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Old plywood smell when wet.

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  • Old plywood smell when wet.

    Has anyone noticed that old plywood amps have a certain smell to them when they get wet? My guess is the formaldehyde glue in the plywood. I have washed out a few old cabinets and they definitely emit an unusual order.

  • #2
    Maybe, but not only that.
    For us , "American" amps , specially Fender, but many other brands too had a special smell.
    Even with an *years* old amp,if one was in, say, a rehearsal room and you let it closed, on reentering days later smell was *strong*.

    Only decades later I found the cause: most US made amps were tolexed using Potdevin machines.
    VERY fast and efficient , not to mention cheap to operate when you make thousands of cabinets, cost per unit is peanuts. they apply hot glue with rollers which then give you 5 minutes to apply.

    No solvents, no waste, FAST.

    Only problem is thatb they use animal hide glue, excellent bacterial food, which woukd develop mold or rot quickly, so they added some nasty chjemical to prevent that.

    For all I know it might be some cousin of formaldehyde.

    here is a Mesa Boogie video showing how FAST you tolex a Cabinet with it:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hRJqwhUCPQ

    As|a side note, I am also a hobby photographer and partial to old Russian cameras.

    Vintage ones are covered in thin but real leather, glued wit STRONG smelling glue, must be same thing.
    Juan Manuel Fahey

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    • #3
      Juan, you've posted that video before. As an amateur having tolex'd only a couple of cabinets it's VERY intimidating and amazing

      And I'm remembering a paint job I did for a VERY well healed client that kept all her vintage Euro leather (handbags, purses, wallets, etc.) in a special cabinet in the master bedroom closet. She asked me to do anything I could to remove the strong odor from the cabinet. I washed it in bleach (twice!) and cooked it with a heater and ventilated with a fan for days. Sealed it with three coats of shellac, etc. etc... NOTHING could get rid of the odor of the old Euro leather tanning process in that cabinet. And that's just what was outgassing from the items themselves and absorbed by the paint and wood!!! If there IS an answer I'd love to know about it.
      "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

      "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

      "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

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      • #4
        When my father moved into the retirement home he gave me all his power tools and scrap lumber/plywood. The old plywood he gave me has a very similar smell. It's hard to describe the odor.

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        • #5
          Asof the leather smell, itīs built-in.
          That Lady should keep the vintage leather stuff "somewhere else", not inside her master closet.
          It depends on where you live also, if itīs dry heat itīs "safe" to leat the container "breathe" so smell does not accumulate, but if as I guess itīs a humid place, she has a high risk of mold buildup, which is worse.

          I guess that plywood smell is half "wood" smell, its natural rosins evaporating, natural turpentine, etc. and half nasty phenolic chemicals.
          Oh well.
          Juan Manuel Fahey

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          • #6
            Originally posted by J M Fahey View Post
            if as I guess itīs a humid place, she has a high risk of mold buildup, which is worse.
            What can you do with moldy leather?

            "Everything is better with a tube. I have a customer with an all-tube pacemaker. His heartbeat is steady, reassuring and dependable, not like a modern heartbeat. And if it goes wrong he can fix it himself. You can't do that with SMD." - Mick Bailey

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            • #7
              Originally posted by g1 View Post
              What can you do with moldy leather?
              Though staining sometimes is still evident.
              nosaj
              Mold doesn't have to be the reason that you throw away your favorite shoes or jacket. Here's how to clean mold off of leather.
              Binkie McFartnuggets‏:If we really wanted to know the meaning of life we would have fed Stephen Hawking shrooms a long time ago.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by J M Fahey View Post
                I am also a hobby photographer and partial to old Russian cameras.

                Vintage ones are covered in thin but real leather, glued wit STRONG smelling glue, must be same thing.
                I have a few old Russian cameras, too. I've sold a few - here's what i have left. Ever tried coffee for developing B&W film?

                Click image for larger version

Name:	Camera collection.JPG
Views:	76
Size:	2.25 MB
ID:	921077

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                • #9
                  What can you do with moldy leather?
                  My wife serves it with potatoes and a vegetable.
                  Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

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                  • #10
                    On the flipside, I recently had a new composite shingle roof put on my house. The roofers left some extra 15/32" (1/2") plywood sheets which I cut up for another house project.

                    Oh my gosh did that plywood smell good! It was like pine fresh scent on steroids! I almost want to call them up and ask them where they bought those sheets.

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                    • #11
                      Why are you letting your old amps get wet?

                      Anything is probably better than the Sunn combo amp I have that has (well, had) particle board sides that also extend down and serve as the feet. If you set it down on a wet surface the particle board would soak in the water and start to fall apart. Since they were a Portland area company you would think that they would consider that someone would set it down in a wet parking lot when loading in or out for a gig.

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                      • #12
                        By far the worst smelling plywood was where a '64 Vox AC30 has been sitting on top of a rabbit hutch in a shed for many years. I couldn't believe how bad it was and when I squeezed the soft plywood a rancid rabbit-urine stinking jelly oozed out. I dried it out over a few weeks and re-glued it where necessary. The delaminated ply was Titebonded and clamped between two pieces of thick timber. It worked out OK structurally, though the chassis and transformers had suffered quite badly and had to be renovated. After dousing it with Febreeze and a month later it seemed OK, but I visited the owner shortly after he picked it up and his entire house stank of rabbit pee. It did sound nice, though.

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                        • #13
                          Something from a while back about removing smell from amps.

                          https://music-electronics-forum.com/...method?t=45883

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