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Bakelite - Catalin switch tips-

Cogswell

The Duke of Dumbassery
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Mar 19, 2002
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So I'm kicking around an antique store in a little town south of here & a box of old flatware catches my eye. Actually, the COLOR catches my eye: All of the pieces have amber handles made of Bakelite; enough for a hundred switchtips.
Does anyone have any experience working w/this stuff? How easy would it be to machine it into some vintage-style switchtips?
 

Wilko

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The yellow/amber color is only on the outer edges. it will be lighter as you get into the material. It starts out "white" and ambers over time.

Catalin is also a thermoset plastic made of formaldehyde and phenol with no fillers. Therefore it can be restored and reworked (using the right saftey precautions of course). Catalin is usually very colorful. Over time Catalin develops a patina, there is NO white Catalin (unless it has been restored, reworked, or has never seen sunlight). Sunlight causes the Catalin to yellow or "petina". All of the original white Catalin has yellowed over time, and clear to "apple juice", blue to green or teal, purple to brown or tan, while green, orange and red stay about the same. White marbling in marbled pieces will be yellowed. Catalin also shrinks over time, that is why most of the radios have cracks, warping, and the fiberboard on the back no longer fits.
 

toxpert

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I sacrificed an old bagpipe mount made of catalin awhile back. I cut a block of the material to shape and then tapped and turned it into a switch knob.

As noted above... only the surface is amber. My finished switch tip was a off white when done...and has only slightly yellowed to date.
 

Wilko

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Bagpipe... damn...

Majong tiles are a good place to start.
 

Classic

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I sacrificed an old bagpipe mount made of catalin awhile back. I cut a block of the material to shape and then tapped and turned it into a switch knob.

As noted above... only the surface is amber. My finished switch tip was a off white when done...and has only slightly yellowed to date.

Hope you sacrificed the bagpipes too - burn 'em baby!! :lol
 

toxpert

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Nothing like a good bagpipe solo to go along with 'It's a Long Way to the Top if You Want to Rock and Roll'....throw in a quick march and a lively reel and stand back !!!!

Set the key of the song to B flat and let 'er rip. Does a reqal good job on getting the joint to jumpin'.

Cogswell....you want some catalin to play with ??
 

toxpert

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Cogswell,
I reset my profile to enable emails. Send me a note with your address and I will send off a bagpipes mount to you.
It will have enough mass to allow you to cutout what you need.
 

Seoighs

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Sep 17, 2006
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Hey...I LOVE 'Da Pipes!

damned provincials should show a bit o' respect.

'worthy cause giving up a pipe socket for a LP switch tip, though.

If one could ever get into production numbers, you could go into partnership with the like of 'Emperor Scatterbrane' and market an 'authentic vintage' line of LP switch tips...top dollar of course.
 

toxpert

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Hey...I LOVE 'Da Pipes!

'worthy cause giving up a pipe socket for a LP switch tip, though.

no problem...these were extra mounts that were already loose bits. I scavenged them from being thrown into the dust bin.

My main 'squeeze' pipes are catalin-free.

Hey...I LOVE 'Da Pipes!

If one could ever get into production numbers, you could go into partnership with the like of 'Emperor Scatterbrane' and market an 'authentic vintage' line of LP switch tips...top dollar of course.

:wow ummm....like NO ! I can envision only terrible things happening with the selling and especially re-selling of knobs made of these bits. All kinds of false claims about 'real' vintage 50s, NOS, ect.

I'll just settle with cleaning out the bin on my workbench.:rofl
 

Cogswell

The Duke of Dumbassery
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Here's a few switch tips:

Majong tiles on ebay
Dang. I don't play mah jong, but don't you think somebody would bust into tears if they knew you were going to carve that up?

As far as bagpipes go, I LOVE bagpipes, but if we're gonna go w/esoteric instruments I want a HURDY GURDY!!!
 

