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#618383 - 02/13/09 03:56 PM WD-40 (for experts)  
Joined: Feb 2009
Posts: 1,459
daniokeeper Offline
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daniokeeper  Offline
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This is a case that I'm sure will sound familiar to some.

I have a recently acquired customer the owns an old upright (1901). When I came out to inspect/tune the piano, I noticed that the action was so sluggish that it was unplayable. I also noticed the the wood was unnaturally stained a dark color. The skip to the end, I asked the customer if anyone had ever treated the piano with WD-40. "Yes," I was told. There were some sluggish keys and it was treated with WD-40 on the action. The entire action was treated, apparently. Everything was covered with WD-40... the stickers, the hammer shanks... everything. Either the whole action had been utterly soaked, or the WD-40 just migrated everywhere.

I decided to try a little ProTek CLP and come back another day. Though I really didn't expect it to work, I thought, "What harm can it do now?" When I returned, the parts of the action treated with ProTek were only slightly better. But overall, the whole action was still unplayable.

I have two questions:

1.) I thought WD-40 in pianos, especially on the actions, was a definite no-no. But, I did a little Googling around, and I found this toward the bottom of this page:
Quote
Quote
WD 40 doesn't contain what you'd think of as oil.
Also in the UK I did some background study of WD 40 before using it in damp sticky piano mechanisms.

I had a letter from the manufacturers of the patented product when they were owned by Cadulac Chemicals in the 1970s They informed me that the product contained
Animal Waxes (that is Tallow)
Petroleum based waxes (rather like Vaseline)
All borne up in a 3 to 1 concentration of White Spirit.
This is like a turpentine substitute.

The turps does most of the Surfactant work displacing water and the waxes do the lubrication.

It was safe to use in Piano actions, on wood, cloth and brass pivot pins and didn't dissolve any of the old fashioned Scotch Glue, or Animal Glue.
The company said I should be careful to make sure I didn't use it on any Cold-moulded plastics and there aren't any of those used even in modern pianos.
The lubricant was used to free up sticky components that the wooden parts had swollen with moist air or damp conditions. It was very effective and had no long term side effects.
]http://forums.cnet.com/5208-7591_1...eadID=37826&messageID=566789


So apparently the manufacturers of WD-40 recommend its use in piano actions. I thought that WD-40, over time, tended to gum up action centers, necessitating repinning and rebushing down the road. Am I wrong? Was I wrong to most strenuously discourage the use of WD-40 to the customer? Or, does anyone know if WD-40 has changed their position recently?

(Btw, if they are in fact advising the use of WD-40 in actions, perhaps they could be held liable for any damage done?)

2.) If I am correct and WD-40 is making things worse than would otherwise be the case, are there any cheap and dirty tricks I can use? I don't think I can justify the cost of completely repinning and rebushing. The only thing I can think of is to either wash the action centers with naptha or acetone. But, I really don't want to do this because of the danger of explosion as well as possible cancer risks to me and the customers over time. Also, I'm not sure it will work, anyhow. This action is pretty stiff. It may also attack the glue joints, too.

I realize this may be a lost cause, but I wanted to ask for other opinions before throwing in the towel.

Thanks,
-Joe


Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
www.morethanpianos.com
(semi-retired)
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#618384 - 02/13/09 04:05 PM Re: WD-40 (for experts)  
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daniokeeper Offline
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Follow up:

I found the following uses listed for WD-40 after doing a search at their website:
Quote
Quote
12 uses found.
Cleans piano keys
Unsticks piano keys
Lubricates piano bench hinges
Lubricates piano leg casters
Lubricates piano lid hinges
Lubricates swiveling piano stool
Quiets squeaky piano pedals
Removes stickers from piano keys
Lubricates piano hammer action in pianos
Lubricates piano hinges on tool box
Lubricates storm door piano hinges
Makes rusty piano strings pliable again
The uses of WD-40 described on this website were provided to WD-40 Company by end-users of the product, and do not constitute recommendations or suggestions for use of WD-40 by WD-40 Company. These uses, including the "Use of the Day," have not been tested by WD-40 Company. Consumers should exercise common sense whenever using WD-40. Always follow the instructions and take heed of any warnings printed on the
WD-40 packaging.
http://www.wd40.com/uses-tips/
In spite of the disclaimer at the end, the webpage states:
Quote
Offical List of 2000+ Uses


Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
www.morethanpianos.com
(semi-retired)
#618385 - 02/13/09 04:12 PM Re: WD-40 (for experts)  
Joined: Apr 2007
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JDelmore Offline
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Hmpf...a hundred years old and full of animal tallow and petroleum waxes...it should catch easily and blaze spectacularly...


