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Re: Holton 345 Redux

Postby YORK-aholic » Mon Sep 18, 2017 12:50 pm

Tuba, in kit form...
Some old Yorks, Martins and maybe a rotary King...
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Re: Holton 345 Redux

Postby the elephant » Mon Sep 18, 2017 1:28 pm

bort wrote:Wade, you are crazy. Thanks for sharing all of this.

Safe to assume there are no "huge tuba needed" works planned for you this year (calendar year, at least)?


Shostakovich 10 next month. It ought to be done by then. If not I have the 2165. 8)
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Re: Holton 345 Redux

Postby roughrider » Mon Sep 18, 2017 5:03 pm

An awesome read! I am enjoying your posts and look forward to seeing the progress. You have recreated something on your own which is tremendous.
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Re: Holton 345 Redux

Postby the elephant » Mon Sep 18, 2017 8:23 pm

Bought some Pollard water keys for the water traps in 3rd and 4th as well as my MTS.

Also pucked up $150 worth of King brace feet of varying sizes, four slide crooks and two sizes of rod stock.

Once all that arrives I ought to be ready to reassemble her! Lots of stuff to iron out before that, though. Sitting in an orchestra rehearsal on a tacet sheet thinking out my plans...
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Re: Holton 345 Redux

Postby bloke » Tue Sep 19, 2017 10:54 pm

the elephant wrote:
bort wrote:Wade, you are crazy. Thanks for sharing all of this.

Safe to assume there are no "huge tuba needed" works planned for you this year (calendar year, at least)?


Shostakovich 10 next month. It ought to be done by then. If not I have the 2165. 8)


2166. :roll:
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Re: Holton 345 Redux

Postby the elephant » Wed Sep 20, 2017 12:24 am

The Weaponized 2165...
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Re: Holton 345 Redux

Postby the elephant » Wed Sep 20, 2017 5:51 pm

Idle, rambling old man time...

I *finally* shook whatever has been ailing me this past week. Doc says it may be West Nile. About 80% of people who contract WNV end up being asymptomatic and never even know they have it. The vast majority who *do* show symptoms only have the first stage stuff, which is remarkably like the flu. (The phrase "causes mild flu-like symptoms" is the medical world's "tastes like chicken" line. It is a panacea when you don't know what to tell a patient about their symptoms until their tests come back. In the Army that same panacea was to give a patient Motrin for everything. If you had a bone sticking through your skin you would get Motrin from an Army doctor back in the 1980s...)

Anyway, the doc wanted to save me a buck, so he worked all this out on the phone. He said, in light of all the damed mosquito bites I had received last week (ended up being in the 40s!) and the timing of the onset of symptoms, as well as the specific symptoms (not quite flu, but not really much of anything else) and my horrible malaise that WNV was his first guess. (We have a number of confirmed cases here in my small town.) He was worried about some stuff until I told him how long I had been feeling like this. When he heard that he told me that I was probably okay, that the dangerous stage that hits some people (and that can kill you) would have already caused me to head to the hospital, and that I was pretty much in the clear now. That was on Monday. Today I feel just fine, mostly normal. So I ain't dead just yet, kiddos.

The worst part was my malaise. I slept 60 hours or so over five days/nights. I was pulling 12 hours naps after eight hours of sleep at night. I would wake up, eat breakfast, and take a nap from noon to midnight. I would get up and watch TV or come here or FB for like three or four hours and pass out again for another ten hours or so. It was really freaky since I suffer from chronic insomnia at times. I have *never* slept this much except when under anesthesia. The doc said to just sleep as much as I need and to try and get up for meals. But today I got up at like 9:30 a.m. I had rehearsals in Jackson both Monday and Tuesday nights and I put in some work on this tuba in between, but the rest of the last week I was asleep most of the time. Anyway, I took my last meds last night before heading home. (It was non-drowsy stuff, don't worry, mother...) That was at 9:30 p.m. and I got to bed at like midnight. I did not take anything else. I have not taken anything since. I feel great. So I think I am done with WNV and I believe I am now immune from that crap for many years, though that will break down after about 20 years or so, supposedly. Great. Bring on the damned skeeters. They can kiss my fat butt.

So, I am not working much today. I am taking it very easy. I must say that after all this sleep I feel better rested and more clear of mind than I have in many years. I feel younger. So get all your sleep, folks. They are not kidding about that. And sleep is cumulative. You CAN catch up on it when you miss a night. It takes time but you can really rejuvenate yourself if you sleep less than six hours a night if you just sleep a bunch of 12 hours nights over your weekends. It is worth it. I have not felt this good, mentally, in ages.

Okay, so whatever about the blah-blah from my life.

