Bird Washing 101, the NO SOLVENT method
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Taxidermy.Net Forum  |  Beginners, Training & Tutorials  |  Tutorials  |  Topic: Bird Washing 101, the NO SOLVENT method « previous next »
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Nancy C
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« on: February 27, 2008, 07:25:24 PM »

Okay, as promised, here is a quick summary of how I wash and degrease waterfowl without using any solvent.
The bird in the first picture has already been wire-wheeled. This is how much Dawn I use for the first application. (Just FYI, I leave the wing joints intact until just before I mount the bird because I think they are less likely to snag and tear the skin while it's in the tumbler.)

I use warm water, agitate it thoroughly, and then follow up by lightly brushing the inside of the skin with a toothbrush to help dislodge the oil from in between the feather butts.

In the next picture I have rinsed it several times and the water is looking pretty clear, but PAY ATTENTION: It still needs additional washing. You can tell by looking at the down feathers. Notice how the barbs of the down are parallel to each other, like miniature paintbrushes. That means that it isn't clean enough.

I gave it another application of Dawn (although not as much as the first time), went over it again with the toothbrush, and then rinsed it several more times.
Look at the difference. It is subtle, but it is crucial. The barbs are now floating freely with no sign of clumping or stringiness.

Continue rinsing, using immersion, agitation, and then squeezing out the excess water, until the water stays crystal clear and the down is still floating free. (Sometimes it will wait until you think you are on the final rinse, and THEN it will suddenly get stringy again. Be aware of that possibility!)

You are finally done washing and rinsing when you squeeze out the water over the same area where you rinsed it, and it makes no suds at all.

Suds have no cleaning benefit at all. They are merely an aid to help with rinsing.

I'm going to start another post for the second half of this. (I'm not sure how many photos I can put into one post before causing the forum to go into meltdown!)
« Last Edit: February 28, 2008, 12:02:35 AM by Nancy C » Logged

full fan
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« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2008, 07:30:49 PM »

Thanks Nancy.. that is how I've been doing it for a few years & have had no problems.
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afthunt
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« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2008, 07:47:19 PM »

That is what i have been doing, no gas or solvent. I do have one question when you get done washing your turkeys do you soak them in any kind of solvent to disperse any water or do you tumble them?
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Riverdale Taxidermy
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« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2008, 07:53:28 PM »

Thanks so much for posting this just got my gifted duck today and want to get started on it and was curious how to do this without solvent. THANK YOU!
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Nancy C
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« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2008, 07:57:50 PM »

After the birds are washed and rinsed I blot them between two towels. I also invert the wings, legs, head and neck and blot inside those areas as well. I then give the skins a quick fluffing with the air nozzle in order to break up any clumps of feathers. They are then ready for the tumbler. (The entire towel and fluff sequence takes no more than 2 or 3 minutes.)

Fresh out of the tumbler after about 11 minutes. I was hoping to get some really disheveled primaries so I could show how I deal with that issue, but this was the worst of all 6 wings. It had one broken primary feather and one gone, so it was already pre-disposed to have "issues." This is "before:"

A statement I read decades ago in an ornithology textbook was a major breakthrough for me. It said, quite simply, that "A bird's wing is a self-maintaining structure." What this means is that the act of flying keeps the wing feathers groomed and in proper alignment. We humans can somewhat simulate this effect by blowing air over the wing in the same direction that it would flow during flight. Here is the same wing literally a few seconds later:

The blast of air also removes any corn cob grit that has gotten stuck in the feather barbs. (I use about 60psi to blow feathers.)
At this point the skin has been blown free of excess cob grit and it is now ready to blow dry. Notice that I haven't tumbled it ALL the way dry. I don't think it helps that much, and it will definitely over-dry the skin and cause more rough feathers that will only need to be fixed. It isn't catastrophic if they tumble a bit too long, but why give yourself extra grief?

Blow drying a skin from that state to THIS one takes about 15 minutes.

Here is a closeup of the down around the incision:


This skin will never leak grease. It can't, because there isn't any left for it to leak!

You solvent users can jump all over me now - I don't mind. After all, I used it myself for over 20 years.
And - believe it or not! -  I can tell a clean bird skin from a greasy one.
I used to think that the sludge in the bottom was grease, too. The thing is, grease MIXES with solvent, it doesn't sink to the bottom. If you re-use the same gas, even if you strain it, you are just distributing that grease among all of the birds that you do. It isn't always noticeable, but it will definitely leave a film on highly iridescent feathers.
I knew that turkeys had to have brand new white gas to work properly, but it took me quite a while to figure out why that was. Since I quit using solvent, they always turn out shiny and clean.
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Wildthings
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« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2008, 10:34:15 PM »

Excellent post Nancy Thank you. A question and a request. What is the string on the foot for? And can you show us a picture of what your cleaned real skulls look like and the technique for getting them there. Im always concern that I dont get them clean enough so therefore always using a cast head.
BTW the turkey legs came out awesome Thanks
Barry
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SteveP
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« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2008, 10:40:18 PM »

