Nitrocellulose lacquer that's closest to the old stuff?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by hogy, Oct 3, 2013.

  1. 57special

    57special Member

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    I've used ML Campbell QB for a few years, after Mcfaddens stopped becoming available. Very clear and beautiful , but I'm looking for an alternative, as I've had problems with it checking. Very cool if you want authentic checking. I usually don't.

    I've also found Lenmar to be very old schoolish. Very amberish looking.

    The Campbell was pretty cheap...around $25/gal. or so?
     
  2. B. Howard

    B. Howard Silver Supporting Member

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    They have discontinued the quick build. It has been replaced with designR classic. The difference is the cellulose it is based on, more specifically the modifiers added. the QB was based on Noble NC product which was modified with a soy lecithin. The new product is based on conventional DOW nitro. It still phosphoresces though.

    IME the checking can be minimized/eliminated by keeping overall dry film builds below 7 mils. A synthetic sealer can help with that.
     
  3. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Member

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    No such thing as "pure nitrocellulose". All lacquers are pretty heady cocktails. Closest thing to the theoretical pure nitro would be nitrate dope. Unless you mean a formulation with no other resins....


    I've used Cardinal's Luthierlac and their 2000 series gloss. Both were good, but Cardinal has raised their prices in the past year, making them less attractive to me. Nothing beat the gloss and ease of use of L3651 McFadden's (Seagrave), but I had to find an alternative. There's just too much phthalate plasticizer in it and the Seagrave people are ridiculous to deal with.

    Coconut oil, caster oil, camphor, soy oil, phthalates.........

    A lot of wind blown over the internet about "plasticizer-free pure nitro lacquer from the days of old", but the fact it that plasticizers have been part of the formulations from the beginning. A tech paper on lacquer from 1928 states this in lacquers made for coating metals (auto industry). The 50-60 yr old guitars that were coated in lacquer have had the plasticizers migrate out and evaporate. This is part of why it's hard to replicate with current products.


    cheers,
     
  4. B. Howard

    B. Howard Silver Supporting Member

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    What I mean is no acrylic modifiers or synthetic resins like glyptol........

    And on the subject of plasticizers, you need one. In the real old days it was castor oil. Currently soy oil is the only option in the US. That is because due to low demand for wetted nitro chips with the correct nitrate levels Dupont is the only game around. Noble NC quit importing chips about 2 years ago. I have seriously looked into formulating my own lacquer for restoration work and I am sure that my inquiries into purchasing high nitrate nitrocellulose has landed me on a few watch lists.....

    Anyone interested in learning more on the differences in lacquers can read this articl I wrote the other year for Guitarmaker.
    http://howardguitars.blogspot.com/2015/02/air-dry-lacquers.html
     
  5. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Member

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    I agree that some amount of plasticizer is needed, as I stated before it was integral to original formulae. Seagrave/McFadden's 3651 uses 5% of a phthalate compound. Soy oil the only option? I think there are many other options in the US today. Check other lacquers available. Behlen's has used diisononyl phthalates and carboxylic acids as well as other alkyd resins.

    BTW - nice article on lacquers you wrote. What I meant about "pure nitro" is that pure nitrated cellulose is useless as a coating, until it is introduced to a variety of solvents that will modify its characteristics, not the least of which are adhesion, clarity and scuff-resistance. Straight nitrated cellulose resin in acetone will flake off of even a nitro lacquer base coat, turn chalky white and rub right off of the surface. What many people don't realize is that the nitrocellulose resin makes up a rather small part of a lacquer - usually 5-10% or even less. Other resins have been used to offset plasticizer softening effect such as damar, copal, even amber resins. I agree about "abrasion resistance doesn't mean harder" in your article, too.


    cheers,
     
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  6. Mark Robinson

    Mark Robinson Gold Supporting Member

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    Acetone is a very fast solvent, proper lacquer work requires a bridged formulation of fast, medium and slower solvents, to keep the coat open at least long enough to get rid of air entrainment and to get some flow. Isobutyl Acetate is often used along with some ketones on the slower end. Cardinal is a vendor of mine for finishing that's not guitar related. It's a great outfit and my friend Jim Starks will steer you well.
     
