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Valves need very frequent oiling

Postby WillDellinger » Mon Aug 14, 2017 4:19 pm

I have a meinl Weston 2250 that needs to be oiled every 30 minutes or so. The valves never stick, but they are very heavy (but still smooth) if they haven't been oiled for thirty minutes. It's been like this from the first day I bought it (demo horn, but essentially new). I use whatever oil is around, initially using what came in the little care package with the horn.

What's the deal?
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Re: Valves need very frequent oiling

Postby BrooklynBass » Mon Aug 14, 2017 4:37 pm

Same here with my Eastman 632*... which like yours was a demo horn, like new. Even after getting the valves checked, cleaned, de-burred, AND fitted with premium name-brand valve guides, my first valve will still hang if not readily oiled. Have you noticed that the valves stick/drag more when you press down at a slight angle? More importantly, have you had your horn cleaned and inspected since your purchase?

Regardless, the solution (for me, for my issue, from Matt Walters) is:

1. Use a heavier weight valve oil, which will cling to the piston a bit more and offer a longer duration of lubricity at the (slight) expense of "springiness" (short term solution). I moved from a Hetman's #1 up to a #2. It's a notable improvement, but I'm going to switch to #3 (classic) when I run out. I've also been recommended Fat Cat oil (heavier weight stuff).
2. Time (long-term solution). Some new piston horns (*regardless of pedigree, or country or origin) simply need to break in. I think my 1st piston just needs to go up and down 3,053 or so more times in the casing before achieving optimal "springiness". Only time will tell. We'll see what it's like in 6 months when I go in for my next service.

I trust Matt, and so far his advice has held true. Of course, YMMV.
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Re: Valves need very frequent oiling

Postby the elephant » Mon Aug 14, 2017 4:49 pm

Likely slide grease has traveled into the ports and is slowly getting on the pistons. Fresh oil thins it out. Then more travels in and gums it up again. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Try cleaning out the entire horn using a very high concentration of Dawn (specifically) in warm water. Get Dawn up into all the piston casing through-ports and into the slide knuckles. BE THOROUGH.

Once you have the horn about as grease free as you can get it you need to rinse it very well, using something under pressure, like a garden sprayer. No, do NOT use a pressure washer! Keep spraying until zero suds come out of each section. Allow it to dry very well. Reassemble. Enjoy.

I would try to use lubes that are compatible with one another. Monster's oils and grease work well together and do not tend to gum up the horn I have that tends to have this problem. Before that, I used Hetman's vintage piston oil (for worn, older valves). I don't remember what it is called nowadays, though (what number it is). I used Hetman's excellent slide grease with that oil. No issues, despite there being some traveling of grease into the pistons of that tuba. (Some horns seem to be more prone to this than others, and how you store it has something to do with it, as well.)

As far as soap, Dawn really *does* cut greases better. It is used by wildlife rescue folks when getting oil off of birds and such after an oil spill.

I think if it was a demo horn that it was lubed up each day by whomever was on the booth that morning, and they probably used whatever grease was handy at the time. Then the horn sat on its bell for many hours a day. Who knows? But I have come across this issue a lot, have had it myself, and know how you feel. I do not have it at all now. I use Monster and Hetman greases only, now, and Use Monster and Yamaha Synthetic oils only. No issues with these products.

Keep your horn very clean and wash out that grease from time to time.

Is this your problem? I have no idea. I am just going on what evidence you provided. You may actually have a mechanical issue at play that the fresh oil is masking. I tend to gravitate toward the simplest answer until it is proven to be wrong. You could take out a piston when it is hanging/gummy and wipe it down with your bare hand. If it feels in any way greasy this is probably your issue. But you have to feel it when it is doing this. Note that it will not necessarily feel greasy. But if it does then this is most likely the problem.

Best of luck!
In the multiverse there is a TubeNet where we talk about how we greased our cat with toothpaste and hot sauce so it would fly better in the rain. Even then someone would ask whether the cat was lacquered or silver plated.
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Re: Valves need very frequent oiling

Postby bloke » Mon Aug 14, 2017 6:36 pm

Is this Car Talk for tubas?
I'm Wade's "don't-drive-like-my-brother" brother.
I like Wade's guess-agnosis.
I would use lamp oil (after the super-duper cleaning job).
It works great as valve oil (all I personally use, fwiw, @ 26¢ oz. from Amazon), and is also a good posting-cleaning cleaner.
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Re: Valves need very frequent oiling

Postby the elephant » Mon Aug 14, 2017 7:03 pm

Yeah, I have a quart of that stuff right here next to my computer, yet I *always* forget to mention it. I do not use it on my valves as valve oil. But I really like it for cleaning up stuff and lubing "parts" when working on them. The stuff is just about free and works well. It is the most *pure* stuff available in bulk for this sort of work.
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Re: Valves need very frequent oiling

Postby WillDellinger » Mon Aug 14, 2017 8:32 pm

Yeah, I just have been using up this free light oil before pulling out the lamp oil. Not sure I buy the "different oils" thing. They never hang, just get heavy and slow. And not a pressing at an angle thing. I'll check to see if they feel greasy, but they usually LOOK just wet.
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Re: Valves need very frequent oiling

Postby WillDellinger » Mon Aug 14, 2017 8:38 pm

One more clue. I've always pulled the valve up an inch, put oil on the exposed part, out it back and been good. But this horn requires me to remove the full valve and cover it in oil, otherwise it feels like I did nothing. Maybe because it takes that larger amount to thin the grease.
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Re: Valves need very frequent oiling