Thanks Nancy, those pics and associated info are invaluble. I've seen videos and read books on fleshing and cleaning and still struggle. My back usually starts to give me grief from standing over the sink before the water starts to wring clean. When I build my shop, I will have a taller utility sink for washing skins. One question though, where are all the holes in the back half of those skins?
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George Roof
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« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2008, 10:41:45 PM »

Bless you Nancy Crocker and THANKS.
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Nancy C
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« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2008, 11:50:08 PM »

Excellent post Nancy Thank you. A question and a request. What is the string on the foot for? And can you show us a picture of what your cleaned real skulls look like and the technique for getting them there. Im always concern that I dont get them clean enough so therefore always using a cast head.

Barry


 ;D The string is my way of identifying individual birds when I do a batch of the same species that belong to more than one client. The one with the string belongs to a different person than the other two, and it will stay on until the bird is mounted and gets it's own tag reattached. I just make a notation on the tag before I separate it from the bird. (Right leg, left leg, both, 2 right, etc, etc ... )
I also do it whenever I have those marathon skinning days, you know, when the freezer gets a bit too full for comfort.  ;)

I'll take a picture of a cleaned skull tomorrow ... 'cuz I did NOT get all 3 of those mounted today!   :-[ :-[
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copper
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« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2008, 11:59:14 PM »

after pulling it from final rinse, try putting it in the washer on the spin cycle. Works like a charm and straight to the tumbler.
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Wildthings
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« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2008, 12:26:08 AM »


 ;D The string is my way of identifying individual birds when I do a batch of the same species that belong to more than one client. The one with the string belongs to a different person than the other two, and it will stay on until the bird is mounted and gets it's own tag reattached. I just make a notation on the tag before I separate it from the bird. (Right leg, left leg, both, 2 right, etc, etc ... )
I also do it whenever I have those marathon skinning days, you know, when the freezer gets a bit too full for comfort.  ;)


that's what I thought - excellent

I'll take a picture of a cleaned skull tomorrow ... 'cuz I did NOT get all 3 of those mounted today!   :-[ :-[

Thanks Nancy !!
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GulfcoastWF
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« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2008, 01:14:51 AM »

wow, there seems to be a fine line drawn between the "gasers" and the "soapers".  I did really enjoy the post and am looking forward to the other half.

Not to stoak the fire, but there seems to be an aweful lot of hiding places for water and moisture to hold in grease that people seem not to be adressing at this point (wingbones, legs, etc.).  Why not gas and KNOW you are doing everything humanly possible to.... and if only... (((HELP))) in getting the bird to a better state for preservation? Speed may not be an issue for some but I cant see why anyone would want to spend all those hours blowing a few bird dry.  I'd go broke.

My skinner washed 4 birds today, after skinning 8 while I finished my batch of quail....  In between birds, we hopped back and fourth to read the discussion (having internet in the studio is great by the way).  He fleshed, defatted and washed the birds EXTREMELY well just as you have nancey (only diff. is that ours are case sknned), and I mean he washed the T total slop out of 'em.   The rinse water was so clear you'd want to drink it.... still, few minutes later there was the dirty bit of grease in the bottom of the gas tub, not much, but enough to make me want to continue using gas..... and if that gooy, slimy, yellow lookin sludge at the bottom is just water, as someone said before, then how did it clump up when we poured it through a paper paint filter?  try that and see for yourself what happens.  looks like canola and a little syrup. 

I have a lot of respect for some of the talented people on this thread but if I can not convince myself in the end that I need just dawn and water, then I will definately stick with what works for me and I encourage everyone to do the same. Do what you feel is best for you. thanks for the info everyone.

LJ
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Nancy C
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« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2008, 01:44:12 AM »

This is my honest opinion, but no more than that since I'm not a chemist and I don't have the facilities to analyze that goo. (But I know the stuff you are talking about.)
I *think* that it is mostly tissue fluid, aka: protoplasm. It is like a thin protein soup that oozes out of the skin cells whenever something presses on them - which is what happens when they are immersed in a liquid that can't quite penetrate the cell walls.
Anyway, I was as skeptical as anybody out there. I stuck with white gas for over 20 years, so I can understand the loyalty to it. I just don't share it anymore.

LJ, I case skin upland birds, but I don't see as much benefit to it on waterfowl. I'm sure it would work, though.
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« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2008, 09:32:16 AM »

I can see the arguments for both sides and routinely use both methods with similar results with the gas being faster as far as getting the bird fluffed. 

HOWEVER, I do have one question Nancy:  my area has high humidity, with that said, my tumbling stays wet when only using the water metod.  When I use white gas, it keeps my tumbling dry.  Do you use more tumbling and have to change it more frequently with your method? 
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mimes
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« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2008, 10:22:29 AM »

Excellent post! Will definately be keeping up with this one.
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