Page 1 of 1

Help identifying unknown tuba - EDIT: Unknown no longer!

Posted: Fri Oct 12, 2018 12:01 pm
by JaxBen_20J
I came across this old decrepit beast on Facebook and got it for $100 (still have to pick it up and give it the close inspection) but the seller is so unfamiliar with musical instruments she couldn't even tell me the manufacturer. It once apparently had silver finish on it, and the stencil that she could read said something about "SPECIAL 1080 New York". I can't find any similar descriptions from any brands that I know of, so I'm assuming it's an older import. It has clockwork springs and some rather distinctive mounting plates for the supports. There's no engraving on the existing linkages, and I doubt there's any on the rear valve caps, but I can't tell from the available pictures.

Valves 1-3 move, but only 2 springs back (don't know if 1/3 are lack of oil or completely shot springs) - the paddle and linkage for V4 is completely missing, so if the rest of the horn is in unholy (ha!) condition, I suspect the lion's share of any functional restoration work would be in the valve cluster.

Has anyone ever seen a horn similar to this, or recognize the stencil?


Re: Help identifying unknown tuba

Posted: Fri Oct 12, 2018 12:15 pm
by cjk
Based on the shape of the lyre holder back plate, I'd guess Bohland and Fuchs.

Re: Help identifying unknown tuba

Posted: Fri Oct 12, 2018 3:50 pm
by toobagrowl
Yeah, that tuba looks like one of those old Carl Fisher/NYC-imported B&F Kaiser BBb tubas. Prolly a nice tuba once you get everything working and cleaned up. You got it for a steal for $100, but it will take $$$ to fix it up to good playable condition :idea: :!:

Re: Help identifying unknown tuba

Posted: Fri Oct 12, 2018 4:11 pm
by JaxBen_20J
Much googling leads me to think it might be a Kalashen import. I'm hoping it is indeed something that can be restored!

Re: Help identifying unknown tuba

Posted: Fri Oct 12, 2018 4:38 pm
by bort
Looks a lot like this one:

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=78999" target="_blank

Re: Help identifying unknown tuba

Posted: Fri Oct 12, 2018 4:46 pm
by JaxBen_20J
bort wrote:Looks a lot like this one:

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=78999" target="_blank" target="_blank
I think we have a just have to find out what's left under all the gunk!

Re: Help identifying unknown tuba

Posted: Fri Oct 12, 2018 5:55 pm
by scottw
Yes, they seem to be from the same family, one a 1040 model [?],the other a 1080, which would explain some different routing on the lead pipe and the ferrules on the bell stack and bottom bow. Very distinctive is the mounting late for the lyre holder: Bang on.

Re: Help identifying unknown tuba

Posted: Fri Oct 12, 2018 6:19 pm
by bort
Btw, what a cool find for $100! :)

Re: Help identifying unknown tuba - EDIT: Unknown no longer!

Posted: Sun Oct 21, 2018 9:58 am
by JaxBen_20J
Well, I drove to Birmingham and picked it up yesterday. Spent a good few hours in the garage with it last night.

It ain't perfect.

That being said, it may be the steal of the century.

It has some issues - cosmetically, I think it weighs 3lbs more than it has to because of the tarnish accumulation. Sadly, the rim is separated from the bell for about 10-12", and there's an accompanying split in one of the bell crinkles. Not sure there's a square inch on the primary bell section and the bow that doesn't have a decent dent in it. The 4th valve paddle and linkage have been lost to the sands of time, or more likely to a trash can somewhere. The slides were all completely immovable, and the only valve that moved with any semblance of action was 2. One solder point is broken where the 4th valve tubing should be attached to the body of the horn, but the brace is still there - just not connected to the 4th valve tubing any more.

So, step 1 for me - see if the back caps came off, and to my astonishment, 1/2/3 actually came off fairly easily, and the valves themselves look pretty shiny. I applied rotor oil to both the back and front, worked them gently for a few minutes, and dang if all three remaining valves didn't start moving back and forth properly. Granted, they sound like three of the four horsemen descending from heaven to smite us all, but they moved.

Encouraged, I broke out a hair dryer for the slides. My wife was not thrilled with me absconding with the guest bathroom hair dryer for science in the garage, but she did give her blessing when I showed that the tuba was not just a paperweight. Took about 15-20 minutes altogether, but ultimately all of the slides started moving, and they're all not far off of spotless from where they were fully inserted. No dents, no build up, just solid condition, although I think 4th valve had a few dents in the crook. I've seen far worse.

At this point, I'm starting to think, "This thing has potential". So, still not having actually pulled out all the slides and relying only on the aforementioned oil on the spindles, I threw in an old PT-44, said a prayer to Thor, and let fly with Quilting Party (you 20-Js know the routine - standard warm up for annoying everyone in the house).

Sounded like poop. Utter, total, mangled garbage. Sounded like someone rerouted all the slides to be played out of order, like a mad hatter with a soldering gun. What noises did come out were muffled and rattly. This was a disaster...

Upon further inspection, I realized V4 might not have linkage, but that didn't mean it couldn't move...little bugger had swung half open and was gently moving back and forth like a pendulum as I played, so sometimes I was playing notes with (regular valve + 4th), sometimes (regular valve + half open 4th, always a winner), and sometimes as intended.

Upon application of a tiny strip of electrical tape to hold the 4th valve stop in the closed position, I gave it another try.

Sweet Jesus, what a difference - that sucker came alive with a deep, fat sound and pretty solid intonation amongst the various partials. NOW, I was really getting excited. Ran through chromatic and regular scales, various exercises, some Tyrell, the notes and fingerings of which for some reason have been stuck in my head since 1998 or so. It performed flawlessly, if you can overlook the desire of the valves to take a more relaxed approach to returning to the open position.

I wound up spending another hour or so on it last night - all the slides came out, although 2 was a PITA. No ring to pull and it didn't want to go past the main body of the bell. Applying oil down the slide tubing to the valves completely took care of the sluggish response, so now the valves are flying. They still sound like someone playing the Anvil Chorus at speed, though. The stops are probably vintage 1940 or so. With a bit of elbow grease and a bunch of Wright's I started on the bell and discovered that the silver plating underneath is in far better shape than I expected.

All in all, I'd say it was an enjoyable and productive day. I suspect my evenings will be spent in the garage with the polishing materials for a few weeks, and maybe I can make it into a (heavily dented) looker before it goes for a proper treatment.

I've attached some pictures of the sad parts, and a couple of good pieces as well!

Re: Help identifying unknown tuba - EDIT: Unknown no longer!

Posted: Sun Oct 21, 2018 10:05 am
by JaxBen_20J
More pictures:

Re: Help identifying unknown tuba - EDIT: Unknown no longer!

Posted: Sun Oct 21, 2018 10:10 am
by JaxBen_20J
Just a couple more for now...
Since the second picture, I've actually exposed the plating on about another 3rd of the bell to the left where the tarnish is still visible, along with a small section of the receiver. Shame about the rim being torn...

Re: Help identifying unknown tuba - EDIT: Unknown no longer!

Posted: Sun Oct 21, 2018 8:22 pm
by toobagrowl
In the meantime, you can carefully smooth out the bell rim a bit, and put some clear plastic tubing around it. You can buy it at the hardware store; cut it length wise and put around the bell rim for extra stability and so you won't cut your hands :o Oiling the linkage (you already oiled the top and bottom spindle bearings) will be good too, and may quiet some of the clanking :idea: