Surface Gold Failure

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Raymond Chapman
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Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2004 5:50 pm
Location: Temple. Texas

Surface Gold Failure

Post by Raymond Chapman » Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:35 am

Yesterday I was informed by a client that a dimensional sign we had done about 18 months ago had failed. The structure is still sound but the surface gold has begun to turn loose.

We used LeFranc 12 hour size. A few other jobs have shown some similiar failures.

If I remember correctly, there was a discussion here of some problems with LeFranc but I don't recall the particulars.

Any advice on another brand of size or if LeFranc is better now. I've got three and twelve hour LeFranc and several cans of each. Any way of knowing what is good and what isn't?

Danny Baronian
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Re: Surface Gold Failure

Post by Danny Baronian » Tue Aug 11, 2009 11:17 am

Hi Raymond,

Do you know when you purchased the size used on the signs in question?

If I were to do a similar job today, I'd use Luna, manufactured in Germany. It was purchased from Art Essentials of NY in 3 and 12 hour size. You'll need to do a test to determine when the size is ready for gilding as Luna seems to go off faster than LeFranc. Using 50/50 of 3 and 12, it's ready to go in about 6 hours with an open time of a day. It flows well, and levels out much like 1 shot fast size. If you want to size one day and gild the next I'd test 50 50 of 3 hour and 24 hour size.

Rick Glawson once said to never use a fat size by itself, to always add some 3 hour, i.e. using 12 or 24 hour, add some 3 hour to it. It's been a long time since I'd heard this, and my have just applied to the LeFranc. Doug Bernhardt turned me onto Luna as he is using this now, so if he check's in, he could elaborate.

I don't know how to tell the age of one can of LeFranc to the next, call Sepp Leaf, I'm sure they'd be able to answer that. The change in LeFranc came when they had to remove the lead, due to formula changes as we've seen in the US in paint content. From what I remember there were two changes after the original formula, neither of which worked as well as the original.

The attached shield was done with Luna about 2 years ago. The base was painted with automotive paint, followed by a coat of yellow, then Luna 50/50 of 3 and 12 hr size, then gilded.

Danny
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Raymond Chapman
Posts: 342
Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2004 5:50 pm
Location: Temple. Texas

Re: Surface Gold Failure

Post by Raymond Chapman » Tue Aug 11, 2009 12:44 pm

Thanks Danny for the post and especially for the phone call. You've given me good advice and I'll follow up on it.

I'll let you know what happens.

Kent Smith
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Re: Surface Gold Failure

Post by Kent Smith » Wed Aug 12, 2009 12:53 pm

I have had good results with current versions of LeFranc/Charbonnel slow size (yellow label). The bigest issues in formula changes were in the quick size (3 hour) as well as all brands of the quick...varnish based sizes. I would be more concerned about other issues of failures. Is the gold falling off the size or is it taking the size with it. If it is falling off the size, what is the top appearance of the size...glossy or flat? If the size is coming off too, what is the ground painted with and how long did it cure before applying size. Was there a hardener used in the ground? What is the appearance of the size that is still stuck to the gold. Other environmental issues arise which we can explore as well but evaluating a failure must consider more that the possibility that the size was bad.

Certainly how long the size was on the shelf is a principal cause of failures as the dryer will settle out and never be remixed into the size.

Patrick Mackle
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Re: Surface Gold Failure

Post by Patrick Mackle » Wed Aug 12, 2009 1:00 pm

Kent,
A very good list and insight of points to evaluate the problem.
Pat

Raymond Chapman
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Re: Surface Gold Failure

Post by Raymond Chapman » Wed Aug 12, 2009 1:48 pm

Hey Kent...you're just supposed to tell me what's wrong, not ask all those questions. :)

The size had been sitting on the shelf for several years, so that could be the problem. There are no sprinkler problems, just Texas heat.

The gold that is still on the letters looks good but has just separated from the letter. It looks like the size is still on the letters. The sign was painted with acrylics but the letters were done in One Shot Lettering Enamel and then the size over that.

We've had similar problems recently with gold in the border cove around the eldge of several signs...all done about the same time.

Thanks for the helpful advice. I knew that Kent would probably know what the problem was, even if he did have to ask a bunch of questions.

Dan Seese
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Re: Surface Gold Failure

Post by Dan Seese » Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:07 pm

This is interesting (& a bit disturbing.)