JIMI55LP

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I also bought some ambered old utensils that were the original creme color under the petina. I sawed off a chunk with hack saw into a cube slightly larger than a tip, drilled and tappered the inner edge to a frounded luted opening, tapped for threads, chucked a threaded rod into a cordless drill to turn it to the shape with files and sand paper on a block using a caliper to check for size against an original. When it was the correct shape and size, I used 400 wet sand paper and 1000 grit, then finished off with plastic polish on a soft rag while it was still in the drill chuck. I placed my prototypes on a southern window sill in the garage to let the sun do its job for 3 years, and they look great with the amber formed from natural patina instead of staining to create instant color. The threads don't extend to the edge of the tip opening, so when drilling the cube, I dilled it small for the thread tapping and drilled it larger for about 3/16" depth to retain that unthreaded smooth end shoot leading from the threads to the rounded fluted edge at the opening.
 

Uncle Gary

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Nothing like a good bagpipe solo to go along with 'It's a Long Way to the Top if You Want to Rock and Roll'....throw in a quick march and a lively reel and stand back !!!!

Set the key of the song to B flat and let 'er rip. Does a reqal good job on getting the joint to jumpin'.

Cogswell....you want some catalin to play with ??

This is positive proof of just how hard AC/DC rocks! The first tune off their first US album had a BAGPIPE solo, and it DIDN"T SUCK!!!

That's rockin'!!:dude:
 

Luke Gibson

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JIMI55LP said:
I also bought some ambered old utensils that were the original creme color under the petina. I sawed off a chunk with hack saw into a cube slightly larger than a tip, drilled and tappered the inner edge to a frounded luted opening, tapped for threads, chucked a threaded rod into a cordless drill to turn it to the shape with files and sand paper on a block using a caliper to check for size against an original. When it was the correct shape and size, I used 400 wet sand paper and 1000 grit, then finished off with plastic polish on a soft rag while it was still in the drill chuck. I placed my prototypes on a southern window sill in the garage to let the sun do its job for 3 years, and they look great with the amber formed from natural patina instead of staining to create instant color. The threads don't extend to the edge of the tip opening, so when drilling the cube, I dilled it small for the thread tapping and drilled it larger for about 3/16" depth to retain that unthreaded smooth end shoot leading from the threads to the rounded fluted edge at the opening.

Got any pictures, I'd love to see the finished product! I've done the same thing (buying utensils) but haven't got around to making them yet...
 

JIMI55LP

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If I posted photos of the originals along side the Catelin copies, you can't tell any difference other than the copies are totally smooth from polishing to finish while the originals have a tiny grain of "pores" in the finish. If you look at the originals under magnification you'll see the pores have a grain effect where as the depths of the pores take on a slightly darker patina. The originals were cast to shape and unless someone polished them over the years, they should show a slight grain as I explained. I only have 6 originals but they are all this way, and making copies from Catelin handles or what ever has to be polished to remove the sanding marks from shaping the tip which makes it glassy smooth. I know this material ages and becomes brittle making me wonder if over time the finish will dimple with pored like the originals but after 13 years I don't see this happening in the ones I made in 2005, still glossy smooth?
 

Cogswell

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I know these "pores" you write about, & the ones I have made do not show this grain, at least not like an original one does. They have, however, developed a patina, & still evince a certain depth or glassiness.
I think the Bakelite or Catalin is subject to shrinking. I know that some I made show very, very fine swirls (or rings, actually) from the polishing process. These are not apparent until much later, & then you must use a jeweler's loupe to see them.
 

Big Al

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If I posted photos of the originals along side the Catelin copies, you can't tell any difference other than the copies are totally smooth from polishing to finish while the originals have a tiny grain of "pores" in the finish. If you look at the originals under magnification you'll see the pores have a grain effect where as the depths of the pores take on a slightly darker patina. The originals were cast to shape and unless someone polished them over the years, they should show a slight grain as I explained. I only have 6 originals but they are all this way, and making copies from Catelin handles or what ever has to be polished to remove the sanding marks from shaping the tip which makes it glassy smooth. I know this material ages and becomes brittle making me wonder if over time the finish will dimple with pored like the originals but after 13 years I don't see this happening in the ones I made in 2005, still glossy smooth?

It took 9 yrs to reply and no pic's?
 
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