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CLEANING: Ultrasonic - Chemical - Home | Summary & Decision

Postby Beervangelist » Wed Aug 02, 2017 11:09 am

I have read several posts on maintenance and cleaning, and thought I'd share my summary, as well as my decision to put it through some heavy vetting here on Tubenet.

SUMMARY
The point is frequently made that semi-regular cleaning is important to the maintenance of the horn, and health of the player.

There are lots of tips on how to do a home-cleaning, while an important additional point made is that home jobs are rarely sufficient as the only service.

There is an ongoing quality debate between chemical cleaning and ultrasonic cleaning. To my eyes, it appears that chemical cleaning may have the edge in preference, although this is also biased by access to ultrasonic or trust in the skill and experience of the operator for ultrasonic -
amateurs need not apply.

Deeper problems in older horns like mine may be revealed with a thorough cleaning. Leaks, and other issues may be masked by "beneficial slime." Once removed, additional repairs may be necessary.

The "Beneficial slime" theory is only part true. Yes, it may be masking problems, but the general consensus is that it is never beneficial, and never too soon to get the horn back to how it should be; sans slime.

Various stories of techs/shops trying to avoid cleaning big, awkward horns have emerged, and now I have my own version. Back when I had a little work done to help with the threading of a valve, I asked the tech about cleaning, and he replied in an irritated tone, "These horns don't need to be cleaned."

I've pondered all of this for a bit, and even considered whether I wanted to fact-check the store's policy on cleaning. Do they offer it? Even so - if that's his opinion, do I want him working on my horn? We're in a small-ish town, so there aren't many options.

The decision:
I found Tubenetter Lost's thread http://forums.chisham.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=62618&hilit=overhaul about restorations, with a list of qualified technicians by state. I looked a couple up, and there's one in Detroit and one in Chicago, which are equidistant to me.

Dana Hofer brass repair came out on top. He has pictures, videos, references and even a clear and distinct pricing page that includes services on tubas and sousaphones. While he offers ultrasonic, versus chemical, I feel his reputation and experience alleviate any concern over the threats of ultrasonic.
http://www.danahoferbrassrepair.com/

I feel like having a professional-level technician within a couple of hours for services that can impact the lifespan of the instrument, is pretty darn good. I'm sure I might still use the local guys for a small repair to keep me playing if needed, but I'm feeling good that Dana will identify any other needs with the horn and responsibly get it playing to the best of its potential.

I suppose I'm just rattling on to share what I gained from Tubenet and sound out my logic. If anyone knows a better shop within an hour or so of Grand Rapids, Michigan - I'm all ears. In the meantime, I'm hoping to drop by horn off with Dana next week.

Thanks to all for your contributions to the topic of cleaning & maintenance!
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Re: CLEANING: Ultrasonic - Chemical - Home | Summary & Decis

Postby bloke » Wed Aug 02, 2017 12:31 pm

Lime can eventually plug up a small leak in a tuba, just as it can a so-called *"weeping" leak in household plumbing.

In household plumbing, lime can (if really bad) eventually restrict pipes, but not rot them (as household plumbing is solid copper).

In tubas, lime probably won't ever get to the point (with the exception of the mouthpipe tube) of restricting very much flow, but it WILL rot out the instrument (as tubas are most-often fabricated of yellow brass).

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*I installed a new water heater in my basement a couple of years ago...after nursing the original-to-the-house one along about five years past it's "builder-grade" life span via replacing its heating elements a couple of years prior to that.
The new one at the top (threaded connections) barely "wept" on one connection. I watched it for a while...The small puddle never even ran off the top of the unit, because the evaporation rate exceeded the leak's rate. That leak has now stopped - likely, via lime deposits.
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Re: CLEANING: Ultrasonic - Chemical - Home | Summary & Decis

Postby Walter Webb » Thu Aug 03, 2017 1:06 am

How about buying several gallons of white vinegar, and filling up the horn with the pistons still installed, just to the point that it doesn't run out the lead pipe, and letting it sit for a week?
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Re: CLEANING: Ultrasonic - Chemical - Home | Summary & Decis

Postby bloke » Fri Aug 04, 2017 10:01 am

When someone calls me needing a cleaning job, I don't think,"oh goodie, another tuba cleaning job", but it's really best to have someone with experience to do it for you.

Matt Walter on the telephone with me a few days ago: "I clean spit out of tubas for a living." :|
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Re: CLEANING: Ultrasonic - Chemical - Home | Summary & Decis

Postby BrooklynBass » Fri Aug 04, 2017 10:12 am

bloke wrote: Matt Walter on the telephone with me a few days ago: "I clean spit out of tubas for a living." :|


And he's the best darn guy for the job in my area! He chem cleaned my horn last week (first pro cleaning since I bought it), and it's literally better than new.
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Re: CLEANING: Ultrasonic - Chemical - Home | Summary & Decis

Postby kmorgancraw » Fri Aug 04, 2017 12:07 pm

Living in the middle of nowhere (east Idaho), where a "chem clean" costs $400, I'm open to alternatives. What is the "chem" used by professionals? Is it just CLR or something similar?
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Re: CLEANING: Ultrasonic - Chemical - Home | Summary & Decis

Postby UncleBeer » Fri Aug 04, 2017 12:36 pm

kmorgancraw wrote:Living in the middle of nowhere (east Idaho), where a "chem clean" costs $400, I'm open to alternatives. What is the "chem" used by professionals? Is it just CLR or something similar?


