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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

I recently acquired a Martin The Martin (Comm III) tenor, 1950 judging by the serial #.

It plays great, but i can see that some of the tone holes have a fair bit of that galvanic corrosion thing going on...

So i'm thinking if any of the tone holes need to be re-soldered, whether something like a thin coating clear nail polish or something equivalent around the inside rim of the hole, just where it meets the body, would be a simple way of protecting the solder joint from moisture?

Anyone ever tried something similar, or wish to warn me of dire consequences!.... :)

My dad was a jeweller, he use to use red nail polish to protect parts of jewellery when plating, which I guess is where the idea germinates from.

(Hmmm...red nail polish might even make it go faster! :) )

Anyway, interested to hear thoughts or experiences etc, seems like it's foolish to go to the trouble of re-soldering and then not try do something to obviate reoccurence.

But on the other hand, i guess if it's taken 70 years to get to this point, and IF the horn is still going in another 70 years, well..I won't be around to worry about it, that's for sure!

Ok, cheers!
 

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Hi all,

I recently acquired a Martin The Martin (Comm III) tenor, 1950 judging by the serial #.

It plays great, but i can see that some of the tone holes have a fair bit of that galvanic corrosion thing going on...

So i'm thinking if any of the tone holes need to be re-soldered, whether something like a thin coating clear nail polish or something equivalent around the inside rim of the hole, just where it meets the body, would be a simple way of protecting the solder joint from moisture?

Anyone ever tried something similar, or wish to warn me of dire consequences!.... :)

My dad was a jeweller, he use to use red nail polish to protect parts of jewellery when plating, which I guess is where the idea germinates from.

(Hmmm...red nail polish might even make it go faster! :) )

Anyway, interested to hear thoughts or experiences etc, seems like it's foolish to go to the trouble of re-soldering and then not try do something to obviate reoccurence.

But on the other hand, i guess if it's taken 70 years to get to this point, and IF the horn is still going in another 70 years, well..I won't be around to worry about it, that's for sure!

Ok, cheers!
I'm sure clear nail polish would do fine!
OTOH a thin line of superglue--very carefully applied-would be even better. This method has been discussed before and will do no harm to the horn-just care fully scrape the accumulated crap out first with a toothpick or similar, not a metal point
 

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Whenever this subject comes up, I feel compelled to chime in. IMHO people get all bent out of shape after reading the SH bench review...ever since that was posted, the effect it has had on people considering Martins has been...well let's just call it "not insignificant".

I can personally say this, after having refurbed easily, easily over 120 Martins -

a) never have I seen one approaching the condition of the one in the bench review

b) that this condition is somehow 'inevitable'...with no consideration being taken for how the horn was treated in its life or will be treated from hereon....that your very Martin, as we speak, is now undergoing this disease which will eventually result in leaks popping up all over - either of these would be a highly specious opinion to adopt.

To that I will simply add....chem bathing/sonic cleaning the area well, and if necessary using a slight abrasive to get the areas in question really clean....followed by a hand-polish paste...is basically gonna be all one needs. Along with treating the horn nicely, regular servicing (no more than any other sax) and NOT leaving it in iffy/extreme climatic conditions for extended periods of time.

It plays great, but i can see that some of the tone holes have a fair bit of that galvanic corrosion thing going on...

So i'm thinking if any of the tone holes need to be re-soldered...(?)
Are any of the tonehole seams leaking ?

If not: No, they don't need resoldering.

If yes: then that (particular) tonehole needs to be resoldered.

(Or maybe not. Several techs I know also use JB weld, particularly when their clients do not wanna spring for a tonehole removal, cleaning up, and resilder.
These seams are good candidate for this product, since there are zero tensile or shear forces on a tonehole chimney).

Sure you can spot-lacq the area...but of course do not do anything like this without first cleaning the area. Spot lacquer better than nail polish, as many nail polishes are more flammable than lacq so if one were to do some keycup heating in vicinity of the polish....

Never tried superglue. Interesting idea (again I'd say, that seam has to be clean, clean first).

But FWIW, Ferrees sells spot lacquer....so why go with a Walgreen's solution ?
 

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Well. This is going in every direction fast. Lets think about the Martin Tone Rings for a minute; they are, of course, soldered-on. This means the ring, being rather thick at the bottom, probably sits over the tone hole in the bore, with a very thin flange inside the tone hole to locate the ring precisely. The shape of a tone ring designed to fit over a round bore means it only fits one way and the inner flange holds it in position for soldering. The heat/solder would then be applied from the outside, 'wicking' into the joint. I say this because I can only remember seeing the inner wall of the tone ring on Martins with no seam near the bottom.
If you can think of a way to go inside the bore to apply a sealant to the inner seam, please share it with us. About all you can realistically do is to carefully clean the exterior seam of any corrosion, probably with a fluid like 'Lime-Away', rinse off, dry, and apply a clear or tinted lacquer seal around the seam with a small artists' brush. Nail polish is probably a pretty darn good thing to use and you can even use the brush in the lid. Loctite has a new super glue that is more resistant to water that would be good for horns but applying it will most likely turn into a disaster - all it has to do is run one time and the horn is going to be marred - it instantly dissolves lacquer, and you can't use a brush with it. However, if its a bare horn with little to no lacquer, you would just clean up any accidents with Acetone and everything would be cool. On a nice horn with a lot of lacquer, you might want to hand-polish the brass around the tone ring seam before applying the sealant.
If you want to do the whole horn, you will need to take all the keys off first. I think you could do this job in a day counting take-down/assembly time. Any time you strip a horn you're going to find dozens of things to clean/fix.
 