Postby bloke » Mon Aug 14, 2017 8:57 pm

Wade's only guessing...but I think it may be a really good guess.
If stuff doesn't seem to indicate that his guess is "it", start looking elsewhere.
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Re: Valves need very frequent oiling

Postby WillDellinger » Mon Aug 14, 2017 9:10 pm

Sounds good. Thank you guys
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Re: Valves need very frequent oiling

Postby Tampaworth » Tue Aug 15, 2017 7:15 am

Maybe not for the OP, but for issues like the 632 above, after assuring cleanliness and or debris is not the issue, why not get some fine lapping compound and have at it with gentle manual action. I had this issue with the first valve on my W900 despite cleaning, did this and no looking back. Smooth action and compression remains super tight.
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Re: Valves need very frequent oiling

Postby bloke » Tue Aug 15, 2017 9:41 am

I've heard of some 2250 tubas that had that problem.
I looked at one of them...There was some black stuff (seemingly, not human-generated) in the mouthpipe tube. I'm pretty sure they bend those 'pipes with lead... I'm wondering what sort of residue might be in a mouthpipe, though, that was filled with lead...(??)
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Re: Valves need very frequent oiling

Postby marccromme » Tue Aug 15, 2017 4:40 pm

You might try - after a thorough cleaning as described above - NOT to use oil, but to use the water/silicone emulsion called Yamaha trombone slide oil. I works well on my piston tuba, before I needed to oil every day twice or three times, now I lubricate only every week. I wears out very slowly, and does not dissolve slide grease, cuse its water based.
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Re: Valves need very frequent oiling

Postby Dylan King » Wed Aug 16, 2017 2:41 pm

I had a similar issue with my Eastman. After playing it for a few weeks, the sticky valve broke in, and they are all playing smooth and fast now.
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Re: Valves need very frequent oiling

Postby WillDellinger » Wed Sep 06, 2017 9:52 pm

Tried Wade's suggestion. Thoroughly. Including the ports between the casings. Despite the stuff that came out of the horn, the valves are still sluggish. For example, the 1st valve was fine after being oiled right before starting the 1st movement of the Broughton, and was noticably heavier by the end of the movement.

Maybe only a chem/sonic clean will do it?
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Re: Valves need very frequent oiling

Postby bloke » Wed Sep 06, 2017 10:19 pm

...or persistence.
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Re: Valves need very frequent oiling

Postby BrooklynBass » Wed Sep 06, 2017 10:50 pm

bloke wrote:...or persistence.


Yup. Reporting back on my issue, it's already improved since my post weeks ago (just like Matt said it would).

It could be the temperature dropping too...
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Re: Valves need very frequent oiling

Postby Mark Horne » Thu Sep 07, 2017 2:35 am

I keep an economy refill bottle of ultra pure valve oil next to where I sit to practice. I've been a big fan of the ultra pure on pistons for a long time. I read somewhere on here (Bloke?) that pouring a little ultra pure down the leadpipe of your instrument periodically can help keep things clean inside. I have found that this practice can also effectively oil the valves. I haven't had to unscrew the piston caps on my PCK for many months and the valves never stick. With Yamaha euphonium springs no less. I have no idea whether or not there is a difference between the ultra pure lamp oil vs. the valve oil beyond the price.
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Re: Valves need very frequent oiling

Postby EdFirth » Thu Sep 07, 2017 8:53 am

I had exactly the same problem as the OP. Although I'd owned the horn since 2001. Never had valve issues. When they felt a little sluggish I'd clean it with Dawn and it would be fine. Last year they got sluggish and stayed sluggish except for immediately after oiling. I'd been using the same oil since I bought the horn new, Holton, which I liked because you can buy it in bigger bottles and refill my network of small bottles, in each gig bag, in my truck, and in my locker at The Rat. After cleaning it several times I put some different oil on, Al Cass, and it was cured. Don't know if my saliva chemistry changed or they changed the formula of Holton valve oil but it's been over a year and they're still working great.Good luck with your valves. Ed
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Re: Valves need very frequent oiling

Postby Matt Good » Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:28 am

I am not a repair tech but I own several tubas that have MW piston valve sets. You may be using an oil that is too thin. I have had success with mixing Ultrapure Lamp Oil with a very small amount of 30W Mobile One. You may also want to try Hetman #3. Just my $.02.

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Re: Valves need very frequent oiling

Postby bloke » Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:35 am

WillDellinger wrote:Tried Wade's suggestion. Thoroughly. Including the ports between the casings. Despite the stuff that came out of the horn, the valves are still sluggish. For example, the 1st valve was fine after being oiled right before starting the 1st movement of the Broughton, and was noticably heavier by the end of the movement.

Maybe only a chem/sonic clean will do it?


Those cleaning jobs often live traces behind...particularly if tar/petroleum products.
It's best to be persistent and continue to carefully scrub the interior of your instrument with (as I, Wade, and Matt just suggested) lamp oil. Eventually, all of the "whatever" will be gone...eventually. It's really the best way, and you probably can't afford to pay a repair shop to try to remove all of this stubborn (hidden?) stuff over-and-over.

If there is a thin "chunk" of something (tar/buffing compound/something else) stuck somewhere (mouthpipe tube...??) perhaps a bore-scope might reveal it as a dark spot, etc. (??)
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