HOW TIM FABRIZIO RESCUES THE PAST
Fortunately, not all talking machines require extraordinary measures to
restore them. However, we encounter many instances where the prior
efforts of a home handyman must be undone. This is the story of how one
person in the past nearly destroyed an important object, and how Tim
Here is an Edison mahogany Cygnet horn (manufactured for Edison by
Sheip & Vandergrift of Philadelphia) ca 1910. "Someone"
attempted to "restore" it around 1970. It is difficult to imagine
how that person could have gone any more wrong
-- he used the wrong methods and wrong materials, including the wrong
glue and the wrong finish. In addition to which, he put NAILS in
it! Maybe nails are correct for holding together 2x4s, but they
something you put into antiques. The metal collar at the top was
originally attached by very small wood screws. Our home handyman
had the misguided idea of drilling big holes and putting in brass
brads. Once the tabs of these brads were bent over on the inside
surface of the wood, they could not be removed without doing some
further damage to the wood. No thought for the future is the
hallmark of an amateur.
One panel in particular was badly warped and shrunken. The
amateur tried to glue it using household epoxy. In fact, he
forced drug-store epoxy into many of the joints. Household epoxy has no
ability to secure wood under stress. It created nothing but a
gummy mess that was still sticky after decades.
Note also the nauseating color of the wood and the cloudy finish.
Our handyman applied NO STAIN, and a plastic "space age" finish
that has clouded up.
Since huge gaps remained, handyman shoved old-fashioned solvent-based
wood filler into the open joints, in the instance shown, as much as a
1/4 of an inch.
The first thing that Tim did was strip off the old "space age" finish
and pry the brittle old filler out of the joints. The worst panel
had warped so badly, and the gaps were so great, that he had to use the
unprecedented technique of slightly reducing the circumference of the
horn. Note the ring is made in laminations, some of which had
broken off and been replaced by the handyman's solvent filler.
Tim knocked off the filler and carefully added new wood to repair
the ring. On the left of the saw cut note one of the nail holes from our amateur.
The gummy mess of epoxy has been time-consumingly scraped out of the
joints. Now the top and bottom of the worst panel are secured by
urethane glue, allowing the central part of the badly warped panel to
move. Gaffers tape, which releases without damage, has been used
to pull the top of the horn together. Note the missing
laminations on the left half of the ring.
The "bad" panel is warped, and the gaps on either side of it are
considerable. Our handyman no doubt made this worse by sanding,
and damaging the wood with his solvent filler. "Normally" gaps in
panels can be pulled together, but these are too great, and require the
use of shims.
Tim has made genuine mahogany shims and is glueing them to the panels next to
the worst panel. The toothpicks are pushed into the gap between
the panels to hold the shim to the ajoining panel. The worst
panel can still move, which is necessary to pull it back into line with
the other panels.
The "bad" panel is clamped to bring it in line, and other panels which
are also warped, but less so, are clamped. Plastic resin glue is
the only thing strong enough to secure wood under this amount of
stress. Note that all clamps are sitting on wooden or rubber pads
to prevent leaving marks on the relatively soft surface of the
mahogany. Tremdous pressure must be exerted to bring the panels, which
have been "free floating" for decades, into position.
So much damage had been done to the joints that it was necessary to use
shims in more than the worst panel. The shims must be installed
much larger than needed to accommodate the curve of the horn, then
carefully trimmed back to facilitate sanding them flat. However,
there are still gaps in some of those panels that did not require shims.
To treat the more minor gaps, the horn is tightly wrapped with gaffer's
tape, to pull it together. Plastic resin glue is used becaiuse it
resists separating when climatic or atmospheric changes occur.
All the gaps have been closed. But there are various dings and
sctatches and depressions (and improper sanding marks from our
handyman) that must be filled.
A light coating of water-based filler is applied to the entire horn.
Then the whole horn is meticulously sanded to produce a
smooth, even surface, with no gouges or irregularties.
Next, an aniline dye stain is applied. This is precisely the same
as the stain originally applied at the S & V factory.
Finally, a correct finish is applied. Shellac, exactly what was
used in 1910, is topped off with nitro-cellulose, which is a
finish that was in use on talking machines during the first decade of
the 20th century. The horn has been revived and ressurected by
the 50-year expertise of Tim. Should you be buying a talking
machine from anyone else?
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