The first time I've had gold leaf failure on a sign was this summer. I had installed it this spring. Gold just flaked off a bunch of the letters - in spots. Similar to what Raymond said, it looks like the size is still on the letters.

I thought maybe the surface underneath was too slick or maybe not cured enough.

I just sanded down the letters and reapplied size on location and then re-gilded. I didn't even think about the fact that the size might be bad. It's from a can that has been opened for a few years so maybe it will fail again!

Kent: I just did some letters in the shop earlier this week. Opened a "new" can of LeFranc. (It is an older can - before the formula was changed - but newly opened.) I got a beautiful gild but should I be concerned about the dryers having settled as you mention? Too late to do anything now short of removing everything & starting over but wondering if I should toss this newly opened can & just use fresh batches.

Thanks for making my day.
Dan
"The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne."
Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340 - 1400)

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Roderick Treece
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Re: Surface Gold Failure

Post by Roderick Treece » Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:42 pm

I always treasured my Lefranc 12 hr size but quite a few years ago I noticed it started to fish eye after brushing it out.I finally gave up on it and threw it out. I didn't have that much left anyway. I have never had any lifting problems though.
Good luck

Roderick
www.goldleafsign.com

Doug Bernhardt
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Re: Surface Gold Failure

Post by Doug Bernhardt » Wed Aug 12, 2009 8:46 pm

Hey guys....glad I checked in here. Danny's right that I've been using the Luna for a while now......ever since I ran out of the last can of the previous formula of LaFrancs......just to avoid any problems with fixes/patches etc until htey remedied and I had a go-ahead from all yewez guys. My short take on it is if the can is a couple of years old it's likely the old formula.....check to see if it has the lead warning. If so, the finishes are where I'd look first. I almost never use the acrylics so I'd fall flat on my face to go any further. Just to go with the 50/50 idea further. Rick was using one-shot with 12hr if I remember correctly. Round here I add some 24 hour to my 12 to get a good "gild next morning" job and rarely do it all in a single day. Just a workflow thing. I think everyone seems to add some slow to the 3 or quicker sizes to add open time. First time I saw that was at Noel Weber's shop some 15 or so years ago.

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Re: Surface Gold Failure

Post by Danny Baronian » Thu Aug 13, 2009 4:53 am

Kent,

of the results you've had with the new LeFranc, how long have they been up outside?

I have no idea how to tell a new can from the original, the old labels are also yellow. Of the remaining cans in stock, most are in French. One in English listed lead in it's contents. Most likely they all do knowing their age.

I decided to use Luna after talking with Doug, knowing his prep for gold work, the environment and length of time the signs have been up. Six months to a year is not sufficient time to have confidence that a product will hold up well. Raymond's size failure after 18 months is a good example. The Texas heat, storage or length of time it sat on the store shelf could have all contributed to it's failure, new formula or old. When Luna was recommended, I believe Doug had signs up and installed in Ottawa longer than that.

I've wondered what others experiences are with LeFranc's new formulation, but haven't heard anything until this post. I'd be leery of using it unless I knew it performed as it once did over a long period of time. It makes no sense to purchase material to run a long term test to see if it holds up, when provided with a proven product.

The picture posted above is 48" in diameter, took over a pack of gold, and a day to gild. I've produced 5 similar to that in the past 2 years. Should one fail, I would be responsible for the cost of re gilding.

Dan, don't throw the size out. I store all my size upside down in a cool place. I have about 6 cans remaining, and they all appear fine in looks and use. All were purchased from Rick about a year or two before he passed. That would make them between 6-7 years old. Make a sample and prep it as you would a normal job, size, gild it, and with a sharpie label the back with the date and all the specifics: ratio of mix, open time, etc. Hang the sign on a south facing wall of your house or shop, and check it periodically, and you'll know exactly what to expect.

I'd imagine if the drier did settle, you'd know before you gild, as the size wouldn't dry.

I visited Sparky Potter at his home / shop in Vermont long ago. Besides being impressed with his work, I took note of the side of his house, with dozens of letters and carvings that been gilded or painted. It looked like an artistic paint test site. From that he could tell what held up, and what didn't.

