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Greetings,

I have a beautiful silver plated mid-20's vintage Buescher True-Tone that belonged to my grandfather that I finally have gotten around to restoring. The silver plating is in good enough shape that I want to preserve it. However, at some point in its history (probably in the 50's when it was lent out) someone dropped a sugar candy wrapper down the bell, and as a result there is some green corrosion inside where it came to rest.

Does anyone know of any chemical treatment that will remove this without damaging the silver plate? I know that 50/50 muriatic acid and water is sometimes used as a corrosion remover, but I hesitate to let that get anywhere near the silver. I've thought of polishing but it would be tricky to get in there without causing additional damage.

I've looked all through these forums and others and haven't found this specific issue addressed.

Many thanks,
Jonathan Stevens
 

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JS Crescent, JS NOS, Selmer SBA, Couf Superba I, Conn, Buescher, King
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There is a pink liquid you can buy from Ferree's that is excellent, called Empire. Don't ask me what's in it, but I use a chemical mask and hand protection when I use it. The fumes may or may not be toxic, but the smell is enough to justify the mask for me. Also, I have dogs so I don't use it indoors. Ferree's will sell it to laypersons, I believe.

Chances are, you will need to hit the metal with another polish afterwards, as the pink liquid may leave streaks. I think Hagerty's is handy there.

Good luck. IMO, if I didn't make it obvious enough, be careful working with these chemicals as if they are caustic to corrosion on metal they're probably caustic to your body.

Edit: to add: careful with the springs, that you dry them quickly and completely and oil them immediately.
 

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Thanks for the quick responses. This is an amazing group.

Yes, the corrosion is on the inside, mostly in the bow on the back side. It was clearly caused by the acidic wrapper that someone dropped in there. I will post a picture tonight. The same source also caused the pads in the area to disintegrate.

I've already disassembled the sax and done a preliminary polish, so there's no worry about damaging springs. Just the silver plate.

I looked up the Empire liquid in the Ferree's catalog; it looks like they are advertising it for silver tarnish. Would it work on this heavy green corrosion in the brass? The outside edge of one tone hole is affected, and the silver plate there is gone, but I think I can spot plate that. I've tried Tarn-X and it has no effect on this green stuff.
 

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Hold on before you do anything

When I studied aircraft maintenance years ago we were taught the green corrosion was actually a protective layer and you could leave it alone.

If you remove it you may be asking for some real corrosion.
I'm not an expert and I may be off here , but I think you should look into it further before you act.
 

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Empire will clean brass, too, but I wouldn't leave it on too long. It also interacts with brass after the fact, if you don't wash it off completely. I would be careful to wash it all off, as well, when you're done. You can use dishsoap for that.

Yes: acid makes silver produce a greenish/turquoise corrosion. If you get solder flux on silver plate, for e.g., it will eventually produce a turquoise corrosion. You may find that underneath that the plating is damaged. OTOH, underneath the silver plating is brass, which is also fine to clean with Empire (cosmetically, I dunno about toxicology/fumes wise). Just make sure you wash the instrument thoroughly afterward, imo.

The reason I suggest a post-Empire hand polish is that sometimes there is a film left, after using Empire, or uneven streaking.
 

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There is a pink liquid.....

.....The fumes may or may not be toxic, but the smell is enough to justify the mask for me. Also, I have dogs so I don't use it indoors.
Make sure the mask has ACID GAS filters. The standard purple HEPA filters on most masks are for particulates only and will not protect you. And of course, those disposable masks won't do the trick either.
 

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When you rinse, still do not get corrosive materials on the springs, especially as they are mounted in a dissimilar metal. The electrolyte will wick into the gap and cause galvanic corrosion. Better to wick something less harmful in there beforehand, eg a light oil or even fresh water.
 

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When you rinse, still do not get corrosive materials on the springs, especially as they are mounted in a dissimilar metal. The electrolyte will wick into the gap and cause galvanic corrosion. Better to wick something less harmful in there beforehand, eg a light oil or even fresh water.
another reason to leave it alone.
 

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Hold on before you do anything

When I studied aircraft maintenance years ago we were taught the green corrosion was actually a protective layer and you could leave it alone.
On what material?

