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Toothpaste For Sticky Valves


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Abraxas
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2018 5:41 pm    Post subject: Toothpaste For Sticky Valves Reply with quote

I had all but resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to either get into electroplating and lapping or hang my beloved Olds Special cornet on someone's wall. It certainly wasn't going to be a $600 valve rebuild. The valves were catching every now and then. Hand lapping is a mess to clean up and can be pretty aggressive. As a "Hail Mary Pass" , I knew that toothpaste was abrasive and would be an easy cleanup with water. Colgate Total turned up on published charts for toothpastes in the middle of the range of abrasiveness. I dabbed some on and worked the pistons back and forth for about 250 strokes each, rinsed, oiled with Hetmans # 3 and hallelujah, worked like a charm. No more hangs. Thought I'd share this potential remedy for a common problem.
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tptguy
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2018 9:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a time honored fix that has been used thousands of times to great success. I've used it myself on many different horns and always with excellent results. The standard toothpaste is Ultra Brite toothpaste, but many also use Lava soap when the going gets a little tougher. I know some people on the TH get nervous about this procedure. But it merely removes built up mineral deposits from saliva and similar accumulated yuk, not metal - unless maybe you go crazy on it, of course. Do 20 turns from bottom of casing, clean thoroughly, test. Repeat only as needed.
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Bob Stevenson
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2018 1:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

firstly, toothpaste IS unquestionably a lapping compound when used in this context....... ALL lapping, in any engineering context, removes metal from the workpiece...that's how it works (when properly applied and analysied) ie., a 'subtractive' process.

Time and time again this has come up here, at least during the last 17 odd years that I have followed this site..... Before carryng out ANY subtractive process it's failrly vital to be clear about the analysis and careful identification of a defect......"my valves hang up sometimes"......so what did you think could be remedied by removing metal from the valves? You undoubtedly cleaned the valves an dnow they are 'OK' for a while until they get dirty again, at which point you will probably have another 'think' and reach once more for the toothpaste.......after all, it worked ok last time!

Any intermittant fault in a mechanism is but one piece of evidence for (carefull) consideration.........how did you make the assumption that the 'answer' was to remove metal from the valves?

However, this does indeed highlight a factor in buying a used instrument.....a good idea to casually sound out the sellers attitudes to cleaning and the use of compounds....if you detect a liking for putting a lapping compound inside this expensive instrument you are liking to buy then politely walk away!

There are people out there who clean expensive camera lenses by giving them a wipe with their hankerchief, usually helped on by a good blob of spit.....
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delano
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2018 1:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bob Stevenson wrote:


There are people out there who clean expensive camera lenses by giving them a wipe with their hankerchief, usually helped on by a good blob of spit.....


And what's wrong with that?
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zaferis
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2018 4:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

delano wrote:
Bob Stevenson wrote:


There are people out there who clean expensive camera lenses by giving them a wipe with their hankerchief, usually helped on by a good blob of spit.....


And what's wrong with that?


Exactly highlights the problem..

...unwlittingly throwing a random DIY fix at symptoms of an unknown problem-could help, could hurt, could mask the real issue. Sticking valves are a symptom of a variety of different issues.
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Abraxas
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2018 4:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know if I'd agree that I'm "undoubtedly" removing metal. It could very well be that some tough grime from dried spit and oil has also put a coating on the cylinders. Pollish typically is an abrasive too, at least on a nanoscopic scale.
If there were any serious abrading happening, none of us that brush our teeth, would have any left. Considering the options, I'm not sure what else one can do ? Start hammering nails in the wall for the hangers ? This is an instrument that was had for less than $100 and still typically is found for less than $150. I can't see spending $600 on a valve rebuild !!! As we used to say in the military, you can't argue with success.
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VetPsychWars
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2018 4:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Abraxas wrote:
I can't see spending $600 on a valve rebuild !!!


You said that instrument was "beloved". If you get ten more years together and you're happy for those ten years, that's $60 a year. If you're buying your coffee at a Starbucks instead of making your own, you're throwing away a lot more than that!

