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View Full Version : How can I best clean tolex and grill cloth?


LowWatt
11-24-2007, 04:32 PM
I just picked up a 1966 Ampeg Gemini II 1x15. It sounds perfect, but looks like hell. The tolex and grillcloth both have a thin layer of permadust that seem to need a little more than just a damp rag to clean.

Can some of you guys with restoration experience give me some good tips on how to get this baby looking its best.

Curt
11-24-2007, 05:09 PM
Tolex is vinyl. Just use a good vinyl cleaner and a soft brush. I use a little Armor-All afterwards.
I'm not sure what to use for cleaning the grill cloth...........

Chris Scott
11-24-2007, 06:12 PM
As Curt mentioned, tolex is pretty generic stuff, so cleaning it shouldn't be too challenging. I use 409 and a soft brush- just spray the stuff on, let it cook a min. or so, then brush it a bit, then wipe it up with a clean, wet rag. I wipe it down a few times, rinsing the rag with more clean water each time, just to get all that crap off of there.

Armour-All is up to you- some claim that if you apply it once, you have to keep using it as it does something to the vinyl. I've had great luck just cleaning them real thoroughly.

I can't help you re. the grillcloth, although I've seen a number of references to just taking the baffle right out (if it's do-able) and taking it to a pressure wash and having at it. If I did this, I'd use compressed air to blow as much water out of it as possible, then let it completely dry in the sun.

HTH

rockon1
11-24-2007, 06:18 PM
Tolex is vinyl. Just use a good vinyl cleaner and a soft brush. I use a little Armor-All afterwards.
I'm not sure what to use for cleaning the grill cloth...........


+1 I'd add that I prefer plegde furniture polish instead of armor-all after cleaning-less shiny. Both work well though. Bob

bunuel
11-25-2007, 01:04 AM
I also prefer pledge for the tolex & ampeg actually recommended it in the mid-sixties, including for cleaning the control panel, which it does ok. But I've found that guitar polish works great for vintage ampeg panels & knobs. If the grill ain't horrible, wetting it abit followed by brushing, followed by vacuuming helps. If there's a bit of sag, I've had good luck wetting it followed by drying with a blowdryer at a low temp--it'll shrink it a tad. BTW the Gemini II is an amazingly great amp (as you know!) Enjoy!

sleepingtiger
11-25-2007, 01:38 AM
Son of a Gun, afer a wet rag will rejuvinate it. Worked for a '66 Bassman head I had.
Tony

LowWatt
11-25-2007, 07:31 AM
Son of a Gun, afer a wet rag will rejuvinate it. Worked for a '66 Bassman head I had.
Tony

What's "Son of a Gun"?

mageerc
11-25-2007, 07:39 AM
I took the baffle out of my old Fender Super Reverb when I acquired it and took it to the car wash and gave it the business... let it dry completely in the sun. It looks good and smells a whole lot better. It appeared that it's previous owner/owners spent a lot of time in smoky honky-tonks as the thing stunk like a ripe ashtray and was deeply yellowed with nicotine stain.

gearhound17
11-25-2007, 09:09 AM
I have used Simple Green on a previous recommmendation from another forum for the tolex on my Fender amps and it worked great.

John Phillips
11-25-2007, 09:13 AM
If they're really bad I dismantle the amp completely, and put the cabinet and grille in the shower. Plenty of hot water and soap, and a stiff scrubbing brush, and work quickly so you don't really soak the wood - don't worry about it getting wet though, it will dry out fine. Try not to get the tube chart wet (if there is one). Leave it somewhere warm and dry overnight, then if the tolex still looks rough I usually buff it with boot polish (Kiwi brand :)), using the absolute minimum possible, you don't want to leave it feeling waxy.

John Phillips
11-25-2007, 12:08 PM
On many Fenders the grill cloth frame is made of particle board, you do not want to get that wet.It's never been a problem when I've done it. You just do it quickly enough that it doesn't get really soaked.

starfish
11-25-2007, 07:58 PM
As an alternative to polish, Doc Marten's sells a good beeswax for restoring lustre to shoes without dying or adding synthetic silicon-based waxes. It comes in a small tub and just a dab works a long way.

Chris Scott
11-25-2007, 08:27 PM
Maybe just slightly off-topic, but what the heck- we're here to share, right?

