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"Tips and Tricks"

Coating Protects Against Valve Seat Corrosion

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From: Art Reblitz
To: 'Mechanical Music Digest'
Date: Tue, 14 Jun 2011 09:49:22 -0600

Subject: Coating Protects Against Valve Seat Corrosion

Corrosion on valve seats is becoming more of a problem than it was
20 years ago, possibly because today's valve leather has more acid
in it than previously.

Two years ago, I clamped samples of split suede cowhide, pigskin,
vegetable-tanned cowhide, white CPL, tan pouch leather, and maroon
kangaroo leather to a sheet of unlacquered brass.  Now, two years
later, verdigris is forming under every sample, refuting the idea
that any of these types of leather are immune to causing corrosion.

I didn't even try a sample of alum-tanned sheepskin because that has
been known to have a devastating effect on metal ever since I entered
this business in the 1960s.

G.J. Nikolas & Co., Inc., nearby Chicago in Bellwood, Illinois,
has been making industrial quality metal lacquer since 1890.  Their
product brochure states "We were the first to develop air-dry lacquers
for use on automobile production lines, and premiered this invention
at the 1911 World's Fair."  Customers have included Otis (brass
elevator panels), Lyon & Healy (harps), and many band instrument and
lighting product manufacturers.  We have used small quantities of
Nikolas #2105 clear lacquer on valve seats and other metal parts for
about 30 years with enduring excellent results.

I spoke with the owner of Nikolas a few years ago, and he said their
#2105 clear aerosol lacquer continues to be their best product for
this use.  If you need only a small quantity for several pianos, you
can purchase individual cans from Votaw Tool Co., a supplier of band
instrument repair tools and supplies ( ).
Nikolas' minimum order is a case of six cans.  Please don't bother
Nikolas for smaller orders, but if you need one or more cases, the web
site is 

I'm interested to learn about others' experiences -- both good and bad
-- with ways of preventing leather-caused corrosion.

Art Reblitz
Colorado Springs, Colorado

This article is re-published with the express permission of both Art Reblitz and the Mechanical Music Digest, and it may not be duplicated without their permission.

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This page was last revised June 20, 2011 by John A. Tuttle, who Assumes No Liability
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