Today I am lapping all my cut tubing sets for my slides and, once cleaned and degreased I will burnish the exteriors of each outer tube so that it is ready for polish with Simichrome, which can net you something akin to a buffed finish in small patches, like slide tubes and crooks. It is not as good, but there is almost zero metal removed, and after proper degreasing it can hold lacquer almost as well as a properly buffed and degreased surface. It is much more of a PITA and a time-sucking pig to do it this way, but I do not have a good buffer. I will probably go back and color buff all this stuff after assembly, but I want most of the work done before I put a torch to anything. It is much easier to buff out surfaces with flaws and marks from torch work that are already more or less ready to go.

Another trick I have picked up is to pre-assemble sections and wire them down to solder on the brace feet FIRST. Then go clean up the feet until they are ready to lacquer. Then assemble each component, re-wire them, and solder both ends of each pre-buffed post. Then you only have to clean and buff the heat marks and any exposed solder. If you don't have an adequate buffing setup this is what you have to do to make it look "purty".

This afternoon I did a lot of work with my calipers confirming all the measurements of this tuba as well as my Kurath F. I am looking for new finger buttons for the Holton, and these two horns share the same, exact piston set design, though the bores and such are different. For instance, all the caps and buttons, stems and pistons are interchangeable. I even swapped the caps and buttons on the two sets to help me identify what their differences are in feel and action, so I can set up both using the springs, felts, corks, etc. that I prefer.

The finger buttons on the Holton are sort of beat. One has mild damage to the pearl, one is bent, one looks like a wrench was used on the knurling by a "tech" lacking the forethought to put a rag over the plier's jaws. (Idiot.) I like the buttons on the Kurath a bit more, as the pearl is a little less wide. It looks really great to me.

I have to identify them and find a place from which to make a purchase. I need to identify the (obviously metric) thread info. I will take one to Ace Hardware tomorrow to use their excellent thread gauge. It is *not* the same as King/Yamaha (which I think is 8-32").

Here are some pics of the two piston set caps and finger buttons so you can see how these sets had to be made by the same person at the same machinery. Miraphone has wild variation in their knurling, engraving, tube reinforcement rings and other detail work over the years, using the same tooling. These are nearly identical. One is Böhm & Meinl and one is Kurath. I believe both were made by Herr Nirschl.

You decide...

Top caps...
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Bottom caps...
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Finger buttons... (Note the slightly different pearl size. I prefer the shape of the raw brass ones. The extra curve is due to the smaller pearl. Mikey likes it.)
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Re: Holton 345 Redux

Postby the elephant » Wed Sep 20, 2017 11:29 pm

I received three very nice Pollard water keys today. I have now disassembled them and can attest to the claim that they are precision machined. Mr. Pollard has these made for him by Jason Harrelson (a hell of a fine trumpet builder) and they are not inexpensive. I simply *wanted* them for my horn. I have drilled out (and F-ed up) many Amado keys over the years.

Real Amados (made in the US) have that freaking C clip that is easy to lose when taking them apart. And the hole is too small. And I have five tubas so some of them sit for long stretches so the Amado keys get stuck, or after you use them the first time in a long time they get stuck OPEN when you have to play, which can be a disaster. DAMHIK... :-/

My preferred Amado key is actually the Jupiter (Taiwan-made, not Chinese) copy that uses a back cap that is a threaded screw. These are wonderful, however, they are not machined to the same tight tolerances as Ray Amado's water keys so they do not stick as often (they still stick) but they can LEAK.

Since I generally drill out Amado barrels because the hole is too small to drain the amount of water in my horn in anything below three full seconds (or longer) I end up having to ruin several of these before I finally get a barrel and plunger with an adequate hole size that does not leak.

Then you have to grind away at the scallop in the barrel to get it to come anywhere near to fitting against a tuba-sized tube. This is a lot of futzing about for such a cheap part, and then you end up with duds due to mistakes or just because they leak when new.

I HATE lever water keys — specifically the nipple part and the massive hole and pit some of the larger ones leave in the bend of the MTS crook. Ray Amado's only real reason for making his key was acoustic and I like his ideas; true or not, I am sold. I remove the levers, brackets and nipples from all my horns in most cases when I get a chance.

So these Pollard keys are pretty interesting. Spendy, as I said, but still interesting. I will see how I like them. I have one for my MTS and one each for the valve casing knuckles for the upward tubes of 3rd and 4th. Third especially is a massive water trap on this tuba. My Kurath F also has this problem as it uses the same basic valve set; flow for both 3 and 4 are uphill, so the water cannot escape, and the way the ports are lined up, the water in the 3rd piston tunnel cannot ever escape unless you press the valve, holding the tuba so that that port points downwards, and then drain through the leadpipe. A water key here would be pure gold for me.

