Chem Cleaning and Ultrasonic Cleaning

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by ccb_22, Sep 30, 2010.

  1. ccb_22

    ccb_22 Pianissimo User

    Jan 12, 2010
    I'm looking to buy an ultrasonic cleaning system for my horns, but until I can afford one, does anyone know what products are used for a typical chem clean? I've got a few silver horns and a few lacquer and one raw brass. I'll be starting with some old junk horns so harm done if I ruin them. Do you use different chemicals for each finish or the same batch for all three finishes?

    If anyone has an ultrasonic cleaning system, where did you get it and is it worth it? Thanks.
  2. veery715

    veery715 Utimate User

    Mar 6, 2007
    Ithaca NY
    I have a Branson Ultrasonic cleaner with a 1/2 gal capacity. This means I can do valve pistons and parts, slides, and mouthpieces, and for those it does a great job. It cost between 2 and 3 hundred bucks.

    For me, a collector and player, it serves the purpose fine. I have found that I can clean the rest of a horn with conventional brushes and snakes and soapy water. I do have a light with a long skinny probe so I can examine the insides using a dentist's mirror.

    A device large enough for a whole instrument would be much more expensive.
  3. trumpetsplus

    trumpetsplus Fortissimo User

    Jun 11, 2006
    South Salem, NY
    I suggest that you liaise with a friendly repair shop in your area about this - there are a lot of traps for the novice in Chem Cleaning and Ultrasonic Cleaning. I know, I do both of these procedures.

    Are you in Wilmington, Delaware? There is a pretty good guy around there, "A Minor Tuneup". Speak with him.
  4. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

    Aug 16, 2009
    Jackson NC
    Looking for globs of solder left in manufacture or repair ... ultrasonic shouldn't be powerful enough to dissolve these ... if it were powerful enough ... it would "attack" the connecting solder. Thus, the only perfect remedy against these globs is small chipping tool heads on the end of a bore scope ... and operator / tech skill.
  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    I still question the sense of ultrasonic too often. If we are in agree ment that just about everything makes SOME difference, the ultrasonics could change the temper of the horn/braces/bell and thus change something. I have a friend that works for VW. They trashed a lot of fuel injector nozzles a couple of years back by cleaning them this way.

    My point is not to "damn" the process, but rather underline that this cleaning process may have other issues that make it only sensible for professional servicing by professionals. My take is that a trumpet has various parts with various "hardness". Some of the braces are designed to transmit vibrations, others to dampen them. The secret formula for trumpet sound is the bell and its bracing. Any alteration of that is potentially significant.
  6. ccb_22

    ccb_22 Pianissimo User

    Jan 12, 2010
    Rowuk, do you mean that you often question the process of ultrasonic cleaning, or do you mean that you question the idea of getting a horn cleaned often by ultrasonic means? Just trying to clarify.

    But I think your second paragraph is right on. I had not considered it those terms before. Thanks for the input.
  7. Brekelefuw

    Brekelefuw Fortissimo User

    Mar 21, 2006
    The professional US machines that repair techs and horn builders use are set up specifically for instruments. The frequencies they work at are less harsh than those used to do industrial cleaners.

    The 2-4 minutes if time in the tank isn't nearly enough to cause damage to a horn, unless it is already falling apart with rot.
  8. trumpetsplus

    trumpetsplus Fortissimo User

    Jun 11, 2006
    South Salem, NY
    My gut feeling is to side with rowuk on this one. I also have misgivings about the overuse of ultrasonics, and tend to use mine as the second rather than first choice.

    Also, in responding to a PM from tobylou, I was inspired to write a little blog on the subject.

    My blog can be accessed from the link near the top of the home page of my website.
  9. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

    Nov 5, 2003
    Rochester, MN
    I know Harrelson has a "full" size US machine for cleaning trumpets but I don't
    remember where Jason said he bought it - second hand I believe.

    One could contact them - Jason has been helpful letting me know where he
    buys certain supplies.

  10. TrentAustin

    TrentAustin Fortissimo User

    Oct 28, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I just bought a full size Ultrasonic cleaning machine for my shop. It's not Cheap (a few thousand bucks!).

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