back on and make sure they are tight and work great. Then continue thru the horn.

    You may spend hours doing this but you do not want to have to do all this after the horn is lacquered.

    Take the spring out. Being that you are in the business already I will not go into this too much. I am sure you know how to take springs out. When you take all the springs out you have to keep track of them. If you are going to replace all the springs do this now. Size and get the correct lenght from the old springs. Put the new springs in the post but don't wedge them in then take them out and put them in a board.

    Make sure you did not break a post loose or bend the post. If you think you bent a post put that key or keys back on the horn to make sure it still fits.

    Look the horn over and correct anything that is wrong.

    DO ALL THIS KIND OF WORK BEFORE THE HORN IS LACQUERED

    I can't tell you how many times I have had problems by not doing this.

    Thats all for now. I will get into striping,dent work,buffing,and spraying and putting back together in later post.

    Note- please excuse the spelling , I am not good at it. Also I only use two fingers to type so it takes me a while.

    If you have any questions about what I have covered just ask me before I go on.

    Good Luck

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    Get the dents out. The dent work has to be perfect if you want a good job.

    When I talked about how they do it in the factory I left out the fact that they are working with new brass. You will be working with brass that has been dented, bent, scratched, twisted and not like new. You have to try to get it back to looking like new.

    When the surface is polished to a mirror finish every dent will stand out .I did some post a while back on takeing dents out so I will not go into all that again. You can look up that post.

    So you have to upgrade your dent work always trying to get the surface perfect. I believe you have to strip and buff the horn first so you can see what you are doing and how good the results are.

    If you take the dents out befory the instrument is polished you may have to go back over the same spots where the dents were again and do them better.

    Striping the Lacquer. I use a chemical stripper that is put on with a brush or the keys are diped into if . Then I use water to wash it off along with the lacquer. I have NEVER found a stripper that you buy at your local hardware store that works good. Some other post talk about that kind of stuff but it never works for me.

    Get your stripper from Allied Or Ferrees . They have stripper that works. You need somthing that is goine to take ALL the old lacquer off. Make sure it is all off. You don't want to lacquer the horn and see little spots of old lacquer that did not come off. You can't buff it off or rage or polish it off. The stripper has to take it off.

    Many years ago strippers worked so good you could see the lacquer coming off ans the stripper went on. I think with all the changes in the law as to what could be in the stripper it has changed how good it works and it works slower and may need more than one application to work.

    I would lay out some newspaper on a table ,put the sax body on it, use a paint brush to coat it with stripper let is sit for about half a hour,then wash it off with water and gather up the newspaper and throw it away. I would dip each key into a half gallon can of stripper let them sit then wash them off.

    Of course before you do this You have taken everything apart including all the flat springs and springs screws and rollers and screws.You take off all the key corks and felts and makeing notes as to what goes where and how thick the corks need to be. You have to keep of everything and know where it goes back on the horn.

    Then you clean the body of the horn on the inside. I dip it in a solution of water and muriatic acid. You can get the acid at any hardware store or swiming pool sppply store. I us about ong gallon per five gallons of water. Don't leave it in too long because it will eat up or loosen the pearls.I would say two to three minutes.

    Now we get to buffing. That is a skill all in itself. Lacquer is clear so the surface of the horn will look like the finished job after the lacquer is sprayed on. A bad buff job will give you a bad lacquer job.You have to become a expert buffer and it is not easy. Sure you can get it to look nice but perfect,like it just came from the factory, that is a different story. I can not teach you how to do that . It is somthing you have to learn thru experience.

    I will try to give you a rundown on buffing next time. It will be a task so I have to get my thoughts together.

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    Forum Contributor 2009 DanF's Avatar
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    Default Instructions on spray lacquer

    Wow Ken, Sounds like you've been "around the block" a few times. Most of what you describe, as far as seating the keys and getting it stripped, I have already done. I have prepared quiet a few horns for another guy to relacquer. I know you guys must think I'm nuts for tackling this but it's just something I have always wanted to do. Now since I am semi-retired I have the time to pursue it. Maybe next week I'll learn to be a jet pilot NOT!!!!. I certainly am going to take advantage of all your free and expert advise. Thanks a million. Dan

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    Distinguished SOTW Technician tbone's Avatar
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    Dan, most of what Ken has said is sound advise but let me add a couple of things. Although I'm not as old as Ken, my first job out of high school in the early 70's was in the finishing dept. of a stringed instrument company spraying lacquer. I worked at that job for about five years before apprenticing in the repair department of a fairly large music store. Spent six years there learning from some old time master craftsman. Brass, woodwinds and strings.

