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Chronically Sticking Second Valve


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Phoenix864
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:38 am    Post subject: Chronically Sticking Second Valve Reply with quote

Hi all,

I've been dealing with a hang during the upstroke of the 2nd valve on my Larson C for a number of months now. The valves feel great when cycling them without playing, but after a few minutes of playing the 2nd valve begins to stick.

I purchased the horn used in March 2020, but the 2nd valve sticking started during the fall. The sticking seems to get worse when the horn is warm, with the recently warming days exacerbating it. At this point, I've tried a wide variety of solutions but haven't found anything that works. I would appreciate any recommendations/advice on some possible next steps.

What I've tried so far:

Different oils - Ultrapure regular, Hetman 2, Hetman 3. The horn saw a full cleaning before each oil switch. I applied around two drops of oil per valve every day or so, but saw no notable difference between oils. I also tried Hetman 4, which did prevent the valve from sticking during the winter. However, I've started to see some sticking again as the days warm up. The return speed with Hetman 4 is also slower than I would like.

Cleaning - the horn has been cleaned about every two months since I purchased it last March. I'm quite thorough with my cleanings, and avoid placing the value on any cloth after cleaning to minimize lint contamination. I wash the casing and the pistons with soap, before rinsing and spraying each with 99% alcohol to flush off any remaining water. The value is then reassembled and goes right into the casing.

Casing alignment - I took the horn to a well-regarded local tech. He checked the straightness of the casing and adjusted the 2nd valve slide. Unfortunately, no change besides the 2nd slide becoming a much tighter fit.

Lapping - I know, not something that really should be done, but after bringing the horn back to the tech twice with the sticky valve remaining, he recommended a light lapping of the 2nd valve. I decided to give it a shot, but nothing much changed.

Valve guides - the horn had plastic CarolBrass guides in it when I purchased it. Those guides were not intended to be used with the valves the horn has, and I sourced the correct guides at the end of last year. However, changing between the guides has had no effect. Since the plastic Carrol guides fit, I recently tried some metal Carol guides just to see what would happen. While I like how they change the sound and feel of the horn, the sticking remains.

At this point, I'm not sure what else to do. I like the horn, but with the slight hang on the upstroke of the 2nd valve I can't trust it during rehearsals and performances. I'd hate to have to sell the horn just because I couldn't get the valve working for me, but right now I'm not sure what else to try.
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Kumara999
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Joined: 11 Mar 2019
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Location: Nova Scotia, Canada

PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Phoenix. I had a similar problem with my Fides. I tried a number of valve oils that did not solve the problem until I found Lynzoil Valve Oil by Bach - I never hang on that horn any more.

It may not fix your issues but $6 is a cheap solution if it works.

Heather
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TrumpetMD
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a horn right now that does this. Like yours, it seems to be temperature-dependent, and is worse as the horn warms up. The valve never hangs, but has a slight hesitation on the upstroke. It's been evaluated by techs, cleaned, etc. Here's what has helped, although it has not totally eliminated the problem.

1) Time. In general, it's gotten better over time. It may be due to some of my other activities noted below. But it may just be my working in the valve to the way I play.

2) I got rid of the valve alignment washers. I got talked into aligning the valves at one point, which made the problem worse. By removing the rubber washers, and putting back the felt washers, there was an immediate improvement.

3) Clean the valves often. At first, I would daily wipe down the valves and valve casings with a lint-free cloth, and then re-oil. This also seemed to help.

4) I normally use Hetman 1 or 3 on my horns. Hetman 3 seems to work better on this valve. The problem is intermittent. But when it resurfaces, I sometimes use a couple drops of Hetman 5 in combination with Hetman 3. I realize #5 is slide oil. You give up a little speed, since this is a thick combination, but I get more consistent valve movement.

Best of luck.
Mike
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Dennis78
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2021 12:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had a problem as such with a third valve. The longer I played the more chronic it be came. Turns out my grip on that particular horn was such that my pinky would slip back and cover the hole on the bottom cap
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Richard III
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2021 12:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had similar issues. Techs and cleaning and changing oils didn't help. Finally took it to another tech who ultrasonically cleaned it. Problem solved. I've had that with two horns. Same solution. Why? Not a clue. But I never have anything chem cleaned anymore.
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Crazy Finn
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2021 1:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did you get the horn used? Sometimes they way the previous owner pushed down on the valves doesn't mesh with the way the next owner (you, obviously) push down on the valves.

Richard III wrote:
I had similar issues. Techs and cleaning and changing oils didn't help. Finally took it to another tech who ultrasonically cleaned it. Problem solved. I've had that with two horns. Same solution. Why? Not a clue. But I never have anything chem cleaned anymore.


It's a thought.

The shop I worked at had both an acid bath and a ultrasonic machine. They tended to do both, first acid, rinse, then ultrasonic, rinse. It did a good job of getting the gunk out. They do tend to work in different ways and be better at slightly different things, though there is a lot of overlap at what they accomplish.

When I had my beater Olds Ambassador ultrasonically clean, it worked and played better than it ever had. It kind of sold me on how much of a difference it makes.

