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Wessex student tubas

Postby mbeastep » Sun Oct 07, 2018 2:04 am

In recent years I have seen evidence among associates and older students that Wessex tubas and euphoniums are delivering a good level of quality at a low price on their higher level instruments.

Yesterday, in a clinic for beginners, I had my first experience with their three-valve student tubas. Two of the four horns I saw were unplayable because I believe they had their valves put in the wrong order. This probably happened in the summer servicing because, as near as I could determine, there was no number stamped on the valves. Although a skilled person might be able to guess from the configuration of ports which piston goes where, I was not able to succeed in getting the right combinations. Adding to the difficulty was the fact that the valve caps on the third valves were very difficult to align properly, very easy to jam, and subsequently extremely difficult to move. This all led to a frustrating day for me and for the beginner students who I was trying to motivate. Needless to say, my impression of the work being done by Wessex has taken a hit. Is my experience unusual?

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Re: Wessex student tubas

Postby Bill B » Sun Oct 07, 2018 2:34 pm

Not commenting on the quality, but since you could' match them up, is it possible that valves were swapped between horns?
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Re: Wessex student tubas

Postby BrassedOn » Sun Oct 07, 2018 2:50 pm

The valve swap sounds like a non-issue, students esp. beginners do odd things.

The valve cap thing happens with a lot of brands, esp. if the metal of the cap is thin and it is stamped, like most horns As I'm sure you do, I integrate some maintenance lesson with clinics, such as a couple of ways to get the valve caps to align.

I do think manufacturers should stamp valves for just that reason.

What do y'all think is the best way for a typical user/teacher to mark a valve with a number? Short of getting a hammer and spike out of my garage, could even permanent marker hold up?
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Re: Wessex student tubas

Postby Davidus1 » Sun Oct 07, 2018 3:34 pm

Have you reached out to Wessex to inquire? Rather than bring out this issue on an open forum I would give them the courtesy to address. It may not have been their issue. Who knows? This has not been my experience with my purchases at Wessex.
Last edited by Davidus1 on Sun Oct 07, 2018 3:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wessex student tubas

Postby bloke » Sun Oct 07, 2018 3:36 pm

I'm no Wessex advocate, but - unless you unboxed and unpacked them - I'd immediately assume that students did this.

I've not encountered all of the various Jinbao-made instruments, so I cannot speak to piston number stamping, but some pistons (some makes) are stamped underneath the top-mounted plastic guides, whereas some others' numbers are half-hidden by valve guides.

Otherwise, (as I find that I'm needing magnifying lenses more-and-more often - always when working on instrument, but - so far - never when reading or typing) numbers are often difficult to see, unless in ideal lighting. (Are your eyes closer to 15 years old, or closer to 65 years old? Mine are the latter.)

The possible combinations, thankfully, are limited:
123 132 213 231 312 321

bloke "a mathematical jeanyes"

EDIT:
This happens OFTEN:
Fidgety students (particularly low brass, who are neglected in favor of woodwind players) mess with finger buttons, which loosens stems, and - subsequently - top-mounted valve guides rotate out of position. There are at least two indentations or holes on the tops of pistons: One is to catch the "nib" on the underside of the guide, and the other is for air to pass through the piston body during vertical piston movement. It's not-at-all uncommon for the nib on the guide to have fallen into the air-vent hole, misaligning the (correct) piston in its casing.

Regardless of the build quality of a tuba/euphonium/baritone, this syndrome (described just above after "EDIT") is extremely common.
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Re: Wessex student tubas

Postby freiversuch » Sun Oct 07, 2018 6:56 pm

On my Grand the number is stamped into the bottom of the valve.

The valve covers are a bit tricky and require some patience. After a few times of maintenance it will get better.
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Re: Wessex student tubas

Postby the elephant » Sun Oct 07, 2018 8:05 pm

I have found the valves in the wrong horns before. Five horns, three of them had valves intermixed, with one of them having three first valves and a 2nd, installed (of course) 2111 so that none of them worked.

As far as marking them, on top of the piston where the vent hole and the stem live, mark a dot with a spring-loaded center punch. Do not mark the last valve; it should be self-evident that • goes in 1, •• goes in 2, ••• goes into 3, so nothing would be stamped on top of the 4th (or 3rd on a 3 banger).