    Now for the minor areas that I differ in opinion from Ken. First off spraying lacquer in your garage. You may as well just hang the horn from a tree and spray it outside. Spraying in an uncontrolled environment is probably why he's never been able to match a factory finish. His muriatic acid dip to clean the inside of the horn is fine but make darn sure you neutralize the acid by dipping the horn in a base solution. Water and baking soda is fine. Trap any acid in the solder joints and lacquer over them and you will be sorry. The acid will bleed out of the joints and corrode under and through the lacquer. Lastly you don't have to buff the crap out of every re-lacquer to get a great finish. Sometimes a superb hand polishing is all that's necessary. Overbuffing is the main reason why relacquered horns are thought to be junk. And the most important step before spraying is degreasing as I explained earlier. Lacquer will not adhere properly if the surface still has polish, rouge, wax, oil or other contaminents on it. And for God sakes build an actual spray booth or you will be doing yourself and your customers an injustice. Trust me, if you eliminate the unwanted variables you can, contrary to popular opinion, achieve results equal to or even better than some of the factory work. Practice makes perfect so start out on a couple of clunkers or student horns and develop your skills if you're really serious.

    Look out LA Sax, here comes Dan!

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    Tbone--why don't you wait until I finish before you start disagreeing . As a matter of fact I do have a lacquer booth in my garage but I havent got there yet. If you notice I just got to buffing.

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    Distinguished SOTW Technician tbone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KEN K
    Tbone--why don't you wait until I finish before you start disagreeing . As a matter of fact I do have a lacquer booth in my garage but I havent got there yet. If you notice I just got to buffing.
    Gee, I didn't know this was the KEN K FORUM!

    1. Because as I read it I respond to it.

    2. Because the original post didn't read "KEN K only please help ME"!

    3. Because I, unlike you, don't have trouble achieving factory like finishes!

    I did say that your advise was sound. I just pointed out where my opinion differed so "Don't get your panties in a bunch"! I also started this conversation with Dan before you got in so it's not like I'm whizzing in your Cheerio's or something.

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    Geez, tough crowd. I would think when recieving totally free good or bad advice/opinion people would be more civil. This forum is the greatest advice/opinion area on the saxophone especially when someone is writing a small fortune in information.
    Although this booklet may take some time to write I don't see where it should be considered a private dialog.
    I wait for the next installment and oppossing views with baited anticipation. I like a dust free/anomosity free environment too.

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    Distinguished SOTW Technician tbone's Avatar
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    DanF, I almost forgot, check out www.stewartmacdonald.com I know it's a stringed instrument supplier but they have some really great tints, both opaque and translucent. You know how them guitar players love wild colors!

    Also, may I suggest a gravity fed HVLP (high volume low pressure) spray gun. They work at lower pressure which translates to less overspray there by less dust. The gravity feed also aides in a better overall finish over the old fashion siphon models.

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    Tbone--- you or anybody else can post anything they want, including me.

    On this topic and other topics you seem to have the Tbone is doing things right and everybody else must be doing things wrong attitude.

    You don't have any problems do lacquer work because you are so good.You have never had any problems.
    You can take an old sax and relacquer it with your bare hands and get a job as good as or BETTER THAN A FACTORY JOB . WOW!!!

    I put post out to share what I know and maby help somebody. You will not see me saying other people are wrong or must not know what they are doing. I always say here is what I do. Look up my post, There are over 200 of them.

    You are rude to other people, You act like a know it all. You also have a hang up with bold type.

    There is a repair guy in my area that goes around braging how great his work is and how bad everybody else is. Only in his mind. He is a joke.

    The way I deal with him is to ingore him. That is how I will deal with you.
    I have more important thing to do than answer you.

    Don't bother responing because I have figured out a way to black out your post on my computer.

  17. #17

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    Many times in life I have been humbled by knowledge gained by other's experiences when my own arrogance and stubborn beliefs were put to rest.
    The attempts to forgo adequate politeness belittles both parties unnecessarily in the quest for superiority of possition.

    Two valid points dressed in armor
    leave reason at the door
    either one a winner
    both bearing a losers score.

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    Distinguished SOTW Technician tbone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KEN K
    Tbone--- you or anybody else can post anything they want, including me.

    On this topic and other topics you seem to have the Tbone is doing things right and everybody else must be doing things wrong attitude.

    You don't have any problems do lacquer work because you are so good.You have never had any problems.
    You can take an old sax and relacquer it with your bare hands and get a job as good as or BETTER THAN A FACTORY JOB . WOW!!!

    I put post out to share what I know and maby help somebody. You will not see me saying other people are wrong or must not know what they are doing. I always say here is what I do. Look up my post, There are over 200 of them.

    You are rude to other people, You act like a know it all. You also have a hang up with bold type.

    There is a repair guy in my area that goes around braging how great his work is and how bad everybody else is. Only in his mind. He is a joke.

