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Thread: Piano Black Finish - Cleaning and Restoration

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    Senior Member Uncle Paul's Avatar
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    Piano Black Finish - Cleaning and Restoration

    I'm finally getting around to the XPL 200's I bought last month from Richard (http://audioheritage.org/vbulletin/s...ad.php?t=26345) and was wondering if anyone knows what is safe to use for cleaning the piano black finish. So far I've limited it to water and a microfiber towel, but was wondering if cleaners such a sprayaway or 409 would be safe?

    The finish itself is mostly immaculate, but there are a few scratches that show a white primer or filler underneath. Does anybody have any experience filling these type of scratches? Is there some way to repair it to the original finish, or is there some soft of filler that could be polished?

    The scratches are fairly small, but very noticable due to the contrast. One scratch is about halfway down the back corner on the left speaker in the picture, another is 3/4 of the way done near the front of the right one.

    Thanks in advance for your input.
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    "Zobel is as zobel does"

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    Senior Member svollmer's Avatar
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    I used to own a pair of Genesis Technology speakers that were black laquer. They recommended a very good carnuba wax. I used McQuire's paste wax: http://www.meguiarsdirect.com/detail/MEG+G7014J

    I own a black 1994 Ford Explorer (don't laugh! ) and have used McQuire's cleaner wax on it since new and people always comment on how good it looks. I'm assuming the finish on your JBL's are laquer or a clear coat finish - they sure look nice!

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    Senior Member BMWCCA's Avatar
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    Of course it's spelled Meguiar's and the only one of their wax products I'd use on it is #7, a pure paste wax with no abrasives. But it will leave some residue. The best wax for black automobiles is Zymöl Carbon which leaves no residue even if you smear it on flat-black or black-rubber surfaces and it contains no cleaners or abrasives. It might work well for you. Is it possible those "scratches" are actually old dried wax?

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    Senior Member Uncle Paul's Avatar
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    I only wish they were dried wax! The scratches are definitely through the surface and into the white filler or primer underneath. Possibly 1/16 " deep. Outside of these few blemishes the surface is a flawless mirror black.

    I'm not going to digress into listening impressions in this thread, but these are fantastically smooth and articulate speakers in the areas that matter most to me. They deserve to look every bit as good as they sound.
    "Zobel is as zobel does"

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    Senior Member MikeBrewster77's Avatar
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    For general cleaning...

    This may help:
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    Senior Member Uncle Paul's Avatar
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    Thanks Mike! I thought I had read every post in the forum, and every document in the library about XPL's and piano finishes looking for exactly this.

    The scratches are small enough that I might be able to do the work myself. Since JBL used lacquer (as opposed to polyester) the repair process (oversimplified) is to fill with melted lacquer and polish like hell. I'll get some quotes before I decide if its worth doing myself or not.
    "Zobel is as zobel does"

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    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    How patient and how determined are you?

    To fill the scratches with black lacquer will likely not be easy, but it can be done. It will require many applications of lacquer polishing away the over spray... it might take 40 hours of diligent effort to have the scratches completely removed. Realize that lacquer will continue to shrink for months... this can't be fixed in a week. If you take it to a shop, the scratches will return over time as the lacquer shrinks. If you go this route, you will need abrasives. Don't go to a home improvement store go to an auto body supply house, they'll have the papers and polishes you need.

    If this doesn't appeal to you, you can do the simplest approach, try coloring in the scratches with a black Sharpie... a slightly better step would be to take "One Shot" sign painter's enamel, a glossy oil based paint, a small artist's brush and try to hand paint them out. The reason for the oil based enamel is that it is slow drying, giving you time to work and mineral spirits will clean it up if you have an oops which shouldn't affect the lacquer if used with care.


    I'll second the Zymol recommendation... it will give you the deepest gloss.



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    Senior Member BMWCCA's Avatar
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    One of the country's foremost restorer of Steinway pianos is a past customer of mine (still driving the car I sold him) and his shop isn't far from me. I'm sure he's had to do simple touch-ups before or after restorations. I'm happy to try to catch him and ask what he recommends.