Pics tomorrow when I have good light and some time.
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Re: Holton 345 Redux

Postby KiltieTuba » Thu Sep 21, 2017 11:45 am

Have you tried the Saturn water keys?
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Re: Holton 345 Redux

Postby bort » Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:25 pm

I can't help but think of this song when reading this (I mean, besides the whole "stealing parts" thing... :))

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Re: Holton 345 Redux

Postby the elephant » Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:49 pm

KiltieTuba wrote:Have you tried the Saturn water keys?


Don't like them. I have seen a careless tech melt one of those Delrin rings when he got too close with a torch. He forgot to take it apart first, which you have to do. Since I get in a hurry I can see myself doing this, too. Plus, I have a big fear of one breaking during a performance. I have heard that if the ring snaps it can get stuck partially open. My Amados have been problematic for years. The spendy Pollards look to be freaking simple and I cannot see them sticking. There is no sliding motion; the plunger is either touching the barrel or it is not. And I checked — I *was* able to open the back using a dime. It is like he cut the slot specifically for this application. I rarely have a tool kit with me on stage, but I do usually have change. I need to see if a penny will open it, though. A dime is a lot of cash for a tuba player to be holding all at one time. :mrgreen:
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Re: Holton 345 Redux

Postby the elephant » Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:50 pm

bort wrote:I can't help but think of this song when reading this (I mean, besides the whole "stealing parts" thing... :))



I love that song! But this tuba is a '64, '90, '13, '17 and that's king of hard to set to music...
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Re: Holton 345 Redux

Postby the elephant » Thu Sep 21, 2017 1:35 pm

Pollard Water Key and Jupiter knock-off (improved) Amado Water Key Compared

So far I am a fan. Only time will tell, however, regarding longterm durability and utility. I cannot see any weaknesses in this design. I can see several big improvements to the Amado ideas. I think this is exactly what I wanted. I just wish they were not so expensive. However, Jason Harrelson makes these, so the machining is top notch. He makes a profit, then the designer/seller has to make a few bucks, too. Knowing firsthand what machining this sort of stuff entails I feel the price is fair. It is not a competitive market. If he was selling lots of these I am sure the price would have come down over time. But this is basically two guys doing all this.

I won't dwell on any negative aspects. For me the only cons are aesthetic, really. I can find no fault with these, mechanically.

The pros, however:

• Can be had with attachment point "scallop" in two sizes, the large one fitting tuba-sized tubing rather well
• Can be serviced using a penny or a dime
• The plunger does not slide within the barrel but either is or is not in contact
• The hole is visibly larger (he claims 15%)
• The larger barrel and hole combine to allow for at least twice the flow of an unaltered Amado key
• Looks good from the button side, actually smaller than Amado

Are they worth the money? That is for you to decide. I am a details sort of guy, so things like finger buttons and water keys matter to me. Most don't GAS about such stuff. For them this is a huge waste of money. Huge. However, I am happy I bought these. If they work out well I will buy more for my other horns.

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Re: Holton 345 Redux

Postby the elephant » Thu Sep 21, 2017 11:37 pm

I must say that I dislike the label on the screw cap. I liked the earlier ones that had a blank cap. It looked nicer. Still, I guess we feel compelled to put our name on everything these days...
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Re: Holton 345 Redux

Postby the elephant » Fri Sep 22, 2017 9:02 pm

All tubing cleaned up, lapped and cleaned up again.

Also, today's shipment from Allied:

186 5th crook
186 2nd crook
rod stock in two sizes
brace feet in three sizes

Arriving Monday: two 186 1st crooks

Almost ready to build a new valve section!

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Re: Holton 345 Redux

Postby the elephant » Sat Sep 23, 2017 12:06 pm

Feedback time, folks. I am at a crossroads, so to speak. I have come to a major stopping point in my work. That means I can now switch to other projects within this project, and I have a few choices. Cast your vote...

1. I need to strip silver from valve casings and work on ports, venting and water keys. I cannot assemble the valve section until this has been done.

2. I need to strip the top bow of plating (over half is gone and it is easier to strip than the plating added to the valve set by Mr. Metzler. I cannot assemble the inner branches until this has been done.

3. Attempt to strip the silver from the bottom bow and/or bell. This is not needed, but it looks like crap and the rest of the horn will be raw brass, so I would like to do it someday. It could be done after the horn has been assembled, but if I am doing the top bow today, why not the bottom bow, too? The bell is what looks so bad, though, so I am not sold on this option at all right now. Top bow only sounds like the better option at this time to me.

4. Start assembling all the slides and aligning them. Once assembled, the outer tubes can be partially assembled/braced so the slides can be installed to the valves as sub-assemblies. Slides will be buffed and lacquered so I don't continue to damage and pit the brass with my sweat. Most contact points will be treated in this manner. This is a tedious option, but it will move more quickly and is the most interesting to do. However, I probably ought to have the piston set done prior to beginning this step.

