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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone,

I'm new to this forum and this is my first post.
I used to play a lot of saxophone (mainly tenor), when I was younger. In the last 15 years, I have not played a lot but decided that I want to start playing again.
As such, I went to search for an inexpensive tenor just to get started. I managed to pick up a Keilwerth New King stencil with the serial number 64XXX, placing it in 1969. I say stencil because even though it says "The New King" on the bell (with the correct engraving that can be found on Keilwerth branded horns) and has the serial number as well as "Made in Germany", it does not say Keilwerth anywhere. The tenor is nickel plated and the plating is very dull and pitted in some places. However, the sound is great and it only needs some minor adjustments in order to be a great player. I have no experience with nickel plated horn, since all horns I played before were either silver plate or lacquered.

I am at odds as to how I can restore, clean or polish the nickel plate to its former glory. I tried to polish it (in an inconspicuous area) with stainless steel cleaner, and even though it gets shiny, there seems to be some loss of nickel plate (you can even see it in your fingers if you wipe it afterwards) in the areas where there was pitting.

Any ideas what would be the best way forward to get this nice horn back in the condition it deservers?

Thanks!
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2016
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MY suggestion would be to have a tech shop either chem-bathe or sonic-clean the body. The issue here is you are not just taking about polishing it up, you are talking about cleaning it up as well.

If you are gonna be a DIY-er, and feel comfortable in taking the horn apart, just bring the tech the body and neck. It should cost maybe $50, since tech need not disassemble and reassemble. probably for another $25-30 or so, you can ask him/her to mechanical buff it a little bit. Advantage of the buff is the proper rouge will be used and actually in some instances the buffer can buff out some light scratches which are more visibly apparent on a nickelplate finish.

IF what you are talking about here is trying to polish it up with keys on, then your options become much more limited, and your results will be more compromised.
Get a polish which works better on nickelplate...Simichrome is the best tube-polish I have found for nickel. Wenol red tube also works well.

Buy a microfibre cloth...the ones for glass. Do NOT use a cotton t-shirt sorta cloth, or a tericloth towel sort.

The thing is, if you are trying to get off gunk and tarnish and rot or verdgris in areas where the plating has worn, you are going to have to do repeated applications because, again, getting that stuff off is usually best done with a chem or sonic bath dunking, which would really get the entire horn in and out.

Good luck, keep us posted !
 

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Hi JayePDX,

thanks for your advice. I have managed to clean the horn and it looks (and sounds) great. I had some time on my hands yesterday, so I decided to just give it a go. Since I never have done anything similar, I was a bit anxious at first.... I took the horn completely apart and tried different cleaning and buffing methods ranging from vinegar to copper, silver clean and different household cleaners. In the end, I found that a very fine car polishing paste (the kind that they use in body workshops for buffing away small scratches) worked really well. So I buffed everything (including all the keys) by hand, cleaned it afterwards, oiled all the springs and put it back together. The last part was a bit of a puzzle, since in my eagerness I forgot to mark which piece goes where... Anyway, I managed to do it all in under 6 hours, which I really wasn't expecting. From all the hand-buffing and holding small parts my hands really hurt now - but it was worth it.

Of course it still shows that the saxophone is almost 50 years old and has had its use, but it looks nice and presentable now. And, last but not least, it sounds great!
 

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Reviving a dormant thread . . . I recently received back from my daughter a Buffet R13 clarinet with nickel keywork. The metal was cloudy and dull - almost crusty in places (key touches, rods, pad cups, tenon rings, bell ring). I ordered from Amazon a Leblanc"Professional Nickel-Finish Polishing Cloth". Cost me something like $10 with the shipping.

Today, I spent a little time with the clarinet and the Leblanc cloth and it worked. I won't discount what others posted about cleaning nickel finishes, but without disassembling and dipping with hours on a spinning wheel, the Leblanc cloth may serve a purpose. It did for me. DAVE
 
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