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Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

Postby bort » Tue Oct 23, 2018 3:12 pm

Thanks, Wade. When I finally get my tuba back, I'll work on that at some point. My tuba is mostly raw brass, and although most of the patina looks good, a few spots need some help. Thanks!
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Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

Postby the elephant » Tue Oct 23, 2018 4:07 pm

I use Simichrome polish. Wenol is nowhere near as good but is the closest substitute.
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Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

Postby Ken Herrick » Tue Oct 23, 2018 5:24 pm

bort wrote:Ken, is that the "box o parts" 186 that sold here at least 10 years ago? If so, I always wondered what happened to that tuba!


That's the one. 7 years ago.

I knew it needed some parts, including the full 4th valve circuit. Problem has been that when I bought it I expected to be moving to where I would have a machine shop to make parts and tooling. Didn't happen and I've always been hesitant to just "put it together" - I want it done well.

I'm getting to the point where I need to either do it or sell it. Age is catching up!

EDIT: The trip meter clicks over again tomorrow and with my fake knee type legs generally giving me hell, I am seriously thinking it would be best to let somebody who is equipped to take this on get a fine example for a very reasonable price. If interested make contact and it could probably be pretty easily worked out.

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Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

Postby the elephant » Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:50 pm

Sounds interesting... ;-)
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Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

Postby the elephant » Wed Oct 24, 2018 8:27 am

Here is the CC before the leadpipe replacement. The rep that night was "LOLLAPALOOZA!" (John Adams), "Symphonic Dances from West Side Story" (Leonard Bernstein), and "The Firebird" (Igor Stravinsky) along with a fantastic TACET (Pyotr Tchaikovsky) (heh, heh, sorry). I had to use a LOUD mute with a lot of metallic buzz. My homemade mute is vulcanized fiberboard and is only moderately buzzy and not all that loud. My Ion Balu mute is wood, wood veneer, and something like the vulcanized fiberboard in my homemade mute. It is not buzzy at all and is very soft — truly a MUTE as in a sound dampener, but not good for most orchestral muted parts.

I need a Humes & Berg 206, which works very nicely with a 186 bell. It is small enough to allow a lot of sound out of the horn and it attenuates the fundamental so that the tone is pretty metallic and snarly. It is not as good as my Denis Wick though, but it fits the bell well. But since I do not have a 206 and every place I have shopped for one (when I happened to have available funds) has them on an indefinite backorder. I have called about ten places around the US and none of them can seem to get an answer from H&B as to when these will once again ship. Several Big Box online music sellers keep posting an "Expected to be Available" date and I am on three lists for notifications, but they keep moving this date back. It has been two years now and none of the three lists has generated an email to tell me they have some in stock.

WTF, H&B? Get it together or stop advertising this product!

So, after many hours of carefully measuring and corking the Wick mute I took my box cutter to the corks to make it fit the Mirafone.

And despite it looking even more ridiculous than most tuba mutes (due to its massive size) it played REALLY well in this tuba. That low, loud, slurred D down to Ab that is more or less solo in the Katscheï movement is one muted passage I normally play open for several reasons, and I know a number of other players do this. No one ever notices. I even have recordings by big groups where the tubist played that two-note solo open.

I was able to nail this bit muted, and it was on time, in tune, metallic and very clear/audible. What a great mute! I think it is easily the best tuba mute I have ever used.

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Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

Postby The Big Ben » Wed Oct 24, 2018 12:42 pm

Surprised you could get a beer keg shoved down the gullet of your horn. Nice work!
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Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

Postby tubasoldier » Thu Oct 25, 2018 7:24 pm

the elephant wrote:I use Simichrome polish. Wenol is nowhere near as good but is the closest substitute.