PTG Associate Member

"There is always room above; there is only the ground below."....F.E. Morton (with props to Del F.)
#618386 - 02/13/09 04:21 PM Re: WD-40 (for experts)  
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daniokeeper Offline
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Quote
Hmpf...a hundred years old and full of animal tallow and petroleum waxes...it should catch easily and blaze spectacularly...
LOL!!!

So it's a goner?


Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
www.morethanpianos.com
(semi-retired)
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#618387 - 02/13/09 04:33 PM Re: WD-40 (for experts)  
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JDelmore Offline
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I think it would be if it was me...


PTG Associate Member

"There is always room above; there is only the ground below."....F.E. Morton (with props to Del F.)
#618388 - 02/13/09 04:34 PM Re: WD-40 (for experts)  
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daniokeeper Offline
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Thank you! smile

-Joe


Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
www.morethanpianos.com
(semi-retired)
#618389 - 02/13/09 11:12 PM Re: WD-40 (for experts)  
Joined: Oct 2004
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Dale Fox Offline
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Nor California Sacramento area
Makes rusty piano strings pliable again. WOW. A miracle product for sure!


(Yah, it's a goner.)


Dale Fox
Registered Piano Technician
Remanufacturing/Rebuilding
#618390 - 02/13/09 11:51 PM Re: WD-40 (for experts)  
Joined: Apr 2008
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Emmery Offline
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Emmery  Offline
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Niagara Region, On. Canada
Daniokeeper, if you sprayed WD40 on a plate and allowed the solvents to evaporate you will find the remaining residue somewhat sticky, as opposed to slick and oily. Once dust and dirt mixes with it, it really becomes a mess. As a machinist I was not allowed to spray down machines with it because any rust present would be sealed off and continue to grow and eventually pit the metal. It works fine at protecting clean metal from rusting.
Another point to remember is that any type of oil will migrate on a string from vibration, even vertically, up to the tuning pin. Maynard Hill's famous model plane that flew across the Atlantic used a carburetor that was fed fuel from below by a loose vibrating drill bit that stood vertically.
If you can get a hold of perchlorethelene (perc), it would work better than naptha but has its own dangers as well (carcinogenic.)


Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region
#618391 - 02/14/09 01:09 AM Re: WD-40 (for experts)  
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JDelmore Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Emmery:
If you can get a hold of perchlorethelene (perc), it would work better than naptha but has its own dangers as well (carcinogenic.)
I'm a chemist. That's what I was "ejumacated" at. That's what I've done for twenty years, before I decided on a 'change'.

Please don't even try to obtain perchlorates. Cancer twenty years from now is the least of your worries. The thought of what would happen when you mix perchlorates with the God-only-knows-what is in and on the parts sends me running for an armored fume-hood...


PTG Associate Member

"There is always room above; there is only the ground below."....F.E. Morton (with props to Del F.)
#618392 - 02/14/09 11:47 AM Re: WD-40 (for experts)  
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daniokeeper Offline
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I think I may just be walking away from this one...

Maybe I need to consider a nice safe profession like coal miner or doing a high wire act. smile

Thanks Emmery and Dale, for the background and advice on this.

JDelmore, thank you for pointing out that mixing unknown things together can have unknown consequences. It's something I'll absolutely keep in mind during my travels. (There's also a little synchronicity at work here, I think. Though I'm an older person, I'm back in night school completing a degree. One of the courses I'm taking this semester is chemistry. We just had the safety lecture last week! You can believe that I really do get the point. From the classroom to real life. smile )

-Joe G.


Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
www.morethanpianos.com
(semi-retired)
#618393 - 02/17/09 01:42 AM Re: WD-40 (for experts)  
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,336
KawaiDon Offline
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KawaiDon  Offline
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Orange County, CA
Yes, walk away. Ask the owners if they are interested in having a piano bonfire.

Just be sure not to stand down wind!


Don Mannino, MPA
Kawai America
#618394 - 02/17/09 10:24 PM Re: WD-40 (for experts)  
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daniokeeper Offline
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daniokeeper  Offline
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Quote
Yes, walk away. Ask the owners if they are interested in having a piano bonfire.

Just be sure not to stand down wind!

--------------------
Don Mannino RPT
Kawai America
It unanimous!!! laugh

-Joe


Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
www.morethanpianos.com
(semi-retired)

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