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Author Topic: Open tuners - should you lubricate?  (Read 1392 times)
Gordo in OZ
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« on: January 07, 2017, 01:23:40 PM »

Open tuners - should you lubricate? If yes what should you use, If no, why not. I am tempted to use some sewing machine oil or WD40 to make them a bit smoother.
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« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2017, 01:58:54 PM »

I wondered this myself when I changed the strings on my sister's slothead.

OK, I don't know the answer so feel free to stop reading, . . . rolleye blush whistling

(OK, don't say I didn't warn you) but thinking out loud, I'm guessing it's not the gears so much that would benefit as much as the shaft. The gears just sit there between the same 3 or 4 teeth 99% of the time so any fine lubricant there would evaporate over time resulting in a dust loving gummy film. We won't even think about graphite.

I'm guessing it's the shaft that would benefit most from lubrication, cause that's really what we're feeling as we turn the tuner keys. If you have a metal insert in the headstock, it would likely do a lot of good to sneak some light oil in there, but with paddleheads it's probably just a hole in the wood so not much is gonna affect that unless you wanna try some paste wax, mineral oil or the like.

 
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« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2017, 02:02:12 PM »

Open tuners - should you lubricate? If yes what should you use, If no, why not. I am tempted to use some sewing machine oil or WD40 to make them a bit smoother.

Are they less than smooth now?  If so, I'd de-string and clean them with something like electronics cleaner or alcohol or compressed air.  Then, I'd go with graphite or something like the silicon or teflon dry lubricants sold for bicycle chains.  I love the look of open tuners, but my fear is that dust/dirt/sand gets in them.  I think any oily substance tends to attract and hold dirt.

Ed
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George
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« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2017, 02:04:42 PM »

I agree with Ed, oil/grease will just attract more dirt.  Smoother bearing surfaces are the key.  The Schaller Grand Tune is a great example of a smooth open back vintage style tuning machine with special coatings on the gears.  Noticeable difference...
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George
Gordo in OZ
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« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2017, 02:15:39 PM »

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graphite or something like the silicon or teflon dry lubricants sold for bicycle chains

That sounds like a good option - wet lubes are sure to attract gunk
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« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2017, 02:25:55 PM »

Thanks georbro3 and eded - I'm going with your advice, teflon sounds like a nice dry way to go.
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« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2017, 02:26:07 PM »

That sounds like a good option - wet lubes are sure to attract gunk

I did a little looking (google searching) and one site said something about silicon being notoriously bad for refinishing (in case it is ever necessary), so that would be one to avoid.  Also, naphtha for cleaning, if necessary.

Ed
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broKen
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« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2017, 03:42:03 PM »

How about plain old wax?
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« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2017, 04:16:06 PM »

When needed because of stiffness I use cork grease which it what sax players use on there cork.
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« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2017, 12:07:00 AM »

3-1 lubricant
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yellowesty
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« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2017, 02:27:51 AM »

There's a good discussion about lubricating open-gear tuning machines at http://www.classicalguitardelcamp.com/viewtopic.php?t=66493&start=15.

One contributor, who works at a tuning machine manufacturer in Germany, writes:

"Maintenance should not be complicated, and the material should be easy to obtain.
A toothbrush is ideal. - Compressed air is not suitable at all !!! - Clean worm shafts and gears by brushing from bottom (plate) to top. This is how dust and abraded particles are brushed off. Then put a few drops of oil on the toothbrush and repeat the process tooth by tooth.
CAUTION:
Do not use creeping oil. It creeps also into places where it does not belong!
Neither use oil containing acid, bad for any guitar!
Thinly liquid oil drops and adheres badly!
The oil of choice is thickly liquid, the kind you would use on a bicycle chain. I am using Shimano oil, but there are others."
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« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2017, 03:25:10 AM »

Kurt does Lee Valley still carry Waxlit in summer season?
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« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2017, 06:11:23 AM »

Kurt does Lee Valley still carry Waxlit in summer season?

No, not that brand, but we carry these 4 which are all apparently very good lubricants according to our customers who use them on their woodworking tools and cutters.  They don't contain any silicone or ingredients that are harmful to wood and they won't collect dust and grime.

http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/page.aspx?p=50252&cat=1,43415,43440
http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/page.aspx?p=40952&cat=1,230,64343,64350
http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/page.aspx?p=40951&cat=1,43415,43440
http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/page.aspx?p=40947&cat=1,43415,43440

I use the T-9 on my wood-working plane soles and blades and also on my chisels.  I also have used it to lubricate my hand-powered miter saws, with great results.  It never even occurred to me to use it on guitar tuners!!  I haven't personally used any of the other products.  I think any of these would be a good choice for lubricating instrument tuning machines.  I only have one guitar with open-backed tuners, my old Lyon & Healy parlor.  I will give it a test and report back.  When I have to clean up a client's tuners or adjustable bridge my usual method is to take them completely apart and soak/swirl the parts in a bit of naptha.  Then I brush the crud off of each part with an old toothbrush, wipe them dry with a clean rag, and reassemble them putting a bit of 3-in-1 oil in the appropriate places.  Next time I do this, I'm going to use the T-9 instead of the 3-in-1 oil.

Perhaps they could be sprayed on an old toothbrush and applied to tuners already installed as suggested in yellowesty's post.  Good suggestion, Andrew.
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« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2017, 05:17:34 AM »

Kurt does Lee Valley still carry Waxlit in summer season?

Should we all order a drum of it together and split it? 
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« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2017, 07:03:13 AM »

Should we all order a drum of it together and split it? 
The products that we sell and which I recommended above come in reasonably-sized containers.   
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