I have heard of a few people in my time as a teacher, player, and in retail that have valve issues on used horns. Sometimes, a professional cleaning helps, or a valve oil switch (I know you mentioned trying this already), and occasionally, they end up giving up and selling it to someone else. Sometimes the next person has similar issues, sometimes none at all. It's odd.
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Ed Kennedy
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2021 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Schilke has a particular method of lapping in their horns and they never stick. Find a Schilke-trained tech to do the job: Dr. Valve, Rich Ita and Rick Morovic are good. Rick "the Mas" Morovic was the arbiter of valves when I worked there back in the day.
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gwood66
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2021 2:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have had valve sticking issues on a few older horns. They have either been fixed by ultrasonic cleaning or Monster Oil......or both.
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Phoenix864
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2021 3:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks all for the responses.

Kumara999 - I'll see about picking up a bottle and giving that oil a shot. It's certainly a cheap and easy thing to try.

TrumpetMD - I'll give some Hetman 5 + Hetman 3 a shot. I've avoided using anything heavier than 4 due to concerns over valve speed, but if you've been running 3 and 5 without issue it sounds like it's worth a shot. This horn does have a PVA with synthetic felts - they were what the horn had when I bought it, so unfortunately I don't have the regular felts to go back to. I'll ask a tech about realigning with regular felts, though.

Richard III - Ultrasonic cleaning sounds like a good option, and might be the next thing I try with a tech. Being a used horn, it was professionally cleaned before I purchased it, but another cleaning at worst can't hurt, and sounds like it might be a possible solution.

Crazy Finn - Yeah, I got the horn used - it's about 10 years old. The wear from the previous owner could be the cause, but after a year of playing on it and having the 2nd valve lapped, I would hope that the horn would be relatively accustomed to my playing style. However, if an ultrasonic cleaning, valve felts, and/or oil change doesn't make a difference, it sounds like valve technique incompatibility may be the case.

Ed Kennedy - I would love to have the horn inspected by one of the nationally known techs, but as of now would prefer to avoid shipping the horn, especially if the horn has the same sticking problem after being worked on and shipped back.
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Crazy Finn
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2021 3:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Phoenix864 wrote:
Crazy Finn - Yeah, I got the horn used - it's about 10 years old. The wear from the previous owner could be the cause, but after a year of playing on it and having the 2nd valve lapped, I would hope that the horn would be relatively accustomed to my playing style. However, if an ultrasonic cleaning, valve felts, and/or oil change doesn't make a difference, it sounds like valve technique incompatibility may be the case.

It's had 10 years on the previous owner, 1 year with you. Also, the previous owner broke it in from new, you did not.

Valves aren't couches. It's metal wearing on metal. It's had 10 years of the other guy creating a wear pattern, what difference does you doing it for one make?

Of course, this is all speculation. I have no idea if this is the case. I have no idea if owner wear matters much. If it is, and if it matters, then I'm not sure 1 year does much to change it. That's all.

Also, a sticky second valve just sounds like a valve problem that is just not fixed properly. Not all techs are created equal.

A quick story.

In my senior year of HS, my third valve slide fell on the ground. I got it fixed, but it didn't slide as smoothly as it did when it was new and would sometimes hang. When I went to college and had something done at the local shop, I asked them to look at it and see if they could get it better. It was a little better. When I was teaching, one of my kids knocked it over and I had to take it in and I had someone tinker with it then as well. Slightly better.

Finally, I had my repair guru in the Cities (whom I didn't know prior to this) actually fix it when I moved back. It finally worked correctly, and it has ever since. The previous 3-4 techs weren't bad, but didn't get it quite right. This has been the case for a couple of other things as well, he is very well respected, though his turnaround time is.... complicated.

Moral of the story? Have a guy you know will get it right. There is no substitute. I know that the virus has complicated things and shipping is no fun (so glad I haven't had to do that, yet). However, having a guy (regardless of gender) that will do it right is priceless.
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LittleRusty
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2021 4:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another thought, which only occurred to me on rereading, is that the second valve crook was bumped and the casing is out of round.

This is not uncommon from what I understand and you don’t report issues with any other valves.
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Phoenix864
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2021 7:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Crazy Finn - That's very true, it may just be a case of incompatible playing styles. The tech I took the horn to is very well regarded in the area, but I'll definitely take the horn to a different tech before making any drastic decisions. Maybe someone else might have the touch to get it working.

LittleRusty - that was one of my initial thoughts as well, but I've been back to the tech 3 times, and asked him to check the casing straightness and 2nd slide alignment each time. According to him, the casing and 2nd side are very straight right now.

Something weird I've just noticed - since I last cleaned the horn, the valve seems to stick on the day I oil the horn. After that valve operation is fine until I oil again. I normally oil every day, but I've played the horn a few days now without oiling, and the valve action seems to be much more consistent. Not sure why oiling the valves would have anything to do with causing the sticking though.

The valve also feels slightly 'stuck' in the casing when I pull it out for oiling - it doesn't slide smoothly out like the other valves. It almost feels as if I'm breaking a weak vacuum or seal when removing the valve.

