Remember this? Well, I have been experimenting with the removal of the green crystalized funk off and on for a while now, seeking the perfect stripper to come to my aid. I finally found the right one: Aircraft Stripper! You can find almost anything you need online.
First I took the horn apart and gave it a good chem clean. Then it was time for the stripper.
The green funk finally came off, but it permanently etched the nickel, leaving an organic, patterned engraving. Unfortunately, you can’t buff it out because the etching is too deep into the metal, or plate it because the plating is too thin to fill in and cover the etching. This will remain a horn with “unique character.”
Next I prepared the horn for a bell cut. If you are new to this, a bell cut is done so that you can remove the bell from the body and store it in a special case that fits in the overhead compartment of an airplane. Before you make the cut you scribe the bell, which is a delicate maneuver. If it goes wrong, you’re buying a new bell. Measure ten times, cut once!
Whew! But not in the clear…yet. The two parts of the connecting ring (male, female) have to be screwed together when you solder the female side at the bell tail (top) so it will be flush on the inside at the cut. The danger is that you can solder the two parts together and it won’t come apart. Thankfully, all went well. Next is the reassembly of the bell tail to the rotor valve section, followed by the leadpipe.
The moral of the story is that if you have an old horn laying around, please open up the case every now and then, clean it off, and store it in a temperature and humidity controlled environment. Better yet, play it or sell it before it becomes a winning science fair project!
You’re saying that the nickel silver was already etched, not that the stripper etched it, right?
Yes. The etching pattern corresponded with the green crystals, so whatever it was ate into the metal.
Very cool, Randy! Great pictures too👍
Janet Russell Sent from my iPhone
Solid brass eventually patinates into a green color if you leave it long enough because of the copper that it contains. At first it goes to a brownish grey and finally to green because of various minerals dissolved in the airborne water, including sulfer and chlorides. Copper sulfate is blue. Copper oxide is black. Copper chloride is green. Somehow the brass slowly patinates over many decades from a dull grey into a dull green.
I would say that this horn must have had some kind condensate forming on it. It may have been living near the seacoast and picked up chlorine from the salt air. Salt air condensing on it out of the atmosphere could have done this, I think.
I wonder if the horn had been living in a place near the coast and got some seawater condensing out of the air.
But the etching on the bell actually looks kind of pretty. I wish I had been able to hang around the shop and watch the operation. I hope the horn and its owner are happy with its new lease on life.
Hi Jack. This horn is actually made of nickel, although it’s referred to as nickel silver or German silver. It’s 60% copper, 20% nickel and 20% zinc. The same principle could apply, but based on the strong odor coming from the case, I think it had something to do with the foam lining inside the case. I will have to ask the owner some more questions!
Finished horn. Beautiful!! You are good. Happy New Year!!
Sent from my iPad