Cleaning A Vintage Horn

Discussion in 'Vintage Trumpets / Cornets' started by sunnydaze, May 30, 2009.

  1. sunnydaze

    sunnydaze New Friend

    Apr 11, 2009
    Ancaster, Ontario
    Hey all,

    I just purchased a 1957 Olds Ambassador to mess around on, and it's my first vintage horn. It has got some rust on the top of the horn, but it's not too serious, and the lacquer is almost totally gone (typical for Ambassadors I hear). I love the sound of the horn and its in extremely good condition other than the surface rust and lacquer problem.

    My question is this: Is there any special precautions I should take when cleaning my horn? I've never owned a vintage horn and I'm not sure if the "soaking in a tub of water with dish soap" method is suitable for a horn like this. If any of you guys can give me some pointers on cleaning up and maintaining an older horn like this that would be great! I'm likely going to take it in and get it fixed up professionally in a a couple weeks, but I just want to see what I can do on the horn in the mean time.

    I apologize if this has been asked already, but I tried a search and saw nothing.

  2. ChopsGone

    ChopsGone Forte User

    Jan 26, 2009
    Northern California
    I treat every horn I own the same way, including horns dating to the 1860's - they get bathed in warm, soapy water and snaked. Low brass get flushed with warm soapy water outside. Olds Ambassadors love a good bath.

    Precautions, in no particular order:
    1) Be gentle
    2) Don't scratch internal surfaces - use a good snake and brush with no exposed metal
    3) Don't get the felts wet; corks are probably oily, but try not to soak them, either. Just soak the valve pistons in separate small containers (plastic cups) with water kept below the felts.
    4) Clean every slide, tube, and passage gently but thoroughly. Don't forget the bottom valve caps, which catch the crud. Small parts can go in an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner.
    5) Wipe off old lubricants before soaking the horn
    6) Don't scratch the outside, either - put an old towel in the bottom of the bathtub or sink; a plastic container doesn't require this. And don't slosh things around to the point that you have slides banging into the bell, etc..
    7) Rinse thoroughly and air dry
    8) Wipe down with a lint-free cloth
    9) Relubricate with a good synthetic valve oil and appropriate slide greases as you assemble it. Remember to put a bit of grease on the threads of valve caps, but don't let it get into the valve casing. Distribute slide grease by rotating the slide.

    Or send it to Zachary Music (just kidding).
  3. MFfan

    MFfan Fortissimo User

    Sep 13, 2006
    Kalamazoo, Michigan
    Welcome to the forum. You have a good vintage Ambassador. I used to have both a cornet and trumpet of later vintagee.
    I have cleaned several horns that age a older by using CLR or "the works" lime remover fluids. that removed a noticeable amount of crud from the whole horn and didn't do any damage.

    What I did was to take apart the horn, with the valves held out, put the parts in the bathtub on a towel,cover the parts with warm water, then pour the correct amount of the cleaner per bottle directions, for the volume of water as best you can determine. You should see chemical action quite soon. Leave the parts in for 15 min or so(read directions) remove, rinse everything completely and let dry. The you can grease the slides and put it together.

    Put the valves in a glass of water, up to the top of the piston only, with some cleaning solution and let sit 5-10 min. Remove , rinse and dry, re-oil and put back in the horn. That should get it ready for whatever other work you have done on it.

    Glad you like the Ambassador. You didn't say whether it was a trumpet or cornet.:dontknow:
  4. sunnydaze

    sunnydaze New Friend

    Apr 11, 2009
    Ancaster, Ontario
    Thanks for the replies and helpful tips, they're much appreciated! I'm glad I can treat this like my other horn, makes life a lot easier!

    And MFfan, it's a trumpet :-P

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