Hello again. I came across an old zither banjo made in Germany by Cid. It is not a very good one but I thought I would clean it up and restore it a bit. I have never done this kind of thing before but it is never too late to try something new.

The interior metal pot is a two piece paperweight. It appears to be a pot metal of some sort. The visible parts have been finished but I can't tell to what extent.

Is there solution I can soak it in to remove the years of grime that have accumulated on it? There is no corrosion just oxidation. I would like to remove this before trying to polish it.

Once I have it cleaned up, should I use something like Mother's aluminum polish or Brasso to try to get some shine to it?

Is there a source for zither tuning peg sets.  I am missing one of the buttons but have the other five so I can still string it when ready.

I will post some images when I get it finished.


Thanks in advance for any suggestion.

Hal

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Hal, I like a product called Flitz for both cleaning and shining metal. For real filth Maguiar's Mirror Glaze in moderation has done wonders on finished wood. You might try some on metal, I dunno.  I've had good results with Simichrome too. Never Dull works but can be labor intensive. It all depends on the type of filth and the type of metal.  

Thanks Jody. I have used Flitz on silver but nothing else. I was hoping to make the elbow grease a second step in the process. I guess I should try soap and water first.

Jody Stecher said:

Hal, I like a product called Flitz for both cleaning and shining metal. For real filth Maguiar's Mirror Glaze in moderation has done wonders on finished wood. You might try some on metal, I dunno.  I've had good results with Simichrome too. Never Dull works but can be labor intensive. It all depends on the type of filth and the type of metal.  

I have used soap and water to great effect on all sorts of dirt clinging to all manner of materials. Highly recommended! 

Hal Allert said:

Thanks Jody. I have used Flitz on silver but nothing else. I was hoping to make the elbow grease a second step in the process. I guess I should try soap and water first.


Hi Hal

I've cleaned several good quality, old banjos (including some in my Fairbanks pics folder) and suggest the following :

First disassemble completely

For cleaning wood : 1 cup warm water  a few drops of dish detergent and about a tble spoon of vinegar

Wipe down parts with cloth soaked in above solution. Unless you want to retain some patina, dip a toothbrush in the solution and use gently  in nooks or recesses. Right after cleaning, go over with a damp cloth to remove any traces of soap or vinegar that may remain and then use a soft dry cloth to buff gently. Most Victorian banjos are French polished. The more you buff, the better they come up.

 

For metal : most polishes have fine grit that brightens but will also leave fine scratches. To avoid that, try the following:

1 cup warm water, few drops of detergent and 1/4 to 1/3 cup of vinegar. Let metal parts soak for 5 minutes and buff with soft cloth. Test one or two parts first and increase/decrease soak time if needed. Wipe with damp cloth and buff as for wood parts above.

 

 

Hal,

I found no modern replacement 3-on-a-plate tuners that would fit my Windsor #1. The shaft spacing was different. So, I went with individual tuners (Waverly guitar-tuners for slot-head guitars) from Stewmac. They work perfectly...except I had to install them backwards to cover some of the gouging done by the Windsor factor when they fitted the original set.

Forgot to add the following :

The cleaning solutions are given as one cup ratios. For greater volumes, scale up accordingly. 

Use a pair of kitchen-grade rubber gloves to keep the vinegar off your hands.

Thanks Shawn. Vinegar is the magic ingredient, isn't it? I was just going to use soap and water but I think the vinegar will be acidic enough to get the really bad parts.

Shawn McSweeny said:

Forgot to add the following :

The cleaning solutions are given as one cup ratios. For greater volumes, scale up accordingly. 

Use a pair of kitchen-grade rubber gloves to keep the vinegar off your hands.

Thanks Trapdoor2 for the tip. Saves me a lot of searching on the Internet. Was there enough spacing between the individual tuners or did you have to grind the edges down? Just what did you mean by installing them backwards?

Trapdoor2 said:

Hal,

I found no modern replacement 3-on-a-plate tuners that would fit my Windsor #1. The shaft spacing was different. So, I went with individual tuners (Waverly guitar-tuners for slot-head guitars) from Stewmac. They work perfectly...except I had to install them backwards to cover some of the gouging done by the Windsor factor when they fitted the original set.

Hal,

The spacing of the originals was wider, no grinding needed on mine. No idea what yours might be.

Slot-head type tuners can be installed two ways, with the spur-gear below (nearer the nut) or with the spur gear above (further from the nut) in comparison to the worm gear. You see them done either way (as long as all are the same on one instrument) but my engineering senses tell me that the string tension should pull the tuner shaft *into* the spur gear, so the preferred arrangement would be with the gear above the worm. However, if you are sensitive to the direction required to twist the knobs to tune "up" (in pitch), you may want to install them to your tuning preference.

Hal Allert said:

Thanks Trapdoor2 for the tip. Saves me a lot of searching on the Internet. Was there enough spacing between the individual tuners or did you have to grind the edges down? Just what did you mean by installing them backwards?

Trapdoor2 said:

Hal,

I found no modern replacement 3-on-a-plate tuners that would fit my Windsor #1. The shaft spacing was different. So, I went with individual tuners (Waverly guitar-tuners for slot-head guitars) from Stewmac. They work perfectly...except I had to install them backwards to cover some of the gouging done by the Windsor factor when they fitted the original set.

During the WW2 , an American soldier see a Japanese ' one lying on the ground, bent with pain ; he ask him : " Hara Kiri ? "

the Japanese soldier : " No , Coca Cola " .....

it works as well as the vinegar to clean old banjos.. 

I've used Coca Cola to clear clogged sink drains. It eats right through human hair and whatever else it meets. On banjos does Coke leave a sticky sugar syrup residue?

marc dalmasso said:

During the WW2 , an American soldier see a Japanese ' one lying on the ground, bent with pain ; he ask him : " Hara Kiri ? "

the Japanese soldier : " No , Coca Cola " .....

it works as well as the vinegar to clean old banjos.. 

             Jody Stecher said :

             I've used Coca Cola to clear clogged sink drains.

 

Coca Cola ' s ingredient that clears drains and apparently also cleans banjo brightwork is phosphoric acid. It also etches the enamel off your teeth.

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