Cant get Valves back into horn.

Discussion in 'Trumpet Repair and Modification' started by stever, Sep 10, 2010.

  1. turtlejimmy

    turtlejimmy Utimate User

    Jun 6, 2010

  2. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    Ya think? ROFL Of course I'm being sarcastic. Being in business for my self, I regularly have to "fix" what others have started. Metal on metal then using a hammer!? Common sense would dictate knowing one's skill level and when to take it to pro. At the most I would have tried a wooden dowel and tapped oh so lightly with a rubber mallet. If a horn had sentimental value, it should have been treated so. Apparently money trumped sentiment in this case.
  3. stever

    stever New Friend

    Sep 7, 2010
    The implication seems to be that I have no common sense;
    To the contrary, I have already explained the logic behind my actions before, but let me do it one more time for you.

    In the first place, common sense might tell you that using a wooden dowel could potentially cause splintering wood to get into the cracks between the piston and the valve casing wall... cmon, wood against a metal object that has an edge?
    Secondly, what I used was a socket that fit into the casing and was small enough not to rub against the wall of the valve casing, but butted firmly against the outer rim of the piston ( the strongest part of the piston) while avoiding putting any pressure on the weaker inner part.( I did do a little reading about that before I did anything)
    The thinking behind the way i did it was sound, despite your assertion to the contrary.
    Thirdly: I keep saying this but, yes, the cost of repairs did trump the sentiment.

    As said before, I did get an initial estimate.
    When the valves were still stuck, I was given a round about quote of 100 dollars, by a professional, to use a chemical process in order to free the valves. I was told at that the process could take longer to do, and that the cost could be more then expected. In addition to this cost, I was told that, when completed, there could still be additional work needed, in order to solve unforseen issues with the valves, and that replacement parts might be needed as well, again adding more unforseen costs.
    Basicaly, the cost quoted was: $100 dollars spent, in order to tell me how much it was going to cost to fix the valves.

    OK so,

    100 dollars for freeing the valves plus unforseen costs...

    100 dollars estimated on removing the dent behind the bell + unforseen costs: "the metal could tear during the process of getting the dent out" (according to the guy I spoke to)

    At this point I know i'm in for at least 200 dollars to remove the one major dent and to fix the valves, but given the history of the horn, probably even more then that.
    but wait there's more....

    *missing brackets and braces,
    *broken soder points,
    *bent lead pipe
    *dings all around...
    all adding to the cost of restoration.

    I understand that those who repair these for a living don't have to worry about the hourly costs of repairing a low end horn, but if you want to criticize me for attempting to do some things on my own, then put your money where your mouth is.

    Are you willing to do the work on this horn for less then the cost of a decent horn of the same make, model and year?

    Again, it's 100 dollars to get a horn like this, in reasonable shape, probably less if I did some looking.

    If you are not willing to do the work needed on this horn for less then 100 dollars, then you will pardon me If I try to get some help from some of the knowlegable people on this forum, in order to be able to do some of the work myself.

    If you really want to be helpful then offer me the knowledge you have about how to actually do this; Telling me to take it to a professional who will potentially charge me five times the worth of the horn, defies common sense!

    Weather or not I fix the thing or destroy the thing, Im no worse off for having tried, since the cost of having a professional do it is beyond reason
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2010
  4. Brekelefuw

    Brekelefuw Fortissimo User

    Mar 21, 2006
    Once again. An estimate over the phone will never be accurate, that is why the tech is naming higher prices. It covers his butt in case he works on the horn and then the customer gets mad because the real cost is more than the estimated cost. He is covering all options.

