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Author Topic: Waxing - heating, cooling and re-heating  (Read 1101 times)

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Serge

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Waxing - heating, cooling and re-heating
« on: April 07, 2018, 04:05:58 PM »

My question is regarding longevity of one relatively large portion of accordion reed wax that is placed in a wax heater.

Suppose you've got 400 g of accordion wax that you place in a simple wax-heater (that are used for hair removal). You turn on you wax heater, the wax is gradually melted down and after it's all melted you can use it for waxing reeds.
After you finished your daily job (whatever it is in quantity) you turn the heater off and the wax cools down.

My question is: how many times can you safely heat the accordion wax up and cool it down before it detiriorates beyond the point when it looses its useful qualities?
I ask this because I've heard from one accordion tech that once you've done one heating-cooling cycle the next time you heat the wax up it worsens. I can hardly believe that but he wasn't joking and that's what he thinks or knows from his experience.

Alternatively it's always possible to only use the amount of wax needed for current job but otherwise it would be much more convenient to heat up a full tank, do the job, cool it down and leave it there for the next time without worrying too much that the next time you use it is no longer as good as it was at the first heating.

So, what's your experience and knowledge on this? True/false?
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Rob2Hook

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Re: Waxing - heating, cooling and re-heating
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2018, 09:43:44 AM »

I believe he has something here although how significant it is will depend on how often it is cycled.  Once cool and hardened reed wax takes at least a decade to lose its properties, becoming brittle and non-adhesive and eventually crumbling away. When it is molten the loss of oils must surely be accelerated, so a fresh batch each time would be ideal.  No experience myself, but I wonder whether adding a few drops of oil each time it is melted would prevent the problem?

Certainly, emergency repairs made by shoving a soldering iron into the existing wax can be effective as a temporary fix, but they do tend to have a limited lifespan.

Rob.
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Anne Croucher

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Re: Waxing - heating, cooling and re-heating
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2018, 10:28:44 PM »

When reseating some reeds recently I cut off a small amount of wax from the disc with scissors, snipped it into small chunks and placed it in a steel egg cup then melted it on a rack over a tea light. I was able to use a small brush to apply the molten wax, and used most of the wax I melted.

Towards the end of the task I blew out the tea light, finished off and left the wax to harden.
I was careful not to heat the wax to a high temperature - it melts at somewhere around 60 degrees, I think, and did not keep it molten for longer than necessary.
For someone who is using only a small amount of wax at a time I think that method is a lot more sensible than heating and cooling a quantity of wax numerous times.
The rack came from the kitchen - it was used for keeping dishes warm, at one time, and when not melting wax it is used for keeping a steel mug of coffee warm, or evaporating scented liquids in a metal dish containing water. 
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Serge

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Re: Waxing - heating, cooling and re-heating
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2018, 11:35:25 AM »

I heard of acco-techs (and there are actually vids on YT) who use sticks of wax with a soldering iron. That's what they are used too. Works for them.

However there are other techs who keep a large amount of wax in a heater (whatever type and size it is) for as long as they use it up. They heat and cool their wax multiple times and it seems to me they don't care about it. If they do that - then heating/cooling 100 times is not a problem?

And then comes that guy who told me: "...once you've done one heating-cooling cycle the next time you heat the wax up it worsens."
I don't know how I should interpret his words. I'm only starting with my repairs and I'd prefer to get used to a reasonably correct procedure right from the start.
- Is heating/cooling the wax many times a real problem?
- Is heating/cooling the wax many times not a problem at all?

...
For someone who is using only a small amount of wax at a time I think that method is a lot more sensible than heating and cooling a quantity of wax numerous times.
...
« Last Edit: April 09, 2018, 02:53:06 PM by Serge »
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diatonix

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Re: Waxing - heating, cooling and re-heating
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2018, 08:19:57 PM »

Let's not forget that the newly made wax mixture has to simmer for a long time before it is poured, cooled and portioned. Re-heating it a couple of times is therefore not as detrimental to its quality as it may seem (except when using a soldering iron, which I strongly suggest you don't, except for small repairs/corrections). Invest in a good heater, such as the bowl-shaped Tixor Malam which allows you to heat very small quantities. If there is visible smoke coming from the wax, reduce the temperature (the thermostate on my Tixor is set at appr. 5).
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Serge

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Re: Waxing - heating, cooling and re-heating
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2018, 09:41:43 PM »

Let's not forget that the newly made wax mixture has to simmer for a long time before it is poured, cooled and portioned. Re-heating it a couple of times is therefore not as detrimental to its quality as it may seem (except when using a soldering iron, which I strongly suggest you don't, except for small repairs/corrections). Invest in a good heater, such as the bowl-shaped Tixor Malam which allows you to heat very small quantities. If there is visible smoke coming from the wax, reduce the temperature (the thermostate on my Tixor is set at appr. 5).

Hello diatonix. That's what I was also going to ask you on YT if it's you there with a similar name showing in several videos how to wax and tune up the reeds.

You mentioned in your reply that "Re-heating it a couple of times..." isn't really bad. How many heating/cooling cycles you would consider to be within a safe limit doing no harm to a single portion of wax? 10, 20?
Do you think it's a bad idea to use a full 400 g. tank until it's used up? I think a waxing spoon needs some good amount of wax in a pan to fill it up well.

By the way, what optimal temperature is recommended for a melted wax in a pan at the time it's being applied?
« Last Edit: April 11, 2018, 10:53:28 PM by Serge »
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Kimric Smythe

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Re: Waxing - heating, cooling and re-heating
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2018, 07:40:07 AM »

I exclusively use a modified soldering iron to do waxing in my shop. I have a couple of fancy temp controlled irons that I riveted brass blades to.
 You get a lot of control and I can get the blade down between the reeds on almost anything.
 You can set the iron for a temp that melts the wax without smoking and the sensor can tell if you are really going at it and cranks up the heat to keep the blade from cooling.

