Thursday, May 16, 2013

Clean, Dry, Polish

How do Powell flutes get so clean and shiny?  Well, in the process of making flutes, the bodies and keys may start out looking a bit different, but they certainly are shiny in the end!  When flutes are sent back in for a COA or overhaul, we work to bring them back to their original shine.  We caught up with Rachel Baker as she was going through the cleaning and polishing process with a few flutes in for a COA.

First, the flute bodies and footjoints are placed in a tarnish removal solution.  It doesn't take too long -- about 20 seconds will do according to Rachel.

After the tarnish removal bath, the bodies and footjoints are rinsed in the sink.  Then, they are placed in the ultrasonic cleaner, which we took a look at in this previous post:  After the ultrasonic, they go through another rinse and are dried.

Drying the flute in this process is a bit different than one might imagine.  In the photo above, we see Rachel drying a footjoint.  How exactly does this work?  Well, in her right hand, she is holding the nozzle of an air hose that is attached to an air compressor -- so these flutes get dried quickly and thoroughly.  You'll see a close-up of the air hose in the photo below.

After each piece goes through the cleaning and drying process, they are put on a rack like the one in the photo below.  Then, it is time to take them to the polishing room.

Keys that are cleaned are much smaller than bodies and footjoints.  They are placed in baskets (as we see in the photo below) before going into liquids. 

The bodies and footjoints that Rachel was cleaning have been taken over to the polishing room.  She polishes them with a buffing wheel that is coated with polishing rouge.

In the photo below, we see Rachel polishing a footjoint.  The two footjoints on the rack in the bottom right corner of this photo have already been done.  As she finishes polishing, she puts each piece back on the rack -- and they are done!

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