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Thread: How do I remove Black mold from amp tolex

  1. #1
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    Default How do I remove Black mold from amp tolex

    I'm sorry if I shouldn't ask this question here since it is a ukulele forum and not a vintage amp forum. I thought I would tho since there are some on here that know a lot about guitars and amps along with ukes. I posted this thread in is part of the forum because I didn't think it would be seen by the ones I wanted to see it if it was posted in the guitar area.

    I have a 1959 Gibson Explorer GA-18T. The tolex is yellowish tweed looking not actual tweed but looks like it. It is a tolex or vinyl covered and it is original.
    The covering is in great condition except the bottom of the amp. It has a black and brownish color mold on about 3/4 of the bottom. I tried Comet and hot water several times to remove the black and it hasn't removed it and I scrubbed pretty hard too. I don't know if some of you guys had experienced this and knew of what may work to get this off. It's really a bummer because the rest of the amp is in excellent shape and all original.
    One other problem question also if you don't mind. There is a part of the tolex on the bottom also that is raised maybe a little less then a 1/4 of the surface where it is loose from coming unglued and I'm not sure how to repair it. There are no tears in the tolex so that I could put some kind of adhesive or glue under it to get it to stick back to the cabinet. This was already loose and didn't happen from my trying to clean with the comet and water. I'm guessing it probably happened at the same time that it got the mold from being in a damp place. I was wondering if maybe i tried an iron on low with a rag under it and see if that would maybe help it adhere back like its supposed too or if the tolex was going to have to be cut to add glue under it to repair that part of it. I was wanting to avoid doing that if possible. The older gentleman said he bought it new when he was 15 years old when I bought it from him a couple of years ago and said it spent many years stored in a garage. It even has the original tubes made by RCA for Gibson in it. I took the original gray 59 Jenson PR-10 speaker with the big bell out and replaced it with a Weber Alnico because I had always heard you should do this when buying an old amp like that to avoid blowing the original. I have it put up safe in the closet in the box the Jensen came in so it would stay safe.
    I can upload some pictures tomorrow if you want to see the mold and the raised tolex.
    I'm sorry to have made such a long thread for these questions I have about it but I just wanted to give all the info I could so someone wouldn't have to waste their time in aking questions back about what I tried or how it happened and so forth. I didn't ask this question on another forum because it seems like a lot of ukelele luthiers and players with experience on this forum don't seem to mind helping us players when we have a problem that we need help with. I've asked questions about guitar related things on other forums such as Gibson and Les Paul and the tele forums and no one seems to ever want to help or don't have suggestions for me and I'm guessing it's probably because I'm not a frequent flyer on them. Most of my time is spent on this forum.

    I hope someone can help me with these problems and again my appoligies for asking about a non uke related problem that I need some professional help with.
    Thank you all in advance for any input you may have that would help me.

    Mark
    Last edited by Markr1; 12-08-2012 at 12:25 AM. Reason: More info

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    here are a couple of pics of the tolex that I have so you can see the material and color. I just never took any pics of the bottom because it was so ugly. I'll take a pic of the bottom today after while so you can actually see the problem.





    Last edited by Markr1; 12-08-2012 at 12:17 AM. Reason: Added pic

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    I did try and google an answer before I asked here and about the only thing I could find was someone said the spray Simply Green might work.
    I just took some pics and uploaded of the actual problems. The loose or unglued part of the tolex is in the area of the raised or wrinkled spot you can see in the upper right side.



    Last edited by Markr1; 12-08-2012 at 12:31 AM. Reason: Added info

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    Yikes! The back of this amp looks like an actual health hazard
    There's a spray sold in hardware stores here in the UK called Polyval anti-mould 3-in-1 that would probably work to remove this, but I'm not sure if it's sold in the US. You'd spray it on the tweed, let it work for a bit, then rub it off with a damp cloth / soft brush until all the mould is gone. You'd have to make sure to wear a mask and gloves though. If you can't find it there must be something similar available. The 3-in-1 aspect is important, otherwise the mould will come back.

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    That's actually the bottom of the amp. The back,sides and top look great. I need something I can get in the USA. Thanks regardless for replying.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Markr1 View Post
    That's actually the bottom of the amp. The back,sides and top look great. I need something I can get in the USA. Thanks regardless for replying.
    Oops, it's called Polycell, not Polyval. I had a quick look at their stockists list and they're not sold in the US unfortunately But there must be a similar spray available at Home Depot I suppose?

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    I'm looking forward to other replies but I'm hoping Rick Turner sees this and can help. I know he is a guitar player from way back and I'm sure he's got a history with old vintage amps and would know what I need to do or if it is even possible to get rid of it without having to replace. My preference is to keep the tolex original as we all know replacing would devalue the amp big time. High dollar on these amps in the condition and originality of mine minus the bottom being screwed up are anywhere from $900 to $1300. I just saw one on eBay go for $1250 plus shipping but the bottom wasn't messed up.
    I'm still welcoming others thoughts but can you give me some good professional advice Rick Turner?

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    I did read on one google that bleach with water works but that would probably just kill the mold and don't know that it would do anything for the stain and don't know what kind of effect it would have on the original color of the tolex. Better wait till I hear more on the subject before I try that one.
    Another one I read was Lemmon oil and rubbing it out with steel wool. The Lemmon oil I wouldn't be as concerned about as what the steel wool might do to the tolex. I do have some 000 steel I think.

    I read also that Super Glue or contact cement would work for gluing down the tolex tho it was mentioned to not try and adhere it immediately with the contact cement due to it need to dry just a little before putting it back down.
    Also heard someone mention on another site that they used Gorilla glue but I don't think I've heard to many good things about it when it comes to musical things.
    I'm unsure of any of these things I just mentioned, just going off what I read. I'm waiting to here other opinions here before I do anything. I doesn't look as bad in person as it does in the pics but I know now after seeing them in the pics something is going to have to be done about it.
    Last edited by Markr1; 12-08-2012 at 03:46 AM.

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    Are you sure that is mold? If it is, it's probably in between the tolex and the plywood bottom too. Either way, I would be tempted to cut out the tolex on the bottom leaving an inch or so over lapping, or at least cut a slit to see if the ply is rotten or damaged. If you take a small hammer and tap on the bottom are there any soft spots? It looks like it was sitting on a concrete floor for years and had water/dampness condensing on it. May not be mold but water damage.

    I would float your questions to this guy.

    http://www.vintage-amp.com/
    Last edited by Skinny Money McGee; 12-08-2012 at 04:34 AM. Reason: add link

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    It sounds and feels solid when I tap on it and there is no sign of damage when I look at the bottom from the inside. After looking at it again I guess the only part that may concern me about being mold are the black spots. The brown parts are probably okay I would guess but there again I don't know for sure. I would hate to cut out a part of the tolex if I didn't have to. I wouldn't have a problem taking a blade to it and splitting it a little to check which I'm probably going to end up having to do anyway to get some glue in there to get the tolex back down. I am going to wait to hear a pretty for sure confirmation from someone before I do go and do anything. I've learned over the years with things like this if you don't know then don't do it unless someone that does know tells you otherwise.
    Quote Originally Posted by Skinny Money McGee View Post
    Are you sure that is mold? If it is, it's probably in between the tolex and the plywood bottom too. Either way, I would be tempted to cut out the tolex on the bottom leaving an inch or so over lapping, or at least cut a slit to see if the ply is rotten or damaged. If you take a small hammer and tap on the bottom are there any soft spots? It looks like it was sitting on a concrete floor for years and had water/dampness condensing on it. May not be mold but water damage.

    I would float your questions to this guy.

    http://www.vintage-amp.com/

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