Red dots on an old The Indiana...

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    Default Red dots on an old The Indiana...

    I am now on the way to repad my old alto.
    I bought it used many years ago and it was not very well maintained. I played it before grabbing newer alto, then I let it in its case.
    My question is about cleaning it and getting rid of those red spots. Is it possible and what can I do ? I read about chemicals baths, but what chemicals ?
    Do I need a chemical bath ? Or is it possible to sand it with steel wool and compound ? Just to remove the biggest part of tose red spots ?
    Here are some pics.
    May I bath the sax in water with liquid like Hertel to clean it ?
    Thanks
    20180112_113722.jpg 20180112_113728.jpg 20180112_113758.jpg
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    Default Re: Red dots on an old The Indiana...


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    Default Re: Red dots on an old The Indiana...

    It looks like "red rot", brought on by some contaminant on the outside that has removed zinc from the surface of the brass, leaving a rather porous, brittle copper lattice.
    (But some technicians here only call it red rot if it has been started from a corrosive agent [I]inside /I]the sax. And some call it red rot only if the compromised brass is the full thickness of the metal, rotted through from the inside.) To me, rot is rot, whether it is shallow (as is likely in this case) or deep, which is rare for saxophones.

    An alternative to red rot is some sort of corrosion which leaves not a copper lattice, but an oxide or salt of copper (or zinc) on the surface. Is there a red oxide or salt of copper or zinc? I don't know of one.

    Whatever it is, removal is by using some abrasive means to taking it away. If it is shallow, then there will be enough good metal left for the structure of the tube.
    If it is an oxide or salt, then certain chemicals could also remove it.
    If it is indeed red rot, then I know of no method for returning zinc into the copper lattice to restore strength and appearance.
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    Default Re: Red dots on an old The Indiana...

    Just take some Lime-Away and wash the tarnish off. You have to rinse in water afterward so the horn is going to get wet. If you don't dare do it, take it to a repair shop where they will dip it their acid barrel. Typically the remaining lacquer won't be harmed as long as its adhered to the sax. After washing and rinsing, drain it and blow dry if you have compressed air. Spray liberally with WD-40 to prevent rust on the springs. You'll have to do the keys manually and keep the chemical off the pearls.

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    Default Re: Red dots on an old The Indiana...

    Red rot feeds on acid. It is acid that takes away the zinc that is only loosely held in the brass alloy.
    Indeed, sometimes a technician takes brass out of an acid bath and it has turned pink. Is that very shallow red rot? I think probably.

    Acid baths may remove surface corrosion. And that means removal of the metal that was involved/consumed in making that corrosion.
    But red rot is different from that.
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    Default Re: Red dots on an old The Indiana...

    Acid baths may remove surface corrosion. And that means removal of the metal that was involved/consumed in making that corrosion.
    Does that mean that it is better to leave it like it is?
    May I use vinegar as an acid bath ? Or does it need more concentrated acid, like the one used to wash brick-built walls ?
    I tried compound on a little part of it and it seems to work, but it will be hard work. Metal doesn't look to be fragilized...
    It is a 1955 or 56 sax. I want to play it again sometimes, and give it to my grandsons when I,ll be old enough...
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    Default Re: Red dots on an old The Indiana...

    I don't think you should try a hardware-store purchased chemical. If you wanted to you could go with muriatic acid 30%, but quite honestly...that stuff is nasty and you HAVE to dilute it down quite accurately for a lacquered brass instrument. (Gotta admit though, when it hits somewhat humid air it smokes like a Dr. Jekyl n' Mr. Hyde laboratory project....which is kinda cool).

    Muriatic acid is often sold as a pool cleaner to get, you got it...lime... off of pool surfaces. So I dunno if Lime-Away is muriatic acid or not (?)

    Do NOT go at it with an abrasive like steel wool or it will scratch the lacquer and make the horn look awful.

    I do not know what Hertel is....& I doubt vinegar will do anything at all.

    Honestly....take the body to a tech and have them chem bathe or sonic clean it. Then when you get it back, hand-polish it with something like Maas or Wenol Red (don't use Brasso or Noxon) and a microfibre cloth. You may have to hit the spots two or three times with the polish. If you intend on leaving the pads in the keys, then you can only use polishing paste on the keys, realistically speaking. If you intend on trying to repad the horn, then send the keys (pads off) along with the body to the tech's shop for a bathing as well.

