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Method Of Removing Mold From Black Wax Cylinders

Mold is a form of fungus or mildew which forms on leather, cheese, bread, wood, and wax, if exposed to dampness.

Two and four minute wax cylinders are made from wax, a by product of petroleum, with carbon black added for colour and to help harden the wax. This mixture is pressed into shape in a mould. Originally the grooves were cut into the cylinder; later they were pressed into the wax.

The writer tried at least a dozen products and chemicals to remove this mold without damaging the grooves in the cylinder or dissolving the wax including the following products: varsol, alcohol, Lysol, Pine Sol, Tilex, dishwasher detergent, vinegar, Fantastik, javex, laundry detergent, rug cleaner, glass cleaner, car cleaner, and bleach to no avail. Although none of the above products damaged the cylinder, they did not remove or dissolve any of the mold.

After giving it a lot of thought, I decided to try a cleaner made from petroleum. I read the label on waterless hand cleaner which reads as follows: "removes glue, grease, oil, tar, floor wax, printer's ink, lipstick on hardwood floors, stoves, painted surfaces, woodwork, linoleum, silver, brass, ceramic tile, ceramic surfaces, porcelain, automobiles, leather, aluminum and greasy hands. Contains lanolin for softer hands." I figured that if it does all of the above it would at least clean the cylinder of dirt and grime. I thought it might soften or dissolve the wax, but to my surprise it did neither.

I applied the cleaner with a piece of soft flannel in a rotary motion with the grooves in the cylinder, being cautious not to put too much pressure on the cylinder as they are easily broken. When the cleaner had removed all the mold, I immersed the cylinder in tepid water to remove most of the cleaner. Then, using dry flannel, I carefully removed the cleaner in the same rotary direction with the grooves and finished drying it with soft paper toweling. I was elated with the results.

I carefully put the cylinders back in their right boxes and put them away. Alas, a month later I had occasion to open one of the boxes and to my dismay the mold had started to come back on some of the cylinders - but only on the cylinder boxes that were wool-lined. It didn't take much to realize that the mold had also settled in the wool lining of the boxes. So I carefully wrapped each cylinder in saran or handy wrap and reinserted them in their boxes. No more mold.

Several precautions should be taken. Never handle the cylinders when they are cold. Look for cracked or chipped cylinders. Handle them very carefully with two fingers in the end of the cylinders. Do not use warm or hot water to rinse them. Do not put them away damp. Also, do not immerse Columbia "indestructibles" in water.

Although the cleaner has removed the mold, it is possible that the mold has eaten into the grooves of the cylinder. The cleaner does not remove any of the wax as no black colour is present on the cloth after using it for many cylinders.

My Method Of Cleaning Discs And Celluloid Blue Amberol Cylinders
Caution - Not Edison Diamond Discs

A few months ago, in one of the CAPS newsletters, Bas Ingrouille contributed an article on the cleaning of 78 discs - (how time flies, that was actually in October 1984! -ed.) - and my method is much the same as his, and is as follows:

I use two basins of warm water - (CAUTION - NOT HOT WATER) - and I add one or two drops of mild liquid dish detergent to one of the basins and stir the water vigorously to make plenty of suds. I then hold the edge of the record to be cleaned against my body with my left hand. I originally applied the suds to the record with a small, clean cloth in a circular clockwise motion with my right hand until Bas suggested using a small, soft bristled brush such as a baby's hair brush which would be ideal. However, I have been using a clean, retired shaving brush. At the same time it is important that one is very careful not to get any liquid on the label as the colour in the label might run. I usually wipe the label afterwards very, very gently with a slightly damp cloth.

The next step is to rinse the record off with the clear warm water using a small clean, soft cloth and also being careful not to wet the label. I then soap and rinse the other side of the record. It is important not to leave water on the record very long, and I then take another soft, dry, clean cloth and wipe it thoroughly dry immediately in a circular motion on both sides.

The next step is to polish both sides of the record, and I find that a clean, flannel cloth is best for this.

I put each cleaned record very gently one on top of the other on a piece of folded newspaper without their jackets until I have finished. I then put them in their jackets after dusting out same with a cloth.

I clean the celluloid Blue Amberol records (cylinders) with the same materials using mild liquid dish detergent.

I go through the same steps holding the cylinder down on a slight angle so as not to get any water or suds on the plaster of paris inside the record. When I have applied the suds and rinsed off with the warm, clear water, I thoroughly dry the record with a soft, clean cloth holding the cylinder securely with my left index and second fingers spread-eagled inside one end of same, and holding the cloth in my right hand which is curved around the record. I revolve the cylinder with my left fingers running the cloth along from one end to the other.

I do the same thing with the polishing flannel cloth but grip the cylinder a little more firmly with my right hand to give it a good polish. Caution is required here not to grip the record too firmly and damage it.

The records can then be put in their dusted-out boxes.