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Thread: New valves and leadpipe for an old Besson Prestige

  1. New valves and leadpipe for an old Besson Prestige

    Short story short: My 16 year old Prestige has seen better days. All of the top 3 valves are worn and have had holes in the valve ports, now fixed with a small but uneven layer of silver. They also require oil very often, maybe even two times during short practice sessions. The leadpipe is filled with red rot and might be ready for retirement.

    All of these defects were discovered after a ultrasonic cleaning and the horn has been stuffy and wierd ever since. Itís safe to say the the gunk kept the horn together...

    My question is: Does anyone here know if itís possible to buy new valves from Besson and if they would fit older models? And would a leadpipe change be possible?

    Please share your thoughts and experiences

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    This is just a guess, but ...

    Putting new valves (even assuming you could get them) into an old horn (especially in the condition you describe) could be very costly (assuming you could find someone to do it). First, both your pistons and casings are worn, and either or both may be out of round. It might be possible to put the casings into round by reaming, but then they would be even larger diameter relative to the new valves. So then the new valves would have to have plating added to bring them up to the proper diameter for the reamed casings. The same would be true if you were to find some used pistons for that horn.

    Think of the aggregate labor and parts cost in all of that, and then think of how satisfactory the result might or might not be.

    However, you might email Dan Schultz (The Village Tinker) and ask his opinion.
    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)

  3. #3
    the new german-made valves you'd get from buffet crampon (besson) -- if you were even successful in getting them, as they are notoriously hard to get parts from -- are very slightly different dimensions than the older pre-2007 models and would not fit perfectly. There may be new old stock parts from older production kicking around, but they'd be hard to find.
    --
    Barry

  4. #4
    Here's your replacement leadpipe, some assembly (and plating) required.

    https://www.dawkes.co.uk/mouthpipe+p...?catno=bbh7643
    --
    Barry

  5. #5
    I've been told that it's also possible to order a 'blank' lead pipe filled with pitch and have a repairman bend it into shape. It may not meet Besson's exact specs, but could be an option. Though, I don't know the advantages of a Besson-brand part over a generic pipe...

    On a side note- Was the horn okay before the Ultrasonic cleaning, or was it noticeably out of shape beforehand? 16 years seems a bit young to be in that shape of repairs. I'm no repairman, but I've got a Willson in decent shape that is approaching 13 years and this scares me!

  6. #6
    I agree with TD517 that this horn is too young to have all those problems. A tube or two with lots of red spots can happen, but unless they are "holed" through they would not affect playing in any way your would notice.

    If it feels stuffier after the cleaning, it's possible that a normal cleaning would have opened up a couple of spots that were already weak. That's kind of rare, though. Having holes in all the valves is especially odd. From your description I assume you mean a hole in the inner tubing itself, and not just at the seam between the outer and inner tubes, correct? Multiple instances would also be very odd.

    I've had horns with a few red spots (which a new horn's warranty would cover). Of all the horns I have had shipped to me over the years of testing instruments with Besson, a short time with Hirsbrunner, Sterling, and Adams, I have seen once instance of an air leak at a joint (at the time it was delivered). That was probably a thinly-soldered seam that gave way under power cleaning at the end of assembly. I've never had a seam open up over time that I recall.

    Defects happen on new horn, and hidden defects can show up after years, but your experience is unknown to me on a quality brand. It would almost make me wonder if the horn had been incorrectly cleaned at some point, maybe with chemical mix that was much too harsh. That may have even been during this recent cleaning. Do you know the reputation of the shop that did the work?

    The horn should not feel more stuffy after a cleaning unless:
    - they dislodged some gunk that did not get rinsed out, so it's hampering air flow
    - the cleaning caused an air leak somewhere you have not discovered yet
    - the shop did not use the proper size pads at the top of the piston and under the finger buttons, which would cause a mis-alignment and more resistance to air flow
    - a water key "cork" was dislodged and is causing a leak
    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. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Central North Carolina
    Posts
    1,989
    There are a couple of points in the original description that might deserve more focus in speculating about this (which is the best that can be done here):

    First, there's "All of the top 3 valves are worn and have had holes in the valve ports, now fixed with a small but uneven layer of silver. " If grammar here is to be followed with precision, then the valves HAVE HAD holes in the "valve ports" repaired. This is a bit unclear, but seems to imply that at some point in the past (prior to the ultrasonic cleaning), holes were repaired. In addition, the holes were in the "valve ports" -- which would seem to mean at the seam on a knuckle? (Dave seems to go in his direction with his remarks.) It is pretty strange that this would happen, that there would be multiple holes, and that these would be fixed with a "layer of sliver". And why should the valves be so "worn". My 100 year old tuba has the original valves, and there is only very minor leakage in one of them. Couple all that with the degradation of the lead pipe and you have to wonder if at some point(s) in the past the instrument either was (a) not cleaned and perhaps not lubricated for a very long time, or (b) cleaned in a way with harsh chemicals (e.g., something like strong acetic acid) that would have attacked the brass and the joints). Then consider this together with ...

    Keep in mind that an ultrasonic cleaning (unlike a chemical cleaning) is a MECHANICAL intervention. Yes, the effect is achieved through the use of sound waves/pulses, but it's a physical cleaning in the same sense that using a brush or scraper is -- just at a much finer level. It's quite possible for an ultrasonic cleaning to mechanically affect (i.e., loosen or break) solder joints -- particularly if these have previously been attacked by strong chemicals -- and to otherwise remove hardened gunk that was sealing voids ("holding the horn together"). The scope of the problems described (lead pipe, pistons, ports) suggests a longstanding systemic problem with the instrument.

    Still speculation, but it seems to be the only explanation that accounts for all the reported phenomena. If that's the case, it definitely should be seen by someone quite competent before any more money is thrown into it.

    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. First, thanks for all of your replies!

    I don't know if the damage was caused by the tech, but the guy is very well respected in Norway and I've always been very pleased by his work before. And I've been very lazy with cleaning the euph myself after I shifted my focus to playing trombone. The damage was most likely caused by me and not the tech. The tech did say I should consider looking into chaning the leadpipe and the valves, but I wanted to ask if anyone had any experience with that kind of modification before looking into it further.

    The hole is in the valve itself, so I've attached a picture of the valve. My camera is not great but hopefully you're able to see the layer of silver(or whatever it is ).
    If you look closely, there is a bump at the bottom, that's where the hole was.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Central North Carolina
    Posts
    1,989
    That photo also shows a significant amount of pitting in the valve passages. Again, it appears that some chemical reaction was attacking the inner surfaces of the horn over time.
    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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