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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Some months ago I made my first attempt at an overhaul of a silver-plated Ida Maria Grassi, Export model from 1974 that I won on eBay.

The overhaul included:
- washing and polishing of th ebody and keys;
- replating lost silver-plate with an electroplating brush;
- tonehole leveling;
- repad;
- upgrading the plastic key inlays and rollers with custom build jade/nephrite ones;
- new felts, corks and adjustment.

All done by watching youtube and reading forums. I invested in some tools, but mostly it was done with diy mindset :)

In the end, it turned out not bad. No problems so far apart from a couple of places where the plating came off, but I guess it is because I lost some patience and lost track of the brush timing.

The hardest part was adjusting the LH pinky table. I still have a feel it is not optimal in terms of lightness and comfort. The transition between low B and Bb is somewhat clumsy and my finger can't easily roll down to Bb.

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Beautiful work. You are to be complimented on such a professional looking job. Would you mind telling us more about how you cut and finished the jade key touches? I have been dabbling in plating myself and I have found in every instance the plating didn't adhere it was due to inadequate preparation. Do you have a set-up to electroclean the part first? That should be done even when brush plating for best results. I would be happy to answer any questions you might have up to my level of understanding and expertise as an "amateur electroplater".
 

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Looks a lot better.
The bell keys look like an older system. They have a lever that pushes the key with the pad. You can make some adjustments to the material used at this point to give a better feel. Cork is the traditional material but tech cork may work better. Sometimes felt works well, or you can use teflon.

With plating you have to be really careful with cleaning and degreasing the parts. Don't handle them unless you have gloves. It's often better to get a coat of copper plate on so the silver will stick better.
 

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Some months ago I made my first attempt at an overhaul of a silver-plated Ida Maria Grassi, Export model from 1974 that I won on eBay.

The overhaul included:
- washing and polishing of th ebody and keys;
- replating lost silver-plate with an electroplating brush;
- tonehole leveling;
- repad;
- upgrading the plastic key inlays and rollers with custom build jade/nephrite ones;
- new felts, corks and adjustment.

All done by watching youtube and reading forums. I invested in some tools, but mostly it was done with diy mindset :)

In the end, it turned out not bad. No problems so far apart from a couple of places where the plating came off, but I guess it is because I lost some patience and lost track of the brush timing.

The hardest part was adjusting the LH pinky table. I still have a feel it is not optimal in terms of lightness and comfort. The transition between low B and Bb is somewhat clumsy and my finger can't easily roll down to Bb.

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May I ask where you purchased the roller material ???? Looks very nice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Beautiful work. You are to be complimented on such a professional looking job. Would you mind telling us more about how you cut and finished the jade key touches? I have been dabbling in plating myself and I have found in every instance the plating didn't adhere it was due to inadequate preparation. Do you have a set-up to electroclean the part first? That should be done even when brush plating for best results. I would be happy to answer any questions you might have up to my level of understanding and expertise as an "amateur electroplater".
Thanks for the kind words! I decided on the jades because they match the silver quite well and also as a tribute to the jade roller models Grassi made around the same time.
I got a couple of the nephrite stones from India on Etsy that were wide enough to make 2 key inlays form each stone. One stone did cost me about $8-9, so this way it got much more affordable. For the rollers I found matching nephrite 'drops' for earrings from a UK online shop (I have to check which one) - they also were quite cheap at £2 each. These were the only ones that were long enough to cut out the rollers.

As you can imagine the cutting and drilling was the most difficult part. I'd say it was a lot of luck and patience to form this material as nephrite turned out to be extremely hard.
I did the cutting with a Dremel and diamond disks - actually, I rather was able to cut them in two pieces and then I had to file them down. Along with the Dremel I also used a cheap drill sharping machine that I partly dismantled in order to get access to the bigger diamond disk inside. Drilling was a nightmare as I couldn't find good quality diamond drills. I used a normal boring machine and. I was just pushing the stones against the drill while keeping an eye to not go off the center. Here I should say that I made the mistake to push too hard and not to add water at first. That only resulted in blocking up the drills (they have a hollow tip) and ruining them. If one can find professional 2mm thick diamond drills the work would be much easier. I had only a couple of Chinese I bought cheaply off eBay, after ruining them I found an old Russian one (I am based in Bulgaria, so we still have some old import stock from the Communist period). It worked well till the last piece when it broke because the material was allegedly too soft, but luckily it did so at the very end and I was able to drill all the rollers. For sanding the rollers down I used my boring machine like a lathe and wet sanding paper.