    The way I deal with him is to ingore him. That is how I will deal with you.
    I have more important thing to do than answer you.

    Don't bother responing because I have figured out a way to black out your post on my computer.
    Me? You insulant snob! I stated that the majority of your advise is sound. I pointed out where I differ from you and you cry like a three year old. Just because you are old and large doesn't make you always right. One would think that someone who hasn't gotten it right after all these years of trying would shut up for a minute and listen to someone else's method. Twenty years of doing inferior work doesn't make you an expert. It makes you narrow minded. Grow up crybaby. Nuff said.

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    Brilliant, Bar-Ron!

    Many times in life I have been humbled by knowledge gained by other's experiences when my own arrogance and stubborn beliefs were put to rest.
    The attempts to forgo adequate politeness belittles both parties unnecessarily in the quest for superiority of possition.

    Two valid points dressed in armor
    leave reason at the door
    either one a winner
    both bearing a losers score.
    I wish to comment on the above quote only (not any specific observations on this thread):

    I wish we could all heed the advice implied, and not take everything so personally; and resist the temptations of oneupsmanship, verbal cutting contests, "lawyerish" (Steve, wherever you are, please forgive the expression) win-at-all-cost pissing match arguments, I'm smarter/seen more/done more/know more people than you contests, etc. etc. etc.; and, not be so quick to take personal offense -- just let some things slide once in a while without the need to fight back. Turn the other cheek, as a wise man once said (I hope nobody takes offense to that).

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    Geting back to buffing.

    You have to have a place to buff that is closed in so the buffing dirt will not get all over everything, The buffing is a mess. It becomes a fine power and gets everywhere. It will go thru your clothes and get your body dirty.

    At the start of all this I said I did lacquer work out of my garage. I said that to let people know that a person can do this kind of work in a small place by themselves without working for a large company.

    I built a enclosed buffing room inside my garage. I used 2 by 4s to build a frame and then closed it up with plywood. I sealed it up as tight as I could. It is about six feet square.

    Put in a door and some lights. I used a large shop vacum to suck up the buffing dirt. I put in a window and put filters over the opening to keep the buffing from getting out of the room and into the rest of the garage. I would relacquer about one horn a week so I did't spend a lot of time in the room buffing.I repair all wind instruments reeds and brass so lacquer work was only a small part of my work.

    You must wear a good dusk mask because you dont want to inhale the dust. You must wear gloves because the metal will get hot. Just get some cotton gloves from the hardware store and them turn them inside out and use the smoth side on the outside.

    You need a buffer or a motor that you can mount to use with a wheel. You would do better to get a buffing machine that is made to buff with. Here again I recoment getting a buffer from Allied or Freeres. The ones they have will do the job.

    Remenber you are buffing brass which is a rather soft metal. You are not buffing steel. Back in the sixites when cars had a lot of crome everywhere there were places that re cromed car parts. They had powerful buffers that the used. Some other repairmen that I knew took some horns for them to buff. They buffed them allright, they buff them to death. They got back about half the horn they sent. You dont need that kind of buffing machine.

    At the factory where the make horns they have powerful buffers that really take off metal but that is alright because they are suppose to when the horn is being made. The horn starts out at the factory thicker than the finished product should so when metal is taken off the thickness is right. But you should only do that once.

    I use a one horsepower motor with a six inch sprial stich buffing wheel . If you can get a Allied catalog they have a Good articel on buffing. I don't use any loose buffs. I always use stiched ones. The loose buffs will take parts out of your hands in a flash. The thin stiched buffs can bend around keys and post and do a good job. Come to think of it I have used loose on big open parts of horns where there is nothing to catch on.

    Now you have a buffing set up ready to go. Look at a buffing wheel from the side and think of it as a clock . Whatever you are buffing should be no higer than 9 o'clock or lower than 7 o'clock. You must stay a little below the center of the wheel. This is the safe area where the wheel won't pull work out of your hand. Go above or below that area you will loose the part.

    Parts will at times be taken oit of your hands. For this reason put carpet on the floor and on any hard surface to keep damage to a minimum. If you dont have carpet use cardboard or somthing soft.

    You can get hurt when you buff. I don't use metal as the buffing hood because you can be pull into it, I make a hood out of cardboard. Get pulled into that it will not hurt you. Don't wear aprons with pockets in them . One time a buffing wheel went into the pocket and wraped ithe apron around the wheel with me in it.

    Also don' buff with your arms away from your body.Keep your elbows and forearms hard against your body so if the buff catches and starts to pull you it will have to pull your whole body. Move your whole body to reposition your work.

    Next time I will talk about buffing compounds.

    I am putting this out for everybody . I hope it can be usefull.

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