Rickenbacker International Corporation - Forum

Stripping Conversion Varnish
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Author:  jingle_jangle [ Fri Sep 01, 2006 9:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Stripping Conversion Varnish

You're welcome!

I'm gonna be a bit picky here and bust you on a terminology rap, Ricknut63...

The reason is that it will help us to understand RIC finishing methods a good deal better, and since you are a luthier, your knowledge in this will spread to others and help them and you, too.

Here's the offense, RN63:

There is no such thing (at least in the Rick world) as "Jetglo conversion varnish". CV is transparent (except when it's tinted to AFG specs), and it goes over the various colors.

Rick finishing is like this, beginning to end:

Sand body/neck/fretboard about a zillion times by hand and machine, with many different grits of paper, going from coarse to fine.

Seal with thinned CV and allow to cure. You theoretically could hasten this by a short oven-bake, but we're talking about wood here, so elevated curing schedules are a strict no-no. Average cure time per application of CV is three days, and there are at least three applications of CV on every instrument, with sanding between every application. This means that instruments cycle through the sanding department and paint shop for somewhere between ten days and two weeks, typically!

(An aside: I spoke to a customer in North Carolina yesterday concerning refinishing his botched-up '73 4001--I do a lot of these--and he registered surprise when I told him that my turnaround time once these are begun, is two to three weeks. I asked him if he thought that was too long or too short, and he laughed and replied that it was a long time. I had to inform him that 99+% of that time is curing time for the CV.)

Sand the CV seal coat to knock down the grain, and apply color (if solid) or dye (if burst). Allow to dry. (Not cure in this case, as the color coats--including JG--are air-dry paints which are compatible with CV.)

Now apply another coat of CV, full-viscosity. Allow to cure.

Sand the first CV coat once cured, and apply another coat. Repeat several times, allowing the CV to cure fully between subsequent recoats.

Handwork does not stop here...once the final coats of CV have cured nice and hard, the entire guitar is once again flatted by machine and hand. Then it goes to the buffing department, where it's treated to a regimen of handheld car buffers with lambswool pads (for flat surfaces), large muslin wheels with pricey Menzerna compound (for the sides) and hand-buffing (to finish and detail). Each guitar receives about 90 minutes of attention here before it moves on to final assembly.

There have been some exceptions to the above-described process, and in years past, the process differed in some ways. (My '82 Ruby 360WB has light gray automotive primer instead of sealer, under its base coat/candy red/CV factory finish).

Lots of work, and they do it all day long, every day...the result is always breathtaking the first time the case is cracked open. It often leads to obsessive behavior, just to repeat that "case rush"...like monkeys pushing the button to get the pleasure jolt piped into their brains!

Author:  Ricknut63 [ Sat Sep 02, 2006 10:33 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Stripping Conversion Varnish

Thanks,Paul.I plead ignorance.CV is a new tool/technology for me.CV is obviously just the sealer and topcoat.Your beautiful work and advise have prompted me to try my hand at it.I'm looking for a stripped or beat 330/340 or 4001/4003 to re-fin in glorious Greenglo!I'll let you know how it turns out!

Author:  jingle_jangle [ Sun Sep 03, 2006 3:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Stripping Conversion Varnish

Greenglo, hey? I'll be looking forward to seeing pics of this one.

People who've know me awhile know I'm not fond of green guitars (I've only got one--a Sherwood Green Duo-Sonic Fender).

I do look forward to having my mind changed, 63!

A side note: I've done a round of stripping the last few weeks on customers' refinishes.

Easiest to strip was a Mapleglo '66 325 (yep, one of only six made!) which is just now emerging from a full resto. It's sweet...

The CV on this one was paper-thin and original; one thin coat of Jasco was all it took to get it pristine.

Toughie was a '00 330 FG which will be re-done in Orange Popsicle-Glo. The CV on this 330 was a foot thick and so resistant to Jasco that I had to score the CV up a bit so the chemicals could get a foothold!

I'll post pics of both soon.

Author:  Ricknut63 [ Sun Sep 03, 2006 7:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Stripping Conversion Varnish

As a rule,I despise green guitars.Two-tone green Gretsch Anniversary models,even Country Clubs in Cadillac Green...UGH...but when I saw the Greenglo 360 (old style double bound) on page 31 of the Bacon and Day Rickenbacker book,it was love at first sight!I've been looking for a stripped beater ever since!Also,like Jingle_Jangle,I had to sand the CV with 220 grit to allow the Jasco Premium to get a bite.Man,you can watch that stuff work...the finish will bubble and lift right up.A cautionary note,though...3M #2020 high adhesion masking tape WILL leave marks on CV!Must be some chemical reaction between the adhesive/solvent & CV.Every wrinkle in the tape left it's impression on the CV. I had to find out the hard way.Stewart-MacDonald's #0677 3/4" binding tape(made by the Reel Tape CO.)will not leave a mark.

