Lacquer Stripping

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by CalebWayne, Apr 2, 2011.

  1. CalebWayne

    CalebWayne Pianissimo User

    Mar 19, 2010
    I have an old Holton Collegiate cornet that I'm wanting to strip what little lacquer is still left on it off of. What is the best way to do it? And can I still have a shiny horn after?
  2. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    Boil it with a tablespoon of baking soda for every gallon of water.
  3. Brassmonkey

    Brassmonkey Pianissimo User

    Jan 6, 2007
    I used oven cleaner on an old Bach that I had. Worked beautifully! Just be sure you do it in a well ventilated area.

    Afterward I cleaned up the newly stripped surface with a brass cleaner and was very happy with the result.
  4. tedh1951

    tedh1951 Utimate User

    Oct 18, 2007
    The Wide Brown Land
    Good grief - what are you going to boil a trumpet in - a 13 gallon drum?
  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    When the lacquer is off the shiny becomes a lot of additional work.

    Either you like the grubby look of tarnished brass, or keep the lacquer in place for at least a bit of protection!
  6. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    A big metal "chafing" dish.
  7. dsr0057

    dsr0057 Pianissimo User

    Dec 20, 2009
    Denton, TX
    Boiling works well, but I've never heard of the baking soda part. Oven cleaner works as well but takes a lot of time. Best bet is to boil it in a giant gumbo type pot. Costs the least amount of money and if there isn't much lacquer on the horn still it's your best bet.
  8. ComeBackKid

    ComeBackKid Fortissimo User

    May 11, 2009
    Yorba Linda, CA
    There are many threads related to this. but to recap the basics, here it is again.

    There are two issues when stripping the lacquer: (a) removing the old lacquer, and (b) dealing with the tarnish that has accumulated on the areas left unprotected for a long time where the lacquer had already worn off.

    The old lacquer can frequently be removed with hot water alone. Depending on the type and age of the lacquer, it generally does not need to be directly boiled with the trumpet in the tub. However, the hotter the water, the better. It is sufficient to have something like a plastic laundry tub which will hold the disassembled trumpet and boil the water in regular cooking pots and then pour it over the trumpet in the tub. As long as you have enough water to stay hot while covering the trumpet, it should work (let the trumpet soak until the water is cool enough to remove the items). Then use a brush to reach the small spaces where the lacquer may be stuck.

    The issue of tarnish is where the additional items (mentioned above as baking soda) come into play.

    If there is old, dark tarnish or "patina", it may be difficult to remove by manual use of metal polish and elbow grease. Some metal is removed during this process as well. The tarnish may be converted back to brass and easier to clean by loosely wrapping the trumpet in aluminum foil and adding a material to act as an "electrolyte" to the hot water - creating a sort of mini-battery between the brass and the aluminum where the electrolysis converts tarnish to brass.

    It turns out that sodium carbonate is better for brass while sodium bicarbonate is better for silver. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate and therefore is not the best additive. Oxyclean or Biz (laundry stain remover) is Sodium Carbonate and is much better for use with brass.

    In addition to helping reduce the tarnish, the electrolytic action helps to remove some of the more difficult types of lacquer. So, overall, the use of Oxyclean and aluminum foil may produce better results than simply hot water in most cases.

    I hope this answers some of the persistent questions about this.
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2011
    tedh1951 and tobylou8 like this.
  9. mrsemman

    mrsemman Piano User

    Apr 8, 2010
    I am in the process of taking the lacquer off an old horn (Harry Pedler, American Triumph). I am using a non caustic paint stripper. It takes a few days and several coats of stripper and washing/ rinsing, but it works. I also am using a brass metal brush to get the lacquer off in small, hard to reach places. Later, I will lightly sand the excess off and finish up with a buffing wheel and white diamond polish. I will then re-lacquer the horn.
    A single coat of lacquer should do the trick; and from what I hear, most factories are doing it.

    I will post pics later.

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