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Thread: GENERAL: What should be sent to a repair shop vs. DIY

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    Hidden Valley, AZ
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    634
    +1 on never moving the compensator slides for tuning. Once in a while I pull the 3rd one to find a small drip, but as soon as you lay the thing across your lap it drains anyway.

    Dennis
    3 notes and the truth.

    1966 Besson 181 highly modified New Standard, Wick 4AL
    1918 Hawkes & Son euph 3&1 original
    1917 Conn C/D/Eb mellophone original
    1915 York Bb tenorhorn original, Bach 5GS

  2. Quote Originally Posted by John Morgan View Post
    Graeme: Don't think I would try that myself. Number one, you have to put the vent in the correct place. Number two, you have to know how big a hole to make. Number three, you don't want metal bits inside the valve, there are ways to avoid this, usually done by people who REALLY know that they are doing. Number four, you have to drill the hole without screwing up the valve (in any kind of clamp, or skipping off the hole to put unintended gouges on other parts of the valve, etc.). Number five, you have to probably smooth out the hole entry point on the valve to make sure there are absolutely no burrs on the surface of the valve. Number six, I am sure there is a number six, but can't think of it right now, other than to say take this to someone who REALLY knows everything there is to know about venting valves on brass instruments and has done it successfully multiple times before, or be prepared to buy replacement valves if you screw up anywhere along the way.
    Thanks John.I will take that as a no then.

  3. #13
    I have a related story, which will perhaps serve as perspective and/or warning.

    In the 1970's we saw a serious expansion in the number of people who wanted car tape players. Most cars on the road did not have them, and there were few in-dash replacements available, so people bought a tape player in the store and then bought a mount for it. The mounts were around $10-$20 as I recall, a cheap price to play for the convenience they offered.

    Keep in mind, that during this time, most cars had a front engine and rear-wheel drive, so the was a large hump in the middle of the front seat floor for the transmission. Putting the player's mount on the transmission hump was a popular option. It required drilling 4 holes and then just screwing the thing in place. Pretty simple, and most folks chose to do this job themselves rather than pay a shop $25 or so to do it for them.

    The instructions that came with these mounts talked about using a drill-stop, which was a collar that fit around the drill bit, so only a short length of the bit was available. And typically people ignored that advice. A friend of a friend was installing his own mount, and he was typical. Can you see where this story is going? His drill went through the sheet metal that forms the hump and continued right on through the transmission casing. That turned out to be a very expensive mounting job!
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams E3, Denis Wick 4AL (classic)
    Instructor of Euphonium and Tuba
    Twitter: davewerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    YouTube: dwerden
    Owner of TubaEuph.com, DWerden.com

  4. Quote Originally Posted by RickF View Post
    Pliers can be too much force to use on brass caps - even with a rag. Brass is soft and can be damaged fairly easily. I would take it to a professional brass tech for service.
    Agreed. Sometimes a tech will take an appointment and loosen caps while you wait, at minimal cost, as opposed to the several days and significant expense needed to fix damage from not being loosened properly. Remember Harry Callahan - A man has got to know his limitations.
    Last edited by iiipopes; 07-13-2016 at 10:06 AM.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    Yes. I've done this on two of the pistons on my 1924 tuba so I can pull slides (or use a slide kicker I made) as I play. It's not obvious to me why you'd want to do it on a euphonium unless for a kicker on a valve slide, which doesn't seem like a particularly good idea. However, ...

    This sort of repair (and the usual advice given) always seems to me very much like the dire warnings I encountered many years ago when wanting to repair the coaster brakes on my kids' bicycles. The universal injunction was to NEVER attempt this because it was SO COMPLICATED that only a PROFESSIONAL could hope to do it. But they when you manage to find instructions for it and go at it yourself, you discover it's not really difficult, but requires some minimal skills and attention to detail. It's not rocket science.

    For piston valves it's trivial, but requires some care. It's actually very easy (particularly on an instrument with any wear on the pistons at all) to see where to put the hole. Then it's just a matter of putting it in the right place and drilling only through the piston wall. I do it with a drill press and padded drill press vise (you want to be REALLY careful not to distort the casing with valve pressure). You can do it with a handheld drill, but then you'll want to (gently) use a punch to dimple the entry point so the bit doesn't wander. As I recall, there are some sites on the web (or maybe Youtube) that illustrate it.

    With a drill press -- if you have ANY experience with one -- it's a no-brainer, and you can easily feel the point at which the bit goes through the piston wall and back it out way before you go too far. A little 600 grit emery paper lightly applyed at the entry hole is all you need to remove any roughness. Make sure you carefully wash off all grit before sticking it back in the valve case.

    I've used the same technique to replace the old brass valve guides on that tuba with plastic ones, drilling out the hole and tapping it. Piece of cake. It takes less time to do than it takes to then fashion a new guide out of a plastic machine screw.

    Rotary valves are more of a challenge (primarily in terms of placement of a hole and getting a drill in the right position to accomplish it). I'd likely do it if I ever had to, but the one time I needed that, I had it done by Mike Morse at the Tuba Exchange.