In my mind, what you proved is you don't use the right stuff cleaning your valves and abrasive on loose valves (you're using Hetman #3, right? The thick stuff?) is no cure.

In my experience, Hetman's builds up a residue that needs a decent solvent to get the gunk out. I were you, I'd be swabbing the casings and wiping the pistons with denatured alcohol every other week.

Tom
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Abraxas
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2018 4:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know and I should jog everyday and eat more fibre. It’s like the old argument “it wouldn’t hurt”. When we have only x numbers of days on this planet, I’m not able to do all the shoulds that I could but know I won’t. Ditto for dollars. $600 amortized over 10 years is a Martin Committee. It would defy logic to spend that on an Olds Special.
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TKSop
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2018 6:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bob nailed it - if you can justify spending thousands on horns, you should damned well expect to spend a bit on professional servicing every now and again.

If it's a super cheap horn you don't care about, then go for it... Just don't expect me to copy you on expensive horns I do care about


Last edited by TKSop on Thu Sep 06, 2018 7:18 am; edited 1 time in total
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Abraxas
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2018 6:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry, I should have mentioned that it was an Olds Special that cost me $60, so I couldn't rationalize a $600 valve job. I'm in Canada too, so that $600 translates to about $1000 Canadian Pesos at current exchange rates, when shipping is included. We also have a Goods and SERVICES tax for the government trough. There are an awfully large amount of 'nice' horns out there, but not THAT nice. Think Ambassadors etc. The toothpaste fix might be suitable for those horns that are deemed unplayable, as a last resort. My advocacy wasn't intended for the Committee / Opera/ Strad crowd.

Last edited by Abraxas on Thu Sep 06, 2018 10:14 am; edited 2 times in total
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kevin_soda
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2018 10:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tried this on one of my Bachs a few years back and it didn’t work.

Why not pay for the valve job? It sounds worthwhile given how much you like the horn. It sounds like you’ve gotten your money out of the instrument so far. Why not invest to keep that enjoyment? We put so much time into assessing the “value” of the money we put into our instruments but we never account for the cost of use or how hard it is to replace an instrument you really like. If you consider $600 for a valve rebuild not worth the cost because you couldn’t get $1,600 for it “if you sold it” then you don’t care enough about the instrument in the first place.
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LittleRusty
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2018 10:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kevin_soda wrote:
Tried this on one of my Bachs a few years back and it didn’t work.

Why not pay for the valve job? It sounds worthwhile given how much you like the horn. It sounds like you’ve gotten your money out of the instrument so far. Why not invest to keep that enjoyment? We put so much time into assessing the “value” of the money we put into our instruments but we never account for the cost of use or how hard it is to replace an instrument you really like. If you consider $600 for a valve rebuild not worth the cost because you couldn’t get $1,600 for it “if you sold it” then you don’t care enough about the instrument in the first place.

This certainly is one way to think about it. Personally I wouldn’t consider spending $600 on a $60 horn. No matter how much “enjoyment” I had derived from a extremely cheap horn.
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kevin_soda
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2018 10:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Abraxas wrote:
Not sure who Roy is. I assume you meant Tom. Sorry, I should have mentioned that it was an Olds Special that cost me $60, so I couldn't rationalize a $600 valve job. I'm in Canada too, so that $600 translates to about $1000 Canadian Pesos at current exchange rates, when shipping is included. We also have a Goods and SERVICES tax for the government trough. There are an awfully large amount of 'nice' horns out there, but not THAT nice. Think Ambassadors etc. The toothpaste fix might be suitable for those horns that are deemed unplayable, as a last resort. My advocacy wasn't intended for the Committee / Opera/ Strad crowd.


There’s not one expert valve tech in ALL OF CANADA?! You don’t need to ship internationally to fix a horn...
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Abraxas
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2018 10:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, not that I know of. It's lip stick on a pig in any event. I can buy a second Olds Special for about 1/10 the the cost of this valve job. .... or alternatively, if I like the Special so much, imagine how much more I'd enjoy a Handcraft, Studio, 80A etc or combinations thereof.....which I'd never own cause I blew the dough on a valve job.
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kevin_soda
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2018 1:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Abraxas wrote:
No, not that I know of. It's lip stick on a pig in any event. I can buy a second Olds Special for about 1/10 the the cost of this valve job. .... or alternatively, if I like the Special so much, imagine how much more I'd enjoy a Handcraft, Studio, 80A etc or combinations thereof.....which I'd never own cause I blew the dough on a valve job.


