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Simple Cleaning, Paint Removal, and Polishing


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phonogfp

All too often, folks who are unfamiliar with antique phonographs - or sometimes antique in general - happen across an artifact that appears daunting in its need for cleaning.  Unfortunately, some of these well-meaning folks may attempt to do the job with harsh household/workshop products and ultimately damage the item.  Here is an Eagle Graphophone which suffered from decades of dirt and careless handling around wet paint:

 

EagleWurlitzerbefore1.thumb.jpg.4f61416bec13626e9e48d1d2c3cb577c.jpg

 

Look at the paint on the mandrel!  Some fingerprints were good enough to convict whoever did this...

EagleWurlitzerbefore4.thumb.jpg.b339e13ffcc9a39579f8d14df7599e5c.jpg

 

EagleWurlitzerbefore6.thumb.jpg.2fa76fca449b30de28498be98b5cf25e.jpg

 

Then there was all the paint on the lid...

 

EagleWurlitzerbefore8.thumb.jpg.a8f46d09d11ac3fba62941de7f0d8256.jpg

 

Luckily, the decal was relatively undamaged.  Considering the scratching just to the left of the decal, and the lack of thick black paint on the decal, it was almost miraculous:

 

EagleWurlitzerbefore7.thumb.jpg.2964075b803b3bedfb0a34501727cdb1.jpg

 

The Eagle is a pretty easy machine to clean up, because there's no paint to deal with.  The decal(s), however, can be very tricky.  The company decals always had a finish applied over them, so they're somewhat protected.  A retailer decal is a different matter, and they must be very carefully handled - - preferably left alone if possible.  This particular Eagle has two celluloid plates with retailer information ink-stamped on them.  I've seen similar celluloid plates wiped clean of ink by folks who didn't realize how fragile the old ink is.  No cleaning agents should ever be used on these - - just a bit of damp rag carefully and lightly wiped across the surface.

 

Well...time to start.  Get out your nitrile gloves!

 

Eaglebefore.thumb.JPG.26403f6938712cb418cced799feec55f.JPG

 

This Eagle must be taken apart; down to the last screw.  There's no other way to properly clean it, and if it's not clean, you can't expect it to work properly.  I tend to let metal parts soak in WD-40 overnight to loosen grunge.  Then I use 0000 steel wool to remove hardened grease, fossilized oil, and - in this case - paint.  Once the metal parts are clean and dry, I'll polish them with Nevr-Dull or Mother's - - sometimes both.  I haven't figured out why one product will sometimes work better on one part while the other product works better on another.

 

...But what about the wooden parts?

 

lidbefore.thumb.JPG.7afcda6ad3047846025cea6ab3438be1.JPG

 

To remove grime, I use Goop, GoJo, or similar NONPUMICED hand cleaner readily available from big-box stores.  Just wipe it on with a clean piece of paper towel, let it sit a minute, then wipe it off with another clean paper towel.  I have a box full of worn-out socks that I use for final rubbing once the paper towels start coming out clean.  Oftentimes, a second application is necessary.  If the surface feels a bit sticky, it needs another application.  CAUTION:  some of the cheaper machines used cheaper finishes, and after a couple of applications the finish will still be tacky.  Allow the wood to dry overnight or even a couple of days.

 

Now, hand cleaner won't remove all that paint, and that's where 0000 steel wool come in handy again.  EASY DOES IT.  You want the 0000 steel wool saturated with hand cleaner, and you want to rub only where the paint is at first.  if you've done a general cleaning with the hand cleaner already, the paint may have softened enough that it will come off with little effort.  Don't rub any harder than necessary - - you don't want to go through the finish.  You'll have a sore thumb for a day or two, but it will be worth it.  Be very, very careful when working over decals, and stop immediately if you see the decal losing color.

 

When all the paint is gone, wipe everything clean with a soft rag (old socks?). 

 

Now you can reassemble everything, applying a small drop of quality oil to bearings and gear teeth (no Three-In-One because it gums up in time).   If you were careful, it should look something like this:

 

Eagleafter.thumb.JPG.d6d4ac2774c1aba8d1c7ede6435fa677.JPG

 

Eagleafter2.thumb.JPG.7bab226fee6b2b29296ba0e0841190d4.JPG

 

As always, know your limitations, ask questions when unsure, and take your time.  Good luck!

 

George P.

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Auxetophone

Sometimes I wonder how stuff like this happens...🤔

 

This Eagle is very lucky to have found you, it looks great now!

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phonogfp
2 hours ago, Auxetophone said:

Sometimes I wonder how stuff like this happens...🤔

 

This Eagle is very lucky to have found you, it looks great now!

Thanks - - this Eagle was very lucky that none of the black paint got on the celluloid plates, and that the decal somehow avoided damage.

 

I consider myself fortunate to have found this particular Eagle.  I have 10 of them now!🤪

 

George P.

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Auxetophone
10 hours ago, phonogfp said:

I have 10 of them now!🤪

 

I believe a flock of eagles is called a "convocation". 

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phonogfp
8 hours ago, melvind said:

George it looks amazing. I have 1... Where do you put 10?

 

They're little...  I sprinkle them around the place like salt and pepper.

 

Thanks for the kind words, Dan!

