Repair Tips

Repair Tips

       Tips from here and there; I haven't tried ALL of these, but, they sound good.


     Had a call the other day about the Buffet Clarinet nibs (nubs?) on the C# & low B levers.  Seems they are plastic and they eventually break.  I got word that the easiest way to fix them is to make a replacement from 2mm weedwacker cord.  Just put a little bit in your bench motor, carefully round off the end sticking out with a small file or something and then take the piece and glue it into the key.  Looks factory and is likely tougher.

Flute pad openings-

Here is a little difference of opinion on specifications, but they are soooo close; the best way, is to try them and see how it sounds.
Various flute pad opening suggestions:
Location  Ferree's  Phelan/Brody (from book)  Butkevicious
trill & hi C  .080" .100" (& thumb)  .110"
 body joint .110" .120"-.125" .125", G# .100" .125"
   foot joint .150" .135" D# .125", C, C#, B .135" .135"


Basically, just open the cup up until the note plays clearly.  These are all, just starting points.

French Horn stringing-     It is important to remember when stringing a rotor valve; that the strings do not touch; as that increases wear and binding up, etc. They may work, despite this, but, try to have them NOT touch; sometimes you can achieve this by bending the angled, strung arm up or down.  On occasion, you have to bend the arm toward or away from the stop arm.     We call this, "string over" or "string under", as to where the strings wind up.  Conn horns, to my memory were all "string under"; I think King's were "string over".  What decides this for you is the leverage and attack angle of the key hinge rod elevation versus the length and angle of the key arm itself.  You can usually bend the levers to prevent the strings from rubbing on each other.  That is most likely how they came to be rubbing on each other in the first place; incurred damage or a bad repair job.  Maybe even, a bad string job from a non-professional.  Another "trick" is to bring the string out from under the coil when going around the string screws.  This "locks" the string in place both on the stop arm and on the adjusting screw at the end of the lever.  If you don't come out "under" the entering portion of the string; the screw can tend to "push" the string outward from the screw.

Better dent work using your dent hammer- (excerpt)     Normally, you would use round balls (N80D's or E's) screwed on 5/8" or 3/4" rods like N31's or an N74 mounted in a vise with a V-block to form the tubing around.  With this setup you would use an F10A or B dent hammer to burnish (Read that: "hammer off center") and push the metal back to a nice cylindrical form. You are not supposed to hammer, directly ON a ball.  You use the ball as a form or mandrel and then hammer (Read that; "burnish") right next to the ball radius; essentially making the ball a hammer or form, from the inside out.  Tunk - Tunk not Tink - Tink.  Okay? Best wishes for Good repairs, Gary            P.S. Remember, the more you hammer direct, the thinner and harder and larger the metal gets and work hardening sometimes creates cracks.  You may have to anneal, and that gets messy with all the posts and sometimes tone holes.  But, if you label everything and draw some pictures you will probably be okay, anyway, lacking a Z60 and either a Z61,61E Base or a 61S Stand and some toys, of course.  Then, the dents just kind of roll out.  There are times however, that you must anneal BEFORE using even the dent machine.  Like when two creases intersect (cross each other) and it causes a high stress area which will turn into a hole.  THEN, you are looking to use some F44 or J61 low temp silver solder for sure.  J61 is included in the handy J60 Silver Solder Kit

Schilke Valve data-

This was sent to me some time back~

Reynold Schilke (d. 1982)  Trumpets (1956-)

M Series: 

  • Used Yamaha casings from 1972 - 1982.
  • serial #20,000 up to 29,999

REAL Schilke: 

  • 0-7800+ & 30,000+ Valve size difference from Yamaha and possibly each other!

Braces between casings:

  • REAL Schilke: Straight tubing, hexagon stock
  • Yamaha Schilke: bowed tubing, round stock

Serial number placement on valve casings:

  • REAL Schilke: Face bell (?)
  • Yamaha Schilke: Face receiver (?)

Yamalloy pistons-"stick due to personal chemistry", Z8 helps clear this up.

Pulling half-tone crooks- 

    When pulling a stuck slide on a cornet or trumpet, and the rawhide gives up; try using an old 'catgut' bass fiddle (violin) string.  It is strong, it fits and it's long.  Don't use the metal part or a metal string.  This from John Armstrong; New Castle, New South Wales, Australia. By phone!

Just an answer on where to get special repair parts-

Dear Deb,

    Any medium well equipped repair shop should have the necessary tools and parts to fabricate for you a correct new rod.  Call them first and ask if they have the proper sized drill rod to make the rod from; then ask if they have the correct sized die, which is metric.  You don't want them to change the threads in the post to fit just whatever they happen to have because of potential future repairs by them or someone else.  Further, it will protect the value of your instrument if the repair is invisible and un-noticeable.  Make sure they leave a reveal between the threads and the stop of the rod (the shoulder between the threads and the rod).  This will prevent future problems.  Look at the other rods as an example, it should match.  I can't really recommend anyone because I don't know where you live and even if I did; I could not attest to their craftsmanship.  Ask to see something they already did for someone else.  That's what I do.  They should not be offended; they should be proud to show you their work; even brag.  

