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Old 03-23-2013, 02:28 PM
HowlerMonkey HowlerMonkey is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: miami
Posts: 66
Default Cleaning chrome-o-wood ludwigs without scratching

I've got a huge ludwig chrome over wood set from the 1970s I want to clean up but many threads where I see people's results, I also see scratches induced by the cleaning technique used.

I want to soften up whatever dirt is on the drums and try to remove any possible grit before any wiping but I am leery about using any water and soap because they are steel wraps that are chromed.....meaning even the smallest pits will allow water to contact the steel beneath and start a process I don't want occurring.

Same question goes for polishing since it will liberate flakes of chrome from pits which then get rubbed all over the wrap as they are polished. aluminum foil suggestions or bizzaro chemicals that might soak into the exposed wood of the shells or kill the glue if gotten onto the bearing surfaces........I'm looking for a solution that does zero damage.

Last edited by HowlerMonkey; 03-23-2013 at 11:28 PM.
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Old 03-23-2013, 04:04 PM
Richie Richie is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Abington, MA
Posts: 286
Default Re: Cleaning chrome-o-wood ludwigs without scratching

I swear by Simichrome.
I promise you'll be happy with Simichrome, a Turkish towel (You know, like a facecloth or bath towel) and elbow grease.

The harder you rub, the better it works! (Shush!)

Have fun....and post pics!!

No more beards!
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Old 06-21-2013, 07:44 PM
HowlerMonkey HowlerMonkey is offline
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Location: miami
Posts: 66
Default Re: Cleaning chrome-o-wood ludwigs without scratching

Since nobody could answer my question and the internet is full of bad advice, I decided to blaze my own trail.

I've found that a super fine polish won't cause scratches or swirl marks and then you can follow it up with a wax to protect it.

But first clean the dirt off the drums and try not to rub the dirt around on the surface.

I blotted using water mixed with dawn first using paper towels and wiped each area only once to remove the 30 years of dirt and grime.

This got most of the dirt and abrasive stuff off I used a soft towel and more dawn mixed with water and took the risk of activating rust rather than use some intense cleaner that might react with the semi-porus nature of old chrome or cause hazing.

I reduced the risk by quickly drying after I cleaned it and moved on to the process below right away after since the polish used has a bit of oil which will stop any rust coming up through the "pores".

You have to be careful about what you use to clean/polish the chrome plated steel wrap as most "waxes" or "polishes" contain some sort of abrasive which is harsh enough to leave scratches or swirl marks in chrome.

I'm sure there are other solutions but this is what I used to polish and protect some 1970s ludwig chrome-o-wood drums with very thin chrome plating.

There are a lot of products that have similar names but have very different grit abrasives and it only takes a couple of rubs to ruin a chrome finish or clearcoat......forever.....if you use the wrong stuff.

This is what I used to successfully polish my drums.

The applicator pad is also important so I recommend a microfiber application pad.

I stayed away from any wool or terrycloth bonnets because i've seen them leave marks on airplanes I restored.

If you can't find the exact pads, just remember to find "microfiber application pads".

For using a machine polisher, I used a foam pad from meguiars number W8207 which is actually less fine than w9207....which I bought but never used.

If these don't fit your buffer, knowing those two part numbers should allow you to procure the proper type of foam pad.

Don't let the any rotating part other than the soft foam pad touch the drum and lugs or you might get scratches.

An equivalant from another manufacturer should work but avoid any pads that are wool or terrycloth as they are guaranteed to scratch.

On the floor tom, I removed 1 lug at a time being way too careful and on the bass drum, I removed 4 at a time because the chrome wrap seemed very strongly adhered.

If you hear a large amount of cracking noises as you remove lugs, I recommend reverting to one at a time.

The holes are super sharp and will destroy the foam pad so I polished the entire drum without removing lugs first.

Then I removed the lugs, wiped the super abrasive debris under them off carefully, and then went to town on the area around the holes with microfiber hand pads.

My arms quickly got tired so I used some "countersink" style angled metal bits and stones to remove some of the crazy sharp edges of the holes and this allowed me to use the polisher on the entire surface.