    Also, honestly.....that horn is never gonna be good looking.
    You may well get the red rot off, and that will get you back down to bare brass...and you may well be able to get the bare brass pretty shiny.
    And the polishing paste may well leave a (useful) residue which allows those spots to patina more nicely and NOT red-rot again.

    But the horn is always gonna 'look spotty'.

    Not the end of the world, I have seen far worse...and it can be made to look significantly better than it now does.

    And if I owned that horn, I'd want that red rot gone as much as possible...
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    Default Re: Red dots on an old The Indiana...

    Quote Originally Posted by dowvid View Post
    Does that mean that it is better to leave it like it is?
    May I use vinegar as an acid bath ? Or does it need more concentrated acid, like the one used to wash brick-built walls ?
    I tried compound on a little part of it and it seems to work, but it will be hard work. Metal doesn't look to be fragilized...
    It is a 1955 or 56 sax. I want to play it again sometimes, and give it to my grandsons when I,ll be old enough...
    Vinegar does remove mineral deposits such as lime quite well, but that is not your issue. (I use it inside necks and on mouthpieces.) Given time, being acid - admittedly a "weak" acid - it is probably capable of removing zinc from the surface too, leaving a red hue.

    AFAIK effective chemical baths are quite a bit more complex than just being one chemical. I believe they are a concoction chemically engineered to remove tarnish while attacking the brass itself as little as possible. That is actually quite a tall ask.

    My chemistry knowledge is insufficient to comment further.

    I am fortunate in working in an environment where players are not preoccupied with appearance, and certainly do not want to spend big money on it. People here would probably leave the sax as it is, wipe contaminants off the surface, put their money and time into the way it plays, and play the thing! Rather than treating it as an old car for restoration and display.
    Wrinkles contribute to what can make an old person interesting.
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    Blue Wink Re: Red dots on an old The Indiana...

    Quote Originally Posted by Gordon (NZ) View Post
    I am fortunate in working in an environment where players are not preoccupied with appearance, and certainly do not want to spend big money on it. People here would probably leave the sax as it is, wipe contaminants off the surface, put their money and time into the way it plays, and play the thing! Rather than treating it as an old car for restoration and display.
    Wrinkles contribute to what can make an old person interesting.
    That is exactly my way. I just want to make it clean, not worried about the look. Because I've already disassembled all the mechanics, and there were lot of dust in it, I just want to know what to do to clean it, eventually reduce the red spots, and play it again sometimes. I have other altos that I usually play, a Selmer Mark VII, a no name copy of SElmer, and a Buescher from 1911. I want to play my Indiana because it is as old as I am, and I want to give it to my grandsons later. I want to make it clean and playable...
    So, may I just bath it in a soapy warm water, let it soak a bit, and dry with compressed air, put some car polish to preserve the metal, and rebuild it ?
    Would it be good enough ?
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    Default Re: Red dots on an old The Indiana...

    That will do nothing whatsoever to arrest the red rot.

    Do you want the 'easy way out' answer ? ...or do you want an answer which improves or possibly removes the red rot situation, but will take a bit more effort ?

    If you are gonna go to all the trouble you have gone to, you can at least take the BODY to a tech and pay him/her $25-50 to stick it in a chem or sonic bath for 15 minutes....if a tech receives a disassembled body, all they gotta do is dunk it and then rinse it.

    If you really don't want to bother doing that (which is the correct way to arrest and remove red rot), then at least buy some Wenol or Maas metal polish, a microfibre cloth, and go at the spots with that. Again, you will have to do multiple applications...but it will at least get some of the rot off and it will leave a residue which will prevent it from getting quite that bad again.

    The polish will have a much greater effect of the body is chem or sonic bathed first, however.


    Good luck.
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    Default Re: Red dots on an old The Indiana...

    Does anyone know what causes one horn to get red rot, and another to not? Is it due to the quality of the brass used, or is it an environmental contamination of some sort?
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    Default Re: Red dots on an old The Indiana...

    Quote Originally Posted by DarrellMass View Post
    Does anyone know what causes one horn to get red rot, and another to not? Is it due to the quality of the brass used, or is it an environmental contamination of some sort?
    I’m with you. Brass turning red ?? I’m really curious as to the cause. Chemical fix! Chemical cause or natural oxidation?
    I’m not entirely sure but wasn’t a Martin Indiana a reasonable quality horn? Good metal ? Is this common with all brands?
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    Default Re: Red dots on an old The Indiana...