    Whenever I remove a stuck piston, I never put my dowel against the lip of the valve. I have a dowel that fits nicely in the bottom of the piston. Light taps and oil work 99% of the time. I have never had a piston break or warp.
    The wood you use should be hard. Splintering shouldn't be an issue, and the splinters are most likely far to big to fit between the tolerance of the piston and the casing (as close as .0005 on some horns)
  5. stever

    stever New Friend

    Sep 7, 2010
    I just finished writing out a responce, hit submit and discovered I had timed out from the board again, looseing everything I had typed.
    Therefore I will sum it up:
    Thanks for not talking to me like im an idiot, and taking the time to explain the proper way to use the dowl etc
    I still wonder why you use a dowl on the weaker part instead of the ridge, can you please explain/...
    and keeping this short...
    Do you think that the valve work that this horn needs could be solved for under 50 dollars?
  6. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    Stever, I wouldn't do anything else to your Bundy if you intend on playing it again. Save the money for it to be fixed by a pro. If you were offended by the tone of my responses, I'm sorry. If ever there was a horn to learn repair on, it's a Bundy. They're cheap and there are plenty out there. Chalk this up as a learning experience as what not to do. Don't do to the Ambassador you just won what you did to the Bundy. As others have said, it is near impossible to fix an instrument over the phone or a forum thread. Too many variables, and trying to explain small but important details of repair is difficult at best.
  7. ComeBackKid

    ComeBackKid Fortissimo User

    May 11, 2009
    Yorba Linda, CA
    Keep in mind that everyone on this forum has a different perspective, background, temperament, and sense of how things work (or don't). So, in this sort of discussion, you will see everything from the ridiculous to the sublime - don't take it personally.

    Not everyone on here has tried to do what you are doing. I am one of the few that has tried it - numerous times - and have run into the same things that you are facing.

    Yes, it is possible to expand the bottom of the piston doing just what you did. Most pistons are squared-off on the bottom of the skirt with a recessed plug in the center. The ends of most sockets are rounded off to make a smooth and safe tool (no sharp edges to cut fingers). So, if the socket is even a tiny bit smaller than the piston, the rounded edge of the socket does not butt up snugly on the bottom of the piston skirt - it fits just slightly inside of it. Then when you start to tap on the socket, the rounded edge is forced inside the piston which is resisting the force. It then takes on the effect of a wedge and has an outward force vector on the skirt. The piston is brass and relatively soft (compared to a socket of hardened steel) so it is expanded outward. If it expands enough, it can also distort the casing - although in that case it will become irretrievably jammed inside. So, at least you did not go that far.

    Have you tried putting the pistons into the casings from the bottom - upside down? That will help determine if the bottom of the skirt is expanded. Of course a micrometer is the most accurate way to tell but if you don't have access to one, then you work with what is available.

    The idea of using abrasive to remove the metal may work. If only the very bottom of the piston is expanded, the abrasive needs to be used only at that very bottom point and even if it removes the plating, that may not ruin the piston as there is still plated surface above that and adjacent to the ports to provide sealing when the piston is in the casing.

    So, I would guess that the approach of using magic marker, sanding the piston, doing it again, etc. until the interference is gone is most likely your best bet.

    I understand both the (a) Sentimental value (I found my original 1955 Olds cornet and spent more to fix it than that model is worth) and, (b) the interest in finding out how things work and how to fix or improve them. I am still working on my soldering skills (I have several with broken leadpipes that I am trying to resurrect but so far my soldering still is very gobby and unsightly).

    So, hang in there. You will learn things and who knows? - you might even make the Bundy play again. I have a Bundy and am sort of in the same boat with it.
  8. stever

    stever New Friend

    Sep 7, 2010
    Thanks for the post ComeBackKid!
    I wasn't going to post anything just yet, but I decided to because of your post.
    I got back home today and started working on the horn again, despite the opinions of those who told me not to.
    Your are correct that it was the bottom that was flared out, and I had actually done exactly the things you have suggested to determine that- good advice :).
    Anyway, when I started, the number two was the only one that fit in at all, although it had problems when it got to the bottom. At this point the number 2 still has problems, largely because the valve guide needs to be replaced.
    The number 1 and number 3 both work now;!!!
    The number 1 still needs a little bit of working in, but it moves pretty well.
    The number 3, which was the worst of them at the start , works really really well.
    I tried doing the scale,even with the number 2 not quite up to par yet, and it seemed to play fine... even if I don't play very well.

