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Valve construction and valve oil then vs now?



 
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Robert P
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 11, 2017 9:46 pm    Post subject: Valve construction and valve oil then vs now? Reply with quote

Herbert L. Clarke and others of his era played lightning fast material, so did Harry James so apparently manufacture of fast, dependable valves was possible in days gone by. Anyone know what was different about the way they were made then vs now? What were they made of or coated with in various eras?

What were valve oil formulations like?
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shofarguy
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 7:39 am    Post subject: Re: Valve construction and valve oil then vs now? Reply with quote

Robert P wrote:
Herbert L. Clarke and others of his era played lightning fast material, so did Harry James so apparently manufacture of fast, dependable valves was possible in days gone by. Anyone know what was different about the way they were made then vs now? What were they made of or coated with in various eras?

What were valve oil formulations like?


I've been told that valve oil was generally formulated using petroleum distillates (often kerosene), back in that time. Things like public health awareness, environmental regulations and less tolerance of things that smell bad took them out of favor. Later, alcohols, paraffin and synthetic lubricants came into use.

One challenge of these is residue left behind to build up on the surface of the pistons and casings causing limited clearance and inhibiting free movement. The other, especially in the case of alcohol, is evaporation, which can leave the piston with insufficient lubrication in a short amount of time. Paraffin can deposit in other places, like water key ports, and cause problems.
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ChopsGone
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 8:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pistons have been made from a variety of metals and alloys. Boosey had a couple of formulations that worked pretty well, SOLBRON (solder + bronze, but remember they were Brits so you have to do a little translation) and SILBRON (silver + bronze). Without access to the Boosey Pistons Books, I'm assuming that "solder" referred to one of the various alloys we would call "hard solder", perhaps even enameling solder - but that's a guess. SOLBRON was introduced around 1907 and touted in advertisements as a cure for the sticking problems of German silver valves. SILBRON followed around 1926 or so. Holton called their version "phosphor bronze". Even older instruments might be found with pistons made of plain old brass or copper, or various cupronickel alloys. But nickel-plated brass or bronze became very popular quite a while back, and the better-known "fast" pistons (Selmer, Olds, etc.) were made this way.

As far as lubrication, I still have some ancient bottles of various brands around, and kerosene is indeed the predominant smell. Spit was also widely used and even recommended by a well-known maker.

From a Conn instrument care booklet (from about 1928, for an 80A, I believe):*
Do not use valve oil on new Conn instruments,
as the valves are fitted very closely and even the
lightest oil on the market, which is Conn Valve
Oil, is too heavy. Water is the best lubricant to
use: oil is recommended for old and worn valves
only.


*By the time Conn's 1942 booklet was published, they had changed to endorsing the use of light valve oil. Both the 1928 and 1942 publications can be found at the fine Conn Loyalist site.
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Last edited by ChopsGone on Sat Aug 12, 2017 10:05 am; edited 3 times in total
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Tony Scodwell
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 9:44 am    Post subject: Spitting on valves Reply with quote

When I traveled with Doc Severinsen, he always commented on how good my valves worked. One night before the gig I noticed him spitting on his valves before the show and my comment was, "and YOU wonder why my valves feel better than yours"? After that I took it upon myself to not only do the usual road manager duties but keep his trumpet clean and lubed (without telling him that I had been doing it) and gee, his valves were just fine. He did prefer T-2 oil after that. Years earlier I was playing with him at the Sands in Las Vegas and his third valve was constantly sticking when he played the cadenza on "Evergreen" which went up to a G#. He turned around one night and asked me to help (during the cadenza) and I took his Getzen home for a thorough cleaning. Much crud and bits of cigars later the legendary Getzen valves were working as intended. That night the cadenza came off perfectly and while holding the G# Doc gave me a thumbs up. He did complain a bit after the show saying his horn felt like a large bore now.

Tony Scodwell
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Goldplate
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Joined: 14 Sep 2004
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2017 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

King used to make chrome plated valves. I don't know what years they made them. The ones I used were at least forty years old at the time and worked well.
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