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Will the the silver of silver plated keys wear out?
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Author:  ertwert [ Fri Sep 18, 2020 1:19 am ]
Post subject:  Will the the silver of silver plated keys wear out?

Hi,
I am on the waiting list for a 6 keyed Geert Lejeune flute. (http://www.geertlejeune.com/flutes)

Mr Lejeune uses silver plated brass keys. Do you think the silver plaiting will wear out after some years?
I have seen it on regulators of pipes that the silver plaiting is significantly worn out, but I am not sure if I have seen it
on other instruments so far (simple system or Boehm flutes). I think I remember that the playing on the eb key of my old student Boehm
was worn out a bit, but I am not 100%.

Author:  Terry McGee [ Fri Sep 18, 2020 1:55 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Will the the silver of silver plated keys wear out?

Yes, the plating will wear, and with brass underneath (rather than "nickel silver"), this will look pretty obvious. But it won't affect performance in any way. You will be able to have the keys replated, but it would take a bit of mucking around. Probably best to regard the tarnishing as honest wear marks, and clear evidence that you use your keys!

Coincidentally, I've just had to order a big batch of sterling silver keys from the company who casts them for me. 100 in number - I'd let stocks get dramatically low. What I found interesting when the invoice came in is that the cost of the metal was almost exactly one half the total cost. Put another way, the pretty serious job of investment-casting 100 keys was only equal in cost to the metal itself. So you can see the financial attractions of avoiding solid silver!

The other sobering factoid is that the silver in my keys started out life as impurities in mined lead. Hurrumph! Dignity, please!

And it goes without saying that any plans for retirement are back on the back burner. I'm not allowed to go to the Big Session in the Sky until I've used up all those keys and the similar number of other keys I still had in stock. Oh well, wasn't planning to go for a bit anyhow....

Author:  awildman [ Fri Sep 18, 2020 2:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Will the the silver of silver plated keys wear out?

Terry, was there a setup cost for making molds etc? Such tooling costs are pretty much the norm in the manufacturing world.

Author:  Terry McGee [ Fri Sep 18, 2020 2:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Will the the silver of silver plated keys wear out?

I think there was an initial moulding cost, way back when I first sent them a model of each key. When I now place an order, which I tend to do in lots of 10 of the same key, they assemble a "tree" of wax versions of the keys, then make a mould of that, burn out the wax and pour in the molten silver, then they crack open the mould and pull out the keys. It seems a long-winded way of making them, but I guess if there was an easier way, they'd use that.

I also get them to "half-harden" the finished keys to give me the best balance of further workability and final strength. Unhardened sterling straight from casting is pretty limp. Fully "aged" sterling is really brittle. Goldilocks reckons half-hard is "just right"!

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