    For that matter, my daughter doesn't live far from the Steinway factory which reminds me of an interesting documentary I saw recently: http://www.pbs.org/notebynote/

    I did find piano touch-up markers: http://www.pianobench.com/products/151
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    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BMWCCA View Post
    I did find piano touch-up markers: http://www.pianobench.com/products/151
    That's a good find, I'd give those a shot while deciding what to do. They certainly won't be perfect, but you've only got $14 and a few minutes to lose.


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    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    If you do decide to really go for it with a piano restorer or do the work yourself, you'd best contact JBL and find out what they meant by "lacquer"... traditionally that would have meant a nitrocellulose lacquer, but there is also acrylic lacquer, and numerous polyester and urethane based products that have been called lacquer. These days there are even some water borne finishes called lacquers.


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    Senior Member Uncle Paul's Avatar
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    Thanks all for your help and input. I am doing as Widget suggests and contacting JBL before deciding how to proceed.

    For my part, these are likely my main speakers for a long time due to sound and high WAF. They are currently in "dry dock" until a remodel is completed in the next 2 - 3 months, so I have time to make all repairs and really want to do this the right way.
    "Zobel is as zobel does"

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    Senior Member svollmer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BMWCCA View Post
    Of course it's spelled Meguiar's and the only one of their wax products I'd use on it is #7, a pure paste wax with no abrasives. But it will leave some residue. The best wax for black automobiles is Zymöl Carbon which leaves no residue even if you smear it on flat-black or black-rubber surfaces and it contains no cleaners or abrasives. It might work well for you. Is it possible those "scratches" are actually old dried wax?


    Sorry Phil; it must be the Irish in me that slanted the spelling.

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    Junior Member hificanada's Avatar
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    I post some pic on what I used in restoring to bring back a factory mirror finish on old antique cars tomorrow, this should work well on your repair.

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    Senior Member Krunchy's Avatar
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    Hi Uncle Paul, as has been suggested the car polish is the way to go, do not touch that 409 stuff, its like acid to a finish like that.
    Get yourself one of those orbital car polishing/buffers from home depot (Ryobi) probably about 30 bucks. Find an inconspicuos spot & give it a try, a lot of furniture shops use this method to give their high gloss finishes that mirror like finish/look. May even get some of the scratches out, bottom line is, unless you send them out to a shop it will require patience & elbow grease.
    Good luck & let us know how you make out.
    Just play music!

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    Junior Member hificanada's Avatar
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    repair scratch

    This is what I find is the best for polishing and finishing, has no silicone, but has a lubricant base and the very fine compond needed. I did many cars with this, one went under a tree branch and with diamond drit 1500 paper wet and Farecla, was able to finish it back off to new again. As long as it did not go throught the paint,if it did and I think yours did ,it will be tricky. First what I usually do is don't sand anythig, but use a tiny brush and paint in the scratch, let dry, do it again until even with surface, then mask tape the area around the scratch off, so as not to wear down the other finish. Wet sand that spot even with surface, note that take the tape of tape every night, or it will lift the other original finish. Once satisfied with the scratch being filled in, then use Farecle.
    Remember, that if you sand or feather edge the original to thin beside the scratch, when you brush in the new paint or varnish and clear, it can blister the thin original layer.
    Doing this by hand to polish is possible but not controlled as well as a power buffer,slow speed, and use water, being very careful and patient is the secret.
    This product is available in one of your automotive suppliers like UAP or NAPA, or Carquest. The buffer, a good buffer should be able to run slow, and with plenty of water soaked in the G-mop, spin the G-mop away from the item you wish to buff, this way excess water spins off, the add plenty of Farecle to the G-mop and then buff the surface. Note that a first time user will make some very common, but bad mistakes. Never leave the G-mop laying on something, it can easy pick up a piece of sand that can be imbedded in the mop, a big disaster , it will scatch everything so fast that you will need to sand the whole thing down. I always start in a area that is hidden normally, try it out, then buff. Also use a pail of water to rinse the G-mop, if you are not sure. Now as you see in the picture, there is G6 and G10, I would just buy G10 and use 1500grit diamond paper.
    Block sand, don't use your fingers as it will just go with the contour, use the front edge of the block sander, a rubber flexable type, don't buy the block sander with the steel clamp on it, you will at some point scratch the item, big time. If you decide to go with this, best is that I see a picture of the item
    Good Luck
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    Last edited by hificanada; 11-06-2009 at 01:32 AM. Reason: available

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