Well oiled!

Pipemaking, reedmaking & maintanence. Expert pipemakers are eager to answer your questions

Well oiled!

Postby workers and drones » Fri Sep 05, 2014 11:09 am

Workers and drones here yet again!
Ok professionals - I'm still ploughing my lone furrow and learning by trial and error, usually, but also by what can be gleaned by picking the brains of the best. I've just sat and oiled my pipes for the last hour and the thought came to mind that I've heard several ways of oiling and things which are not oiled and things that should be etc. etc. a new can of worms has emerged!!. I was originally told to use a parafin based oil similar to baby oil for the bore and wood; then I was told I should be using neatsfoot oil; then I was told to use olive oil (not the cooking quality!) I was also told to oil pads, then found out that if they are leather you should or is it shouldn't oil them aswell and if the pads are neoprene or foam you shouldn't or is that should?.
It seems that there is yet another rabbit warren I could easily disappear into trying to find out what to do! Help please?.
Why is it that iinformation about NSP is so difficult to pick through to find out what you should or shouldn't be doing in terms of maintenance?. It seems that these very high maintenance instruments are shrouded in a marbled mist of knowledge and in order to pin this down to one colour (hopefully the right colour) you have to throw a basic question out there and hope for the correct answer to come back!.
So whats it all about when it comes to oiling?
I've asked - as you do! - but found lots of people with different answers.
Give us some insider info into what the proffesionals do?
W&D
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Re: Well oiled!

Postby Richard Evans » Fri Sep 05, 2014 1:14 pm

Use baby oil. Oil leather pads, don't oil neoprene (or very lightly). Don't over-oil but keep the chanter bore glossy-looking and clean.
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Re: Well oiled!

Postby workers and drones » Fri Sep 05, 2014 2:31 pm

W&D
Thanks for that! - have just used olive oil but will go back to baby oil. It will at least make my skin feel soft and gentle and the olive oil on the pipes will ensure they burn well!!. - just joking! however these confounded things seem to have taken over and are a constant source of research in order to find out about them. The piping community always seem to have loads of answers to my problems and its not always clear who to bet on! - there are many different ones. Is there a reliable reputable source one can go to to clear up any issues?
I find that there are so many out there who when you really pin down and ask about maintenance the answers are always a bit vague; I was brought up on ...... if you don't know ...ask!... however when you ask in piping circles you get many different views. Are they all right? and how do you know what is best unless you try out yourself. I have to admit that olive oil makes the wood glossy but is it penetrating which is surely the point.
Thanks again!. ;)
W&D
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Re: Well oiled!

Postby Richard Evans » Fri Sep 05, 2014 6:14 pm

workers and drones wrote:W&D
Thanks for that! - have just used olive oil but will go back to baby oil. It will at least make my skin feel soft and gentle and the olive oil on the pipes will ensure they burn well!!. - just joking! however these confounded things seem to have taken over and are a constant source of research in order to find out about them. The piping community always seem to have loads of answers to my problems and its not always clear who to bet on! - there are many different ones. Is there a reliable reputable source one can go to to clear up any issues?


That was one of the original purposes of this forum, I imagine. It's a great pity it's so little used.
Many topics have been covered over the years in the Technical Advice articles in the newsletter; don't know if these are available anywhere.

I'm running a maintenance workshop all day at Manchester Pipers' day, and on the Monday afternoon of the Whitley bay course.

Olive oil dries/oxidises to leave a sticky residue; baby oil does not. None of these oils penetrate much into blackwood, as far as I know.
The recommended oil has changed over the years. Back in the 1970s it was neatsfoot. Then olive. Then almond. I have been using baby oil for at least 10 years and it seems to be the best stuff.
Others are likely to have different opinions!
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Re: Well oiled!

Postby workers and drones » Sat Sep 06, 2014 11:26 am

W&D
Ok - happy to use baby oil - but another question! sorry! Excuse the ignorance but I thought the purpose of oiling was to prevent the wood from drying out i.e. the oil penetrating the grain of the wood to stop it from cracking or splitting so how does applying a surface coat stop this?. The thing is, I find when asking, few seem to have the reasoning behind these high maintenance pieces of kit and as I've invested a sizeable sum (well sizeable to me!) I think it important to at least understand why I'm about to plaster oil all over my instrument. (still having fun though at the moment)

W&D :lol:
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Re: Well oiled!