As of now, I plan to take the horn to another tech to see if any adjustments can be made (obviously no more lapping). If no results come from that, then I'll try an ultrasonic clean. If the sticking persists, I might try a valve realignment with felts, but honestly if it gets to this point I'll probably be looking to pass the horn on - hopefully it can be fixed before then.

Thanks all for the responses and advice.
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OldSchoolEuph
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2021 8:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is the only horn you experience the issue with, yes?

I am having arthritis issues and the tip of that finger isn't where it used to be - so I am having issues on every horn.
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mike ansberry
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2021 10:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are the valves Monel? Do they have stains on them? I have had players bring in horns with similar problems. I take a rag and put oil on it, then rub some tripoli abrasive on the rag, then polish the dark spots gently until the stain is gone. It has solve this problem a few times. This solution has worked for people for a year or so, then they have to be cleaned again. I was also a school band teacher and had this problem with valves there.

I have seen the stain problem a lot. Many horn makers denied that it was a problem with Monel. Jupiter confessed that the problem ws the alloy of Monel. It can cause galling. Galling is a form of wear caused by adhesion between sliding surfaces. When a material galls, some of it is pulled with the contacting surface. This causes the surfaces to stick together. The Jupiter company sent me stainless steel valves to replace the monel ones. Problem solved.
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LittleRusty
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2021 10:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is it possible the vent port in the bottom cap or in the piston are blocked, maybe partially?

Also it might be crud migrating from the connecting tubes, thus it happening when you oil the valves.
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JayKosta
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2021 10:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My understanding is that Ultrapure and Hetman valve oils are both 'synthetic' oils, and synthetic oils do have some beneficial characteristics. But you might also consider trying some 'old school' petroleum distillate oils - I use Al Cass valve oil, and drug store Mineral Oil . Straight Mineral Oil is too heavy for a valve oil, but adding a drop or two of Al Cass gives me good valve action and lasts a resonable length of time before needing to add more Al Cass (or to thoroughly clean & re-oil). This method of oiling has eliminated valve sticking that was happening with just the Al Cass.
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cheiden
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2021 12:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Two things.

Make sure the tubes between cylinders are clean.

Check to see if pushing or pulling on the 2nd slide changes the behavior. A good number of the valve problems that affect only the 2nd valve I've traced to the slide having been bumped. Sometimes the effect is very subtle to the point of being imperceptible until the piston hangs.
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etc-etc
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2021 1:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As suggested above, make sure you had removed any debris from the tubes connecting the valves.

To remove sticky contaminants on casing and piston surfaces, I would suggest to take a piece of thoroughly wetted chamois cloth and roll it into a tight tourniquet.

Take out the piston as well as bottom cap and insert the wetted chamois into the casing. Rotate the tourniquet inside the casing ensuring that all of the casing surface had been in contact with chamois. Use the same chamois cloth to wipe off the surface of the piston.

Cover the entire piston with a thin layer of oil (leave no dry surface). Add two or three drops of oil into the casing and re-assemble. If you notice that the piston is not going easily into the casing, stop, take the piston out and re-examine.

In my experience, this procedure works very well with tight valves that had started to stick.
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jadickson
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2021 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It’s possible you dropped it or hit it on the second valve slide, just a little bit so that the valve casing is indented. Easy repair but you need to take it to a professional.
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Phoenix864
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2021 9:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OldSchoolEuph - Yep, this is the only horn with the sticking. My Bb (with Carol valves) has been running great.

mike ansberry - the pistons are stainless steel. The tech also did a thorough cleaning of the pistons and casing, removing any staining, so they look pretty great for now.

LittleRusty - the vent ports in the bottom of the piston and in the bottom cap are clear - I checked and cleaned them a few days ago when I cleaned the horn. I'll double-check more carefully that there isn't a blockage somewhere deeper in the valve, though. Water drains freely through the valve, but there could be some buildup restricting flow. Another reason for an ultrasonic clean, possibly.

JayKosta - giving non-synthetic oils a shot is a good thought. I've been using synthetic oils for the better part of a decade, so that just what I continued using on this horn. I'll see about giving Al Cass a shot next time I clean the horn.

cheiden - yeah, cleaning the interconnecting valve tubes is probably a good idea. I haven't been doing it at home, due to the difficulty of access. I think the tech might have cleaned them when they did their deep clean of the pistons and the casing. Is there a good way to clean these tubes at home without rising damage to the inside of the casing? Next time I have the horn out I'll try tugging on the 2nd slide to see what effect it has on valve action.

etc-etc - thanks for the advice, I'll keep that in mind. I wouldn't describe these valves as particularly tight, but that sounds like a good thing to do down the line a bit, when debris have begun to collect again. When you wet the chamois it's just water, right? No soap, alcohol, or other cleaners?

jadickson - that was one of the things I asked the tech to check each time I brought the horn in - I'm pretty sure the slide is straight right now, but I'll have it checked again when I manage to get the horn out to another tech.
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