Any polish that gets on the bearing edges should be wiped off pretty quickly and I made sure to pull rolled up sections of paper towel through the holes to get it out of the holes since most polishes have varying amounts of oil in them and I don't think having any oil against plywood is a good idea.

The wax is ok to leave in the holes and on bearing edges but the polish is not.

The polish I used might not be available at auto zone but it is meguiars 19216 or g19216 "ultimate polish" make sure it has those numbers because anything else might end up causing scratches.

Don't buy "ultimate compound"'s very rough and is guaranteed to scratch the chrome and is in very similar packaging.

Don't use the old standard chrome polish one would use for bumpers.....way too abrasive.

It's available at walmart and possibly at advance auto parts......might also be right next to the applicator pads at autozone but I don't see it in the online catalog........only the incorrect "ultimate compound" is in the online catalog but I somehow found the correct "ultimate polish" in the local store.

You should see the front quarter of a black or dark grey car on the front of the box/bottle and will find the numbers G19216 on the back next to the UPC code right above "made in usa".

As far as waxes, I prefer a pure carnuba wax whether liquid or paste but make sure it has no abrasives.

If it says "cleaner" or "cleaner wax" anywhere on the package, it contains abrasives and you don't want that since you are using a separate cleaner and wax.

I used meguiars deep crystal liquid wax (a2216 on the box/bottle) but you might find a paste that is pure carnuba with no abrasives that is cheaper but make sure it has no abrasives and does not say "cleaner".

It's just pure wax.

If they don't have any, search until you find the right stuff and don't let some clueless counterman suggest something different or you could end up with a ruined chrome or something that wicks into the wood and destroys the glue.

Some say to use a microfiber cloth to rub off the wax but I simply ruined a super sweet towel that was very soft and rubbed lightly.....just make sure it isn't something that will scratch or is dirty and use a different cloth to rub off the wax than you used to rub off the polish.

The polish is harder to remove than the wax and you might not want to leave it on long and definately don't leave it on for any amount of time in direct sunlight.

I've left the wax on overnight and it rubs smooth easily and almost makes me wonder if I'm not rubbing it all off but it sure feels smooth afterward.

I didn't rub off the wax until I had fully assembled the drum and made sure it was waxed extra thick beneath the lugs and where the head overlaps and even rubbed a thin layer on the bearing edges which allows the head to slide across it more easily and aid in getting even tension..............not enough to be visible just enough so it shines a little.

This can also help keep any water or sweat from getting between the bottom head and the wooden bearing edge where it can do damage.

It's quite a lot of effort and care that needs to be taken but it pays off in that your drums will look better than that other guy who used Nu-finish , normal car cleaner/was, or brasso on them.

As far as rust spots, I never tried to use a polish to remove them and it is a process that requires more than I was willing to risk concerning introducing scratches but I believe you can simply buff more with what I used above and get every single abrasion and rust bits to disappear.

If you have lots of "tall" rust spots, you can scrape them off carefully with a fingernail and make sure you aren't dragging what you removed across the surface of the drum or it will scratch for sure.

I used a rotary buffer and not a dual action/orbital buffer and used it on the lowest speed it would tolerate and would stop if the surface started to get hot since I didn't want to melt the glue or somehow haze the surface.

I'm sure there are other polishes that or more fine or coarse that will work just as well but I wanted to relay what I used that introduced zero scratches to my chrome-o-wood drums.

Drums in worse shape than the ones pictured below might benefit from a different process so tailor the process for your particular job.

As far as the later mirror chrome plastic wraps, you can surely get away with the polish they use to shine up CDroms but I will stay away from recommending anything more coarse than that.

Before and After, I didn't clean the t-claws or wing bolts yet since someone came over and bought the entire lot.

Yes, those are two different drums that were in the exact same condition as they have been sitting side by side since the late 1970s or early 1980s.

Now I need to get busy putting together an electronic kit that can later be used as an acoustic kit once my playing is listenable.

Hope this helps.
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Last edited by HowlerMonkey; 09-20-2018 at 05:41 AM.
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