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Thread: Worn round stamp Sovereign valves - what to do?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
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    Netherlands
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    Worn round stamp Sovereign valves - what to do?

    My Round Stamp Sovereign has always felt a bit 'iffy' while playing, but I always wrote that off to me not being good enough (yet) to play it to its full potential. It did never 'pop' when partially pulling out valve slides and pressing the valves afterwards, so I took it to a local repairshop to let it get checked.
    To no surprise, all valves have worn down to the point the air just whistles through when blocking off the valve tubing.

    Only real fix: get a valve reconstruction done. The repairman told me McQueens could probably do it. For the meantime (next couple of years if it works) he advised me to use vintage valve oil, or if that's not sufficient, even heavier oil. I approached Adams first, as they are in my own country and they say on their site they do offer the service. After inquiring, they told me the costs, but that while they do offer valve reconstruction, they cannot guarantee that the final result will be 100% satisfactory, and because the age of my instrument, the valve cluster can't be swapped out with a brand new valve block. I have yet to inquire McQueens on their possibilities.

    I also know Dan Oberloh does valve replating and refitting, but shipping+customs fees back and forth to the USA (I'm in the Netherlands) + actual costs would probably be way too much for me, so that's not really an option, on top of the risks with shipping it across the Atlantic.

    So, what should I do?
    1) Let Adams do it, hoping for a good result;
    2) Let McQueens do it *if* they have more confidence they can guarantee a satisfactory result, risking the shipping to and from the UK;
    3) Wait for an old and battered 80s or 90s Sovereign shows up to use that valve cluster as donor parts if that's still in good shape;
    4) Inquire at Besson themselves if they can do something;
    Or, my least favourite option, 5) Retire the old beast.
    Euphoniums
    Willson 2960TA Celebration
    1979 Boosey & Hawkes Sovereign (Globe Stamp)
    Mouthpiece: Denis Wick SM4
    Baritone
    early 2000's British Besson Sovereign 955
    Mouthpiece: Denis Wick 6BS

  2. I would honestly not invest a whole lot of money in a ‘79 round stamp.
    I know a lot of people talk about the sound that these instruments have. (Partially placebo effect?) But in my opinion that sound is perfectly obtainable with a new(er) instrument. And with a newer horn like for instance adams you’d also get way better intonation.

    Visit Adams, try their euphoniums and save the investment of a valve replating to save up to a new horn.
    A round stamp sells well online!

    For me the E3 with a Sterling Silver bell was the best euphonium on the market at that moment. But the E2 might suit you better if you’re coming of a Round Stamp.

    Good luck with your decisions!
    Last edited by DutchEupho; 12-04-2022 at 05:45 AM.

  3. #3
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    If it is simply a passion project…I’d probably give Adams a shot at it.

    but I also wholeheartedly agree that a new horn is a preferable way to spend that money…
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Netherlands
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    245
    I don't really *need* a new instrument, and Adams 'only' charges €750 for the reconstruction.
    The Willson I have is a great horn, but it (and I assume other horns like the Adams) are just a tad too big to fill up, especially the 4th valve combinations. The round stamp, even with worn valves, fits me better physically (also ergonomically).

  5. #5
    Several thoughts:
    -I've heard it said (and it's probably true) that almost no brass repair is ever worth it in terms of improving the value of the instrument.
    -I do think there's something to be said for repairing rather than buying new (better for the earth, the fun of a vintage instrument, etc.)
    -I would be tempted to just try heavier oil for a while. How has that worked so far?
    -You might also find another repair tech who could do something even cheaper (maybe one valve is especially worn, etc.).
    All of that said, the Adams reconstruction sounds reasonable and if you like the size and sound maybe this is the instrument for you.
    Jupiter 462 & 470, XO 1270
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Netherlands
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    245
    Quote Originally Posted by comebackplayer View Post
    -I would be tempted to just try heavier oil for a while. How has that worked so far?
    So, update on this:
    I finally was able to try out the Yamaha Vintage valve oil (the 'thinnest' of the two thick valve oils I got) for a full rehearsal, and the effects are good.
    - response is a lot better;
    - resonance/sound is a bit better, doesn't feel as 'woofy' anymore at times;
    - Tuning is drastically better. High G (concert F) dropped 20 cents in sharpness from 45 to 'just' 25.

    I'm going to keep playing with the Yamaha valve oil for the next month or two, after that I'm going to try the even heavier oil (bearing oil) and see how that affects the instrument's playing.
    Euphoniums
    Willson 2960TA Celebration
    1979 Boosey & Hawkes Sovereign (Globe Stamp)
    Mouthpiece: Denis Wick SM4
    Baritone
    early 2000's British Besson Sovereign 955
    Mouthpiece: Denis Wick 6BS

  7. Just a couple of comments about vintage "Round Stamp" valve work. The new Markneukirchen Besson horns have gone from imperial sizes to metric. The valve casings and pistons are a different diameter for all 2006+ German built horns compared with English built horns. Also, the valve caps (top and bottom) are different thread so nothing is interchangeable. This means, that to overhaul the valve block on a round stamp, the casings may need to be bored to be round again and the pistons need to be plated to add material and then ground/honed to size to fit oversize bores. A nice set of non-metallic valve guides (tacquets) will silence the traditional clanking. Also, these valves benefit from modern synthetic felts compared with traditional cork/wool felt.

    I had all of this work done on my 1980 Sovereign back around 2002 by Osmun Music in Massachusetts and Anderson plating in Indiana. The actual valve block was removed from the horn and sent to Anderson who did the plating and machine work on the valves. On a euphonium, the block has to be removed since the boring and honing requires access to the top and bottom of the casings which is not possible "in-situ". On a lacquer horn, this often requires substantial refinishing of the rest of the horn due to burning of the old cellulose lacquer. On a polished silver horn a good technician can unsolder and resolder the joints with little external visual damage.

    If Adams can do this for 750 euros, that is a bargain.
    Adams E3 0.60 Sterling bell - Prototype top sprung valves
    Sterling Virtuoso 1065HGS - 300mm red brass bell
    Concord Band
    Winchendon Winds
    Townsend Military Band

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Netherlands
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    245
    Yeah, Adams informed me about the size/bore discrepancy between the old horns and the new German ones and that just installing a new valve block is impossible (sadly, would have made everything a lot easier xD).
    One of my valves already had a plastic valve guide installed, the other 3 still have their metal ones but I'm not really bothered by the noise so I'll see what they'll do with those.
    On top of that I already replaced all the old woolen felts with modern synthetic ones, so that issue has been fixed too, as well as adding the rubber dampers in the bottom caps and the bottom of the valves, so valve alignment is good too.

    And agreed, I expected Adams to charge much more for the job (around 1K-1250€ or thereabouts) but this is really a bargain.

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