    Jack Briggs likes this.
  7. B. Howard

    B. Howard Silver Supporting Member

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    Jack, I checked into buying raw nitro chips in bulk (55 gallon drums) earlier this year with the thoughts of making my own nitro in the old style for restorations and such. As I said Dupont is the only game in town in the us, unless you can buy quantities large enough for direct import from China or India. Nitrocellulose suitable for making coatings with a nitrate content of 11.8-12.5% would be on the verge of weapons grade material (think dynamite and smokeless powder) if it were supplied as a raw material on it's own. It is therefore always supplied with at least one plasticizer blended in to make it unsuitable for explosives. Dupont adds epoxidised soybean oil, NC Noble used acetyltributyl citrate but they no longer have a US distributor due to low demand for this type product these days though if you were to buy entire containers it would still be available.

    Most manufacturers add other modifiers and plasticizers to their formulas like the ones you mention above. But as far as base stock purchased here in the US at this time as far as I know it all has the soy in it at around 18%. Most modern Nittrocellulose lacquers these days only contain about 50% or less actual nitrocellulose with the rest of the film composed of other synthetic (alkyd) resins and plasticizers.
     
  8. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Member

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    Hey Brian,

    Most lacquers that I've seen are much less than 50% - more like 5-10% nitrocellulose, some even less if they contain other resins.

    I had toyed with making lacquer as well a couple of years ago, only to abandon the idea due to the complexity and time involved in research. I had a PhD/professor friend who nitrated cotton for me (which I still have) after I told him I was going to try myself. He talked me out of it because of the inherent hazards and volunteered his UNC lab for that part. :aok

    cheers,
     
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  9. B. Howard

    B. Howard Silver Supporting Member

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    Yes, if you pull that info off the MSDS for unapplied product. I was actually referring to content of the actual dry film.
     
  10. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Member

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    10-4, but then it wouldn't be considered lacquer!


    cheers,
     
  11. B. Howard

    B. Howard Silver Supporting Member

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    It was always my understanding that lacquers were finishes that would redissolve when hit with solvents and enamels are those that would not.
     
  12. John Coloccia

    John Coloccia Cold Supporting Member

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    I didn't think there's really much in the way of official definitions, so I always tend to refer to a specific product instead. That said, I think enamels are generally considered to be very hard and glossy and tend to be similar to varnishes...which raises the question, what's a varnish? I usually say varnish when I mean some sort of resin in a drying oil, though I guess most people think of nail polish when they think of enamel, and I'd actually think of nail polish as really traditional lacquer. I don't know if I'm using the terms 100% correctly, and I always ask someone to refer to a specific product so I know exactly what they're talking about.

    But using my definitions of enamel being like a very hard varnish, I guess it sort of fits your definition in that a solvent might damage an enamel finish, but you'll never uncure the oil no matter what you do.
     
  13. Laurent Brondel

    Laurent Brondel Supporting Member

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    AFAIK, there are 2 main families of finishes:

    -Evaporative finishes like lacquer or shellac (possibly others). When the solvents evaporate, what's left are the solids, which redissolve readily when hit with the correct thinner.

    -Polymerizing finishes, like traditional alkyd, phenolic or more modern polyurethane varnishes and all the contemporary poly, urethane and catalyzing finishes. When cured the finish has a different chemical make-up than when in liquid form and the equivalent solvents cannot dissolve the film. Oil varnish can be thinned with naphtha or real turpentine, but neither can affect a cured finish in any way, except clean the surface.
    Those finishes also tend to have a shelf life and readily thicken and cure with exposure to oxygen and light (they polymerise), so keep your containers full and well sealed.
     
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  14. B. Howard

    B. Howard Silver Supporting Member

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    John, good point on varnish. Being old enough to remember making the stuff from scratch around here I guess I always equated it with being made out of naturaul resins like copal, shellac or oils. Of course that said we used to add Glyptol which was a synthetic polyester resin to make a more weather resistant finish for outdoors.......

    So yes, standardized terminology does not exist and causes much confusion..........
     
  15. 71strat

    71strat Member

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    Check out Hibernia Auto Restoration.

    This is the most beautiful Nitro Ive found.

    I bought the 56 Ford Fiesta Red. Clear Nitro, Primer, Thinner.

    They sell a lot of paint to Guitar Refinishers. Its also not cheap. IMHO this is as close to the real deal as you will ever find.




