Valve break in period

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by bach37, Apr 13, 2012.

  1. bach37

    bach37 Pianissimo User

    Dec 1, 2011
    Just wondering about how much time it takes to get the valves good and broken in on a new horn?
  2. stumac

    stumac Fortissimo User

    Oct 19, 2008
    Flinders Vic Australia
    I dont think you can put a specific time on it, depends on how tight the manufacturing tolerances were, how often you clean and oil them.

    Two instances from personal experience with new horns, Selmer B700 27 years ago, so tight I could only play for 10 minuits and then the valves would sieze, take them out, clean them and casings, oil and be right for another 10. After a week of this I stopped using Al Cass Fast (about the only oil available in Australia at the time) found a synthetic at work and had no more siezing.

    Eclipse MS 2008, no break in period required, used Ultra Pure from start.

    Regards, Stuart.
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    It depends on how well you oil the valves and how straight you push the valves down.

    If you oil the valves properly, it could take years before any noticable wear shows. If you have a good natural grip, the valves don't get pushed at an angle and wear is also minimized - as well as the action being MUCh smoother!
  4. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

    Jul 1, 2011
    The valves ought to work well from the beginning. Period. Good shoes are the same: no break in period necessary. In fact the best valves ought to at least move up and down with no oil and while completely dry. You wouldn't want to play a gig that way but in a pinch they should move without lubrication.

    Back in the 1970's Reynold Schilke (who ought to have known better) decided to radically decrease the tolerances found between valves and valve casings. This was a huge mistake. Because,

    1. We're not talking about severe pressures building up within a trumpet necessitating critically small clearances. And,

    2. The disaster resulting from what these decreased clearances made to the average trumpet.

    Today we probably have ten million trumpets around the world with valve clearances less than a thousandth of an inch. Some less than 1/20 thousand and for no good purpose. Mild corrosion, minuscule dents or casings pulled out of round make these horns next to useless for playing music. Drive ya crazy worrying about the next time they will stick.

    This is whay I take ALL my valved horns and smooth them down with between 800 to 600 grit paper under water.

    Some kinds of finishing paper deteriorate under water so you must run those only while dry.

    Start with 800 grit and run the length of the horn and SLOWLY turn around under w warm stream of water. Make about three full rotations while rubbing end to end. Clean with water or baby wipes, dry thoroughly lubricate with just a few drops of oil.

    Still unhappy? Repeat process with 600 grit and finish with 800 until valves run PERFECTLY. Do this once a year or so and they will never stick. This can not harm your instrument.

    Also: Ignore the naysayers of this idea. they know NOTHING and probably can't help you in any other way either. Except perhaps to describe the fingerings and maybe a couple more rudimentary "no brainer ideas" you already know anyway. Don't expect them to engage in honest debate either. Each will put words in my mouth, make personal attacks, run, dodge and hide. likely cowards all of them.

    There are very few people on a trumpet forum who can help you. The rest usually have compromised, old ideas and (possibly) are here only to separate you from your hard earned money.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2012
  5. VetPsychWars

    VetPsychWars Fortissimo User

    Nov 8, 2006
    Greenfield WI
    Ignore the man who wants you to ruin your trumpet. Find a competent technician and ask him what he thinks of this ridiculous practice. After the incredulous looks and exclamations, make up your own mind whose advice you want to follow... someone with years of experience or someone you don't know on a message board.

    I have no experience with brand new valves. I do have experience with newly-rebuilt valves... which are fitted closer than one thousandth, that is huge. I have catalogs from the 30s where the manufacturer brags about fitting valves to five ten-thousandths, and this is before Schilke even thought about building his own horns.

    All of my valves were broken in from the start, but as the brass in the valve casings are porous, some compound will remain, so it's a good idea to swab the casings frequently at the start, for example, every day for a week.

    This advice I received from Charlie Melk and as Charlie is a third-generation repairman who was taught by his father and grandfather, who had stellar reputations in this area, I have no reason to believe that he is wrong.

    But, again, contact a competent technician and ask him about sandpapering your valve pistons. Contact two or three. Then decide which advice you want to follow.

  6. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006

    just because you repeat things constantly does not make them more true. Tight valves DO improve the resonance of the instrument. You seem to confuse the AC component (standing wave) in the horn with the air (DC component) that you claim to "move".

