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3rd valve sluggish but only after 123 are depressed

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Regular Member

Joined: 06 May 2016
Posts: 12

PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 11:40 am    Post subject: 3rd valve sluggish but only after 123 are depressed Reply with quote

Hello all,

Strange occurrence here. My Olds Super has a sluggish 3rd valve- but not always. It sticks only if I'm playing a phrase involving all three valves down at once, and only if I'm actually moving air through the horn. So it'll come up slow if I play chromatically up from low C once I try to go from Eb to E, but not if I try to play an Eb minor arpeggio for example. This is a very weird conundrum- it happens EVERY time if I hit that 123 combination, but not without air, but 3rd valve itself is somehow fine? Any thoughts?

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Veteran Member

Joined: 27 Dec 2004
Posts: 355
Location: Parrish, FL

PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 11:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You might be exerting sideward pressure on the third valve when you employ 1,2,3 combination.
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Joined: 24 Dec 2018
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Location: Endwell NY USA

PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 12:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Check if you are somehow squeezing the valve casing - maybe with left hand, or perhaps with the thumb of the right hand.
Maybe try playing without using the pinky finger hook.

Has this always happened? It the horn new to you? Change valve oils? etc.

going back to French horn!
Yamaha 668N, Holton DC mpc
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Heavyweight Member

Joined: 07 Apr 2012
Posts: 1456

PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I see instances like this, it is usually a combination of things, not a single cause.

It is probably that your hand position alters a little when you press all 3. The valve may have a slightly weaker spring that would not be noticeable on its own. A prior owner may have worn the valves in with a slightly different force vector than you are now exerting. Put the three together and your shifted hand causes the valve to go off-line just a little within its wear hourglass, and the spring isnt strong enough to pop past the resistance.

I would second the suggestion of not using the pinkie hook just as a means of gathering some data on the impact of hand position.
Ron Berndt

2017 Austin Winds Stage 466
1962 Mt. Vernon Bach 43
1954 Holton 49 Stratodyne
1927 Conn 22B
1957 Holton 27 cornet
1985 Yamaha YEP-621
1975 Yamaha YEP-321 Custom
1965 Besson Baritone
1975 Olds Recording R-20
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Heavyweight Member

Joined: 27 Jul 2005
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Location: ca.

PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you have close tolerances sometimes as we play the horn heats up and metal expands. This aggravates any existing issues.
"There is no necessity for deadly strife" A. Lincoln 1860

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Andy Cooper
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Joined: 15 Nov 2001
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Location: Terre Haute, IN USA

PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2020 4:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A couple of things.
1. Check your valve guides. Try switching the 1st and 3rd guides. They do wear.

Does this happen with other models of Olds trumpets?

2. While I always liked Olds, I found that their spacing between the pistons was just a tiny bit wider than most other trumpets. That required me to stretch my fingers more than I find comfortable. In a 123 fingering I would pull my third finger a bit towards the other valves. I could cause the problem you mention.

If that's the problem, have you considered the Recording Model with the offset 2nd valve?
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Heavyweight Member

Joined: 01 Nov 2016
Posts: 720

PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2020 7:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have never found any valve issue that was not either a cleaning issue or a spring issue or a misalignment issue of some kind.

Springs over time become tired.

I have an Olds Special. It has been said elsewhere that all Olds used the exact same valves and valve blocks in all their instruments so I am confident speaking about your valves based on my experience.

Two things are clear

1 The valves run totally silent and operate faultlessly

2 The springs are the strongest of any instrument I own.

I have a suspicion that your problem might be caused by a combination of weak springs plus dirt deposits inhibiting valve movement plus parts alignment issues.

I would check the spring strength first, give the valves a thorough clean and disassemble all the valve parts and then reassemble the valve carefully.

If the valve makes any squeeking or scraping noises as it is actuated then parts are misaligned.

The only sound you should hear is a gentle thud as the valve hits the top felt.

The Olds valve construction is an unusual construction the spring sits very close to the chamber walls and the various parts can easily be assembled slightly out of alignment resulting in noisy valve action with spring scraping noises.

If the valves are not totally silent then there is a misalignment somewhere. Misalignment scraping noise indicates that something is stopping the free movement of the valve.

I have seen small parts wrongly interchanged between valves result in sticking valves so even this possibility cannot be ruled out.

Only if the springs are strong and the valves are totally clean, totally silent, correctly assembled, and well oiled, would I consider valve block deformation and playing characteristics as the culprit.

I will say this, Olds valves are some of the most fiddly to get perfectly assembled it is extremely easy to misalign any of the parts and it is very laborious to correct this. Once the valve parts alignment is corrected however they are exquisite and run faultlessly.
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