    Hibernia Auto Restoration
    www.hiberniaautorestorers.com/



    Automotive Lacquers Price List*
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Nitro-Cellulose Lacquers Quart Gallon
    All Colors $82.00 $234.00
    Black $57.00 $163.00
    Clear $39.00 $111.00
    Thinner (Slow/Medium) N/A $41.00
    Metallic-Add $5.00 $10.00
    Primers-(DARK GRAY) N/A $117.00


    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Acrylic Lacquers Quart Gallon
    White, Creams, Beige, Light Colors $165.00 $659.00
    Med. to Dark colors, Blues, Greens, Browns $148.00 $592.00
    Red & Maroons $220.00 $850.00
    Black $155.00 $618.00
    Thinner - Slow N/A $93.00
    Thinner - Medium N/A $72.00
    Metallic-Add $13.00 $25.00
    Acrylic Primer N/A $407.00
    Clear $87.00 $346.00
    We accept Visa/MasterCard & Discover, Check, Money Order or cash on local pick up

    Turnaround time is 2-3 weeks – so plan ahead and don’t order your paint the day you’re planning to paint the car. We can ship all paint and thinners to all lower continental United States by UPS Ground Shipping. Custom matching $50 per hour minimum charge.



    Answers to commonly asked questions about nitro-cellulose and Acrylic Lacquers.
    You can spray Nitro-cellulose lacquer over Acrylic Lacquer

    You should not spray Acrylic Lacquer over Nitro-Cellulose Lacquer.

    You should only use Nitro Thinner for Nitro and Acrylic Thinner for Acrylic.
     
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  16. Laurent Brondel

    Laurent Brondel Supporting Member

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    Thanks for the link 71strat, it looks like a great place to get accurate vintage colours.
     
  17. 65DuoSonic

    65DuoSonic Member

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    Something uplifting for the attendees.

     
  18. randalp3000

    randalp3000 Member

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    For anyone still interested. The Sherwin Williams Pro-Mar is now Pro Hi Bild Lacquer, Part # for gallon of gloss is T70 CT 6. Cost me around $34 for the gallon. Haven't tried it yet, still setting up my booth and spray gear.

    I'm pretty new to Lacquer, what specs should I be looking for that will be closer to '50's-60's lacquer?

    some data

    CHARACTERISTICS
    Color: Gardner 2 maximum
    Gloss: Gloss 85+ units
    MRE 30-34 units
    Weight Solids: 22 ± 2%
    Volume Solids: 15.3 ± 1%
    Viscosity:
    27-32 seconds #2 Zahn Cup
    21-25 seconds #4 Ford
    Recommended film thickness:
    Mils Wet 5.0 - 6.0
    Mils Dry 0.7 - 0.9
    Spreading Rate (no application loss)
    @ 0.7-0.9 mil dft: 272-389 sq ft/gal
    Drying (77°F, 50% RH):
    To Touch: 10 minutes
    To Handle: 30 minutes
    To Recoat: 1 hour
    Force Dry: at 140°F
    15 minutes to recoat
    60 minutes to pack
    Flash Point: 23°F, Pensky-Martens
    Closed Cup
    Package Life: 2 years, unopened

    ingredient name, % by weight, CAS #
    Lt. Aliphatic Hydrocarbon Solvent 19.47 64742-89-8
    Isobutyl Acetate 16.27 110-19-0
    2-Methyl-1-propanol 15.98 78-83-1
    Cellulose Nitrate 9.12 9004-70-0
    Toluene 7.21 108-88-3
    Isopropyl Acetate 4.93 108-21-4
    Methyl Ethyl Ketone 4.69 78-93-3
    Acetone 4.37 67-64-1
    2-Propanol 3.95 67-63-0
     
  19. Rockinrob86

    Rockinrob86 Member

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    I went through this whole ordeal of getting set up, and I have been using Mohawk Finisher's choice 80 gloss clear lacquer and the matching vinyl sealer.

    I love it, great stuff. It is so superior to using rattle cans I wish I would've done this a long time ago.

    https://www.woodworkingshop.com/product/m61025807/ is my source

    I haven't dealt with it long enough for any checking, but it should check. I have a large jar of it in my backyard in the sun ambering, and it ambered up within a couple weeks to a dark honey color. Sprayed a nice looking fender neck with some of that and am aging some more now for some currently unknown future project.
     

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