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Well. This is going in every direction fast. Lets think about the Martin Tone Rings for a minute; they are, of course, soldered-on. This means the ring, being rather thick at the bottom, probably sits over the tone hole in the bore, with a very thin flange inside the tone hole to locate the ring precisely. The shape of a tone ring designed to fit over a round bore means it only fits one way and the inner flange holds it in position for soldering.
I am not sure about what you are assuming here - hard to tell by your semantics.

Here's a photo of a Martin bdy tube with its tonehole chimney detached....just so all can see how it sits/fits on to the body tube(s)....

The tonehole sits atop the body tube. There is no 'flange' to speak of, at least not in my lexicon (?)

So you can see how the solder connects the chimney to the tube. 'Outer seam', I suppose, would refer to the outer edge of the solder seam, that which is visible on the outside of the horn. "Inner seam" I suppose refers to the seam which is inside the tonehole chimney, at the point where it meets the tube....quite easily viewable simply by looking at the base of the interior wall of the chimney.

Inner seam is also easily accessible...one simply sticks their finger (or a tool, or sealant, or wire, or whatever else) into the chimney hole....
 

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My understanding is that the tone holes are soldered down onto an unpierced tube and then the tube wall is cut out.

This could of course be inaccurate.

I have an old Holton soprano in generally poor condition and one or two tone holes had small leaks. Rather than re-soldering, I carefully painted the outside of the joint with clear nail polish, and that "temporary" fix is in place and sealing 20 years or so later. If the time ever does come to re-solder, the same acetone that'll be used to clear off the lacquer in the area will dissolve the nail polish I applied.

Given that soldered tone holes are the standard for the most expensive flutes, and that many sopranos have one or two soldered tone holes up near the top (where they're exposed to the most moisture and extremes of temperature) and that many thousands of saxophones have been made and successfully used with soldered tone holes, I would tend to say that while this is a theoretical weakness of the soldered tone hole, it's one that rarely eventuates. If it does, you fix it. Just like if you get a dent at or near a rolled tone hole you have to use special means to preserve the roll.

Obviously the now-standard non-rolled drawn tone hole is the best choice for guaranteed long serviceability, cost of production, and ease of minor leveling by minor filing. And that's why the vast majority of modern instruments use it. But to conclude that every Martin sax is a ticking time bomb is a gross overreaction.
 

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Take the keys off and use your fingers.
That is basically what I've done during rebuilds of my Martins. Of course, I have the my Martins completely torn down, so it isn't a big deal. I used tung oil. Real tung oil without any type of VOC carrier. If it is a tung oil "varnish," it does "dry" faster, but it will have an evaporative carrier that leaves tiny passages that allow moisture through. Pure tung oil polymerizes into a solid protective coating. It was used years ago as the original lining on tin cans, which permitted acidic contents like tomatoes. It can take more than a week to polymerize even in warm conditions, so you shouldn't swab out the horn during that time or you might get fuzzies sticking to it. The solder/brass connection is then sealed from the inside and (if the rumors of galvanic action are true) protects the seam.

I'm not convinced that any reported solder failures are necessarily galvanic acid. I've found leaks in solder joints that were the result of initial faulty manufacturing or a subsequent shock that went unnoticed. I recently had "delayed leak" in my copper plumbing that I installed about 10 years ago. It was potable water in 3/4" sweated copper pipe. I was working on a circulation pump, so I probably tweaked the pipe a little, and a solder joint started to leak. Just a drip a minute, but it had to be removed and resoldered. What I found when I pulled them apart is that the original solder had failed to adhere completely the length of the joint in one spot and had only a skim coat of solder on the outside of the sweat connection. A bit of movement after 10 years and it failed.

I'd be interested in those cases of failing Martin tone holes allegedly caused by galvanic action how an initial defective solder joint or other issues were ruled out. When a post or key guard comes loose, nobody blames galvanic action. Maybe the purported Martin tone hole "galvanic problem" is a causal effect fallacy. Because the connection can get moist, all failures must be galvanic.

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Well...

Galvanic corrosion is real (science kids...) and will occur in the presence of an electrolyte.

How significant this is in the world of Martins is obviously up for debate and etc.