Thank you for this tip! I've got an old detachable recording bell Miraphone that is bare brass. I've tried a few polishes but haven't found anything I think is satisfactory. I will be happy to give it a try.
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Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

Postby the elephant » Thu Oct 25, 2018 7:32 pm

It is the one paste polish that does a very nice job on nickel silver and nickel plate in addition to brass. I usually degrease the whole horn with a diaper and mineral spirits after a polish job with this stuff as it will leave a thin layer and will turn stuff black. Do a good job with the cleanup and it will stay shiner for a little longer than some polishes. I use Lemon Pledge on the horn after a degrease and a soap-and-water bath (using Dawn dish detergent). (Sometimes I skip the bath if the mineral spirits-soaked patches of cloth diapers start to come away from the horn without any black. But mineral spirits is abusive to skin, so I am skipping this less often these days.) A full polish and then cleanup and Pledge wipe-down usually takes me about six hours on a 4/4 horn with open wraps on the slides. My Holton 345 took me eight hours. It is most definitely a major PITA that I only do about once a year or every other year per horn. Good luck!
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Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

Postby tofu » Fri Oct 26, 2018 12:03 am

Why diapers instead of 100% cotton wash clothes? Isn't it hard to find non- synthetic blend diapers these days? Been awhile since I had to buy diapers. :wink:
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Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

Postby the elephant » Fri Oct 26, 2018 1:37 pm

They are in a shape more convenient to use for this application than say, an old 100% cotton teeshirt, which has to be cut up. Cotton diapers can be found on the Internet fairly easily, but you have to do some investigating as that "industry" regularly markets diapers as 100% cotton when it is not true. This is an issue in the car washing and detailing business; the not-really-100%-cotton diapers can scratch some clear coats, apparently.

I don't have kids so diapers to me are simply excellent workshop towels and rags. ;-)

I bought mine at a clothing store for infants and I asked several moms and sales people which would work best for a polishing cloth, meaning absolutely no non-cotton bits. They all said the current stuff has nylon stitching. The manager ordered me some truly 100% cotton diapers for newborns (very small, like large washcloths) that have skin problems. I marked the info down and bought them on Amazon. Now I have lost the info and it was long ago enough that Amazon no longer has the sale on record (like 2005?) — oh, well...

For me, washcloths are too rough. I use them to apply the polish as it helps dig into the patina. I just use the baby butt covers or teeshirt scraps for the wipe-offpolishing part at the end.
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Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

Postby The Big Ben » Fri Oct 26, 2018 4:04 pm

I'm up here in the Pacific NW so I don't know if it translates to Mississippi but...

It is possible to buy a "Box O' Rags" here for about ten dollars and it is a 6x6x8 box jammed tight with torn up tee shirts. Not sure where they get the tee shirts but sometimes they have their brand labels still on them. I get them at a marine supply store here (i supposed because that is the big painting and varnishing industry here) but they should be available at paint stores. I wash them after using them and, with washing, the box lasts six to nine months for general wiping and cleaning.

(Dittos on the Simichrome. It's pretty expensive when you buy the small tubes at auto parts stores but in larger cans from Amazon, the price isn't bad.)
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Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

Postby the elephant » Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:17 pm

Today I christened my new Ferree's rotary valve swaging tool. I have loved this tool since it was introduced in 1996 or so. I finally have one because I had enough old rotary valves with heavily worn bearings to merit the expense.

I have a set of four 186 rotors I collected over the years that I swaged in 1998. I then forgot to break them loose and re-lap them to fit. They stayed like that until about a year ago, and once broken in they worked like new. This tool shrinks down a large part of the top bearing surface rather than the one or two millimeters that the French horn tool that you hit with a hammer. It produces a factory feel to the valves and there is no discernible horizontal play with the valve assembled. The Miraphone set screws do an excellent job in removing vertical play and when done properly this can last for many years of use. (I have a horn with the rotors swaged like this and I did the work in 2000. Eighteen years of heavy used later and they still work very well and quietly.)

Anyway, that set of four got cleaned up and checked today and no further work was needed.

The BBb 186 parts horn's valves all rattled side to side. The bearing collars on the top plates are so worn that even installing a brand new rotor would see a lot of horizontal play remaining. These are old enough and worn enough that I decided to do this (what I imagine is) irreversible work to all four. I was able to get a very solid fit over about five millimeters of the top stem. I am pleased. So I cannot interchange the rotors or install new ones now, but these fit so well that I am sure things will be fine; they will be going on some of my goofy-assed homemade Frankentubas, so it is all good. No wasted parts and no additional expense makes Jack a happy boy.

