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Best Way to Clean an Old Antique Alligator Finish? #2617114
02/22/17 09:40 PM
02/22/17 09:40 PM
Joined: Jun 2015
Posts: 437
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Musicdude Offline OP
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This tread inspired by the other one about keeping the
original, alligator finish.

Since the musicality is more important to me than cosmetics, I will likely just clean my nearly 100 years old Hamilton/Baldwin upright's surface.

It has a pretty severely cracked, alligatored finish.

Advice on cleaning it?


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Re: Best Way to Clean an Old Antique Alligator Finish? [Re: Musicdude] #2617124
02/22/17 10:14 PM
02/22/17 10:14 PM
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Old Hangtown California
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Gene Nelson Offline
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If the finish is nitrocellulose lacquer there is a product called amalgamator. I used it a couple times. You brush it on and it melts the checked finish and tends to flatten it and semi restore it. Careful work can get pleasing results


RPT
PTG Member
Re: Best Way to Clean an Old Antique Alligator Finish? [Re: Gene Nelson] #2617141
02/22/17 11:12 PM
02/22/17 11:12 PM
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Musicdude Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Gene Nelson
If the finish is nitrocellulose lacquer there is a product called amalgamator. I used it a couple times. You brush it on and it melts the checked finish and tends to flatten it and semi restore it. Careful work can get pleasing results


But that means I have to disassemble the piano
completely, right? So the parts can be laid down
flat?


Piano Player
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Re: Best Way to Clean an Old Antique Alligator Finish? [Re: Musicdude] #2617144
02/22/17 11:42 PM
02/22/17 11:42 PM
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Old Hangtown California
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Gene Nelson Offline
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Your choice.
If I were to go that far I'd strip and refinish
Besides, uprights don't come apart very easily.

Last edited by Gene Nelson; 02/22/17 11:42 PM.

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Re: Best Way to Clean an Old Antique Alligator Finish? [Re: Musicdude] #2617145
02/22/17 11:55 PM
02/22/17 11:55 PM
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BDB Offline
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Handle it the way that you would handle any alligator: Tie the jaws shut first! smile

It might be possible to sand it lightly and then use French polish to smooth the surface and fill the cracks, but that takes a lot of time, skill, and effort.


Semipro Tech
Re: Best Way to Clean an Old Antique Alligator Finish? [Re: Gene Nelson] #2617149
02/23/17 12:30 AM
02/23/17 12:30 AM
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Musicdude Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Gene Nelson
Your choice.
If I were to go that far I'd strip and refinish
Besides, uprights don't come apart very easily.


Yeah, I don't care to go that far.

I just want to clean, and maybe polish it a bit....


Piano Player
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Re: Best Way to Clean an Old Antique Alligator Finish? [Re: Musicdude] #2617187
02/23/17 04:48 AM
02/23/17 04:48 AM
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 5,895
Bradford County, PA
UnrightTooner Offline
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I've used Formby's with good results, the kind you are probably looking for. There's a bit of hype ad misdirection from them, though. For instance, they have a tung oil wiping varnish, that you apply by "hand", that is (or was...) promoted by saying that Mr. Formby learned the value of a "hand rubbed finish" in his father's shop. Only thing is, they are two very different finishes!

You can be sure there are many coats of wax on your piano. You could try an incremental approach and get the wax off first.

https://www.formbys.com/


Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?
Re: Best Way to Clean an Old Antique Alligator Finish? [Re: Musicdude] #2617313
02/23/17 01:01 PM
02/23/17 01:01 PM
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Cincinnati, OH
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HelloMrZebra Offline
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I have a 1920 Chickering quater grand that has alligatored also. I bought the reamalgator called Qualarenu a few days ago and I will let you know how it works!

Re: Best Way to Clean an Old Antique Alligator Finish? [Re: HelloMrZebra] #2617327
02/23/17 01:45 PM
02/23/17 01:45 PM
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Old Hangtown California
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Gene Nelson Offline
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If you can find
Originally Posted by HelloMrZebra
I have a 1920 Chickering quater grand that has alligatored also. I bought the reamalgator called Qualarenu a few days ago and I will let you know how it works!

Try to find a small not so in your face spot to experiment with before you commit to the whole job


RPT
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Re: Best Way to Clean an Old Antique Alligator Finish? [Re: Musicdude] #2617452
02/23/17 07:44 PM
02/23/17 07:44 PM
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Cincinnati, OH
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HelloMrZebra Offline
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I bought it from schaff. Ill test it out tonight and take pictures.

