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Hey everybody. I recently acquired a Holton Collegiate alto from the good old eBay and guess what: It's disgustingly filthy and musty. I haven't found a good consensus on how to clean an old lacquer horn, so I was hoping for some advice. After taking off the keys and removing the pads (they're wrecked anyway), is it ok to give the body and keys a bath of sorts? Does that make the springs rust?

I know the horn isn't worth much, but I like Holtons and I picked this guy up for only $60 so I thought it would be fun to practice some repair techniques on it and eventually compare it to my other Holtons. Thanks in advance for your help!
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2017
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Opinions may differ but after disassembly I've put oil on the springs with a qtip, washed the horn and keys with simple green in a bucket, rinsed and put out to dry in the sun. I then oil the springs again to avoid rusting.
 

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Really no need to protect the springs when bathing a horn, however. As long as the horn dries thoroughly afterward and teh springs are in decent shape to begin with.

Simple Green or Soap will get the dirt and grime off, but will do little if the laqcuer is spotted or there are brass areas which have verdgris or red rot.

For that you'd need to move to a metal cleaner of some sort (I recommend Wrights Copper Cream), then followed up by a soap bath and rinse.
 

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Opinions may differ but after disassembly I've put oil on the springs with a qtip, washed the horn and keys with simple green in a bucket, rinsed and put out to dry in the sun. I then oil the springs again to avoid rusting.
Much the same for me. I use my shower for the rinsing. I think it is possibly important to get oil in the capillary gaps between the spring and its corresponding hole in its pillar. If water gets in there (instead of oil) it is likely to stay for a while and possibly rust the spring in the place where rust does most damage.
I have found a horse-grooming brush excellent for brushing around the posts etc withiout scratching.

The keys: I wash them with a suitable jewelers brush, in a mixture of lighter fluid and isopropyl alcohol (or maybe acetone for plated keys). And use a suitable pipe cleaner for inside the pivot tubes.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2017
Picked up a sax in 2002 and here I am.
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Also, make sure your tetanus shots are up to date!
Yeah, I forgot about that as it's been a while. Expect to skewer yourself multiple times on the springs unless you are very careful or take preventative steps. When I tore horns apart regularly, I would put a small piece of tubing over the pointy bits to prevent injury.
 

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Dry it with an air compressor or canned air. You'd be surprised how much water comes out of posts, nooks, crannies, etc. of what you assumed was a dry saxophone.
 

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I use water so hot that it also takes the lacquer off. Just my preference on resuscitating a beater horn. Boiling hot water and then shoot it with the air compressor. With hot water, the springs don't have time to rust. Plus (and this might be a big plus if you're not up to date on your tetanus vaccine) the springs are sanitary.

http://stuffsax.blogspot.com/2017/01/1939-martin-handcraft-tenor-rebuild.html

Mark
 
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