Postby pipemakermike » Sun Sep 07, 2014 9:08 am

I have always used olive oil fresh from the bottle kept for cooking. It is what Colin was recommending in the early 80s. I am sure that baby oil is fine (it is a thin mineral oil + perfume) I usually go round the pads (I use traditional leather pads) once a year with a small paint brush and dab a drop onto each pad then wipe the excess onto the wood. I am happy with this and have seen no problems. I am equally sure that Baby oil is just as good and I know one piper who used to use copious amounts of almond oil and swore that it was the secret of his fine tone<G>
Most of the oils that people recommend will work OK and the requirement is very undemanding. Just do what is easy and don't worry about it.
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Re: Well oiled!

Postby workers and drones » Mon Sep 08, 2014 9:22 am

W&D again!
Ok! - so I've made it this far and nothing broken and now mostly in tune largely due to home effort and I have sussed out that there are always going to be differing opinions out there about stuff generally. On the subject of oil there are so many oils that people have used that this causes a minefield of info to sift through. I think my pipes are made from some kind of African blackwood or similarly dense exotic wood which has been carefully dried before being made. (I hope). I consulted with an expert of exotic woods and discovered that oils of the types used are partially drying oils and would leave a liquid residue which would merely trap dirt and go rancid. African blackwood (grenadilla,lignum vitae, etc.) is naturally a very oily wood anyway and the protection used by players of woodwind instruments by oiling the bore is to coat the inside to prevent moisture entering the wood and expanding!- danger!!. As the NSP are dry blown I can't see a need to oil at all! My conclusion is that I will stop oiling my pipes. Maybe people have just continued to oil because they were told to oil! and thought it a good idea at the time?. My maintenance programme is now considerably shortened and I will definately stop oiling; unless of course I can be swayed by other expert opinion to the contrary. Who knows I may even be gripped enough to one day have a shot at making my own!..
Regards
W&D :?
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Re: Well oiled!

Postby Tedley » Fri Jan 23, 2015 11:20 pm

NSP pipers and makers are known for liking to oil their pipes. If I use oil, I use Doctor's Bore oil by Bore Doctor. It is formulated for woodwinds. Baby oil is AFAIK mineral oil. The Bore Doctor site says mineral oil will plug the pores and does not recommend it. He also sells pure ABW oil, extracted from the timber. His site is full of good information about oiling. His oil is formulated for woodwinds, ABW, ebony etc. He found vitamin E as an additive to almond oil to not do what is intended. It is not a good anti-oxidant for oil. As NSP are not mouth blown, oil is not needed to retard moisture absorption by the timber. Some feel oiling NSP pipes to be counter productive. It seems an oily bore will produce a clearer tone and is the main reason for oiling. Pipers are notorious for holding onto many unscientific postures about oiling and other maintenance issues. Oil is not needed for preserving the timber, just to enhance tone. There was a time when neatsfoot oil was recommended. In those days pipers had to wrap their bags in plastic wrap to keep the migrating oil from soiling their clothes as neatsfoot oil was used in bag treatment mixtures. I highly recommend checking out the Bore Doctor's site. He is available to talk about the subject to anyone interested in his research.
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Re: Well oiled!

Postby Tpfairfax » Fri Feb 13, 2015 4:43 pm

I know this is an old thread... but for the record....

Like many GHP converts - I was always told that a tiny amount of (almond or olive) oil on the hands before playing is a great way of minimising squeaks - but it also means that one feeds the wood slowly. It also means that you are not putting enough on to create a sticky residue. Whilst I know that this doesn't actually oil the bore, it does mean that the wood/pads etc are gently being fed on an ongoing basis. Also good for stabilising the instrument if you are operating in dodgy conditions (weatherwise !). I have done this by habit and it seems to work on NSP - it also makes the instrument forgiving if ignored for periods of time (Clearly A friend told me this!!!!)

Key thing to remember is that if you are messing about with reeds, (Something that NSP Pipers frown on but GHP pipers are addicted to) its important to have clean hands as oil on the reeds (at least uncontrolled oil on the reeds) isn't so good unless you really know what you are doing...(I saw a mention somewhere about oiled reed stabilisation).

I suspect that this is academic for most of us - though those playing in damp conditions may benefit. To be frank, I suspect if played regularly, natural oil from the hands is probably as good as anything.... unless one is a pathological hand washer in carbolic soap! I suspect those who regularly use "product" on their hands are probably doing their pipes as much good as their hands..... (of course this would depend on how often the hands and the pipes come into contact!!)
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