Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ironing Pads

We all know that ironing takes out wrinkles in clothing and other fabrics, but did you know that ironing can also take out wrinkles in flute pads?  It's not possible to iron pads with a traditional household iron, but there is definitely a pad ironing tool and a procedure for doing this properly.  We had the chance to catch up with Repair Technician, Rachel Baker, to find out more.

Rachel told us that felt pads are most likely to wrinkle, and it is a new felt pad that is particularly vulnerable.  Why is this?  Well, with a new felt pad, pressure is exerted on the pad once the washer and screw are in place. As the screw is tightened, the washer pushes down on the pad, which can then cause the area of the pad around the washer to wrinkle.  Wrinkles can be problematic when flute finishers and repairmen are using a feeler gauge to check for leaking pads.  The wrinkle itself may pull on the gauge when the key cup is closed, which ordinarily would mean the pad is sealing.  However, this is a "false gauging" because once the wrinkle is smoothed out by ironing, the feeler gauge may pull through, detecting that there is a leak. 

So, how does one iron a pad?  Surprisingly, the process follows the same basic principles as ironing fabrics.  The pad iron is a small, flat hand-held tool as you will see in the photos below.  It is dipped into a bit of water and then used to lightly dampen the pad.  The pad iron is then heated just a bit (and very very carefully) with an alcohol lamp.  If the iron is too hot, it can actually burn the pad, so heating the iron properly is key.  After the iron is heated, it is applied to the pad.  We watched as Rachel "swiped" it in a circle over the pad.  Then, you are done!  The wrinkles are gone, and the pad is smooth!

Wrinkled pad.

The pad iron and a small glass of water.  Iron will be dipped in water to dampen the pad.
Dampening the pad with the pad iron.
Heating the pad iron carefully.
Ironing out the wrinkles.
Done!  Pad is smooth again!

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