Salvaging guitars from a flood

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Salvaging guitars from a flood

Postby Eric Schmitt » Wed Aug 17, 2016 11:20 am

Hi all,

I live in south Louisiana right where all the flood is. I got caught right in the middle of it and my house went under water. Don't worry, the wife and I are fine. We haven't made it back to the area yet but should be in the next day or two to assess the damage and start th clean up process.

This is where I need help from you guys/gals. I 100% sure all my guitars and spare parts went underwater but I want to salvage as much as I can from them. What is going to be the best course of action to salvage as much as I can. Bodies, necks and any other wood components? Hardware (bridges, tuners etc)? Pickups and other electronics?

Thank you in advance for any advice

Eric Schmitt
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Joined: Sat May 26, 2012 10:48 pm
Location: Louisiana

Re: Salvaging guitars from a flood

Postby Jim McConkey » Wed Aug 17, 2016 5:20 pm

Too bad Amy is not hanging around any more. She has repaired more New Orleans flood instruments than anyone. The first step is to salvage what you can and THOROUGHLY dry out everything. Wood and wooden instruments will take forever, easily months. If you have electrics, take off all the covers and hardware so the cavities can dry inside. Take off what hardware you can, even on acoustics, because there will be moisture trapped underneath for a long time, leading to rust or oxidation.

It wasn't quite the same thing, but we had a flood at our house two years ago from a broken water pipe that damaged a bunch of my instruments. Some eventually (several months!) dried out enough to be usable. On soundboard of one of my dulcimers came unglued in a few places. That was easy enough to reglue. The back warped and almost cracked, but settled back enough to be playable after many months. My mandolin was not quite as fortunate. The top split and warped beyond all hope and I have no choice but to replace it, which I am just now getting around to. I forgot to pull the pickguard, which has small screws, and they rusted. If you have any electronics {(amps, synths, effects, etc.) don't even think about powering them up or even attaching a power cord until they have had more than enough time to be bone dry inside. For anything battery powered, remove the batteries as soon as you can. I lost a tuner and amp because water fell on them while power was still applied, blowing all the output stages. I have the skills to repair those, but not the time, and insurance covered the replacement anyway.

As for the house, be sure to read the Clint Searcy (former MIMF staffer) and Sunpie Barnes (New Orleans squeezebox master) flood restoration discussions in the new Library. MIMF members were heavily involved in salvage and repair at both. I never made it to New Orleans to work on Sunpie's place, but I spent week making Clint's house livable. If the house isn't totaled, as soon as you get back rip out the floors and walls at least 4' over the flood level, and be sure to puncture and remove any under-floor insulation, which by now will be a stinking moldy mess. Likewise any ventilation pipes under the house. The idea is to remove any place water was or can still be and get the place totally dried out as soon as possible.
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Jim McConkey
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Re: Salvaging guitars from a flood

Postby Gordon Bellerose » Wed Aug 17, 2016 9:20 pm

It may be a good idea to clean any hardware with naphtha. You can soak the pieces in it, and wipe it off. After that if you feel it is necessary, wipe it with a small amount of 3 kn 1 oil. Finally wipe it clean with a soft rag.
I need your help. I can't possibly make all the mistakes myself!
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Re: Salvaging guitars from a flood

Postby Randolph Rhett » Thu Aug 18, 2016 1:46 am

Meanwhile, were in year five of the worst drought I've ever experienced. As a child I went to summer camp on a lake in the Sierras known for its sailing. The camp has been in business at that location for 75 years. The water levels are so low you can now walk across what used to be the main sailing cove.

What in the world is going on?
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Re: Salvaging guitars from a flood

Postby Brian Evans » Thu Aug 18, 2016 6:51 am

The climate is changing?
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Re: Salvaging guitars from a flood

Postby Jason Rodgers » Thu Aug 18, 2016 9:16 am

Eric, I'm so sorry. I don't know if you've experienced anything like this before, but I admire your thinking ahead and planning for quick action when the water subsides.

Good advice, so far. Here's a question: since it seems like a good idea to separate metal from wood, what does one do about the truss rod (assuming that the neck and fingerboard are okay-ish)?
-Ruining perfectly good wood, one day at a time.
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