Author:  jingle_jangle [ Mon Sep 04, 2006 2:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Stripping Conversion Varnish

Whoa, lost me there about the masking tape...what are you masking that requires you to put high-adhesion tape on over CV? We jumped from sanding and stripping to masking tape and I must admit I am lost.

Let me tell you some of what I know about tape and CV:

CV takes about a full month or sometimes even longer to fully harden and shrink. The plasticizers in plastics--which includes some tape adhesives--will attack even cured urethanes over time. You need to be certain that what you're witnessing IS, in fact, a chemical attack, which is what you seem to be describing, or whether you're seeing the phenom of "tape imprinting", which is actually a mechanical, not chemical, occurrence.

Imprinting is caused by the contact of a non-compressible material with a compressible, imprintable film which has little memory. Conversion varnish which has not fully degassed and crosslinked fits perfectly the description of an imprintable film. If you can mark new, apparently "dry" (a misnomer) conversion with your fingernail, it has not fully "cured" (correct terminology), and will imprint. The fact that the first tape you mention is crepe-backed (and, therefore, has a texture) and the second is less textured brought this situation to mind.

Still, Stew-Mac does not recommend this tape for delicate finishes, because of its high-tack qualities.

Green guitars, let me qualify.

I love Cadillac Green Gretsches. In fact, I just got done building an Ivory/Caddy Green Jet for my good buddy, Aitch. I like Anniversary Green as a vintage color on Gretsches, too. It seems to be right, that's all. I love Surf Green custom color Fenders, too.

I guess what sours me on greens on guitars are all the awful bright transparent greens that you see on PRS guitars, and also on thrasher Yammies and other Metal brands and shapes. But, that goes for ugly shades of blue and yellow, too, on "look at my hair or I'll stab you with my guitar" types of axes.

Author:  Ricknut63 [ Mon Sep 04, 2006 3:38 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Stripping Conversion Varnish

As for the masking tape...let me explain.I masked off the fretboard,back of the headstock,& heel of the neck;because the customer only wanted the BACK of the neck stripped.Luckily,after a few days,the tape marks have almost totally dissappeared.I certainly was not blaming anyone but myself.And about green guitars...to each his own;but I agree about the PRS/Yamaha/Pointy-Headstock-Locking-Nut-Floating-Trem-Hairband thing...but I'll always think those Two-tone Green Double Anniversary Gretsches look like Avacado Green kitchen appliances...Thanks again for all of your kind advise.You are certainly an asset to this forum!

Author:  jingle_jangle [ Tue Sep 05, 2006 6:55 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Stripping Conversion Varnish

Thanks, 63!!!

I look at those Gretsches as an extension of a long history. They simply reek of the old days of the postwar years and Fifties...along with the yellow/copper and jag tan/brown instruments. A long way, colorwise from any shade of avocado. To me they're elegant and understated as hell...

I shy away from partials in CV (but have done a few) because in the end, you've spent almost as much time masking and blending in the new CV and it often doesn't have the same exact sheen, or you get witness lines or any one of a number of anomalies. So I encourage, in the case of such cases as the one you mention, a complete refinish to keep things consistent.

I do partials when I repair headstock damage or bush for tuner retrofits, for instance. I also will refinish fretboards only, or entire guitars or basses while leaving the fretboards untouched, in certain cases.

Author:  kenswear [ Tue Sep 05, 2006 9:48 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Stripping Conversion Varnish

Paul,I think you have a bunch of elves helping you out where do you find the time to answer questions on two forums work your day job,make up trc's and guards for the 300, 75Th's and finish up projects?

Author:  Beatlefreak [ Tue Sep 05, 2006 5:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Stripping Conversion Varnish

He really has an evil twin brother that nobody knows about...

Author:  jingle_jangle [ Tue Sep 05, 2006 11:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Stripping Conversion Varnish

Nope I have a GOOD twin brother. He works for peanuts and caffeine, 36 hours a day. He hasn't seen the light of day since I discovered Rickenbackers...

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