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MMD > Archives > December 2001 > 2001.12.11 > 06Prev  Next

Neoprene Tubing vs. Plastic Tubing
By Craig Brougher

Just because I and others have suggested not using clear plastic
tubing in player pianos doesn't mean that all of it is no good.
It does mean that the stuff commonly found for that application is
no good.

I don't use plastic in traditional or antique instruments, of course.
But there are novelty uses for a good grade of plastic tubing and hose.
You just can't plunk ten bucks on the counter and tell the clerk to
sell you some.  And here is where I also need advice:

If you are going to buy a good grade of plastic tubing, whether
black or clear, get a food-drug stabilized plastic, or one designed
to transport chemicals.  Someone here will probably be able to tell us
what brand or brands work the best, or at least what to ask for, as to
the type we are looking for.  The common kind of clear plastic tubing
and hose reacts with brass because the oils carry acid out of the
plastic.  And wherever such tubing is stretched -- even slightly --
over a straight-walled nipple, over time the plastic in that area is
under tension (compression in the center) and that forces plasticizer
out of the compressed section and finally it drips from the tubing.
Barbed fittings don't have that problem as bad, because the barb allows
the uncompressed section of the fitting to store the oil that's

The idea of stabilized plastic tubing is the same as the clear
plastic bottles you can buy for mayonnaise and stuff.  Were plasticizers
to leach out of that plastic they would contaminate and poison the
food.  So the oils used to make uric acid, carbonic acid, modified
ethylene, and other substances into plastic and vinyl are so completely
cross-linked that internal pressures and even metals they are attracted
to will not pull them out of the matrix they are locked into.

I am presently familiar with only one name of tubing, Tygon, and I do
not know if all grades of Tygon are stabilized to the degree we want
them, or not.  Suppliers will ask you, "Are you using it for liquids
and chemicals, or just air fittings?"  Of course, the answer is, "None
of your business!"

Craig Brougher

(Message sent Tue 11 Dec 2001, 14:53:14 GMT, from time zone GMT-0800.)

Key Words in Subject:  Neoprene, Plastic, Tubing, vs

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