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Case refinishing, ins and outs

#1
I am looking for supplies to refinish a 20's Conn C Mel case. Just wondering if you had some sources for supplies that you like to use. Also, any advice would be very appreciated. Planning on using tolex for the exterior, mainly because it wears well and is inexpensive. Also I am thinking that memory foam might be good for padding. Again, works well and cheap. I am thinking diamond quilted, crushed velvet for the lining, Purple as the original. Not really interested in originality, just want a nice solid and good looking case that protects the instrument well.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
#2
A couple statements, first:

* If the case has funky old-horn smell to it, it's very probable that you could do everything possible to try to eliminate the smell, but it'll still be there. It's probably in the wood.
* On a related note, if you either refurbish the case to make it non-smelly and you haven't overhauled the sax to make it non-smelly, you've just made the case smelly again. That funk will have been absorbed by the horn's pads, corks and felts.

Trying to make a case non-smelly is extremely difficult to do. People have the best luck, I've been told, with an ozone machine, but those can run hundreds of $. I suppose you could try lining the case with some sort of non-porous material. And back that up with some activated charcoal or something.

I'm not sure about the memory foam. Provided that the horn can make a good dent in it without getting bent in the process, I'd say it's OK.
 
#3
A couple statements, first:

* If the case has funky old-horn smell to it, it's very probable that you could do everything possible to try to eliminate the smell, but it'll still be there. It's probably in the wood.
* On a related note, if you either refurbish the case to make it non-smelly and you haven't overhauled the sax to make it non-smelly, you've just made the case smelly again. That funk will have been absorbed by the horn's pads, corks and felts.

Trying to make a case non-smelly is extremely difficult to do. People have the best luck, I've been told, with an ozone machine, but those can run hundreds of $. I suppose you could try lining the case with some sort of non-porous material. And back that up with some activated charcoal or something.

I'm not sure about the memory foam. Provided that the horn can make a good dent in it without getting bent in the process, I'd say it's OK.
I'll probably seal the wood once it is bare, a few coats of poly should create a "Funk"barrier. Another alternative would be to just reverse engineer the vintage case and build a new one. I'd prefer the former, just alot less work/expense.

As for the foam, this is the type of foam sold to soften the tops of mattresses. It is very Pillow'y. I am sure it is much softer than whatever was used in the 20's.
 

SOTSDO

Old King Log
Staff member
CE/Moderator
#4
Ozone machines...

...aren't all that expensive. We have one that we use on hockey skates, used books and the like. It cost about sixty bucks from either the Sharper Image or some other "thing" catalog. (The ones that are really expensive are the chambers used by moving companies, where you can put a large object into the device.)

With our version, you just put the object into a large box or bag, and you get the same effect. A book usually takes three or four trips through the treatment.

Having said this, on old funky cases, even the mega-machines held by a moving and storage company will have minimal effect. The object under treatment (the case) is just too porous. You will get the surface stink, but sooner or later more will leach out and you're back to square one.

Can the case, get a new one, and have the horn's pads and corks and felts replaced after the horn gets a good pickle.
 

Groovekiller

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
#5
Complete refinishing of a 1920s case is a big deal. You will have to disassemble the case parts, which are stapled or riveted together, and replace the case covering. I have heard of people who could do this, but I have never seen the results in person. I don't think anyone would do it today for anything close to a reasonable price. I would be happy to be proven wrong.

My procedure to restore old cases from the 1920s, and I've done a lot of them:

First, buy a bottle of Fiebing's black shoe dye at a shoe repair shop. Completely cover the exterior of the case and all black parts with the dye (It will not look shiny)

Use a rotary tool or drill with a small rotary wire brush to clean all metal parts of the exterior of the case, including hinges, latches, locks and corners. they won't look shiny and new, but they will look clean and good.

Squirt graphite into the latches and locks. Don't use liquid lubricants, solvents, or oil. Clean up afterward as best you can.

Go over the entire exterior of the case with black shoe polish - That's wax, just like polishing shoes. Maybe do this before cleaning up the metal parts.

Leave the inside of the case exposed to the sun for as long as possible. Spray LIGHTLY with Febreze or light deodorant. Too much deodorant makes things worse.

I have darkened faded case lining by finding a permanent magic marker in the same color, usually blue or purple, and rubbing the marker onto an old rag, then rubbing the rag onto the faded velvet of the case lining.

When doing these restorations, you will mess up your hands. Use surgical rubber gloves to eliminate a lot of grief.
 
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