Re: Best Way to Clean an Old Antique Alligator Finish? [Re: Musicdude] #2617483
02/23/17 09:20 PM
02/23/17 09:20 PM
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Posts: 234
Fitzgerald ,GA
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Steven Bolstridge Offline
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Thoroughly clean, rinse, and dry the surface with Murphy's soap. Wipe it down with methanol, then brush, or preferably rub on a light coating of shellac. You might be surprised


piano tuner/technician
Re: Best Way to Clean an Old Antique Alligator Finish? [Re: HelloMrZebra] #2617491
02/23/17 09:45 PM
02/23/17 09:45 PM
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Maine, USA
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Rick_Parks Offline
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Originally Posted by HelloMrZebra
I bought it from schaff. Ill test it out tonight and take pictures.


My brother refinishes the pianos... He says 1920 would be almost positively shellac (as lacquer didn't come into wide use until the 30's)...To test the finish first to check if it is shellac- slightly dampen a cloth with denatured alcohol, touch it to a spot in a non-noticeable location for a few seconds- if it the finish sticky, its shellac. Not too wet mind you, since alcohol can dissolve lacquer as well if it is really saturated. You should be able to feel a tackiness with the finger when you remove the damp cloth. Shellac. If not, lacquer.

Anyway, he says that for anything you use- you should first thoroughly clean the surfaces with a lightly wet rag and dry surface immediately with another dry rag (to prevent clouding; if that matters on alligator surface)-- this will remove the water-soluble dirt.
Then, wash down with odorless pain-thinner (this will rid the surface of most of the oil-soluble dirt)... The paint-thinner will evaporate as you go.
When finished cleaning, and the paint thinner has evaporated, if you wish to use the amalgamate- he says you should tackle it with the understanding that the results are iffy...If it doesn't work, you'll be left with a mess that will leave no option but to refinish. Could melt and bubble your finish...

The SAFEST method is to simply polish after the cleaning process- with a wax-paste polish.

Let us know how you fair. whistle

Last edited by Rick_Parks; 02/23/17 09:48 PM.

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Re: Best Way to Clean an Old Antique Alligator Finish? [Re: BDB] #2617501
02/23/17 10:21 PM
02/23/17 10:21 PM
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USA
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Bob Offline
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Originally Posted by BDB
Handle it the way that you would handle any alligator: Tie the jaws shut first! smile



In Florida, we just walk or kayak past them. The smaller ones (less than 6 feet) usually jump in the water and swim away. The larger ones stare you down as you go by. They don't see you as food unless you fall out of the kayak or canoe, or go swimming at dusk. Keep your dog away from the water, though. Alligators like dogs.




Re: Best Way to Clean an Old Antique Alligator Finish? [Re: Bob] #2617582
02/24/17 08:22 AM
02/24/17 08:22 AM
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Bradford County, PA
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Originally Posted by Bob
Originally Posted by BDB
Handle it the way that you would handle any alligator: Tie the jaws shut first! smile



In Florida, we just walk or kayak past them. The smaller ones (less than 6 feet) usually jump in the water and swim away. The larger ones stare you down as you go by. They don't see you as food unless you fall out of the kayak or canoe, or go swimming at dusk. Keep your dog away from the water, though. Alligators like dogs.


Dog-gone good advice, or would that be NO dog-gone good advice? laugh laugh laugh


Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?
Re: Best Way to Clean an Old Antique Alligator Finish? [Re: Musicdude] #2617618
02/24/17 10:19 AM
02/24/17 10:19 AM
Joined: Feb 2017
Posts: 1,767
New Hampshire
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P W Grey Offline
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I am specifically interested in process of fully rejuvenating a shellac finish. 1906 Steinway upright shellac for sure. Finish is degraded but I don't think beyond repair. Have cleaned all dirt off at this point. I have limited experience with French polishing.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
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Re: Best Way to Clean an Old Antique Alligator Finish? [Re: Musicdude] #2617637
02/24/17 11:12 AM
02/24/17 11:12 AM
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Steve Senseney Offline
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Is this a natural wood or ebonized finish?

Re: Best Way to Clean an Old Antique Alligator Finish? [Re: Musicdude] #2617640
02/24/17 11:20 AM
02/24/17 11:20 AM
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BDB Offline
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Almost certainly natural wood. Ebonized finishes were rare on uprights unless they were expensive models before WWII.


Semipro Tech
Re: Best Way to Clean an Old Antique Alligator Finish? [Re: Musicdude] #2617648
02/24/17 12:07 PM
02/24/17 12:07 PM
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P W Grey Offline
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Natural...mahogany. Some flaking, loose stuff came off in the cleaning. Used simple green to clean off dirt etc.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
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