Danny
Danny Baronian
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Kent Smith
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Re: Surface Gold Failure

Post by Kent Smith » Thu Aug 13, 2009 8:59 am

A few observations: If the dryer was the problem, then the size would not adhere properly to the enamel. The "old" formula would be in green cans not yellow. When the gold falls off the size that means the size cured out hard which could be the result of too much dryer in the mix (formula problem), too much dryer migration from not totally cured enamel underneath or too quick a cure of the size in the Texas (or anywhere else for that matter) heat. When the size gets hard instead of elastic, it looses it's adhesive properties and the gold no longer sticks. I have examples of gilding that is over 3 or 4 years old and still in good shape, including some dimensional letters in Corpus Christi, Texas (also hot).

I have not tried the Luna size yet...I have plenty of good stock...but whenever anyone has success, I would say that is a valid recommendation.

Danny Baronian
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Re: Surface Gold Failure

Post by Danny Baronian » Thu Aug 13, 2009 5:50 pm

I spoke with Mark at Sepp Leaf this morning to get first hand facts on lefranc Charbonnel oil size.

12 hour size is the only one of the three that had lead in it, and was the only formula to be changed. 3 and 24 hour formulas remain unchanged, and are lead free.

For at least the past 15 years that Mark knows of, the 3, 12 and 24 hr size cans have yellow labels. Older cans, if English is included indicate lead as a content or have a orange skull and cross bones printed on the label. The first reformulation of 12 hr lefranc failed badly, and was removed from the market for a year. The formulation has a yellow label and can be identified by imprinted text 'lead free' on the label. This batch will fail and should be disposed of.

The 3rd and last formulation of 12 hr size works much like the original with the exception of set up time before gilding. It's recommended to apply the size and allow it to set up for 24 - 48 hours or more prior to gilding. The new batch has a brown / tan label.

Danny
Danny Baronian
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Doug Bernhardt
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Re: Surface Gold Failure

Post by Doug Bernhardt » Thu Aug 13, 2009 8:00 pm

Good show on the research Danny. As mentioned have been using the Luna for a year or so now and was waiting for test results like this. I had a fair amount of the old LeFranc mixture and before finishing it off I heard of the problems and avoided the new. Having said that it will be hard to change now as any company that will spring new products without proper testing loses a measure credibility. Back to Ray's problem from here will be the challenge. Me thinks(if I read right)he's using the old formula and still has the problem. I go with Kent and would like to see a residue of dried size still on the sign before I would blame the berated Mr. LeFranc. I have no experience with work in his climate but do use acrylic overcoats(before gold) almost always.

Kent Smith
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Re: Surface Gold Failure

Post by Kent Smith » Thu Aug 13, 2009 8:29 pm

Good information Danny, glad you had time to call. I still get calls from people having trouble with size in green cans, definately too old. I had forgotton about the lead-free yellow cans though.

It may be that LeFranc did not change their 3 hour but all of the other manufacturers did, according to my research at the time. It seems to me however, that Peter indicated they had changed too but this was in 1988. I was trying to get a sense of the issue since Chromatic was making a 3 hour version then too. Everyone was experimenting for better drying times and various tack times.

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Re: Surface Gold Failure

Post by Danny Baronian » Wed Sep 30, 2009 1:32 am

Raymond sent these photos to illustrate the problems with the size discussed.

Danny
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Kent Smith
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Re: Surface Gold Failure

Post by Kent Smith » Wed Sep 30, 2009 10:16 am

It appears from the photos that the size did indeed cure out hard thus letting go of the leaf.

ericmalicoat
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Re: Surface Gold Failure

Post by ericmalicoat » Wed Oct 07, 2009 12:16 pm

I am hoping to get clarification about the mix on the Luna size. Contacted them and ordered a can of each (they described as slow size and quick size in their emails).

Rereading this post as I prepared for a job, I began to wonder if there are actually three speeds of Luna size and if so, which ones to mix for different open times. My inclination is to want to apply the size one afternoon and gild the next morning.

I'm also curious if there are any changes to prep requirements from using LeFranc or Oneshot. It sounds like it goes over OneShot or automotive paint fine, but I'd rather ask than find out the hard way. Any problems with using Kaolin powder?

Thanks

Eric

Kent Smith
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Re: Surface Gold Failure

Post by Kent Smith » Wed Oct 07, 2009 10:37 pm

Eric, size adheres well to enamel and not so well to automotive or two components. I would make samples with notes to find the best tack times. Mixes of sizes can be done, keeping track of amounts of each along with time to tack. Also note differences in tack time when adding tints (Mixol tends to not change tack time while oil colors and enamels may).

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