For lockdown I’ve been stranded in the Caribbean with my Salvi Delta and the tropical climate here has not been kind to my instrument. Fortunately the main body of the harp is carbon fibre so is ok but everything metal on it is rusting. What’s the best way to treat the rust and prevent it from rusting further in this high heat and humidity?
Can you get hold of a spray called WD40? I do small scale engineering projects (as well as playing a Camac Telenn harp) and I use it for all kinds of things. It’s a water repellent and lubricant that helps with preserving any metal affected by heat & humidity. Some guitar players use it on their (metal) guitar strings before and after playing. It doesn’t smell too bad either. You spray it on and wipe it off again and after a couple of applications you should start to see an improvement. N.B. I wouldn’t use it an any wooden parts but as your harp is carbon fibre it should be ok.
WD 40 is great, but smells bad- more to dissolve any rust or corrosion already there. Car wax or even furniture polish with wax will give good protection, but apply it every week or two. It won’t hurt anything else either. I don’t think WD-40 would be good for nylon strings so keep it off those. I usually just spray furniture polish on either steel or nylon guitar strings when I do those- a good coat of wax really helps wood resist scratching.
You could see if you can find a liquid rust inhibitor (sometimes called corrosion inhibitor) at a hardware store or marine supply store. One brand is called Ospho. That is what we use. Put it on the rust spots carefully with a cotton swab. I’m sorry to say that when you get elsewhere you will need to replace your strings and eventually, the levers. You can buy tarnish resistant wire strings. I presume you’ve been playing your harp outdoors and don’t cover it. I live in Florida near the ocean. My harps stay in air-conditioning, never are played outdoors and always have a full transport cover when moved. I would keep the harp covered unless playing it – as well as your amp and cords. Beware of plastic that holds moisture in. A beach towel will work (which you should wash periodically). If you have air conditioning, use it, at least in the room you keep the harp. Welcome to the tropics.
I’m totally off grid on a super remote tiny Caribbean island so I can’t just pop to a hardware store, order things online or leave the air conditioning running (we have frequent power outages). I have kept my harp indoors and in its case but the weather just blows through the houses here so the humidity has messed it up despite that unfortunately. I should be able to find WD-40 on the island though so I will look for that. I was just uncertain if it was safe for the instrument.
I think I would try to use wax anyplace I could put it. A car paste wax would be just fine. Put it on with a rag or Q-tips. You could remove each of the tuning pins and coat those completely with wax as well. With the high humidity, the part of the tuning pin inside the neck will rust and make it so difficult to turn the pin that the square end could break off.
It’s a difficult situation indeed. Be that as it may though, some comments: WD-40 is an excellent lubricant but it also has a nasty habit of attracting and trapping dust. Not what you want on strings and levers or pedal mechanisms. I advise a light machine oil such as used for sewing machines: wipe it lightly on your wire strings, then wipe off. Same for levers or any other metal-metal contacts.
Wow, you are in a difficult situation. I am sorry you are trying to do the right things and your harp is rusting. I see so many people here thinking it is romantic or whatever to take instruments to the beach. A salt climate destroys anything metal. I hope for you and your harp this coronavirus craziness ends.
Some traditional method to consider if you are off grid.
1. Get rice, barley or some grains of any types. (If you are desperate, use wooden chips)
2. Heat the grain to dry it. Low/medium heat, several hours (we are NOT cooking the stuff).
3. Allow it to cool down without absorbing moisture (e.g. inside a covered jar)
4. Put treated grain (in socks or a cloth sack) inside the case.
5. Empty the used grain and repeat the process.
This removes moisture using low tech methods.
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