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Thread: Brasso on valve casings?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Anderson, Indiana
    Posts
    230

    Brasso on valve casings?

    I have a 2 year old, quality built, expensive euphonium, but recently I've had problems with valves 1 and 2 sticking in the down position or sometimes being sluggish despite frequent oiling and cleaning and installing good springs. Perhaps it's because I don't always keep my fingers "on center," although I certainly try not to stray too far off.
    I had a similar problem in an old Conn euphonium that had sat unused in my basement for a few years. I used Brasso to clean the valve casing of one of the problem valves. (I poured some on an old sock, put the sock on a wooden stick and rubbed gently against the inside of the problem casing.) After I thoroughly cleaned everything up, I haven't experienced any more sticking problems.
    Should I try this on my newer, more valuable instrument or leave it to a pro?

  2. #2
    How sure are you that it is totally clean? Bottom valve caps and springs? Small passages between valves and the 2nd-valve compensating loop? That last one is a favorite of my horn for hiding gunk. I did a long, warm-water rinse with QHR the other day, and then discovered some slime still in that 2nd-valve comp tube. So I took it outside and used high-pressure water directed obliquely (as the casing permitted) into each end of that tube. I used the QHR basic tube (the original product) to do this, because it is skinny and could get in there.

    How about the bottom of the pistons?

    Scrape with a plastic/wooden stick around each piston's top and bottom edge to get rid of any hard deposits.

    Without fail, over several decades, every time I thought there MUST be something bent because of a sticky valve, the real answer has been some kind of gunk somewhere.

    I would not use Brasso or any abrasive product on the soft brass casings.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  3. #3
    Have a chemical cleaning done. The valves tend to get mineral deposits on them from your saliva that is very difficult to get off any other way.
    --
    Barry

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Anderson, Indiana
    Posts
    230
    Thanks for the excellent advice. It's why I love this forum.
    Further question: local music repair shops offer a couple of cleaning options. (1) full instrument ultra-sonic or (2) chemical cleaning. Any thoughts on the difference or which would be better for my problem?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    West Palm Beach, FL
    Posts
    3,257
    I've had my horns cleaned using both methods and both methods work in the hands of the professional brass tech. In the past 5 years or so I've opted for ultrasonic cleaning. The only risk I see for using this method might be with older instruments that may have a loose brace or solder connection. Or - the start of 'red rot' where the ultrasonic cleaning may open up a pin hole.

    To see how ultrasonic cleaner works you can watch these videos. One is of a French horn being cleaned, and the other is the science behind the cleaning technique.

    French horn being ultrasonically cleaned:

    Science in how ultrasonic cleaning works:

    I have a small ultrasonic cleaner that I use to clean the watch bands of my watch collection. I always clean my wife's wedding band and diamond ring. They look like new after just three minutes. I also use it to clean my valves on my euphonium after cleaning my horn with the QHR. Works very well.

    See this post for info and images on using small ultrasonic cleaner:
    Last edited by RickF; 05-28-2017 at 03:36 PM.
    Rick Floyd
    Miraphone 5050 - Warburton Brandon Jones sig mpc
    YEP-641S (on long-term loan to grandson)
    Doug Elliott - 102 rim; I-cup; I-9 shank


    "Always play with a good tone, never louder than lovely, never softer than supported." - author unknown.
    Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches
    Russian Christmas Music (Alfred Reed)
    El Cumbanchero (Rafael Hernández) cell phone video

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Anderson, Indiana
    Posts
    230
    Thanks for the links, RickF. In an earlier post, you expressed doubts whether ultrasonic cleaning could remove "lime deposits." Have you changed your mind about this?

  7. #7
    I've had success with Cal-Z (https://www.prestovalves.com/cal-z-calcium-cleaner) and PrestoValves (https://www.prestovalves.com/product...f-ready-to-use). The Cal-Z is for calcium deposits and the PrestoValves gets rid of old gummy oil.

    Robert Pendergast, DM

  8. #8
    Ultrasonic is a great tool. However, there are some vendors for which an ultrasonic cleaning means they take the valves and slides apart and toss it in the tank, then put it back together and they are done. I don't think this is very effective. The good techs will still go at the instrument with a myriad of brushes and will spend a lot of time with an instrument in addition to running the ultrasonic cleaning.
    --
    Barry

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