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A Quesstion of Brass Restoration
Several of you have commented on the H.G. Wright cornets which I let slip by
at auction recently. Apparently they are of some value, even in the bad
state of repair that they were.
Certainly, the ill health of the brass, itself, contributed to my lack of
interest in bidding. The brass was clearly brittle, washed out, and would
never cooperate with the dent mandrels I use.
It reminded me of an English Herald's trumpet that I had in for repair. The
brass was in similar condition, but the bell was almost entirely crushed. I
made the mistake of trying to correct this horn without knowing what I was
doing. In retrospect, it is a foolish thing to experiment with a customer's
horn by trying this and trying that, but that is, however, how many of man's
great achiements have occured.
I was able to make this bell look like a bell again, but it was far from what
I would call an achievement. I used a light pickle solution of white
vinegar to alternately clean and anneal the metal. I annealed with my
Bernzomatic torch in between cleanings. After each annealing, I attempted to
smooth out a few wrinkles, one at a time. The result was little better than
a bell shaped instrument which resembled crumpled aluminum foil.
So that raises the question. What do the experts do in this type of
situation. Surely there are many of you who know the chemistry and metalurgy
required to restore an instrument to its original magnificence. I, and I'm
sure other members of this list, would like to hear from you.