I also totally improved my Olds Ultratone GG piston/rotor contrabass bugle set of valves like new. These have like new compression and now zero play in the stems. I am super happy about how well they turned out. I have to sand off the nickel plating and the copper strike coat to get them down to bare brass. These will be very nice valves. Now that everything fits well and I can use the correct lube viscosity I see that they are much lighter than I had first thought. They had seemed to be very slow, ponderous valves that would need some clever Dremel work to lighten up. I don't think this will be necessary now. I have to remove all the connecting ferrules first, and I need to then work to improve the re-curving of the in/out ports to make them connect from valve to valve fully horizontal. (The ports are all angled so that four valves connected normally would result in a valve block shaped like a quarter circle. I have corrected that, but not as well as I had hoped, so after all this improvement I am motivated to finished this part of the work.

I also have a lot of ferrules to remove from the 186 parts horn valves. They were very tight on some knuckles and I did not have adequate hand protection to pry them off while the solder was hot enough to flow. I have to think that one through. I will probably make me some rawhide squares to use like a jar lid remover. Time to visit the local leather crafts shop...

So I now have the old set of four 186 valves cobbled together from three old school tuba carcasses back in the late 1990s, I have the four from the parts tuba, and I have the Olds .656" rotor set. I am replacing all the rotors on my 186 CC with brand new, so that will leave me with those four as well, and they are in very good shape, but leak a little at the bearings. To deal with air passing over the rotor body you just need to keep things oiled, perhaps with slightly thicker piston oil, but the bearings needs heavier oil, and that slows them down. I like thin oil if I can use it, so the CC's rotors will also get swaged just a bit, until they no longer leak, but not so much that new rotors cannot be fit to the casings, in case that needs to be done in the future. (They *are* 47 years old now, you know.)

So all the ferrule removal and cleanup of excess solder will happen tomorrow, as will the initially burnish/polish/buff work — these are thick, so I will probably save my hands and just buff them. Except for the Olds valves. They have to be sanded at least some. Ugh... probably later... in 2025...

Here is where they were as of 5:00 p.m. today.

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Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

Postby the elephant » Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:23 pm

I forgot to mention that the valves currently on the CC 186 will probably end up on the BBb parts horn if I can make myself happy with however the cracks and holes in the bell and outer branches turn out, or I might save them for some other project. The four loose ones in the photo are the original valves from the parts horn and will probably go into my K-90 5 rotor CC tuba I have been doing the math on. I think I can use these, but I may have to use some St. Pete 21mm valves to keep the taper reasonably close to the original.

Even as a BBb tuba this old GG contrabass bugle could never work with the original .689" bore valves because the outer branches taper much more slowly than the 1241/2341 branches.

We shall see. I am a math idiot, so all my work will probably be wrong, anyway... except that my homemade tubas all play well in tune in each of my valve circuits.

Perhaps this parts tuba cut to CC and the GG cut to CC won't fully and totally suck. And if they do I am only out about $1,500 that I spent on all this over a 20 year period. It is not like I am missing that $1,500 investment in all these parts at a whopping $6.25 a month in costs... :tuba:
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Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

Postby pete edwards » Wed Oct 31, 2018 5:45 am

Wade, thanks for the detailed descriptions of your work and all the pics, I and others learn a lot from all this and we really appreciate your willingness to share.
One request, could you show a pic of the rotary valve bearing re-sizing tool and how it is used? particularly to correct the axial (horizontal) end-play.
I need to do this to my 35 year old bass bone valves & was thinking of making a tool to do it. I think I get it from the pic on the Ferees site but it would be cool to see it in "action"
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Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

Postby oedipoes » Thu Nov 01, 2018 5:16 am

pete edwards wrote:One request, could you show a pic of the rotary valve bearing re-sizing tool and how it is used? particularly to correct the axial (horizontal) end-play.