    I'm not out of the woods yet, and there are still a few issues with the valves, but I think I can now say, to all those who gave helpful advice... Thank you very much...!!!! :thumbsup:
    ... Guess I'm not such a dum ass after all, eh :p ROFL
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2010
  9. vntgbrslvr

    vntgbrslvr Piano User

    Oct 10, 2008
    Waukesha, Wisconsin
    I didn't think you were a dumb a$$, just that if you had limited knowledge that it made most sense to reduce your risk and have it evaluated after it was apart. Most techs are very reasonable price wise when it comes to instrument repair once whey have a handle on what they are looking at.

    Your first evaluation was when it was all together...thus the tech had no idea what he would be getting into.

    The fit of the pistons in a trumpet are not unlike the fit of pistons in an internal combustion engine...They have extremely tight clearances (actually they are even tighter than an engine) and really require a professional knowledge to make them work properly. Hammering them out was a clear which you did actually damage the valves.

    Fixing the valves is possible, however you have to remove material or bend it back to position to do so...Neither option is very good especially without experience.

    The reality is that any hack can hammer pistons out of an engine....put them back in and get an engine to run....To make it run properly isn't quite as easy. The same can be said about trumpets.

    I started like you....with an interest and no experience. My reason for the advice to withhold action and have the horn reviewed by a tech again was to protect what you made clear had sentimental value. If you have more time and energy than money, and don't care about the risk....go for it....It's one way to learn. When learning, you will make mistakes, and even if you get the horn to work, it's unlikely to play at the level it originally did when you first owned it.....but there is a value to going through an experience like that.

    For me hammering out the bell on an old Holton collegiate cornet that I bought for $30 gave me some incentive to dig deeper into repair....I even asked Charlie Melk if I could stand in and learn some basics.....Unfortunately (and understandably) it wasn't meant to be....but I found another great tech that was willing to take some of his time and give me a fundamental start on the tools of the trade and how they are used. Walking me through a basic restoration of one of my early Conn cornets over the weekend at his shop. We have since been friends, and still keep in touch.

    I expanded my knowledge further by taking additional courses with Gary at Ferrees Tools in Battle Creek Michigan. I believe Gary has passed on since, and I'm not sure if they offer these courses any longer.

    Long story short...if your willing to risk the horn, and want to learn....there's no reason not to go for it. Just don't be surprised when things go wrong due to inexperience. The proper working instrument requires tolerances of few thousandths one way or another. Most people don't have a stomach for the detail that goes into a well built/repaired/restored instrument.

    Good luck to you...I wish you only the best with the instrument.

  10. stever

    stever New Friend

    Sep 7, 2010
    vntgbrslvr, Your post didn't really strike me as offensive or critical, but there were some that appeared to be more of a mocking nature, and frankly that doesn't bother me, except for the fact that I felt like It could keep others from posting their ideas.
    I went in to buy new valve guides and felts today and I did talk to another tech. I asked him about the lap method I was using and he agreed that that was a good way to solve the valve issue. While I was there I asked him about fixing some of the other stuff and he gave me an estimate of a little over 100 dollars to:
    Replace some of the braces and solder points.
    Remove a couple dents from the lead pipe.
    I wasn't sure if that included removing the dent behind the bell; but he did say that that part, by itself would be around $30.
    He looked the horn over fairly well and actually said it would be better to replace the lead pipe but that that would cost another 100 dollars.

    If I had to do it over again, I would still do the valves myself to save that hundred dollars, evwn though it mught not be as perfectly done as a professional. However, I might not use the metal on metal approach,... at least not until i gave wood a better shot at it.

    What I really wanted from this thread, was ideas on how to fix things, from those who have that knowledge.
    When it deviated from that kind of in formation I tried to bring it back.
    I would still love to hear how professionals and others have solved similar issues. There were a few good ideas in this thread, from those who took it for what it was intended to be.

    Thanks again to everyone who responded, feel free to add more ideas on this topic.

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