Do those trumpets have valves that don’t wear?
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Abraxas
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2018 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I take it you are trying to make a point but don't know what it is. I just found another Special for $57 USD. Not the Tritone but the older style.... not that I need one as my tritone continues to work fine.
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James Becker
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2018 3:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Against my better judgement I'll step in and comment.

News flash, those of us that professionally rebuild valves on vintage brass have plenty of work doing jobs for those that want them. And now that Anderson Silver plating will no longer offer piston rebuilding, we're likely to see an uptick in our business. Try having anything of value expertly restored these days, be it your home of vehicle, it's expensive for good reason. High quality work performed by any type of craftsmen is the result of years (pardon the pun) honing one's skills. Factor in upfront expense of setting up and maintaining plating equipment, tooling, plus time spent actually performing the labor intensive job, it all costs money.

You might ask why anyone would rebuild valves in the first place? Often times an instrument has redeeming qualities that cannot be found in a new one. Perhaps the the player has a history with the instrument, a sentimental attachment, or it belonged to someone of significance. What ever one's reasoning, I like to remind them of the extended usefulness they'll enjoy with restored valves.

The decision rests with our customers. We'll share our diagnostics and convey what to expect with a rebuild, but never have to hard sell it to anyone.

There's always Hetaman #3 Classic oil, an affordable stop gap until a rebuild is in your budget.

I hope this is helpful.
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Steve A
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2018 5:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kevin_soda wrote:
Abraxas wrote:
Not sure who Roy is. I assume you meant Tom. Sorry, I should have mentioned that it was an Olds Special that cost me $60, so I couldn't rationalize a $600 valve job. I'm in Canada too, so that $600 translates to about $1000 Canadian Pesos at current exchange rates, when shipping is included. We also have a Goods and SERVICES tax for the government trough. There are an awfully large amount of 'nice' horns out there, but not THAT nice. Think Ambassadors etc. The toothpaste fix might be suitable for those horns that are deemed unplayable, as a last resort. My advocacy wasn't intended for the Committee / Opera/ Strad crowd.


There’s not one expert valve tech in ALL OF CANADA?! You don’t need to ship internationally to fix a horn...


Actually, while I understand this might be hard to fathom from an American standpoint, Canada is a very different market place from the United States. Keep in mind that we're only 1/10th of the population of the US, and this should make a bit more sense.

I don't know definitively that there are no expert valve techs in Canada, but I've been told independently by two different highly accomplished brass techs here in Toronto (the biggest city and music market in the country) that they wouldn't recommend anywhere in Canada for plating instruments or mouthpieces, so the absence of valve experts doesn't seem far-fetched. Where there are already big and well-established companies providing these services in the US to a much bigger domestic market, which we have ready access to, as well as having our own small and very widely spread population, all of these make it very difficult for smaller companies here to start up with providing services competing with their American counterparts. (Although, the amount of cost and time delay that is cropping up with crossing the border recently might start to reverse that trend.)
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Abraxas
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2018 5:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

James Becker and Steve .... agreed !!
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cheiden
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2018 8:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I believe in supporting the incredible craftsmen who work on brass. In the past I've been lucky enough to patronize the holy trinity of Southern California Bob's: Bob Malone, Bob Reeves and Robb Stewart.

These days, for my own reasons I not able to spend nearly as much on my hobby. There are a million reasons why others might not be eager to pony up hundreds of bucks for equipment or repairs. I don't see why there should be any attempt to shame folks who decide to take on modest DIY repairs.

By my reading, toothpaste nowadays negligibly abrades tooth enamel or the softer dentin. I have trouble expecting that it would do any worse on most any metal. FWIW, I've used toothpaste on valves myself and sometimes (not all) it's made a significant difference for the better.
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