Lay out the valves in groups of three for the horns that do not work. If one works, lay its valves out in order and stamp them first, then match all the 1sts together, all the 2nds, etc. Do not punch them yet.

Replace them all, by valve, meaning install all the 1sts, then all the 2nd, etc. I do not think you will have to worry that the 1st from one horn won't work in another, but if that is the case, swap them around from horn to horn, then move on to the next valve, one valve at a time for each horn, making sure they are all correct, that they all play correctly. THEN use the punch on the top of each piston to mark all the unmarked valves.

If you have an issue where the valves are not interchangeable from horn to horn but they all work when in the correct horns, after everything is reassembled and marked, take a sharp steel scribe and mark a tiny A on all the valves and then a matching on the h2nd casing in a discreet place. Do this for each horn. Then you have all the valves marked as to which casing they go in, and they are marked with a small letter to keep them in the correct horn.

Good luck!
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Re: Wessex student tubas

Postby mbeastep » Mon Oct 08, 2018 1:08 am

Davidus1 wrote:Have you reached out to Wessex to inquire? Rather than bring out this issue on an open forum I would give them the courtesy to address. It may not have been their issue. Who knows? This has not been my experience with my purchases at Wessex.


This is a point worth pondering. I hope I was not unfair to open this matter to discussion in this forum without having previously raised it directly with Wessex. Although I have not dealt with anyone from the company and don't really know who is who there, I have noticed that somebody representing the company joins these discussions with some regularity, just as Bob Tucci, for instance, often chimes in on discussions about his products. It seems to me that one of the purposes of this forum is to compare our experience with various products for our mutual benefit. I admitted to being impressed with certain of the Wessex products, but was dismayed that the valves on these starter horns seemed to lack markings and that the third valve caps on two out of four were unusually difficult to screw on. I don't think it is inappropriate to raise the matter here and to ask whether others have found the same thing. I must admit that it never occurred to me to look at the bottom of the valves for an identifying number. I'll have to try that next time.

Definitely the weakened state of my (nearly) 68 year old eyes can be a factor in missing a number. My strategy is to take the valve guide and pad off and get the seventh-graders to look for the stamped number. This does create the danger of putting the valve guide in the wrong hole upon replacement, but experience has made me alert to that possibility. Anyway, thanks for the feedback.

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Re: Wessex student tubas

Postby hup_d_dup » Mon Oct 08, 2018 9:56 am

the elephant wrote:Replace them all, by valve, meaning install all the 1sts, then all the 2nd, etc. I do not think you will have to worry that the 1st from one horn won't work in another, but if that is the case, swap them around from horn to horn, then move on to the next valve, one valve at a time for each horn, making sure they are all correct, that they all play correctly.


Using this method, it's pretty easy to figure out how to properly place mixed up valves. Certainly, a Professional tubist qualified to run a clinic should already know it. As stated, only two tubas had the problem so even if the valves were mixed up between the two tubas it shouldn't have been that hard to figure out. Plus, why should any student lose motivation when something like this happens? Engage them in the issue and it becomes a useful lesson in on-the-spot problem solving, particularly the type of problems typically encountered by any craftsperson who relies on properly working tools of the trade.

Really the only part Wessex played in this is was that valve caps didn't screw on properly (and only two caps at that). I had this same problem on an early Wessex and it's a nuisance, especially when they jam. But there is no way this ever led me to have a frustrating day. It only takes a few moments to free a jam and figure out how to carefully align the cap to screw it on.

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Re: Wessex student tubas

Postby bloke » Mon Oct 08, 2018 10:16 am

ALL makes of valve caps require care to reinstall, regardless of how well the threads are cut into them.

Without [1] making certain that caps are straight and [2] running them backwards (yes: the wrong way) until they click into place and the threads are aligned, there is a risk (ANY make: from the most hastily-built to the most carefully-built) of cross-threading.

Obviously, the finest-built with the most well-defined and accurately-cut threads will be the easiest to work with, but that doesn't make anything above untrue.
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Re: Wessex student tubas

Postby mbeastep » Wed Oct 10, 2018 10:44 pm

Today I did another beginner clinic involving a Wessex tuba. Taking advantage of the chance to examine the valves, I discovered (with the aid of my student's eyesight) that at least the first the valve was indeed stamped on the bottom. Good to know. I did not, however, try unscrewing the third valve cap, as I didn't want to press my luck. Thanks again for the discussion.

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