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Cleaning up Nickel Siler ends


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It appears the climate here in Bermuda is have an effect on the nickel silver ends of my new Kensington. The silver is showing brassy yellow streaks and I was wondering what the best practice is for keeping the ends looking their best. 

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Best thing is to get in touch with the maker, the problem might actually be caused by your skin, some peoples skin seems to have more of an effect on nickel than others. I have always found that nickel silver in its modern form needs bright nickel plating to stay looking good. Or you can go for chrome but that doesen't always look as good and the process is a bit more fraught with error - the upside with chrome being that it is supposedly very durable though. 

 

Best talk to the maker and ask what he recommends, and probably any modification best employ him to do it rather than a third party. 

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Jake,

just curious as to what has changed with the nickel Silver formulation over the years? My 1890s (ish) Jeffries/Crabb has nickel silver ends and has never shown any discolouration. Can you still get "Old Style" NS?`

Edited by Clive Thorne
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8 hours ago, Clive Thorne said:

Jake,

just curious as to what has changed with the nickel Silver formulation over the years? My 1890s (ish) Jeffries/Crabb has nickel silver ends and has vever shown any discolouration. Can you still get "Old Style" NS?`

 

Hello Clive

 

Its quite a tricky thing for makers. Basically the nickel silver you can get nowadays is of quite a different composition to what was available in the past. The only stuff I could find in the correct thickness and hardness was 12% nickel content. You can get 18% nickel silver but I have never found anywhere which will supply it to the correct thickness of sheet. The long and short of it is that the higher the nickel content the less it tarnishes, really you want something with about 30% Nickel, the rest being mostly copper and a bit of zinc, I think that is what Jeffries used, or something similar to that. You cant really get it now so you have to electroplate really. 

 

The proper modern equivalent would probably be "cupro nickel" which is 30% nickel and 70% copper - its what a British 50p is made of. Again you cant find this in the right thickness for concertina ends which is normally anything from 0.71mm thick to 0.91 thick depending on the design. If anyone ever found some of that I would want to know about it! 

 

See you at a session some day I hope, you are only one country over from me in Northamptonshire.

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I have a 1950's era Crabb with (I assume) Nickel Silver ends.  It is not tarnished at all but it does have some fairly deep scratches around the end bolt holes where someone has been very clumsy with their screwdriver.

 

Can these scratches be polished out?  If so, what should I use?

 

(I hate slotted screws, they are the work of the devil!)

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On 4/12/2022 at 1:17 PM, Don Taylor said:

I have a 1950's era Crabb with (I assume) Nickel Silver ends.  It is not tarnished at all but it does have some fairly deep scratches around the end bolt holes where someone has been very clumsy with their screwdriver.

 

Can these scratches be polished out?  If so, what should I use?

 

(I hate slotted screws, they are the work of the devil!)

Assuming the ends are not plated Don, I guess there is no shortcut to hours of graft with abrasive paper of different grades and eventually a light final polish with a buffing wheel. You'd need to use a block on any flat surfaces to avoid sanding an unsightly depression. I just wonder if it's really worth the effort - after all you could see it as a badge of honour showing it's a "working instrument", rather than a museum relic 🙂

 

Adrian

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Already spoke with Marcus,

for reference.  The ends are C735 NS which is 18% nickel.  I have it rolled to my specs 1/4 hard for better bending resistance.  I tried bright overplating with  nickel, but unless it is very thick, it wears off and is not more resistant to erosion from the corrosive sweat of certain people.  This alloy is what is used for things like belt buckles of the sort you find in New Mexico next to turquoise.  The alloy I have seen in Jeffries and Wheatstone is a slightly yellowish alloy in comparison.  You can see the difference where any plating has worn off.  There is no visible difference in color between bright nickel and the C735 I use “sunshine cloth “ to remove tarnish, though the sort of polishing cloth you can get at a jewelers for gold and silver works as well.  Marcus’s instrument has been with other owners for many years, and while it had some spots where hand or finger contact had dulled the polish,  overall, it was still untarnished.  Something changed in Bermuda which isn’t surprising considering the sea environment.  Chris Ghent mentioned to me something about NS turning a bit yellow in a freshly glued case.  That isn’t the case here, but it does show the alloy has a vulnerability to certain atmospheres.

if you are trying to remove scratches or pitting, abrasive paper finishing with 1500 grit , then polishing with an appropriate compound works, but on a plated end you’ll cut through the plating that way and it is better left alone.  The best way to keep an instrument looking good is to wipe it down with a lint free cloth dhen you are done playing.  My wife’s concertina is 22 years old and looks pristine.

Btw, I have about a half of a roll of the C735 alloy left from my second 50 pound roll which I probably won’t use up.  It is 6 inches wide X .025” thick which is what I needed for my pressed ends.  I haven’t weighed it, but probably about 25 lbs left.  It is s large diameter roll and unrolls fairly flat.

Dana

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