    Sound waves do not need hot air to travel. They play dominos with the air molecules. As the resonance IN the horn is at the speed of sound AND on a molecular basis, the tighter valves simply do a better job of keeping the standing wave more efficient by reducing leakage at that level. The resonant nodes in the horn are fairly easily calculated, as is the acoustic pressure that is enough to let the player often "feel" the frequencies being played. The horn also reflects energy off of the outside of the bell, giving the player the first "sounds" to adjust their playing with. That is why many lighter horns are assumed to be "freer blowing" or louder. The player simply hears themselves more easily because more energy is leaked through the bell material (and doesn't get to the audience......). The actual "loudness" is not more and the airflow is not really larger or faster. The energy is appreciable to get the metal parts to "ring" however.

    I find uninformed posts entertaining - sometimes. Purposely damaging a horns valve section with sandpaper may be your idea of a good time, I would help a student sue their teacher for damage in this irresponsible manner. There are excellent lapping compounds for "fixing" damaged valves. A skilled hand is necessary to keep the wear to a minimum. Ferrees is a wholesaler of repair tools and supplies and makes MONEY on stuff for repairs. Their lapping compound is 1200 to 2400 grit and in spite of their commercial interests, their warnings are VERY clear!:

    Repair tips

    The only place that looser valves are an advantage is on student horns. Less maintenance needs more play in the moving parts to make room for pizza, sugar and the condensed moisture.

    By the way, Schilkes mistake was not the tight valves, it was the inadequate stability of the casings that he could have easily solved with bigger ballisters.

    p.s. Valve oil works by viscosity - the resistance to "tearing" the surface film of oil on the valve and casing. The bigger the gap, the more easily the film skin breaks open allowing moisture to get under the oil. We all know how oil floats on water. In the valve it gets worse. The oils suds up and offers NO MORE PROTECTION.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2012
  7. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

    Jul 20, 2006
    Heart of Dixie
    If valves need to be "broken in" (are fitted too tight), they will wear faster if you are skimpy with the oil. Don't use synthetic if you want them to wear faster, either. Now, if they're just new and seem to be slugish/sticking, then synthetic oil just might be the ticket from the start, after a good cleaning of the pistons and the bores (and the horn). I'd try that first before I tried to accelerate the wear process to break them in.
  8. richtom

    richtom Forte User

    Dec 7, 2003
    From the Schilke Loyalist site, here are some definitive words on valve tolerances of Schilke trumpets.

    Another former Schilke employee wrote:

    "When I started working at Schilke, Bill Biehl was fitting the slides on Schilke custom instruments so tightly that a person could lap no more than four horns a day, and then by the end of the workday one's hands were in pain. With the Yamaha instruments, the assembler could put one together in an hour...[but] it seemed that a Schilke was not a Schilke unless it took a lot of time and pain to make the horn.

    In addition, "the old man used to brag how we fit our valves with tolerances of .0005 inch. That wasn't the case. The guys in the finishing department saw that when the valves were fitted that tight, the grip of the left hand on the casing to hold the horn, even as thick as our casing tubes were, exerted enough pressure to pinch the valves. Of course this was counterproductive, so the employees fit them to a larger tolerance of .001 inch which was still very tight but allowed the valves to move freely" when held by a human hand. A copy of the catalog from the late sixties provided me by another Schilke Loyalist repeats the .0005 tolerance claim. Schilke valves remain the industry standard by whatever measure."

  9. Rusty_Restorer

    Rusty_Restorer Pianissimo User

    Feb 24, 2012
    What is being described here is wet sanding a precision metal part that is plated or made of monel alloy. In finishing cars after repainting - we wet sand with 1200 to 3000 grit sand paper with plenty of water on the primer coats till we have a perfect mirror smooth primer finish to then top coat for a show car. I would not ever do that with precision fitted parts such as the valves of a trumpet just as I would not wet sand the piston of an engine. I had to laugh when I read that post. I think I may have purchased several horns where this was done. Now I know the reason why the valves are soooo loose.
  10. patkins

    patkins Forte User

    Nov 22, 2010
    Tuscaloosa, AL.
    Rusty_Restorer, I don't anybody other than Rowuk could give such a good deserved tongue thrashing! I found it unbelievable that anyone would advise such an absurdity. If He ever sells horns, I'm not buying! LOL!
    There needs to be an UNLIKE BUTTON, for posts like this.

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