Obviously i'm not going to re-solder tone holes if not necessary.

Epoxy/super glue, certainly the easiest option, again if necessary.

Flutes... are soldered with silver or gold solders, so the galvanic corrosion process is reduced by far, however it still does occur.

Solder is an alloy of metals. These do corrode preferentially in the presence of an electrolyte.

A soldered joint (as opposed to brazed) is weaker than a continuous piece of metal (eg drawn tone holes).

In my opinion, human error is probably the most significant contributing factor to the failure of soldered joints (I have no definitive hard data to prove this). Galvanic corrosion is another reason they can fail.

Once i get the horn all cleaned up and actually see what's going on, I think I'll probably use lacquer.

Cheers.
 

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9 times out of 10 the low Eb possibly low C toneholes are the worst offenders on Martins and IF any remedial work needs doing it's best to remove the key guards as any corrosion will spread or has spread already onto the soldered guard feet........just sayin'.....
 

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I’ve used 5 minute epoxy to seal around the low Eb tone hole on my Martin Baritone.
It was a temporary fix until I could get it resoldered but I left it that way for a long time as it did the job well.
When it was resoldered the tech simply heated the area a little and scraped out the epoxy before soldering.
 

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...Given that soldered tone holes are the standard for the most expensive flutes...
Yes, my Muramatsu. IMO of dubious benefit. But I think they might be silver-brazed??? - which would be a lot less subject to galvanic corrosion.

I have worked on a Turkish metal clarinet where every tone hole was falling off or about to do so.
Also an old Quesnon flute with soft-soldered tone holes which were falling off on account of galvanic corrosion.
 

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...If you can think of a way to go inside the bore to apply a sealant to the inner seam, please share it with us. ...

Take the keys off and use your fingers.
Or fold a pipe cleaner in half, bend the lopped end at say right angles, and use it as a brush.
 

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Well...

Galvanic corrosion is real (science kids...) and will occur in the presence of an electrolyte.

How significant this is in the world of Martins is obviously up for debate and etc.

Obviously i'm not going to re-solder tone holes if not necessary.

Epoxy/super glue, certainly the easiest option, again if necessary.

Flutes... are soldered with silver or gold solders, so the galvanic corrosion process is reduced by far, however it still does occur.

Solder is an alloy of metals. These do corrode preferentially in the presence of an electrolyte.

A soldered joint (as opposed to brazed) is weaker than a continuous piece of metal (eg drawn tone holes).

In my opinion, human error is probably the most significant contributing factor to the failure of soldered joints (I have no definitive hard data to prove this). Galvanic corrosion is another reason they can fail.

Once i get the horn all cleaned up and actually see what's going on, I think I'll probably use lacquer.

Cheers.
Excellent summary of the situation.
Another option for dealing with a leaking soldered tone hole without doing the whole re-solder is to apply a strong version of say Loctite thread locker, or even their 641 bearing retainer. These products seem to do a good job of keeping moisture out.
 

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I just had this situation with my old Conn. Two of the tone holes had broken seals. It turned out to be a lot easier than I thought to resolder them - without completely removing them.

1) Remove all the key work

2) Carefully clean off the area that is affected

3) Apply thinning flux (Home Depot), by warming up the area and allow the flux to seep into the crack. Capillary action will draw it in almost immediately

4) Heat up the cracked area by aiming inside the tone hole.

5) Run a rosin core silver solder wire (thin gauge) over the area while the metal is still hot (standard soldering procedure) and make sure it is also drawn into the crack (apply from the inside of the tone hole)

6) Reheat the area and use a Q-tip to wipe off any excess solder inside the tone hole (gotta be fast with that one).

7) Check with a leak light or whatever is appropriate to make sure it is all good.

8) Clean up the spot to ensure no rosin residue is there that could cause additional corrosion.

9) ... reassemble the horn

Disclaimer: I have done a LOT of soldering (plumbing and electronics) in the past but this is really easy. There is also that liquid silver solder that they sell now at Home Depot and Walmart called Solder-It. I found it to be overpriced garbage, sorry to say.

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Solder-I...CXKdeNo4s3VkhqiwBZhFme9jSaTWYzEcaAjcKEALw_wcB
 

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Without taking the tone hole off, it is impossible to clean the corrosion from all the area where the solder had failing or is currently failing or is about to fail.
It is often quite advanced corrosion so I would never trust flux alone to deal with it.
Furthermore, the heat encourages the almost-ready-to-part areas of the soldering to part.
A leak light does not detect that. Indeed a leak light only detects the worst of tone hole soldering failure.
I would expect new problems in a short time.

Good if it works for you though.
 

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Yes, even a trace that wasn't mechanically cleaned can sometimes cause solder not to bond. The solder can set just over the area so it can look like it's fine even when it's not. I did some tests for this on neck tenons when I was hoping solder would wick. Statistically, more often than not it didn't wick, by quite a lot, so I never trust that anymore.
 
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