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Discussion Starter #1
Y'know, I'm always afraid to pass on my little overhaul tricks because there are always a few folks out there in forum land who reprimand, " Good Lord, no! You should NEVER do it like that because..."

But, throwing caution to the wind, here's something I do to clean those little nooks and crannies on silver sax keys during an overhaul....

So, you've got your horn apart. It's a vintage whatever, silver plated, and the previous owner had had it hanging on the wall in his music bar for the last 30 years. It is now not so much shiny as coal-black. You've got the body polished up pretty well and now it's time to clean those keys. You're planning on spending the next 6 months on this painstaking ordeal. But wait! I've got a little trick that makes it a whole lot easier to get into those nooks and crannies on the individual keys!

Take some natural cork and cut it into 1/2 " squares of various thicknesses, ranging from about .5mm to 2mm. Get some Wenol metal polish and put a touch on the cork. Hold the cork firmly between your thumb and index finger and you will discover that you can get in and polish all those nasty in-between spots with relative ease. Then go at it with a soft cloth to get the excess off. Lovely!

If you can stand wearing gloves while working on tiny little pieces like these, do so. Prolonged exposure to the product makes your fingers look like a dried desert lake-bed with varying nuances of black and gray.

This is no big revelation but it does get the job done more quickly than just a soft cloth and a bunch of swear words.
 

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Make it easy on yourself.

1. Set the entire horn in a dishpan and repeatedly pour Tarnex over it. Rinse with really hot water and pat dry.
2. Use a shoestring with a tiny amount of polish on it to do the keys and in between the posts like polishing a shoe. For keys, tie off one end of the shoestring and move the key on the string.
3. For getting into hard to reach spots, get a tortillon. What's a tortillon you ask? It's a pencil made up of rolled up paper that has no lead and can be sharpened when the point is worn. It's sort of like a giant paper Q-Tip stick (note: Q-Tip sticks will also work for tiny areas). You can get tortillons at art supply stores. There will be enough residual polish on the horn and keys such that you use the tortillon for polish removal, not application. Cheaper and easier than pieces of cork.

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Good ideas, too. Where I live cork grows on trees. When I need thick chunks for anything I just head out to the woods. And it's great for the right angle where the key arm is attached to the cup. The shoestring thing I already do for the body. I'm familiar with tortillons, didn't know what they were called, tho. Q-tips drive me nuts, though. The little ball of cotton on the end falls off after about 3 rubs.

You must have big dishpans in your neck of the woods...
 

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I don't take them out, which is why I finish with a hot water rinse and a quick dry after Tarnex. Might think about using a blow dryer or hot air gun. Even better is to go to a sporting goods shop that sells guns and buy a rust remover pen and blueing pen. They are like magic markers. You rub any rust on the springs off with the first pen and then "paint" the spring with the blueing pen. Works really slick, but it't tedious. The blueing compound doesn't effect silver, nickel, lacquer, etc. so you can't damage anything.

Dishpans work for altos. Tenors require a bigger tub. What's important is that you can pour the Tarnex back and forth from the tub to over the horn again. Tarnex works a long time if it doesn't go down the drain! In my avatar, I'm boiling a horn in a tub of water and ashes to remove the lacquer. The springs don't seem to rust at all in the lye solution, but they get a cloudy coating, so the blueing pen spiffs them up nicely.
 

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Something I've done is to put the keys in to a vibratory cleaner filled with crushed walnut shells and brass polish added, start it up and check it a couple hours later. This worked well to clean up bare brass keys that had been spray painted. With a different media and polish, it could work on silver as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Has anybody tried the thing with baking soda or salt and hot water in an aluminum foil-lined bowl? I don't think that Tarn-x is sold here in France. What's the chemical composition?
 

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You'll get something similar to Tarnex from specialist shops that sell gear to the silversmithing and jewellers trade. Goddard's Silver Dip is an alternative.

"I don't take them [the springs] out, which is why I finish with a hot water rinse and a quick dry after Tarnex."

If one is leaving the springs on, I think it is at lest theoretically a good idea to wash with water before applying the Tarnex. Then those capillary gaps between the springs and their housings holes would fill with water rather than the Tarnex. Residual water would be better than residual Tarnex, because the Tarnex is almost certainly a good electrolyte that would encourage galvanic corrosion.

"Has anybody tried the thing with baking soda or salt and hot water in an aluminum foil-lined bowl?"
There are several threads on this already. It leaves a microscopically pitted surface which may harbour corroding agents more easily in the future.
 
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