    Re stuck slides: PB Blaster. Give it time. Once you get it to move even a little bit, then apply more PB Blaster, wait, and do it again. Maybe repeated applications over a week or more. Otherwise, heat may work. A hair dryer or heat gun may be effective (but be really careful of damaging a lacquer finish). I might use a torch (especially on a silver plate instrument), but you need a light touch with the torch in order not to ruin the finish (especially on a lacquer instrument), and I don't recommend it unless you have experience. PB Blaster is NOT a "penetrating oil". It's something completely different (chemically and physically). I don't believe I've ever had it fail on anything from rusted tractor parts to tuning slides.

    If the "usual" techniques of PB Blaster, pulling the slide by hand (or with a rag looped around it), or with a bit of heat don't work, then you're getting into territory where experience and other skills count. Just so you know, pretty much the last step (before significant torch-applied deconstruction and removal of the entire slide mechanism) involves de-soldering the crook, removing it, then in turn temporarily soldering a mandrel into the end of the inner slide, applying more PB Blaster, and using a wrench or pliers to apply rotational torque to the mandrel in order to turn the inner slide and so free it. You would probably want to go to a repair tech for that (particularly since you likely don't have something you could use as a mandrel -- though I find that a large drift punch works just fine).

    But here's the bottom line: If you DON'T have the minimal skills, and some minimal experience, and if you DON'T feel confident and comfortable with it, then DON'T try it. Too much risk for the minor reward of avoiding the time and expense of taking it to someone who does have the skills (and experience and tools).
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (Denis Wick 3XL)
    Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
    Amati Oval Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J6 euph)
    1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba, modified Kelly 25
    Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
    1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

  6. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by ghmerrill View Post
    YWith a drill press -- if you have ANY experience with one -- it's a no-brainer, and you can easily feel the point at which the bit goes through the piston wall and back it out way before you go too far. A little 600 grit emery paper lightly applyed at the entry hole is all you need to remove any roughness. Make sure you carefully wash off all grit before sticking it back in the valve case.
    Gary,

    How do you avoid any metal shavings inside the hollow piston? That's the one part I can't figure out (even if I had the nerve to try it).
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams E3, Denis Wick 4AL (classic)
    Instructor of Euphonium and Tuba
    Twitter: davewerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    YouTube: dwerden
    Owner of TubaEuph.com, DWerden.com

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Central North Carolina
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    Quote Originally Posted by davewerden View Post
    The instructions that came with these mounts talked about using a drill-stop, which was a collar that fit around the drill bit, so only a short length of the bit was available. And typically people ignored that advice. A friend of a friend was installing his own mount, and he was typical. Can you see where this story is going? His drill went through the sheet metal that forms the hump and continued right on through the transmission casing. That turned out to be a very expensive mounting job!
    There isn't too much that will save you from your own ignorance. I have a related story about putting holes in the bottom of my jon boat -- holes which I was SURE went through just an inner hull. The next time out, I was about a mile away from the dock when I discovered the boat was taking on water at an alarming rate and the little 10hp motor wasn't able to move it faster than a crawl. I managed to get it back to the ramp and out of the water (and the water out of it). Luckily, there is so much floatation stuff in it that the thing just won't sink. Once home, I filled the holes with stainless screws and epoxy and haven't had any problem since. But I felt really stupid -- and no less so because as I was drilling the holes my wife said "Are you sure those holes aren't going through?"

    There is no substitute for careful thought and execution.

    I've never had any luck with drill stops. Even the expensive ones never fit well and reliably. I prefer knowing how far I need to go, and using the "touch and feel and eyeball" approach. But it takes some experience and some mistakes to get there. Years ago I read a study done by the US Navy that demonstrated that the master mechanics on its ships were as accurate at torquing bolts to the required specs by feel as in using precision torque wrenches to do that. I have a torque wrench which I will use on occasion (especially for very high torque settings), but generally I just do it by feel. And sometimes I'll just use the torque wrench to check my result. However, while developing that skill, I did break a few bolts and strip a few hole threads.
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (Denis Wick 3XL)
    Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
    Amati Oval Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J6 euph)
    1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba, modified Kelly 25
    Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
    1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by davewerden View Post
    Gary,

    How do you avoid any metal shavings inside the hollow piston? That's the one part I can't figure out (even if I had the nerve to try it).
    First, I don't really worry about them. I think the concern is overblown. What do people think the professionals do? They don't have any special magic.

    Second, a standard twist drill is designed to remove shavings up its shaft and to the outside of the hole. They wouldn't work if they didn't do this. You DO want to use a sharp bit. Very important. Sharp bits mean small shavings and ones that the bit will automatically remove from the hole. Dull bits mean larger and ragged shavings that will be resistant to removal.

    Third, you want to be careful with your speed. As in all drilling operations, LET THE DRILL CUT (again: sharp bit). If the drill is cutting well and you are going SLOWLY, then what it cuts will be extracted from the hole by the bit itself. (Think of how differently things work when you're drilling in wood with a twist drill as compared to using a spade bit or Forstner bit).

