Lapping Valves

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Rushtucky, Dec 8, 2008.

  1. Rushtucky

    Rushtucky Pianissimo User

    Sep 15, 2008
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    The valves on my Bach Mercedes are starting to get sluggish. I have done all of the usual, "tub bath", cleaned with "Green Cleaner", wiped down with a Micro Cloth, used a mild silver polish, then re-oiled. They still act sluggish.

    I would like to lap them and would like to know the procedure and product some of you use.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2008
  2. s.coomer

    s.coomer Forte User

    Mar 25, 2005
    Indianapolis, In
    Try using some Brasso polish on the valves and then see what happens.
  3. veery715

    veery715 Utimate User

    Mar 6, 2007
    Ithaca NY
    Lapping is a last-ditch option. It involves a very fine abrasive being applied to valve and cylinder and then the valve is operated with the abrasive in place. It may be that the valve can be rotated in the cylinder, but is probably not a good idea. If you could find out the factory lapping procedure then you could duplicate it.

    But as I said, it is last-ditch. First do the horn bath again, running a snake brush VERY GENTLY through the valve slide tubes to make sure there are no gummy deposits in them. Be particularly careful when the brush enters the cylinder - you DO NOT want to scratch the cylinder walls or the edges of the port where the tubing connects.

    When the horn is clean and dry, take your valves, pull off the buttons, top caps, and remove the inside felt (between top cap and spring housing). Put these in a muffin tin with a piece of paper labeled 1, 2, or 3, so that you are sure to return the parts to the same valve. Then soak the valve body, spring and all, in lighter fluid, naptha, or lacquer thinner. These solvents will remove any deposits and clean the valves. If you have plastic valve guides, use rubbing alcohol instead. The others may damage the plastic.
    After a good soak - 1/2 hour, remove the valves and wash them in warm water and dish soap. Then rinse them, dry them with LINT FREE cloth - microfiber, chamois, or air dry them (blow with compressed air if available).

    When all is dry, reassemble the valves with their felts, top caps, and buttons. Apply a couple of drops of oil to each valve, and a couple more to each cylinder, and reinstall the valves. If your horn has seen a lot of use, try Hetmans #2. If not, try #1 or Ultra Pure.

    If lapping is still needed, I would consult a tech. There's too much chance of causing damage if you attempt it yourself.
  4. Ed Kennedy

    Ed Kennedy Forte User

    Nov 18, 2006
    Don't do it. Reputable shops use a special garnet based non-imbedding lapping compound using a specific technique. Stay away from compounds recommended for ferrous metals.
  5. A.N.A. Mendez

    A.N.A. Mendez Utimate User

    Oct 25, 2005
    Sunny Ca.
    Here is something I have used, it's an old trick used on very dirty windows such as over kitchen sinks where there was a lot of build up, splatters, grease etc.
    I would only use this method on a horn I was ready to...
    1. Get a valve job on
    2. turn into parts horn
    So it's a last resort before tech.
    If you look inside the tubes on some older horns they are not shiny, the walls have build up. Here's the procedure.
    I use an older felt cleaning wand, the ones for slide tubes and valve tubes, hold horn (with valves out/caps off) over deep sink or tub, wet the wand and apply COMET or AJAX liberally to wet wand and scrub inside of valve tubes,then wet the wand and scrub more as a rinse.The next step is very important, the whole horn must be rinsed , all tubes washed out very well with clean water, change the water in the tub, re rinse again. Use your regular brush, or cleaning method. No trace of the Comet or Ajax can be left on any interior part of horn. Check out the tubes, they should look new, and this takes no metal away, just build up dirt, grime etc.
    I have used this on a few horns, worked good.I would NOT do this on one of my prized vintage beauties, and don't tell Charlie I ever said any of this :-)
  6. edcon1981

    edcon1981 Mezzo Forte User

    Jun 25, 2008
    Central Jersey
    how is the tension of the valve springs? have you considered replacing them?
  7. willbarber

    willbarber Piano User

    Nov 22, 2008
    Medina, NY
    Try different oils. Some are thicker than others.
  8. lovevixen555

    lovevixen555 Banned

    Nov 5, 2008
    When you used the simply green did you use it straight or dillute it 7 to 1? I use Either Castrol Super CLean or THe Purple Stuff degreaser they both have the same active ingredient as Simply Green but they are almost full strenth where SImply green is something like 1 part Castrol SuperClean to 50 or 100 parts water. My point is they are way stronger. Now I have never had a problem with any cleaner hurting the surface lacquer of any trumpet even when I have used copper cleaner designed for gun bore's or B12 Carburator cleaner on valves and cap's. I am very careful to keep such potent cleaners in the valve case and valve area only and have always diluted them when useing them for surface cleaning of the rest of the instrument.

