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Thread: Quick questions about an older Conn 14i valves...

  1. #1

    Quick questions about an older Conn 14i valves...

    I’m playing a Conn 14i from 1968; does anyone know what felt or cork would have used with their “anti-bounce” standard length valves? Was that just a tapered cork, in a disk like shape?

    The past owner replaced the valve dampeners with a rubber and a felt disk to which I’m curious if that was or is the best alternative to what Conn would have used back then.

    Where can I find replacement valve dampeners today?

    What is bothering me (and that is very slight bother at that) is the amount of water, okay – spit I find around the top of the valves. It is easy enough to wipe that away between playing but I am curious if that’s normal.

    At times, I’m having a difficult time playing through fast passages with my first valve – it becomes sluggish and is ruining my notes. I find myself moving my hand around to push the first valve differently than how I would ordinarily press the valve. Even though the valve doesn’t “rock” when I open the valve cap and let the valve rest a third outside the tube and then try to rock the valve back and forth, I’m assuming there is enough wear to constrict the up & down movement. Would “lapping” or re-lapping the valves fix that?

    I’m not sure if the springs are original or have been replaced, and if replaced, I’m not sure how compatible they are with Conn valves (maybe too light?). To help with the first valve sluggish behavior, I switched the first and third valve springs and that helped a noticeable amount. I see many web sites offer “official” Yamaha replacement springs; would that work in an older Conn? I play next to someone with a Yamaha bell-front, YEP-211 and his valves seem larger than my valves, so I think it’s possible springs for modern Yamaha may be too strong for a smaller, older Conn.

    I’m beginning my second year with a small community band in south, central Penna and am having a blast and have enjoyed reading the conversations everyone here has in Mr. Werden’s blog site.

    …I even had a great time outside in mid-20’s temps playing in Lancaster, PA’s Tuba Christmas this past year – although the poor player next to me surely didn’t with my bell-forward bell aimed directly in his ear. (I wasn’t ready to play with such a tightly packed group in which I couldn’t hear my play one bit – I certain my tone was all over the place; have no idea whether I hit a Bb, F or higher D on the open-valve notes)

    Thank you for opening and ready my post.

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  2. #2
    I imagine you'll get some good advice on the best combination of felts/corks on this forum. The most important thing is that the total thickness provides the correct alignment when the valve is in the "up" position. Sometimes a softer top felt is used to quieten the valve action. One thing I noticed in your pictures is that the vent hole is covered by the rubber disc. This may be the cause of the sluggish action you mentioned. You can probably cut off a small piece to uncover the vent.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Central North Carolina
    While I often recommend a DIY approach in circumstances like this, in this case I strongly recommend that you take it to a competent technician and have it evaluated and fixed. Even if you could find exactly the correct original parts, it's quite possible that (even if you install them absolutely correctly), your valves will be out of alignment because of valve wear.

    You CAN measure and confirm the correct alignment of your valves, and you CAN (on the basis of measurement) buy a set of felts and bumpers that will correctly align the valves, but that process is somewhat complicated and requires a tool that you either buy or make.

    In addition, for an instrument that old and of that vintage, you should have the valve guides checked to see if they need anything to insure correct alignment -- or if in fact they're sufficiently worn to require replacement.

    I've actually done all of this on my own 1924 tuba and it came out great -- but it does take time to learn how to do it and then to do it with the required precision. Often, to get the correct vertical alignment you need one or more quite thin "shim" felts. A repair tech will have all of those since he does this sort of thing all the time. You, on the other hand, would spend a lot of money ordering, and then trying, several before you got it right. You'd likely spend more -- and suffer a high degree of frustration while doing it -- than you would by paying a competent tech to do it.

    He should first test the instrument for leaks so that he can include fixing any in his estimate. There may or may not be any -- there aren't in my 1924 horn except for a very mild leak through the third valve that I'm ignoring since it doesn't matter.
    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)

  4. #4
    So that's a vent hole! I had no idea - so thank you for that. Yes, I will try to uncover the vent; great advice. Thank you, Trent

  5. #5

    As before, your advice is very much appreciated (before you saved my lyre socket as I was considering using the socket to hold a straight lyre while I bent it into shape) and this time I'll patiently wait until I have time to run my instrument over to a shop. Luckily we have a well regarded shop just outside Lancaster, Penna.

    As you suggest, before I do anything myself, it would be worth a drive over to see what they think and could do.

    Ironically my older son has a pile of instruments for me to drive over anyway...

    I laughed with your comment, "...and suffer a high degree of frustration..." that's a correct assessment of my patience in trying to repair or adjust instruments. I'm still trying to understand why the saxophone industry will not ship wire springs with one end tapered!

    I'll follow-up this with what Seacat Band Instrument Repairs tells me.

    Thank you, Trent.


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