Gourd Banjo II

P. U.

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Last week I scraped the slime and mold out of my gourd and tried to figure out how to get the smell out of it. This week I tried a trick that I once did to a hat.

It was a really nice hat. It was a real Bowler...not one of those cheap knock-offs from the novelty shops. This was a real fine Bowler hat with a lining and everything. The hat even fit my head perfectly. I had inherited it from my in-laws many years ago. I figured that it would be a perfect hat for me to wear when I am in my banjo-playing getup. In fact, here is an old photo of me wearing that very same hat:


That was a few years ago, but I still smile when I wear that hat.

The only problem with the hat was that it had a musty, moldy smell to it. I certainly did not want to wear something that smelled like that on my head. I heard or read somewhere that if you take a moldy hat and put it into a plastic bag and fill the bag with crumpled newspapers and leave it for a looong time, the moldy smell will go away. So that is what I did. It took a long time, but the trick did work, and now I can wear the hat in style.

So... getting back to my stinky gourd, I thought that I would try the same trick on my gourd. I got a kitchen trash bag and stuffed it full of newspapers plus the gourd:


Then I tied it shut and put it into the garage for the week.


That was last week. It is now a week later, so I got the bag out of the garage and opened it to see if the trick had helped. Here is the gourd just as I took it out of the bag:


It is better than it was. The paper smells moldy like the gourd did, but that is probably an indication that it is working. The gourd is better, but it still stinks, see here:


BTW, if you actually tried the Scratch n' Sniff, you need to get away from the computer and get out more. I do wish I could share this smell with you, but we still don't have smell-o-vision despite all the promises made back in the 50's. The scariest part was that as soon as I pulled the gourd out of the bag a housefly showed up to check it out. I guess it still smells like garbage to a fly. I think that little dot in the photo is the fly.

I decided that I had to try something else. The paper was not working well enough. So I found a household deodorizer in the bathroom.


This stuff has to work. It says so right on the bottle!


It also says "Do not use on wood", but I don't really care if it bleaches the color out of the inside of the gourd. It does have bleach in it. See here:


I got a D in chemistry, but people who are smarter than me tell me that Sodium Hypochlorite is bleach. I wonder what "Other Ingredients" are?

But I digress. Back to the gourd. I sprayed down the gourd and then did some sanding while I waited for the bleach to work.


There is always sanding to do. It takes forever to do the sanding.


After a suitable waiting period I checked out the gourd to see how it was doing.

It still stinks.

Here is another old-time deodorizing trick; baking soda.


I dumped a pile of baking soda into the gourd and spread it around on all the sides. Then I set the gourd aside to let the baking soda work and went back to sanding.


A while later I checked up on the gourd and..... it still smells bad. At this point I had just about decided to give up on my pretty little (stinky) gourd and just start another one. I hated to do that, but I cannot use a gourd that smells like garbage. Here is the next one in line. It is not as nicely shaped as the other one, and it is larger, but I will cap it and see what happens.


Same trick with the ruler to get an even line around the gourd.


Then I cut to the line using my panel saw.


As soon as I have broken through the shell, I plunge the saw into the gourd and cut around. This goes very quickly because the gourd is soft.


Sorry about the lousy focus. Here's the gourd guts.


Then I scraped out the guts with my scraper.


I had originally planned to soak the gourd over night and then scrape out the slime tomorrow. But as I cleaned out the large parts, I found that it really was not more difficult to just scrape it dry. So that is what I did. The less water I have in this thing the better. You cannot tell in the photo, but I am wearing a dust mask while I do this work so that I won't breathe the dust and/or mold spores. This is very important if you are going to do this work. Don't do it without a mask of some kind.

Here is the gourd all cleaned out (about an hour later).


Here it is next to the little one with the baking soda in it. You can see that the new one is a bit larger than the other one.


I took a sniff to see what the situation was. Guess what! The new one smells as bad as the old one! Something has gone wrong with my gourds. I think maybe they are all rotting from the inside out. I have to stop this mold. I am not going to fool around with this any more. I got out the big guns.

Big Guns

That's right. Clorox®. This is real bleach. I mixed one ounce of Clorox® in about a cup of water in my bucket to make a strong solution. I don't know what the concentration is, but it is way more than the 2.40% in the Tilex®. I will not take this stuff inside the house, so it should be OK to douse the gourd with it. I got a sponge.


Then I soaked the entire inside of the gourd.


In fact, I soaked both of the gourds. I put a lot of the bleach solution into the gourds. My plan is to let the bleach soak into the wood and then leave it there. That ought to kill the mold and discourage it from coming back. Here is the pair of them.


I put them in the sun to dry out. That is it for today. I hope I didn't bore you with all this gourd cleaning. Unfortunately, that is what I have to do before I can continue working on the banjo.

I spent about 3 hours on this today. It was a long day, but I really do need to get the stink out of the gourds.

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Original post date July 14, 2008

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Last updated July 14, 2008