If you studied marine maintenance (boats, ships, etc.), they work constantly to remove verdigris (the green stuff that grows on brass).

There are few native oxides that are protective - the dull brown oxide that forms on silver is conductive and is usually left alone on silver contactors in switchgear. Aluminum forms a native oxide within minutes/hours and it is alright until you start forming the white powder form.

Green on brass... No thank you. It is not as bad as the "red rot" but is still detrimental.
 

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Guys, techs have been cleaning silver plate for a long, long time. All those pretty silver Buescher True-Tones you see in pictures for sale on the internet, every one of them has been treated with silver or metal polish. It's a saxophone, not a spaceship.

Different subject: if it's silverplated on the outside, it would be very bizarre for it not to be silverplated on the inside. That would have to be silverplating done with a home plating kit, or something.
 

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If its on the inside and not the outside then a good cleaning will fix it, however most of us techs use chemicals to clean, the chemicals require the instrument to be stripped of all keys, also if there is any exisiting lacquers they will certainly dissappear after being cleaned, chemicals I use are chromic acid and sulphuric acid, if the lacquer is good and its not being relaquered I clean by hand and soft cloth

Your best bet is to take all keys of and as mentioned above use a soft polish using each tone hole as an access point and clean to the best ability you can.

Good luck
 

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Different subject: if it's silverplated on the outside, it would be very bizarre for it not to be silverplated on the inside. That would have to be silverplating done with a home plating kit, or something.
No its actually quite a common thing for a sax to be silver on the outside and not the inside, most especially on older models.

Its all to do with electroplating, when you wire the sax up, the body of the saxophone becomes the target point for the silver deposits, they travel from the outside of the tank through the solutuion and onto the body of the sax, the inside of the body cannot draw silver plating to it unless you wire a silver anode inside the sax body as well, if you were to do this you also run the risk of the two coming in to contact with each other (the sax and the silver anode that is)and burning a hole through the sax.....Not good
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Greetings all,

I've posted pictures of the kind of corrosion I am dealing with. The first picture (contrast adjusted for poor lighting) shows the depth of the corrosion. The last two pictures show the area in more natural lighting. The silver is in pretty good shape for an 84 year old instrument that lived most of its life in an attic. There is some corrosion on the outside of one of the tone holes, but otherwise it is all contained. The rest of the interior is clean.

As the instrument is completely stripped, all the concerns about damage to springs, etc. don't apply, and of course it is not lacquered. I can handle nasty acids (and probably obtain them), but I want to make sure that whatever I use will not affect the silver plating. Will the chromic and sulfuric acid attack the silver plate? What about the "corrosion removing solution" in the old Brand book? Perhaps the Empire might be the best bet?

Many thanks.
 

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I would not even bother.

Why subject your saxophone to a nasty chemical to remove that?

Get a bottle cleaning brush or whatever else will work and scrub through the tone holes and leave it alone. Spray some simple green and scrub away.

Love those old saxophones

Hutmo
 

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IMO, it depends on the condition and quality of the silver plating. If it is compromised in any way, or is microscopically porous, then any acid provides the electrolyte to initiate galvanic corrosion between dissimilar metals.

Presumably some specialty products have additives to reduce this effect. On this topic, I'm pretty ignorant.
 

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Love those old saxophones

Hutmo
Me too.

After you get the sax ultrasonically cleaned.

Go down to "bed bath and beyond" and pay $6.99 for the silver wipes. Take a wipe and reach in through the tone hole and wipe around and around and around. Just clean the areas which you can reach and don't worry about the rest.

And these wipes and some toothpicks (used to push the wipes) will be useful for cleaning all the detail work on the outside.
 

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IMO, it depends on the condition and quality of the silver plating. If it is compromised in any way, or is microscopically porous, then any acid provides the electrolyte to initiate galvanic corrosion between dissimilar metals.
.
..So if he leaves the green corrosion on will this be less likely to happen ?

Isn't there a theory or "rule" that the more you do maintenance the greater the % probability of unforeseen damage ?
 

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I have no idea.
 
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