 

George P.

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phonogfp
4 minutes ago, Auxetophone said:

I believe a flock of eagles is called a "convocation". 

 

I didn't know that!  It's also "a large formal assembly of people."  This suggests that Eagles and people are alike, so if you're a person, you're also an Eagle.  The more Eagles you have in your life, the more friends you have.  Friends are important for good mental health, so it follows that the more Eagles you have, the saner you are. 

 

I'll have to try this out on my wife, but I don't think it will fly...

 

George P.

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phonogfp
5 minutes ago, alang said:

Your new Eagle looks amazing! One could never tell how badly abused it once was.

 

Andreas

 

Thanks Andreas.  My purpose was to show that simple methods and materials can achieve good results.  We old-timers already know this, but hopefully newcomers will be inspired and cautioned by the post.  I only wish someone had cautioned me about Zonophone celluloid plates back in the 1980s.  I didn't ruin it, but after I cleaned it with Murphy's Oil Soap, the printing wasn't nearly as dark as it had been.😧

 

George P.

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Mainspring

I am always amazed at how the real problem is usually just dirt and a good cleaning is all most need. To me, it is one of the more satisfying parts of collecting these or any antique item. To restore an original finish is a wonderful thing to do, providing a finish is still there.

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Tinfoilphono

Ii was wondering if you bought that one! I seriously considered it myself but to be honest it looked too far gone. I had no idea that it could be cleaned up that easily! Lucky for you, or I may have run up your cost. :classic_wink:

 

Great find. I have a weakness for dealer tags.

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I just noticed, isn't it interesting that Columbia allowed the removal of their license tag to replace it with the Wurlitzer dealer tag? As far as I know, Edison was very strict about things like that and would not have allowed it I think. Victor also had strict rules about branding well into the 1920s. Apparently, Columbia was more relaxed in that perspective.

 

Andreas

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phonogfp
3 hours ago, alang said:

I just noticed, isn't it interesting that Columbia allowed the removal of their license tag to replace it with the Wurlitzer dealer tag? As far as I know, Edison was very strict about things like that and would not have allowed it I think. Victor also had strict rules about branding well into the 1920s. Apparently, Columbia was more relaxed in that perspective.

 

Andreas

 

Actually, the tag that was removed was only the Columbia ID tag listing 6 cities.  The dataplate carrying the serial number was what could get the dealer in trouble if it was removed.  Here's an example of what another retailer did in order to remove BOTH plates from an Eagle:

https://forum.talkingmachine.info/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=21514&p=128101&hilit=Spear#p128101

 

3 hours ago, Tinfoilphono said:

Ii was wondering if you bought that one! I seriously considered it myself but to be honest it looked too far gone. I had no idea that it could be cleaned up that easily! Lucky for you, or I may have run up your cost. :classic_wink:

 

Great find. I have a weakness for dealer tags.

 

"That easily?!"  Gee, I was hoping you'd be impressed by my skillful wizardry and cunning persistence! 

 

I too have a thing for dealer tags.  Maybe that would be a good topic...!

 

George P.

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Tinfoilphono

Great topic idea (in my humble opinion...).

 

And yes, I am impressed. The difference is truly night and day. Amazing. I'm just sorry I didn't bid!

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phonogfp
34 minutes ago, Tinfoilphono said:

Great topic idea (in my humble opinion...).

 

And yes, I am impressed. The difference is truly night and day. Amazing. I'm just sorry I didn't bid!

 

You know I was just busting your chops, Rene!  But thanks for not bidding.😉

 

George P.

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Neilvanstem

Wow turned out really nice. I use socks too though usually only cotton socks. Do you use cotton only socks? 

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phonogfp
1 hour ago, Neilvanstem said:

Wow turned out really nice. I use socks too though usually only cotton socks. Do you use cotton only socks? 

 

Yes, the white cotton socks are the best.  Nylon/polyester/whatever doesn't absorb, but rather smears. 

 

George P.

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Auxetophone

Old cotton T-shirts work as well. I usually have a stack of them at the work bench and cut pieces as needed for all of my cleaning and polishing needs.

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Fran604g

Great work as always George, thoughtful and circumspect. When do we start calling you The Eagleman?

 

Cheers,

Fran

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phonogfp
2 minutes ago, Fran604g said:

When do we start calling you The Eagleman?

 

 

I've been called "Chickenman" a few times...

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47 minutes ago, Fran604g said:

Great work as always George, thoughtful and circumspect. When do we start calling you The Eagleman?

 

Cheers,

Fran

Maybe "George the Eagle". I'm sure Eddie won't mind... 😉

 

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Valecnik

Really nice work George.  Just the way it should be done.  Nothing worse than seeing a machine with a botched amateur restoration knowing that if just cleaned properly, it could have looked like your Eagle.  Oh and that slopped paint over the front of the decal must have been especially delicate.

 

 

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phonogfp

Thanks Bruce.  Yes, the paint on the decal was tricky - - and you'll see that I didn't remove quite all it.  I'd rather have 100% of the remaining decal plus a bit of paint on it, rather than 90% of the remaining decal with no paint.  It's a call we must make on each project, but I just wasn't comfortable trying for "perfection."  Maybe someone else, someday...

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