 A wax pot would make more sense if I was doing a lot of full tear downs with full rewax but that does not represent the majority of what I do.
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Serge

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Re: Waxing - heating, cooling and re-heating
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2018, 07:19:56 PM »

The funny thing is: over last 5 days or so I contacted several accordion repair techs and people in-the-know in hope to get a direct and clear answer to my simple question: "How many times can you re-melt the same portion of accordion wax without making it noticeably worse in terms of its qualities?"

The answers? Well... "You know, blah-blah-blah"
No one answered it clearly and directly.

Is that a mistery or a best-kept secret?
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ocd

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Re: Waxing - heating, cooling and re-heating
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2018, 07:29:23 PM »

The funny thing is: over last 5 days or so I contacted several accordion repair techs and people in-the-know in hope to get a direct and clear answer to my simple question: "How many times can you re-melt the same portion of accordion wax without making it noticeably worse in terms of its qualities?"

The answers? Well... "You know, blah-blah-blah"
No one answered it clearly and directly.

Is that a mistery or a best-kept secret?

It could be that technicians that do not do a lot of volume prefer the soldering iron method and do not know, and technicians that go through a lot of volume go so fast through wax that it does not get re-heated and do not know either.

Perhaps if you found somebody who does not do a lot of waxing and still prefers the wax cauldron method.  (:)
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Theo

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Re: Waxing - heating, cooling and re-heating
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2018, 07:35:32 PM »

I think it is simpler than that.  People who wax a lot of reeds will have a fairly rapid throuput of wax being used and replaced.  The wax is constantly  being replaced, so no problem.
In a former life I kept bees on a moderately large scale so I handled a lot of wax.  All I can say from that is that wax darkens if heated to long or too high.  It also reacts chemically with iron and steel, and copper, and is rapidly denatured if melted in contact with tap water that has even a low hardness index.
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Theo Gibb - Gateshead UK

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Serge

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Re: Waxing - heating, cooling and re-heating
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2018, 10:00:12 PM »

I'm probably in a minority then.
I'm planning to do occasional full-waxing of one box unit and I wanted to put all my 400 g of wax in the corresponding pot volume ("beauty" wax heater) and leave it there.
Now I don't know what to do to save the wax in good condition. Place only 100 g of it in the pot?
I don't want to waste my wax but at the same time I'd like to not overcomplicate the whole procedure.
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Theo

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Re: Waxing - heating, cooling and re-heating
« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2018, 12:50:08 PM »

You have an opportunity to do some tests and report back!  (:)
That’s what many people here have had to do, and that’s one of the things that makes this such a supportive community.
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Theo Gibb - Gateshead UK

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Serge

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Re: Waxing - heating, cooling and re-heating
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2018, 06:41:25 PM »

I wonder if anyone has already conducted experiments in this area before? - I'm sure that's the case.

So far, however let me share with you what that guy who made me initially puzzled finally told me regarding his approach.
In the beginning I said: "I've heard from one accordion tech that once you've done one heating-cooling cycle the next time you heat the wax up it worsens."

I contacted him and asked for more details. Here is what he told me in reply:
"You can re-melt the same portion of wax several times, perhaps even up to 5 times and even more. However you should always watch the condition of wax. When it gets noticeably dark that means that the wax is no longer as good as it should be for reliable waxing."

He also told me the following: "You need to heat up the wax until it begins to smoke lightly. At that point you turn off the heater (he uses a regular portable electric cooktop with a pot loaded with wax). Once you've heated up the wax until it beging to smoke it's temperature is enough hot so when it contacts cold reed block with cold reed plates it won't cool down too quickly. If the wax hasn't reached the 'smoke temperature' that means it's not hot enough and it won't bind the reed plates to reed blocks properly. In other words the plates won't be held firmly enough in place".

Also, according to his words, if the wax is heated up only to the smoking temperature and no further it will stay in good shape and won't get overheated. Once overheated it will darken quickly.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2018, 06:43:11 PM by Serge »
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MarioP

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Re: Waxing - heating, cooling and re-heating
« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2018, 02:31:53 PM »

Age of the wax? i'm only bringing wax age because instruments i'm messing with are showing stickers with last repair done on it being back in 1946 at this point I've done remelt guessing that they never really melted after that date but the wax is already OLD one local tech told me the wax is only meant to last 40years :D

thought i'd get this out of my chest.
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Serge

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Re: Waxing - heating, cooling and re-heating
« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2018, 03:46:14 PM »

Age of the wax?...
one local tech told me the wax is only meant to last 40years :D

Most wax will dry out after 25 years as far as I know.
But if you read my previous posts with more attention you'll see that it's not about the age of wax but its functional qualities when it's still new and potentially fresh. However 'fresh' is the focus of this discussion and the main question is when fresh ceases to be fresh after a certain number of re-melts.
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MarioP

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Re: Waxing - heating, cooling and re-heating
« Reply #15 on: April 18, 2018, 03:50:18 PM »

In that case I don't go meltipot like most people show on videos without showing how many times they had to take out a reed e,t,c...

I use a patching of the wax sorta like playing clay or play--doh do little strings of wax and lay it presssed between do a try out before melting.

Again i'm not a Reed/Wax for a living kinda guy just done a few reed swap out and re-reeding but getting ready to do a full 3 voice re-reed soon...
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