Best wishes, 

Gary Ferree


Thank you for the information and quick response! Deb

About the frozen valve question.

    I, personally, do not like removing metal from any horn, in any circumstance.  I don't know what the condition of the instrument in question was but, here is how I try to approach those situations.  Try to free the valve by soaking in light oil, penetrating oil or creak oil.  The new Z8 has also been successful in this process.  Sometimes a little heat helps if the valve is frozen in the casing.  Do NOT heat the Z8, it will burn; as it is in a thin clear, solvent type, carrier.  Be sure to check and make sure there is not a paperclip or hairpin caught in the bore by looking through the ports after you remove the tuning slides.  Check with a magnet if you have too.  Next, you may want to try and push the valve piston UP, because of the guides, with a valve mandrel or machined piece of dowel that will protect the bottom of the piston from collapsing.     So, let's now assume you have removed the valve safely from the casing.  To get the valve to work freely in the casing:

1) The valve must be checked and put straight.

2) The casing must be checked and put straight.

3) They must work smoothly together!  Burnish.Using the valve mandrel and casing mandrel no grinding or other fast wear products need be used in most cases.  We do have a garnet based lapping compound that becomes a liquid when used that is very fine.  I think more in the neighborhood of more than 1200 - 2400 grit.  We only have one grit because, it is not a good thing to prematurely wear out a horn.  Lapping compound WILL NOT free a frozen valve, and can be used only after the valve is separated from the casing or body of the horn.  Here are some part numbers that may help.   J88A Corrosion cracker Oil - Always a good place to start from   Z8 Monel Oil additive - Works for many things; and the Z6, too!L588 Lapping compound - Try to do without it.  Don't just use it as a matter of course.These are all small quantities, because the occasion seldom occurs.  Best wishes and good repairing, Gary Ferree

A bit about flute pads- 

Bundy flutes usually work just fine using ALL our standard .114" thick pads in the big sizes, and for the three little 11mm pads; I have always used the B21 double skinned clarinet pads because they have a thicker cardboard on the back which keeps them flatter for better seating and the thicker skin makes them less crinkly as far as noise goes and more durable.  At least, in my mind.     You may have to pull the fronts of the keys down a little on the Bundy, but you will be very close to right.  Sounds to me like someone put in the (Old Gemeinhardt style) B29 woven pads which are only .098".  Either, because they were out of the right size or who knows what?  You may have to correct for that.  You didn't tell me how thick the existing shims were.     You stated you were getting the .114" thick, woven B38B which is identical to the B30B except they are yellow.  That is fine.  However, you may want to try some B31B's or B26B's which are identical in the same way, except they are of needle felt, (also called pressed felt).  These require your craftsmanship to be more precise, but the benefits are:

  1. they hold your specific regulation a longer time,
  2. they more 'match' the feel of older packed down woven pads in repair situations,
  3. they give the player the same firmer 'feel' they have become used too over their last few years of playing in repad or overhaul situations
  4. and they last longer due to less distortion during use.

The larger price difference of the B26 pads is because they are made from more select or premium components.  Hence the approx. 10% or about $1.10 additional cost, over the B38.  I believe it is worth it; considering the labor is about 100 times that.  Why get cheap on the pads they are only about 10% or less of the total job and; they showcase the labor!  The B26 is our De' Jur pad for flute.  The absolute best.  The adjusting screws DO NOT RAISE THE CUPS.  All they do is make it easier to make them all hit at the same time ON THE DOWN STROKE.  That is a common misconception.  In actuality, the pad adjustment screw only really functions in ONE direction!  On the down stroke. The upstroke is governed by the tails on the keys and/or the thickness of the corks between the tail keys and the body.  It takes more than a dozen clips. We usually sell 18 clips at the dozen price, per each.  I use the X100 pad oven.  It is well regulated to stay near 215F, consumers home ovens usually vary more than 50 degrees and can cause solder problems.  The hot air gun has been successfully used by some repairmen in this regard.  And don't forget, only ONE DROP of water per pad.  Distilled works best because there are no contaminants in it to cause problems.  I recommend you read on our web site, under "Back to Basics", "Woodwinds", then "Flute pads", and also read "Sax Pads, and then read the flute pads again, and back and forth as many times as it takes to get comfortable with the mechanics of it.

Good luck and Best wishes, 

Gary Ferree

               P.S.  I assume you have an E61 (flute pad leveler {read that: bending tool} and gauge) and E34 (to dip and spread the water); and some good screwdrivers.  Also, check into using the paper spacing washers to lower the back of the pad if necessary.  If the pads are hitting heavy in the back, index the pad to the arm and remove some of the spacers to make them even all the way around.  With .114" pads, not much spacing is needed; as a rule.  Type A (GM) automatic transmission fluid makes very good key oil.  Or, if not available, any General Motors type, the Ford (type F) tends to be too thick.  One drop is all it takes, because it "hangs" and doesn't run all over.


Ferree's Tools-"Because they work!"