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Discussion Starter #1
Has anyone tried to add some kind of smoker/fogger to the line of a "Mag" machine type leak tester to find where leaks are specifically? This is analogous to automotive EVAP leak testers. Using one of those e-cigarette "mods" might be convenient. I've heard that techs have blown cigarette smoke in a plugged sax to look for leaks. Is it used much? Is it effective? If not what are the issues? Thanks.
 

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of course before the invention of electricity people used all manner of methods (I have met recently a clarinet tech whom never heard of a leak light and only ever used cigarette paper feelers, and by the way cellophane is better because it doesn’t get wet).

If you put cigarette smoke in your instrument is going to stink it up.


Other types of smoke are likely to get the same stinky effect but people do make things like this and put oil in it.

There are devices, either home made or factory made, are often used in car repairs. I wouldn’t use it on a musical instrument. :(

 

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I very much doubt it would show up any but the biggest leaks anyway.
Somebody did it to a flute I was trying to sell when a teen. What an almighty stink, and I doubt if it ever went away. So don't do it!
 

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I am sure that smoke would linger on forever.
 

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Yes i have done it, recommend you dont do it, the smell is not the issue you can get flavoured and scented smokes.

What happens however is the smoke is very sticky, so a residue is left on the pads that when cleaned especially on flutes damages the skin.

On initial testing gross leaks can be identified easily, however those gross leaks start to no longer leak as that area gumms up, long story short, was not worth the effort that went into making the system over using simple hand skills with a feeler strip, that and trying to clean the 500 us dollar magnehelic and praying no permanent damage has happened.

Steve
 

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Discussion Starter #6
All very compelling points, I must say. Thank you.

Following is an FYI of my investigation (I'm looking for ways to make the "Mag" more useful for saxophones). I made a little smoker---I mean, fogger---out of a jar for quick hack testing purposes. I first used a cheap stick soldering iron through the jar cap for heater. Then I got more refined and wound resistance wire into a coil of suitable resistance for the power adapters I had handy.

For fog fluid, I tried glycerin and propylene glycol (PG) and distilled water, and also mineral oil. Still exploring different recipes. A high concentration of Glycerin creates great fog, very weak and not unpleasant smell, but does leave a little something behind; PG a bit less. Mineral oil makes great fog but stinks, leaves something behind, hangs a long time, and the smell lingers for the rest of the day, and it is toxic, so nix that.

I researched commercial fog fluid and e-cigarette fluid. However, specific recipes are hard to come by (proprietary, SDSs incomplete). "Smoke chasers" fluid is often 80% glycerin + 20% PG for dense smoke (I suspect that when breathing out 80/20 G-PG it gets lots of warm and humid air mixed in), but 70% glycerin + 30% distilled water is probably abundantly good. Fogger fluids for dense long-lasting fog effects appear to use, e.g., 35% triethylene Glycol (TEG), 35%, PG, and 30% distilled water (varies considerable with effects type). Haven't tried that yet. It's worth noting that it costs about the same to buy versus make the more complex Fogger fluids (and the commercial ones may still be better---other additives, optimal mixtures, etc.). I think TEG has largely replaced glycerin because it has a higher light diffraction index (stands out better with back lighting). Good to know. Food-grade glycerin, PG, and TEG are all considered safe by FDA (here in USA). TEG is used as a mist disinfectant in hospitals; glycerin and PG are used in food and OK'd for straight inhalation (e-cigs). For instrument leak testing, exposure would be a tiny fraction of 1% of the other uses.

Another issue is moving the fog through a given length of hose; it tends to condense and loose some strength by the time it reaches the instrument (perhaps my basement is a bit too humid). A shortened hose helps a lot. So may a larger hose and fittings (eg, 1/4 versus 3/16). To avoid clogging the components of the Mag machine, the fogger can be placed in the line after the Mag. One must also consider the proper heating and temperature regulation for the given fluid and the airflow rate of the Mag. Overheating could create byproducts that cause smell (possibly) or are toxic (would require rather absurd conditions).