The shop where I work uses 5:1 CLR for 15 minutes.
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Re: CLEANING: Ultrasonic - Chemical - Home | Summary & Decis

Postby bloke » Fri Aug 04, 2017 12:54 pm

UncleBeer wrote:
kmorgancraw wrote:Living in the middle of nowhere (east Idaho), where a "chem clean" costs $400, I'm open to alternatives. What is the "chem" used by professionals? Is it just CLR or something similar?


The shop where I work uses 5:1 CLR for 15 minutes.


' sure better than vinegar...and better than when people think they can just dump CLR out of the bottle into their instruments for a few hours, and that's OK.

bloke "I base my advice on the typical 2017 levels of practical skills that I observe (via conversations) on a day-to-day basis. M̶e̶n̶ Males today seem to be capable of opening beer cans and chip bags, starting their cars and lawnmowers (assuming those devices are in tip-top working order), flipping through channels of different foobaw games, and tippy-tapping around on their phones."
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Re: CLEANING: Ultrasonic - Chemical - Home | Summary & Decis

Postby Beervangelist » Fri Aug 04, 2017 2:02 pm

kmorgancraw wrote:Living in the middle of nowhere (east Idaho), where a "chem clean" costs $400, I'm open to alternatives. What is the "chem" used by professionals? Is it just CLR or something similar?


FWIW - Dana's charging $220 ($280 for silver) for Ultrasonic cleaning of a sousaphone. This seemed really fair to me. http://www.danahoferbrassrepair.com/

It includes:
Disassembly of entire instrument
Ultrasonic cleaning
Clean, scrub, and polish inside of instrument
Bright silver dip application to remove any tarnish from silver instruments
Piston instruments reassembled with new felts & corks with special attention to valve realignment
Rotary instruments reassembled with new bumpers & strings with special attention to valve realignment
Water key corks and springs as needed (included with cleaning)
All silver (and raw brass) instruments are hand-polished as a final step
Valves oiled and slides greased
All instruments given a final play-test
Last edited by Beervangelist on Fri Aug 04, 2017 3:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: CLEANING: Ultrasonic - Chemical - Home | Summary & Decis

Postby kmorgancraw » Fri Aug 04, 2017 2:07 pm

Beervangelist wrote:
kmorgancraw wrote:Living in the middle of nowhere (east Idaho), where a "chem clean" costs $400, I'm open to alternatives. What is the "chem" used by professionals? Is it just CLR or something similar?


FWIW - Dan's charging $220 ($280 for silver) for Ultrasonic cleaning of a sousaphone. This seemed really fair to me.

It includes:
Disassembly of entire instrument
Ultrasonic cleaning
Clean, scrub, and polish inside of instrument
Bright silver dip application to remove any tarnish from silver instruments
Piston instruments reassembled with new felts & corks with special attention to valve realignment
Rotary instruments reassembled with new bumpers & strings with special attention to valve realignment
Water key corks and springs as needed (included with cleaning)
All silver (and raw brass) instruments are hand-polished as a final step
Valves oiled and slides greased
All instruments given a final play-test



Which Dan are you referring to? Dan Oberloh? That would be a 12 hour drive. Dan Schultz? 24 hours. :(
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Re: CLEANING: Ultrasonic - Chemical - Home | Summary & Decis

Postby bloke » Fri Aug 04, 2017 2:20 pm

I don't charge that much, but I am NOT encouraging anyone to mail me their cleaning jobs.
If YOU bring, I WILL do...but I do not unpack/repack/ship repairs, and no repairs that take more than a day...OK, a ten- or twelve-hour day is a "day"...

...and I'll never sink the price of a really good tuba ($XX,XXX...!?!? :shock:) into one of those ultrasound tanks. I just don't want to risk blowing holes in dezinctified parts, and I don't want to have so much money into some sort of "rig", that I would be forced into hard-selling people access to it (so that it might possibly pay for itself). Finally, I've seen those things (done by others' tanks) leave a good bit of lime in instruments.
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Re: CLEANING: Ultrasonic - Chemical - Home | Summary & Decis

Postby Beervangelist » Fri Aug 04, 2017 3:52 pm

kmorgancraw wrote:
Beervangelist wrote:
kmorgancraw wrote:Living in the middle of nowhere (east Idaho), where a "chem clean" costs $400, I'm open to alternatives. What is the "chem" used by professionals? Is it just CLR or something similar?