After giving a '64 BFDR a full going-over the other day, I decided try and make the very few dings and tears that kept it from being a "10" disappear, and here's what I did. It had a couple of small corner abraisions, as well as a few small "dings". I first touched them up with a broad-tip black marker. Then, I found a small bit of matching tolex which matched the grain of that on the amp. After placing the amp in a position that rendered the particular damaged part level, I filled the spot with just enough medium-viscosity cyno to fill it. Then, I sprayed the piece of tolex with a bit of accelerator, and laid it over the fill (with the grain-side facing the cyno), lightly pressing it against the fill, while making sure I maintain the same basic "level" of the surrounding area. Let it go off, peel the tolex bit back, and presto!

After this, a bit of fine grade steel wool, rub it up with a soft cloth, and Bob's yer uncle (and Fannie's yer auntie...)

The results were really better than I even had imagined, and the owner was pretty darn impressed as well- it really made them "dissappear". I mean, if you look REAL close at a few of them, you can just barely see, but man, this trick really is a keeper for me:cool:

LowWatt
11-28-2007, 10:31 AM
As Curt mentioned, tolex is pretty generic stuff, so cleaning it shouldn't be too challenging. I use 409 and a soft brush- just spray the stuff on, let it cook a min. or so, then brush it a bit, then wipe it up with a clean, wet rag. I wipe it down a few times, rinsing the rag with more clean water each time, just to get all that crap off of there.

I can't help you re. the grillcloth, although I've seen a number of references to just taking the baffle right out (if it's do-able) and taking it to a pressure wash and having at it. If I did this, I'd use compressed air to blow as much water out of it as possible, then let it completely dry in the sun.

This is close to what I did. I used a degreaser/everything cleaner called MeanGreen and a combination of a scouring pad, bristle brush, toothbrush, clean and wet rags, and lots of water.

It took a few rounds to get it all up, but then it was smooth sailing. The grill cloth was easy actually. I used a large nylon bristled brush with the cleanser and just scrubbed repeatedly. Followed by the brush with just a little water. It got off all the nicotene and other stains and now has a nice consistent silver.

I superglued all loose tolex back down and cleaned all contact points with DeOxit. Now I just need to figure out a way to get the original handle back on (i'll be visiting a leather guy for that one) and replace the ratty sounding old Eminence in it, and I'm set.

I still can't get over how much amp this is for the price. Now it looks beautiful too.

RocknTommy
11-28-2007, 10:44 AM
To clean tolex I used Windex and a tooth brush.
Took of an ancient huge old duct tape mark on one of my Ampeg V4 heads.
Little circles and take time.

Then you can add whatever polish you want.

And for those chrome corners, Bar Keepers Friend with a wet / damp Scotch Bright pad.
Takes most of those rust marks off and they look like new.
Again, little circles and take time.

Dirty Denny
06-30-2009, 01:57 AM
When I was a kid in Louisiana I had the pleasure of meeting the one and only Doc Savage World renowned string instrument luthier/ repairmen he worked on my guitars as a favor I was friends with his son junior.Doc was crippled and hustled around his shop in in a wheel chair and had his whole shop set up with ramps that he would motor from one machine to another.He always put this stuff on my fingerboard and used it for all kinds of stuff kind of like Doctor Ducks stuff.But on Docs big can in Magic Marker it read the Name Panther Piss! One day Doc finally broke down and gave me his secret formula for his Magic Urine.1/3 Beeswax 1/3 Linseed oil and 1/3 Turpentine.Go ahead and whip you up a batch it's great for anything especially fingerboards he said he puts some on his wifes Vaginx and she loved it.
This Story is 100% True google old Doc so kool I got a million stories about the old man he was a charachter he liked me because I was a kid and a curious one at that.Doc Savage had the largest collection of the Gibson Mandolins in The World back then around 1973-1976.
Thanks Denny

mbratch
06-30-2009, 04:32 AM
Son of a Gun, afer a wet rag will rejuvinate it. Worked for a '66 Bassman head I had.
Tony+1. I used a soft cloth and a pan of warm water. Worked great. Use a soft brush if you have any tough spots.

Armor-all can be fussy. Many people don't like it. I an leave the surface artificially shiny, and it can attract bits of dirt/dust that stick to the surface.

soldersucker
06-30-2009, 07:22 AM
I own a few of those Blue check Ampegs and the diamond grain pattern makes it difficult to clean the best thing i have found is Turtle wax spray cleaner it comes with a built in brush fine enough to clean this pattern.
The baffle comes out and can be unscewed from the cab with a green handled Robertson.For that i use some Dawn dish soap frothed up real good using a brush and mostly the bubbles doing the work and than rinse,blow out with air.
THIS STUFF (click) (http://www.turtlewax.com/main.taf?p=2,1,4,16)

(http://www.turtlewax.com/main.taf?p=2,1,4,16)