    If that was mine then my main concern would be whether the red rot meant the integrity of the soldered on toneholes was compromised as that really will affect the playability and is a concern on these even with apparently healthy brass.
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    Default Re: Red dots on an old The Indiana...

    Interesting discussion. I picked up a relac'd Committee 3 alto which had some corrosion on the body under the lacquer. I hand buffed the areas effected with 00 steel wool until it was polished. Keeping the bare brass lightly oiled with a cloth and in open air shows patina but no further corrosion. In fact, none of the horns I've turned bare show corrosion but I don't have an acidic system. Some folks just destroy instrument finishes.

    I'd do the same to the Indiana.
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    Default Re: Red dots on an old The Indiana...

    JayePDX said
    then at least buy some Wenol or Maas metal polish,
    I don't find those metal polishes in stores in Quebec where I live.
    May I use some Turtle wax, or another car polishing stuff, or boat polish, or is it better to go with some sort of Brasso metal polish ?
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    Default Re: Red dots on an old The Indiana...

    It doesn't seem to affect integrity of the sax. I played it a lot when I bought it, without repadding. Just needed light adjustments on some pads. Then put it in its case 4 to 5 years ago because I bought another alto.
    Now I just want to repad it, and while it is all undressed, I want to do the best, without paying that much money, to make it alive and use it sometimes. Sound is different from the Selmer and from the Buescher, I want it to be easily playable and to last...
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    Default Re: Red dots on an old The Indiana...

    Quote Originally Posted by PigSquealer View Post
    I’m with you. Brass turning red ?? I’m really curious as to the cause. ...
    Acid. That could be humid air with with one of many possible contaminants from industry, vehicle exhaust, geothermal activity, etc dissolved in it. It could be "acid rain".

    The cause for brass instruments, where it usually happens from the inside out, is probably from carbon dioxide dissolved in moisture, making carbonic acid, that stays there on the surface for a long time. It's a pretty weak acid but left for a long time and regularly replaced...

    For the exerior of a sax, especaillly if it is mottley, it could well be caused by saliva or other fluids from the nose or mouth, that a player has sprayed over the instrument. You would be amazed at what some players
    cover their instrument with - quite "reachworthy"!
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    Default Re: Red dots on an old The Indiana...

    Quote Originally Posted by PigSquealer View Post
    I’m with you. Brass turning red ?? I’m really curious as to the cause. Chemical fix! Chemical cause or natural oxidation?
    I’m not entirely sure but wasn’t a Martin Indiana a reasonable quality horn? Good metal ? Is this common with all brands?
    Gordon and JayePDX have summed it well. It is not an issue solely attributed to quality of metal - sure, some impurities/inclusions may accelerate the nucleation, but once it is started, corrosion will keep going as long as all the right conditions exist. On horns, the corrosion is most likely due to galvanic cells on a very localized level. From there, it is a matter of ionic transport - acid will exacerbate the reaction. Want to stop it? Remove the existing corrosion as best you can, and seal the surface to stop the local transport conditions.

    This stuff is why I just shake my head at purposeful lacquer removal. The difference between patina, verdigris, and rot, is a fine line, and one not easily controlled in working conditions of a horn.
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    Default Re: Red dots on an old The Indiana...

    Not too different from removing the paint from a car, or the oil from our skin, or the cover from a book, or the powder coating on a window latch, or the edge case from a smartphone, or....

    The lacquer was there for a reason - to seal the surface against chemical or galvanic attack of the metal.
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    Default Re: Red dots on an old The Indiana...

    Quote Originally Posted by Gordon (NZ) View Post
    Not too different from removing the paint from a car, or the oil from our skin, or the cover from a book, or the powder coating on a window latch, or the edge case from a smartphone, or....

    The lacquer was there for a reason - to seal the surface against chemical or galvanic attack of the metal.
    A direct comparison between ferrous metal used in cars and brass compounds in instruments?

    Bare brass saxes have survived without pitting and corrosion since the time before lacquer. Whatever the agent causing the corrosion, from my observation, the corrosion gets under the lacquer or even plating. Eventually, the lacquer flakes off anyway.

    Yes, lacquer is there for a reason. To keep the sax shiny. They are proven to survive bare.

    Can't say that about an old Chevy, can ya?
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