Flugelhorn repair

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by microstar22, Dec 18, 2009.

  1. microstar22

    microstar22 New Friend

    Dec 18, 2009
    my wife purchased a flugelhorn on ebay for very little money. It is a Selman model. She plays very little, mainly just practicing. The issue is that even though the instrument was new, the valves on it are sticking. I took it to the local Music & Arts shop, which sent it away for repair. It came back without being repaired as the shop said they weren't able to find parts for it. I realize this is a cheap horn, but I want to get it working for her this Christmas.

    Is there anything I can do to fix it myself? We have tried valve oil to no avail.

    is it worth it to get it repaired, or would there be anything in the $150 range that I could get her instead? We dont have much $$ right now so any suggestions are appreciated.
  2. s.coomer

    s.coomer Forte User

    Mar 25, 2005
    Indianapolis, In
    Welcome to TM, enjoy your stay. I am sorry to tell you that to my understanding Selman was one of the first Chinese, I think, horns. The problem is you can not get parts and sometimes there is nothing you can do. If you are looking to buy a Flugel for $150.00, best of luck. I don't believe you can find anything of quality for that money.
  3. Bear

    Bear Forte User

    Apr 30, 2004
    Microstar, take it to a gunsmith and ask him to ream out the valve casings .05 mm or less. It could be possible (since it is a cheap horn) that the tolerances between valve and casing are not in order. keep making minor (I stress the minor .o5mm OR LESS a lot) adjustments until it will move stiffly, then add some more oil. Beware, that this could ruin teh horn.
  4. microstar22

    microstar22 New Friend

    Dec 18, 2009
    I am going to take the valves out and clean them and then do some lapping if I have to.. if that does work I can have them bored out a very small amount. If it ruins it, I guess we will have to save up. they arent terribly sticky, just enough to make it unplayable.
  5. walldaja

    walldaja Pianissimo User

    Feb 25, 2008
    Kokomo, IN
    Have you tried other lubricants or stronger springs? Is there any obvious galling of the valves or casing? Is there any guarantee with the horn?
  6. ComeBackKid

    ComeBackKid Fortissimo User

    May 11, 2009
    Yorba Linda, CA
    I had a chinese import with the same problem. Some of them are made with valve casings that are so thin that hand pressure will distort them and cause the sticking. Others were simply made with out-of-round casings that cause binding. One way to find out where the sticking is involves the following steps:
    1. throroughly clean and dry the valve pistons and the inside of the casings.
    2. Take a permanent marker and paint the surface of the piston (it comes off ok).
    3. Insert the piston carefully into the casing in approximately the correct rotational position.
    4. Slowly move the piston up and down a few times, feeling for the points where the binding or dragging occurs.
    5. Remove the piston and examine the surface. The areas where the marker paint are scraped off indicate where there is interference.
    6. Make a drawing of the piston indicating where the interference occurs.
    7. Repeat steps 2-6 for the other pistons.
    8. If the above steps indicate significant interference, try lapping the valves, focusing on the areas where the interference was noted.
    9. Periodically repeat the above process to note when the interference is being removed.

    It is true that lapping removes metal but valves can function with more clearance than we normally assume, so as long as you don't overdo it, they should still work - of course just about anything will be better than what you have now.

    Many years ago (nearly 50), I had a trumpet with sticking valves. I took it to a shop and I watched (I didn't know any better) as he put the valve stem in a drill chuck, added some lapping compound, and proceeded to spin the piston at high speed in the casing. It certainly did cure the sticking problem. But, the real surprise is that nearly 50 years later, the trumpet works perfectly and except for the fact that the plating is gone from the pistons, nobody knows how it was done.

    By the way, if the above process does not show significant interference, try lubricating the valve guides with slide grease. Sometimes they rub on the valve stem or in the slots and cause sticking.

    There are other threads that have suggestions. You might do a search for 'sticking' (the search function only works with one word at a time).

    Good luck.
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Even after lapping, the problem comes back (I had a student with a Selman trumpet - after 2 lessons we found a used Yamaha - the horn is now a lamp - the only thing that it is good for). The truth is you bought junk. Any money invested is wasted. The Selman horn that I saw had only a thin monel metal plating on the valves. After lapping, brass showed through and the valves still kept sticking.

    Get something decent, don't waste your time on junk.
  8. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    The metal of the valves interacts with the metal of the casing to form a particular nasty oxidation on the pistons which is what's creating the drag. In my repair shop, when I get such instruments, I simply buff the ugly crap off the pistons and the valves work just fine, for a while. Then the reaction between the metals occurs again and the process is repeated. It's not the ideal repair for a valve situation, but cheap horns get cheap repairs which work.

    What you could do is to find out how much a local repair shop would charge for a valve job, put that money in a jar with a slit in the lid and wrap that up as a gift for your wife, with a note explaining that we all told you the instrument wasn't worth major investment in repairs, so her'e'e the money you would have spent, and every day you'll empty your pocket change into that jar as well as occasionally putting paper money into it when you think you have a little extra to spare, and eventually you'll be able to buy her a nice used flugelhorn (buy it in person so she can try them out!).
  9. oldlou

    oldlou Forte User

    Aug 28, 2005
    Grand Rapids, Mi.
    Yours is a great object lesson in how 'not' to buy any musical instrument. Price should NEVER be the major consideration in those choices.

  10. microstar22

    microstar22 New Friend

    Dec 18, 2009
    thank you all for your information. after oiling the valves and cleaning the valve seats the keys are much more responsive. If my wife tests it out and it isnt up to par, she is just going to get a real one. We were thinking a Yamaha, but are open to suggestions. Tax return may be just the kick we need to get a worthwhile instrument.

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