All of these can be done as separate tasks in no particular order, so I can jump in on any of them today. I have Saturday, Sunday and Monday off from work, so this would be a great time to work on the valves, and that is probably what I will do. I might also take the bugle outside and do the top bow to keep things from becoming too boring (and too taxing on my hands, which are not faring well right now...)

Thoughts? Votes? Words of encouragement? Words of wisdom? Words?

Anyone?
Anyone?
Bueller?
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Re: Holton 345 Redux

Postby The Big Ben » Sat Sep 23, 2017 12:39 pm

It would seem that the stripping operations would all be dirty, dirty, dirty so do all of those at the same time. Since the top bow must be stripped and you could get along with not stripping the bell and bottom bow but the bell is ugly, you could do the bell and not the bottom bow. If the bell and top bow were in raw brass, it would look like they "match" even though you don't polish to bright raw brass. So, stripping first. Put on some nice clean clothes and get to the other work. Next, finish the valve work Then, the slide work. One would hope the valve and slide work doesn't take a lot of grunting and sweating so, when the stropping was done, the work might be physically easier.

Keep moving forward! Hopefully, all the stuff that has "bugged" you since you got this horn will be gone when you are done.
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Re: Holton 345 Redux

Postby YORK-aholic » Sat Sep 23, 2017 1:26 pm

Dare I ask about your process for stripping the silver off?
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Re: Holton 345 Redux

Postby the elephant » Sat Sep 23, 2017 5:03 pm

Sanding. Bar Keepers Friend, elbow grease, swearing. Lots of that last one...

Okay, so I opted to strip the piston set as best I could today as it is hot and I could do that at the kitchen sink. 8)

I have to do all the horrible detail work still, probably tomorrow. I did most of the hard stuff and just have between the casings and some of the joints where the knuckles meet the casings. I also have three small globs of solder to heat and remove, and then sand down to remove the silver beneath along with the "pad" left from the solder on the brass.

It went really well, and fairly quickly. My real fear when having to do any sort of hard pressure work on piston casings is to not stop thinking for a moment and to press hard on a knuckle and cause a hang in one of the valves. it is not that hard to fix, but it wastes time and is embarrassing/annoying to make such a mistake. None today, though! All four pistons run beautifully! Just some details I will sand off tomorrow, then I can burnish out the scratches and work on the knuckles. Once all that is done I whip out the Makita to vent pistons and drill my two water key holes. Solder on the keys and at that point I can start soldering slide tubes on.

Oh, I use 400 grit wet/dry paper initially. Tomorrow when I go after the details I will use the same. You have to use like 2" squares and change them frequently. Keep the work under a slowly running tap. Follow up the initial breakup of the surface with the Bar Keepers Friend to sort of eat into the micro cracks you just made. The mild acid in it seems to "eat" silver so this helps you get going. then just wet sand until your fingers are sore. Once in a while apply fresh BKF under your water stream. It is most effective when you apply with lots of fingertip pressure, meaning "rub it in" so to speak. I wear some excellent, fairly thick black nitrile mechanic's gloves from my shop for this as the BKF will burn up your skin and stink like a mother in any sort of open cuts or scratches. I have five cats, so I *must* wear gloves...

Once satisfied you can then sand with 1,000 grit wet/dry until most of the worst scratches are gone. Once it is all cleaned up you can burnish the whole thing to get all the details. From there to buffing or a heavy duty polish like Simichrome and you are good.

It is labor-intensive, to say the least, but removes the lest metal as you can clearly see when you get to the brass.

The BKF is an acid. (I used the powdered stuff for this, but the liquid is also great.) It must be based or it might not get fully washed off and it can keep eating at the metal over time. Dawn works really well to both base the acid and scrub it out of the pores. (Sometimes you will clean that crap off and a white film will appear. It is gritty and is BKF residue and can ruin your work; it must be removed, so very thorough washing must be done when you are finished. (Likewise, if you use in in your kitchen as we do, wash the heck out of your stainless steel pots and pans or your sink with lots of running water and lots of soap to make sure it is safe to use the stuff around food.)

Bar Keepers Friend kicks major butt.

Here are some pics...

Before (I know, they were prettier, but once buffed and lacquered they will again look very nice...)
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After, in all their raw brass glory...
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Re: Holton 345 Redux

Postby the elephant » Sat Sep 23, 2017 5:19 pm

i just realized that the photos implied a level of workmanship I could not actually attain here at the house. Those are NOT the same finger buttons and caps. They are off my raw brass Kurath, which uses valves made in the same shop by the same guy. So all the parts are interchangeable. The bores are different, as are the knuckle directions, but I can swap pistons, caps, stems and buttons, and the felt/cork/bumper/whatever clearances for the buttons and top caps are identical. Nice. The silver parts are now on the raw brass Kurath and actually look pretty cool there...
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