    I bought one trumpet off ebay that had so much build up from the previous owner oiling it but never wipeing the vavle or case out. I dount that they ever gave it a bath either. I had to use lighter fluid and a touth brush to scrub the caseing out. I had to use Q-Tip's and B12 Carburator cleaner to get the valves clean. Then after all that i still had to bath the rest of the horn in a preety strong solution of Castrol Super Clean and Water. I put 7 cups of Castrol Super Clean in to the tub and then put enough water to cover 3/4 of the trumpets bell. I always put a towel in the bottom of the tub so as not to scratch anything and so the parts do not move around. After I was done the valves and valve case looked like a mirro (nickle valves getzen fromthe 1970's student trumpet). Prior to that the valves barely moved and the caps had so much junk in them that it looked like someone packed coffee grounds inthe cap's and the valves had bacteria growing on them. Now they are great.

    After that heavy of a cleaning I recomend the following take you guids off and oil up the valves and case really well. Now just spin the valve and move it up and down in the bore. Move on to the next valve and repeat. Now go back through and put your guids back on and reoil the valve and the case. Since you have removed all the build up on the valve and the case it is like cooking on an unseasoned cast iron pan or stone cook ware. You have to get a bunch of oil on the parts and work them to get some oil back into the pores of the metal especialy on the case more so then on the valve. Valve oils have all kinds of light hydrocarbons that evaperate or they have silicones in them. You have to have some film on themetal for fast smooth operation but too much and it get's slugish. The film flotas the part's like takeing two pieces of ice and placeing a few drops of watter between them to seperate them. IF the film is too light or not over the entire surface it will not seperate the parts and metal touch's metal which creats heat and friction and slow moveing valves. If you get too much buildup of heavy hydrocarpons then you get adhesion almost like glue and this caused hydrodynamic friction which will also result in heat and friction and slow valves.

    Lapping a valve removes small surface imperfections leaving a smoother surface then before. It will also mechanicly clean any junk out of the pores of the metal. The trick is to lap only enough to solve the problem since lapping is also a form of accelerated wear. Now when I was an Army brat some kids would take their Dad's Brasso and lap their valves with it appling it as it needed it since it would start to dry and slow down. Some would get valve lapping compound which can be had from 200-800 grit with 400-600 grit being about the norm. They would mix it with a high sulfur content cutting oil and apply to their valves and lap them that way. I never tried either one even though I lapped valves on engines on a weekly basis. I never had the need to do it but again my trumpet was brand new when I got it as a kid and was only 7 years old when I sold it. My tuba and barritone belonged to the Army on lone to the school so I lucked out. I do know that my band teacher taught more then a few kids how to do it so it must not be soo dangerious as long as you use caution and reason. Their might well be an industry product that I do not know about. Kids in Band always came to me to get them lapping compound from shop class. I always gave them the finest stuff I had at the time thinking it would be more diffacult for them to miss up and ruin their trumpet.

    One last thing. I have heard great things about ultrasonic cleanings. No place in my area does it they all use chmical acidic bath's. You might check into ultrasonic cleaning first if you have not tried it. Might solve the problem and it is supremly safe. My optomatrist cleans my eye glass's with ultrasound and they come out super clean.
  9. oldlou

    oldlou Forte User

    Aug 28, 2005
    Grand Rapids, Mi.
    R.I.T.Music in Grand Rapids, Mi. does a superb ultrasound cleaning for $50.00 for a trumpet or cornet. The horn even smells nice after this cleaning, due to the citrate formula solvent that Bob uses in his ultrasound tank. I have had him do 5 of my horns thus far with total satisfaction.

  10. Rushtucky

    Rushtucky Pianissimo User

    Sep 15, 2008
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    Problem resolved. After all of the responses and doing extensive research, I came up with a solution that works.

    I acquired a product called: Trumpet Magic Valve. It works!

    I broke down and soaked my trumpet in luke warm soapy water for about 30 minutes. During that time I throughly cleaned my valves with soapy water. After 30 minutes I applied the powder while the valves were still wet which turned the powder into a paste.
    Then I replaced the valve into the casing and slowly and increasing speed stroked the valve in the casing. Repeated with all valves. Recleaned valves and repeated.

    After throughly cleaning my trumpet and rinsing totally to get all residue out, re-inserted the valves. They are working better than ever.

    Once again, thank you for all of your comments.

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