Again sticking valves

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by alant, Sep 19, 2011.

  1. ComeBackKid

    ComeBackKid Fortissimo User

    May 11, 2009
    Yorba Linda, CA
    I have experimented with sticky valves for quite awhile on several different trumpets/cornets. The problems due to one of the "Three D's" (dirt, damage, distortion) are generally solved in a straight-forward way once the cause is identified. However, the issue of saliva buildup is not so simple to resolve.

    I have not tried the technique of pulling the second valve slide and generally I do not create a huge amount of saliva (I have never had any in my 3rd valve slide). However, in many cases of persistent sticking which occurs only when playing, I have pulled one of the pistons and observed a noticeable amount of saliva on the surface of the piston. It seems that the saliva competes with the oil for whatever clearance exists between the piston and casing and causes drag to occur. One way I have established a correlation is to thorougly wipe the piston and casing and re-oil (very lightly - one drop only) and resume playing. It takes awhile for the sticking to occur again and when it does, I observe the same issue of saliva collecting on the piston.

    So, in such cases, I have almost always resolved it by going beyond the normal cleaning (soap, alcohol, vinegar, etc) which is guaranteed not to remove any metal to the following steps in order of agressiveness (each one is done after usual cleaning/drying step):
    (1) Wet the piston and then apply a dab of toothpaste (my tech recommends Pepsodent which is still available in the 99cent stores) and smear it around and then insert the piston and work it up and down for awhile. Then again rinse and dry the piston and casing.
    (2) Apply a bit of polishing compound with a clean, dry cloth and rub vigorously (this is just a bit more abrasive than the toothpaste).
    (3) Try rubbing compound as above (a bit more abrasive still).
    (4) Spray the pistons and inside casings with Break Free or REMS Oil (both have teflon) and let them sit for awhile. Then wipe the pistons and casings to remove residue before playing.

    After each step, check to see if the problem is solved by appling a light (one drop) of synthetic oil and play it for the typical amount of time it takes for the sticking to show up. If it does, go on to the next step.

    Note that the above steps only work in the situation where the clearances are too tight causing the saliva to compete with the oil. The progressive steps will increase the clearances in miniscule amounts making sure it does not go too far. If these do not remove enough, then perhaps lapping by a qualified tech is the next step.

    I have had only one case so far where lapping was done - and it was done by Kanstul on an Olds so he certainly knows the issues there. It fixed the problem for good and did not compromise the compression. So, it can work if done correctly in the proper situation.

    Good luck with your efforts.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2011
  2. A.N.A. Mendez

    A.N.A. Mendez Utimate User

    Oct 25, 2005
    Sunny Ca.
  3. Brekelefuw

    Brekelefuw Fortissimo User

    Mar 21, 2006
    Lapping your valve at home every time your valve hangs is a good way to create a sticky valve due to loose tolerance.
    Properly caring for your trumpet by oiling it every time you play and cleaning it at home every month or so, or chemically at a shop every 6 months or so will solve a great number of valve issues.
  4. mrsemman

    mrsemman Piano User

    Apr 8, 2010
    Like you, my first valve and sometimes my second valve would stick when playing. Some horns are different than others. For example, my trumpets would push the water through to the bell and out. My cornet does not, unless I tilt it slightly up and push the first two pistons and blow. Then, I take out the mouthpiece and turn the cornet up and back towards me until the bell is pointing downward. The excess, trapped water comes out through the bell. That was when I realized that water is trapped inside the cornet. The air pressure may be pushing the water from the third valve casing into the second, and then into the first valve casing. You can check by pulling the bottom caps off and seeing if there is any water and detris. Detris can come from your mouth or metal filings from within your horn. As you stated that your horn was cleaned, then the likelyhood of metal filings is lessened. If it is coming from your mouth, rinse before you play. It doesn't take much to clog up the horn.
  5. trumpetsplus

    trumpetsplus Fortissimo User

    Jun 11, 2006
    South Salem, NY
    Some people stretch the valve springs to attempt to solve sticking valve problems.

    Some add a spring under the valve to make it top sprung AND bottom sprung.

    However, this was a new one on me!
  6. trumpetnick

    trumpetnick Fortissimo User

    Nov 16, 2005
    Vidin, Bulgaria
    Recycling pen springs sucks ROFL
  7. study888

    study888 Mezzo Forte User

    Aug 22, 2005
    Darlington S.C.
    Holton or one of the older valve oil companys made a valve oil that claims to work with the moisture/salavia of the player. Give it a try. If you push the sticking valve off angle and can feel a rough spot. There is wear there on the valve casing and the valve.

    Can be hard to correct. Binak Oil/Ultra Pure Oil or 2/3 Ulta Pure Oil with 1/3 Binak Oil mix may help Correct. This is the only valve oil that I have found that BiNak oil will blend with and not separate. Good luck on this.
  8. vern

    vern Piano User

    Mar 4, 2008
    A simple solution to my problem was to oil after playing every day or two. I believe saliva leaves a mineral/protein deposit on valves which has little clearance. Oil helps to prevent this. Oil, oil, oil.
  9. ComeBackKid

    ComeBackKid Fortissimo User

    May 11, 2009
    Yorba Linda, CA
    It is possible to oil too much, particularly when the clearances are small and the saliva is competing with the oil in that small space. I have tried oiling every time I detect sticking but it only helps for a few minutes after I have thoroughly wiped the piston and casing to remove the old oil and saliva and then have re-applied new oil. As soon as the saliva collects again (maybe 1-2 minutes), the sticking starts again. Only then would the approach mentioned above (post # 11) apply.
  10. A.N.A. Mendez

    A.N.A. Mendez Utimate User

    Oct 25, 2005
    Sunny Ca.
    mistake...I hate this new format, can't find anything... GRRRRRR
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2011

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