    If you're pushing the drill faster than it's cutting, you're looking at trouble -- not so much in terms of "shavings", but in terms of a burr that won't be drawn back up the bit at the point that you break through, and which will then be pushed into the piston cavity -- possibly remaining attached to the hole because the bit wasn't allowed to CUT it before pushing through. THAT's what you want to avoid.

    If you're not used to cutting or putting holes in metals rather than wood, you may not be aware of the differences. If you go too fast in wood, your bit may bind or burn the wood from friction. If you go too fast in metal, your bit may bind, produce really ugly shavings, and then break. While a soft metal like brass or copper is "almost like wood", some of the shaving issues are more like shavings in steel -- and possibly even worse because a dull bit will also appear to "work" in the soft metal while it's doing a really crappy job.

    I can't tell you how many drill bits (normally small -- 1/8" or smaller) I've broken in steel because I was careless in using a dull bit or was going too fast. There is less danger of this when drilling in brass, but the danger of burrs remains if you're using a dull bit or pushing it hard. Just let it cut. Also, if possible, drill a little, back it out to clear the hole, drill a little more, etc. That facilitates not having anything in the hole as you're drilling. Somewhat difficult to do in very thin stock; but in very thin stock, it's really not an issue -- if the bit is sharp.

    Finally, I have talked to very skilled repair people about this, and what they say (paraphrased) is "Sometimes something goes into the interior. It happens. Not frequently; but it happens. If it's a minor shaving or burr, you just don't worry about it. It won't cause any problem. It may wash out through the bottom vent hole over time and with light oil added. If it does cause a problem -- such as noise in the valve -- and needs to be addressed, then you need to take the piston apart and get it out." That's a big deal.

    One thing you can do to gain confidence with techniques like this is to go to Lowes or Home Depot and buy a short length of copper pipe (like just a few inches, given the current price of copper!!). Experiment with it. You'll be able to get a good feel for how the drill and bit are working, how much force to apply, how fast to go, what's a good speed for the bit to run, etc. And you'll be able to see both the exterior of the hole you drill and the interior, and any shavings that go inside. Very educational.
    Last edited by ghmerrill; 07-14-2016 at 09:54 AM.
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (Denis Wick 3XL)
    Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
    Amati Oval Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J6 euph)
    1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba, modified Kelly 25
    Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
    1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

  9. #19
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    Apr 2014
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    Sturgis, South Dakota
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    907
    Quote Originally Posted by ghmerrill View Post
    If you DON'T have the minimal skills, and some minimal experience, and if you DON'T feel confident and comfortable with it, then DON'T try it. Too much risk for the minor reward of avoiding the time and expense of taking it to someone who does have the skills (and experience and tools).
    Gary,

    You seem to have an excellent handle on all of this drilling of valves, lots of experience, and confidence in your ability to put vent holes in valves. I enjoy reading your thorough and enlightening discussions.

    However, for us mere mortals with nominal mechanical skills and less than a full fledged arsenal of good quality tools, drilling a hole in a valve to me would seem like a pretty risky thing to try, and I am fearless! Your last statement above resonated with me.

    Thanks for the tip on PB Blaster. I will go fetch some. I think I have the requisite skills to use that!!
    John Morgan
    The U.S. Army Band (Pershing's Own) 1971-1976
    Adams E3 Custom Series Euphonium, Wessex EP-100 Dolce Euphonium, 1956 B&H Imperial Euphonium
    Adams TB1 Tenor Trombone, Yamaha YBL-822G Bass Trombone
    Wessex TE-360 Bombino Eb Tuba
    Rapid City New Horizons & Municipal Bands (Euphonium)
    Black Hills Symphony Orchestra (Bass Trombone), Powder River Symphony, Gillette, WY (Tenor Trombone)
    Black Hills Brass Quintet (Tuba)

  10. #20
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    Dec 2011
    Location
    Central North Carolina
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Morgan View Post
    Gary,

    Thanks for the tip on PB Blaster. I will go fetch some. I think I have the requisite skills to use that!!
    I would -- largely as a matter of principle -- be cautious about getting on any finish. I've never had a problem with this, but discretion is the better part of valor here. The stuff has a rather offensive smell, and once it's done it's trick you'll want to clean it off thoroughly, especially any that has gotten on the inside of a slide. It really is astonishing stuff -- and not a lubricant or oil at all. Should be available at Lowes (though about a year ago it disappeared for around six months from their shelves). I've seen it recently. If you can't find it, there's this stuff called "Deep Creep" that has a big following in the automotive and marine sectors. Similar effect, but my experience is that PB Blaster works better.

    Again, it may take time. I had some fasteners on a log splitter motor that I had to let it sit on (and add every couple of days) for a week or so. Then, the nuts came right off. Another thing you can do is: After you apply it, gently tap the joint you're trying to get it into. The vibration will "encourage" it to flow in the joint. I use a small rawhide mallet on brass instruments (no denting), but some similar thing (even a small piece of wood gently used) will work as well. This is one thing I'm never in a rush about (and I'm generally very impatient).
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (Denis Wick 3XL)
    Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
    Amati Oval Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J6 euph)
    1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba, modified Kelly 25
    Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
    1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

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