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Trumpet Discussion Discuss Un-soldering tips? in the General forums; So... I'm trying to unsolder the bell from an old trumpet, but it just won't come. I'm using a butane ...
  1. #1
    Piano User
    Join Date
    May 2010

    Un-soldering tips?

    So... I'm trying to unsolder the bell from an old trumpet, but it just won't come. I'm using a butane torch. I'm heating up the joints until the solder runs out in beads, but when I pull on the bell, it's just not moving. Any practical suggestions from someone who has done this before?

  2. #2
    Forte User nieuwguyski's Avatar
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    Aug 2004
    Santa Cruz County, CA

    Re: Un-soldering tips?

    The moment you pull the torch away, the remaining solder solidifies and things are stuck together again. I was taught to use old business cards (good size, card stock doesn't incinerate too quickly) -- liquify the solder with the butane torch and slide the card between the brace and bell while the solder is still liquid. The card stock will certainly blacken (and if it catches on fire, blow it out!), but if you're quick you can slide the card between the parts in one try. But if you don't succeed, you can always burn the first card away and try with a second.

    Leave each card in place while you use the same trick on the next brace down the line.
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  3. #3
    Fortissimo User coolerdave's Avatar
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    Nov 2009
    San Pedro

    Re: Un-soldering tips?

    Typically a Bell mandrill or jig to hold the valve casing is used .. sounds like three hands are needed for what you need to do. You really have to be careful ... hope you are using safety glasses and have a good work bench.
    If yo uare standing the butane worch on the table and using two hands on the instrument you could really burn yourself if the torch gets knocked over.
    There is a wicking sold that absorbs "wet" solder so it doesn't all over the finish.
    Please don't be offended by the safety comments if you are versed in it...
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  4. #4
    Forte User
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    Oct 2008
    Flinders Vic Australia

    Re: Un-soldering tips?

    A good method of holding the horn is essential, I made my own with 12" of 2x1" wood, drilling 2 holes at the center distance of the 1st and 3rd valves and gluing in 2 of 6" lengths of 5/8" dowel. the horn will sit on this and can be held in vyce or clamped to the bench.

    To remove a bell I start at the brace nearest the flare, heat the joint while applying a bit of side pressure, when the solder melts the joint should spring a little. Let the solder set to maintain the gap, now go to the next brace, it should pop when the solder melts, go back to the first brace and repeat, use the card to clear the solder. work back along the bell progressivly releasing each brace. I find it helps to slip a small screwdriver between the brace and bell to keep a little tension on the joints. It usually takes about 5 min to take the bell off an Olds Ambassador.

    Regards, Stuart.
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  5. #5
    Piano User mrsemman's Avatar
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    Apr 2010

    Re: Un-soldering tips?

    I use the same method as Stuart, although I made the dowel to fit the piston casings, and hold it and the horn in a vise. Then proceed from bell flare back. I usually hold the bell away from the brace for a few seconds to let it cool, then move on to the next brace and then finally the joint at the first valve casing. Then simply clean away excess solder from the exposed bracings and at the first piston casing. After repairing the bell or replacing the bell, you can easily resolder the bell back in place.
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  6. #6
    Fortissimo User trumpetsplus's Avatar
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    Jun 2006
    South Salem, NY

    Re: Un-soldering tips?

    Same method as Stuart. Don't hold the trumpet in a bell mandrel, hold it by dowels through the valve casing. This method is safer for retaining the bell crook bend!

    I have a 1" wide flat plaster trowel that I insert into each joint as I melt the solder then spray with water to cool the solder back to hard. Work back from the bell, 1, 2, 3, then remove the bell to 1st slide brace (heat both sides and slide it out with some smooth jaw needle-nore pliers). Then with it all cool, heat the bell near the ferrule into the first valve whilst "worrying" the bell whilst holding it by the crook. It will all slide out leaving the ferrule on the horn.
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  7. #7
    Mezzo Forte User kcmt01's Avatar
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    Sep 2009
    Polson, MT

    Re: Un-soldering tips?

    I always use a braid. You can just use old speaker wire with the insulation stripped. Heat the braid, apply flux, place braid on joint and heat until it absorbs the solder. Easy once you do it a couple hundred times.
    Last edited by kcmt01; 07-02-2012 at 02:33 PM.
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