In the end, with my primitive tools, it took me about 2.5 days to make the inlays and rollers. :) I guess one can cut that down to 1,5 days with better tools and some initial experience.

I have to admit that I lost patience at the end and left the key inlays a bit roughly polished. I could make them thinner and polish them better, but I soothed by the convincing excuse that in this way they have more character. :mrgreen:

I am attaching some more photos.
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I have been dabbling in plating myself and I have found in every instance the plating didn't adhere it was due to inadequate preparation. Do you have a set-up to electroclean the part first? That should be done even when brush plating for best results. I would be happy to answer any questions you might have up to my level of understanding and expertise as an "amateur electroplater".
I bought the silver plating solution, electrode, swabs and the cleaning solution from https://www.goldn.co.uk/. On another UK store, I found a cheap DC adapter suitable for silver electroplating (±£14). Goldn have some instruction videos that I followed and they were also very helpful on the email. For example, the said that when covering an existent silver plate I have to keep the new layer thinner than 5 microns. Another good advice as a test whether a particular part is ready for plating was to put it under running water. If properly cleaned and degreased no drops should remain on it. I have to say that it worked surprisingly well where I took all the time and the exact preparation. At some places, I guess I rushed it a bit or kept swabbing on some places more than others. It has the downside that you get a silver layer almost instantly and you lose easily the track where you have to move the swab.

I couldn't find suitable better polishing material to polish the brass better. Now about 6-7 months later I have some silver fallen off the edge of one key and some spots on the bell, that I can easily retouch. I think I may have left the layer too thin there or I haven't properly degreased these parts.

May I ask where you purchased the roller material ???? Looks very nice.
It was here - https://www.beadhouse.co.uk
I bought "Half Drilled Gemstone Teardrop Nephrite Jade 24x9mm", but I see now that they don't have it in stock anymore. They have similar (and drilled) teardrop necklace, but the pieces are on the shorter side. https://www.beadhouse.co.uk/10x18mm-teardrop-shaped-gemstone-bead-nephrite-jade-40cm-strand/p12946

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Looks a lot better.
The bell keys look like an older system. They have a lever that pushes the key with the pad. You can make some adjustments to the material used at this point to give a better feel. Cork is the traditional material but tech cork may work better. Sometimes felt works well, or you can use teflon.

With plating you have to be really careful with cleaning and degreasing the parts. Don't handle them unless you have gloves. It's often better to get a coat of copper plate on so the silver will stick better.
Thanks for the advice! I used woven felt on the G sharp pads under the C sharp and B and synthetic one under the Bb. It seems a good idea to glue some thin teflon on synthethic felt to make it both quite and slippery. I will give it a try.
On the links to the Bb and B I used teflon tubing on both ends. First I tried sticking teflon stripes (on the photo of the back side of the lower stack), but it was falling off, so I just put tubing everywhere. I had to bend a bit both levers (?) to minimize the play and to make them slightly touch the key 'arms' (not sure how you'd call them).
I am also considering thinning a bit more the roller on the Bb, maybe this can make the step from B to Bb slightly lower.

I was reading that this type of table design can be improved only to some extend. Some people are cutting the pad under the C sharp to make it lighter, but am afraid to do so.
Now I'm thinking about the springs and whether it was not better to change them as well. At some places in the lower stack (the C sharp) for example I have the feeling that the springs are less snappy, maybe from numerous adjustments... In this regard – can you recommend a place to get new springs from? Also, will it be better to get needle springs or stainless steel?

After the repad I'm also thinking about the resos I opted for. The resonators of the pads I ordered turned out to be quite more domed as they appeared. I'm wondering if this has not a bad impact on the venting. I order to get good venting and tuning I had to open up both stacks more than before. It may be also due to using thicker shellack layer on the pads, as I feared they would be too thin for the instrument's geometry... :scratch:

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It appears you already have a good foundation of knowledge required for silver plating. If you are going to do a lot in the future, you might want to invest in a small rectifier that will keep the volts constant. The problem with the small transformers is that when the larger objects draw more amps, it reduces the amount of voltage. The rectifier keeps the voltage constant. It appears you are already up to speed on "electro cleaning" and "sheeting". The only other thing I might mention is that I have better and more consistent results when I lay down a layer of bright nickel or copper first before plating with silver. This seems to be true over "raw brass" and even existing silver plating as well. Thanks for the info about the stone cutting. Curt Altarac at Music Medic has done some interesting articles on LH tables. If you haven't done so already, you may want to check them out.
 
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