Given an acceptable fog fluid, an e-cig atomizer + variable power "mod" is still an interesting possibility for hardware. The air would be pushed through (by the Mag) rather than sucked through.What's needed is a covering for the intake air holes of the atomizer to form a common chamber with a hose barb to attach to the Mag output hose (3D designed and printed part?), plus a fitting for the top of the atomizer to connect a hose out to the instrument.

An alternative non-heat approach and simple fluid would be to use dry-ice or an ultrasonic (piezo-electric) mister. Another investigation. However, the goal is to have a simple switch on/off type solution. The dry-ice approach is dubious.

My conclusion (the length of this post is a giveaway) is that this adventure requires a much greater product development effort than anticipated. I'll probably pursue it some more, slowly, and see how it goes.
 

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Yes, as Simso wrote, a sticky residue is a worry!
But there is also no way I want anybody making my flute smell, "flavoured and scented smokes" or otherwise.

The tiniest of leaks messes up the responsiveness of low notes on a flute. I am quite sure that a wisp of smoke this tiny will not be detected, especially when most of the smoke has condensed on surfaces before it gets to the leak.

Just forget the idea.

In most cases I can detect which pad is leaking by pressing firmly on various combinations of keys while gently "squirting" a mouthful of air through the blocked flute.
(The mouth, with blocked throat, is an excellent detector of whether air is escaping or not. It has very sensitive sensors.)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I previously tried Gordon(NZ)'s "human Mag", "squirting" a mouthful of air through the blocked instrument, using the tongue as a little diaphragm pump. It has a lot of merit. It takes some practice. But one can see with just a little practice that there is a lot of potential in the method. Try it. You should experience an "aha" moment after a while, if you do it right.

But I'm going to see the fog experiment through, now that I started. I don't see smell as a factor with the right fluid (very little smell, not objectionable, and dissipates quickly) nor too quick condensation (choose fluid with high boiling point and little water that is well heated). A slight (invisible) residue on the pads may turn out to be positive (protects pads from drying out?, slight waterproofing effect?, kills germs---and so may reduce sticking?). The main unknown is whether it can be made a truly effective and worthwhile tool. Time will tell.
 

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Then if you decide to continue, the only recommendation I have is do not put the smoke through the mag machine, set up a beaker with two lines, boil your fogging solution in the beaker with say an alcohol flame or electrically, use the mag machine to apply pressure into your beaker and allow the outlet line to go to your instrument, this way the mag is still doing its stuff just the smoke is down stream
 

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A NAPBIRT member years ago tried to find a way to use a magnehelic on saxophones. Since there are so many large toneholes and slightly porous pads, testing the entire instrument is impractical. He devised a way to isolate smaller sections of the body tube by using balloon like inserts, and tested fewer pads and toneholes at one time. After much time and effort, he discovered that it is just not effective or practical to do so. I know some techs have tried sealing the bell, fingering low Bb, and using mouth suction to check the amount of leakage. I am not convinced that this is even practical since there will never be a perfect vacuum created (with regular pads) and there is no standard to measure the less than perfect result. I may be wrong, but I still prefer using traditional methods which I know produce good results.
 

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I previously tried Gordon(NZ)'s "human Mag", "squirting" a mouthful of air through the blocked instrument, using the tongue as a little diaphragm pump...
I like the description. :)

While playing in the pit for a show, there was a scene when a smoke machine billowed smoke over the stage and into the pit.
I normally enjoyed this, but this time it was foul. After a few nights I pleaded with those responsible to get the equipment checked. Nothing happened.

I eventually I decided that the smell was so like a burning plastic that that I said that I would cease to play for the show unless the equipment was professionally checked.
They found that the machine was indeed faulty and had been belching evaporated or burning plastic.

Take care.
 
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