Maintaining a large number of brass instruments in storage

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Trumpetplayer24, May 4, 2015.

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  1. Trumpetplayer24

    Trumpetplayer24 Pianissimo User

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    Hi,

    I have recently become in charge of a large amount of instruments stored at a music school. Many of the brass instruments have been sitting around for years and I wondered what I should be doing in order to maintain them (and how regularly) so that when needed they are in full working order?

    Any instrument that has come back recently I have thoroughly cleaned, greased and oiled before putting it back in the store room but I'm sure that there are many that haven't had this same treatment.
     
  2. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

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    First, much of what you could do depends the budget provided by the school to enable you to do it.
    Second, what facilities does the school provide for you to clean and store these instruments?
    Third, what is your ability to clean and maintain these instruments?
    Fourth, exactly many of each type of instrument are we talking about?
    Fifth, what is your proficiency to determine the optimum playability of each instrument?
    Lastly, where is the inventory control files kept?

    All I can say is you wouldn't have to ask us, if you were capable of doing all of this yourself ! I'll conclude by saying such requires a lot more than just cleaning and lubricating.
     
  3. Trumpetplayer24

    Trumpetplayer24 Pianissimo User

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    Well I'm a trumpet player and am also proficient in most of the other brass instruments. I have a good amount of knowledge.

    There is a kitchen sink and thats about it!

    I just wanted to get an idea of what I should be doing to maintain all of the instruments so that ultimately they last longer and are playable when needed. Like should I be oiling valves on a regular basis etc. There is a large amount of instruments, a whole room full of them.
     
  4. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

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    Room size? Measurement? For sure you won't get a Sousaphone and most tubas in a kitchen sink! I can't even get my old Conn Artist euphonium in our kitchen sink and it has a removable bell ... too if my wife caught me, all my instruments would be out in the sheds ... and possibly me along with them. At present, I've 37 student quality Bb trumpets, 2 cornets, and 2 tenor trombones ready for mid-July thru August sale locally. I've had 9 of these trumpets and both cornets for over 4 years. How do I store them ... disassembled with all the slides and valves out and these wrapped in archival acid free paper until reassembled and displayed for sale. All I can say is bugs and mites like felt and some corks. I did have a CC tuba that when I first got it had a nest of mud wasps in it and the silver-plate was tarnished to a brown, but the case looked like it had never been used. I bought it for $300.00 in a lot from military surplus and after more than 30 hours cleaning and polishing it sold it for $1,200.00 to a Chowan University instrumental music major. I'll be showing what I have in Bertie, Northampton, Halifax and Nash counties and the city of Roanoke Rapids. Now my rationale for telling you this is that I perceive you've a surplus of instruments that are not presently used and should be liquidated.
     
  5. Peter McNeill

    Peter McNeill Utimate User

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    Doing what you are doing is fine - get them out one at a time, and clean, grease and oil them. Use a good synthetic oil (Like Ultrapure), and a good slide grease. There's plenty of threads on oils and lubes.

    Have a list of the instruments, and make an inventory of them :
    Type MAKE MODEL Serial No. - Photo. Comment (& a photo if you can)

    This will make it easier on the next person, and also for insurance. Just work methodically through them, aim for a 6 month rotation if you can.

    Put a checklist for cleaning into each bag as you finish the job, and when it goes to the new player, it becomes their responsibility to clean and follow the checklist.

    Only other thing is to use some moisture absorbers in the room, and some storage moisture absorbers into the case as you close it.
     
  6. Peter McNeill

    Peter McNeill Utimate User

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    Also I forgot to add, if you come across any instrument that needs repairs, then mark that down on the list. Still service as best you can. then when you store the instrument, store these separately. Get a local tech who you can trust, and start to get them repaired. I would not get too much into the repairs until you know what you have - players that are gig ready and able to be given out is the priority, and knowing what you have is important.

    Good luck
     
  7. bumblebee

    bumblebee Fortissimo User

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    I bought a large plastic tub from my local hardware store which I use as a bath. I dare say you could find one or two large enough to do the bigger brass you have.

    As far as regularly lubricating the valves and slides goes I suggest you gather the students who play them together to do a lube session shortly before they're due to use them, and to do a post-play wipe down and lube (including emptying slides). That would teach them good habits as well as save you doing 20-30 lots of valves by yourself.

    If the instruments are not in regular use then perhaps you could call for student volunteers to do a working bee (or whatever that kind of communal helping out is called where you are - barn raising?), maybe rewarded with a barbecue (or similar) afterwards.

    Or perhaps do an "adopt a horn" drive, get students and staff to take a horn or two home with them one weekend to bath and lube (and check for faults).

    --bumblebee
     
  8. Peter McNeill

    Peter McNeill Utimate User

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    There are really only 3 categories for cleaning:
    Pistons
    Rotary
    Slides.

    Pistons are easiest
    Rotary with cord connections can be an issue for the first few times
    Slides are delicate.

    Not much needed to maintain them. Once you know what you have, and their condition - find your local tech. Get a QUOTE/PRICE to repair and get in working order - Working order does not mean Show room condition - playability is the goal,
     
  9. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    I would first do an inventory and create a shop card (can also be a database) for each instrument recording the condition of the instrument. Play each of them and include that comment. Once you know what you have, you create priorities for repair/adjustment.

    When checking the instruments, get the student section leaders/best players to help. You are building multiplicators for structured problem solving!

    As far as storage goes, if the brass instrument slides are in good repair, fresh grease is enough for a year or so. Go to the drugstore and get a pot of anhydrous lanolin. It is excellent grease and reasonably cheap.

    Woodwinds are another issue. If the instruments are dry from long periods of non use, pads will leak and it is not easy to determine the actual condition. There you may need the help of someone very experienced.

    Go for it and let us know how and what happens!
     

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