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Vintage Tuner Clean Up

Discussion in 'The DIY Tool Shed' started by bottomfeeder, Jan 21, 2021.

  1. bottomfeeder

    bottomfeeder Tele-Meister

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    I'm restoring a mid 60's Kay K573 Speed Demon. The Kluson tuners have some corrosion and I'm looking for advice on the best chemical/technique for cleaning them up without damaging the buttons. Please note ahead of time that I'm a novice at restorations.
    20210121_121655.jpg 20210121_121726.jpg
     
  2. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    You'll never get it back to looking brand new, but that will clean up nicely.

    Cut some masking tape into small pieces and carefully wrap each plastic button to protect it. Use 0000 steel wool and a mild solvent such as mineral spirits, kerosene, or WD40 to scrub off as much surface rust as possible. Take your time and don't press too hard as you work. Painter's gloves are a good idea here.

    When done, rinse off the parts well, taking care to blast some solvent into the housings and rotate the buttons to help flush out the old lube that's in there (goggles are mandatory for this operation). Use compressed air (goggles here too) to blow out all the solvent and dry the parts. Don't use heat/hot air.

    Remove the tape from the buttons, dampen a towel with mineral spirits or naphtha, and wipe all surfaces clean. Dry it off and add a drop of light oil to each gear housing. Give each button four or five fill turns to distribute the oil in the gears/bearing surfaces, and give it one last wipedown.

    That's how I do it.
     
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  3. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    A brass brush on a Dremel tool can help with the lines on the back. You can also purchase small, cheap brass detailing brushes at an auto parts store. They usually come in a set of 3 - brass, steel, and nylon bristles. You can also apply a liberal layer of penetrating oil and let it sit before you break out the brushes. Just keep it away from the shafts so that it doesn't crawl into the buttons. It is a little more aggressive than WD40, so protect yourself and the work area in case things get sloppy.
     
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  4. bottomfeeder

    bottomfeeder Tele-Meister

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    Thank you both for the guidance
     
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  5. old wrench

    old wrench Friend of Leo's

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    I do a cleaning very similar to what @Peegoo suggests, but instead of oiling, I shoot a little light grease inside the tuner - something like SuperLube.

    You might be able to squeeze it in right out of tube, but that's pretty messy (not pretty ;)).

    I just load some SuperLube in a syringe gizmo, which gives pin-point accuracy.

    You can get them from a place that stocks finishing supplies like Rockler, or even a good pet store that stocks some veterinary supplies. You want one with a large bore needle - the smaller the numbered gauge is, the larger the bore size. Like an 18 gauge would work, but not a 28 gauge - that's way too small.

    edit: if it looks like it was made for a large elephant, it'll probably work for light grease.

    Very handy for all sorts of lubrication purposes :).


    edit: your tuners were probably lightly greased at the factory, but that old stuff is most likely pretty well deteriorated by now. If you follow Peegoo's cleaning regimen, that old crap will get flushed out and leave your tuner ready for a fresh application.

    .
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2021
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  6. PeterUK

    PeterUK Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    ^^^This. No power tools are required.

    The TDPRI is littered with:

    Use elbow grease only.
     
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  7. bottomfeeder

    bottomfeeder Tele-Meister

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    Thanks for the additional advice from all.
     
  8. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity

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    From what I see it's not going away unfortunately. You will just end up with black pits in the metal. The nickel plating is attacked. Try some of the suggestions on the back of the tuner plate and see what happens.

    As long as you can't really lose much in the process, rather than any abrasion I would use some naval jelly, it will eat the rust without abrading the metal. They wont be shiny but they will be more silver.... maybe.
    I'm not a big fan of acidic cleaning ....but for that.... that's what I would do. The good news is you can buy a nice vintage set of those tuners for $50-$100 on Ebay. The older early 50's and older ones will be close to $100 and the 60's ones may be $50 last I looked.
     
  9. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    You can buy strip tuners like that, brand new, and scuff 'em up a little with Scotchbrite so they don't look so 'new' and fit in with the rest of the guitar. That's what I'd do--but only if the original tuners are broken or otherwise not working properly. If one of the plastic knobs is loose on the shaft and you can pull it off, you can easily reglue it using two-part epoxy.

    Other than all that, I'd just clean 'em up and reuse 'em because they're working. If any of the press-in ferrules (for the front of the headstock) are missing, those are also available as replacements and they're inexpensive.

    Cheers and have fun with the restoration!
     
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  10. bottomfeeder

    bottomfeeder Tele-Meister

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    The tuners work fine. I guess this is really a rehab project more than a restoration. I'm not doing a refinish on the body and neck, so I'll just clean these up the best I can.
     
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