FWIW - Dana's charging $220 ($280 for silver) for Ultrasonic cleaning of a sousaphone. This seemed really fair to me.

It includes:
Disassembly of entire instrument
Ultrasonic cleaning
Clean, scrub, and polish inside of instrument
Bright silver dip application to remove any tarnish from silver instruments
Piston instruments reassembled with new felts & corks with special attention to valve realignment
Rotary instruments reassembled with new bumpers & strings with special attention to valve realignment
Water key corks and springs as needed (included with cleaning)
All silver (and raw brass) instruments are hand-polished as a final step
Valves oiled and slides greased
All instruments given a final play-test



Which Dan are you referring to? Dan Oberloh? That would be a 12 hour drive. Dan Schultz? 24 hours. :(


Sorry for the typo - I meant Dana Hofer http://www.danahoferbrassrepair.com/
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Bb "Metro - Lockie Music Exchange" stenciled B&M York Master Sousaphone (Early 50s?)
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Re: CLEANING: Ultrasonic - Chemical - Home | Summary & Decis

Postby Beervangelist » Fri Aug 04, 2017 3:57 pm

bloke wrote:I don't charge that much, but I am NOT encouraging anyone to mail me their cleaning jobs.
If YOU bring, I WILL do...but I do not unpack/repack/ship repairs, and no repairs that take more than a day...OK, a ten- or twelve-hour day is a "day"...

...and I'll never sink the price of a really good tuba ($XX,XXX...!?!? :shock:) into one of those ultrasound tanks. I just don't want to risk blowing holes in dezinctified parts, and I don't want to have so much money into some sort of "rig", that I would be forced into hard-selling people access to it (so that it might possibly pay for itself). Finally, I've seen those things (done by others' tanks) leave a good bit of lime in instruments.


All of that makes sense. If I uncover a professional chem-clean option within striking distance, I may reconsider. I'll also talk to Dana about his options, but overall, he seems quite capable of dealing with any issues that arise, and in all honesty, my horn has at least one less zero than your example.

Appreciate all of the conversation -- and when/if I make it to the Mid-south, I'll hope we can connect and maybe avoid spit-cleaning.
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Re: CLEANING: Ultrasonic - Chemical - Home | Summary & Decis

Postby nworbekim » Fri Aug 04, 2017 6:02 pm

i send mine to the shop for a chemical bath once a year and then i try to give it a bath once a month at home. i've gagged many times when my students would bring their instrument to me because it wasn't playing (especially woodwinds) and i'd pull the slides or take off the reeds and slime would show up....

my horn is going to the shop in the next 2 weeks, as soon as i get the call from the tech that he's caught up with the school horns...
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Re: CLEANING: Ultrasonic - Chemical - Home | Summary & Decis

Postby UncleBeer » Fri Aug 04, 2017 8:09 pm

bloke wrote:...and I'll never sink the price of a really good tuba ($XX,XXX...!?!? :shock:) into one of those ultrasound tanks. I just don't want to risk blowing holes in dezinctified parts


I was unpleasantly surprised to have 'ultrasoniced' holes in the 2nd valve slide of my Nirschl in the shop's ultrasound tank. Just 5 minutes, but there were holes afterward. One of the vets there showed my how easily you can work holes into (say) tin foil in mere seconds with ultrasound. Now I'm much more circumspect with that tank.
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Re: CLEANING: Ultrasonic - Chemical - Home | Summary & Decis

Postby Beervangelist » Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:19 am

For what it's worth - I believe I have shifted my opinion to avoid the ultrasonic, and am rerouting to a highly recommended tech who offers chemical cleaning, but has restoration chops as well.

It's farther than I'd like - so if anyone has Chem Cleaning/service shop to recommend in the Michigan, Indiana, IL region, please let me know!
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Re: CLEANING: Ultrasonic - Chemical - Home | Summary & Decis

Postby TheGoyWonder » Mon Aug 07, 2017 1:17 pm

If you bring a tuba in for dent repair, they'll usually clean it so the dent balls move more efficiently. So the cleanings that cost as much as having a bow pulled, are baffling.
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Re: CLEANING: Ultrasonic - Chemical - Home | Summary & Decis

Postby swillafew » Fri Aug 11, 2017 9:02 am

I just dropped off a horn at Dana's yesterday. I am about40 miles away and happy to be no farther than that. I drove to Detroit to buy the same horn, so I can empathize with those who travel more miles.

The horn gets returned to me in top shape, so the cost of having an expert look at it works out pretty well.
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Re: CLEANING: Ultrasonic - Chemical - Home | Summary & Decis

Postby timothy42b » Fri Aug 11, 2017 10:56 am

bloke wrote:bloke "I base my advice on the typical 2017 levels of practical skills that I observe (via conversations) on a day-to-day basis. M̶e̶n̶ Males today seem to be capable of opening beer cans and chip bags, starting their cars and lawnmowers (assuming those devices are in tip-top working order), flipping through channels of different foobaw games, and tippy-tapping around on their phones."



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