Don't know if this is similar to what the Elephant is using, but such a tool can be seen in action in this video, starting at around 4:42 :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKvqKepzv0c

I think the tool shown is from Böhm tools, item 313 from their catalogue:

Böhm 313.jpg
Böhm 313.jpg (65.61 KiB) Viewed 543 times
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Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

Postby pete edwards » Thu Nov 01, 2018 5:40 am

That's a really cool video- thanks!
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Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

Postby the elephant » Thu Nov 01, 2018 1:55 pm

The Ferree's P60 is vise-mounted but essentially the same thing. I use it rather abusively because I have used if on hundreds of valves over the years, and have seen what the work looks like five years down the line. I really over-tighten it. This makes it impossible to install a brand new replacement rotor, but I *only* use this tool on tubas that are decent players and have a lot of life left in them but will NEVER see new parts due to budget constraints; some schools ONLY want broken stuff fixed and never want broken stuff replaced, even when you carefully walk them through the costs of both paths. On these horns, they are usually 40 or 50 years old and are due for replacement, so I tell them that it would be cheaper to fix the bearings rather than replace the rotors, which still burns up clock time since they have to be hand fitted to the casing parts.

Nossir, I crank this damned thing down so that the rotor has to be tapped out with a rawhide mallet and then hand lap them back to proper operation. This is not how you are supposed to do this, apparently, but it is better if you *know* a new rotor will not ever be installed before the horn goes to the junk room down at the old Middle School band hall, to be auctioned off for parts at the end of the next year.

Reasons?

After five years of doing this the kinder, gentler way Ferree's suggest, whereby you can simply reassemble the rotor and send the horn on its merry way, I got one back and it was loose again. I discovered that merely getting the rotor to not wobble is not enough. The tool crimps the collar a bit unevenly, so only about two millimeters actually make close contact with the valve stem. After five years this tiny contact patch wears down again and you have everything contacting the same way as before: very loose, very noisily. Cranking down on the tool crushes a lot more of the collar down onto the stem. I normally see contact wear from lapping these in on most of the stem, certainly between 5 and 6 millimeters worth, which will last a lot longer than putting all the running surface wear on a one or two millimeter ring on the stem.

I have never tried to install a new rotor into a casing that has had this sort of abuse done to it, but I *imagine* that it would be too tight to accept a brand new rotor without doing some serious surgery. So again, I emphasize that I do this only to valves that will never again see a brand new rotor. Swapping a 1st with a 4th on the same horn also will not work. The 1st will have much more wear and the collar will end up being a smaller ID, whereas the 4th is used a lot less, so it will require a tiny bit less work to get it fit to its rotor as well as the more wobbly 1st. So you could put 1st into the 4th casing (and it probably would be a tiny bit loose at the top bearing) but the 4th probably would not fit into the 1st casing because there is more metal on the 4th rotor's stem. Again — I *imagine* this to be the case, since I have never had to try this. Therefore, all parts MUST be clearly marked with a punch if they are not perfectly clearly marked now. This would be the rotor and the rear bearing plate. I also fit the rear screw caps the way they want to be and punch them, too.

Not that much of this really matters. It is just my justification for not being delicate. If I can be delicate I do not use this tool or this whole line of repair.

So, I am in the middle of making this craptacular video. I will post it later tonight when it has been edited into a produce worthy of winning at the Sundance Festival.

I am using the unknown maker 5th rotor unit used by Mr. Rusk on this tuba. It is sort of smallish for a 4/4 BBb tuba with rotary valves, being .750" ID, but it works as a 5th valve for an Eb or F tuba project and that is probably what I will do with it one day. It is LOOSE. It RATTLES when you turn it. It was TERRIBLE on my Holton 345. So it will make a nice guinea pig for this special, cinematic event. Have your popcorn ready, mates...
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Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

Postby the elephant » Thu Nov 01, 2018 7:57 pm

Be kind. My videos suck. My voice is comical. You get the picture.

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Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

Postby YORK-aholic » Fri Nov 02, 2018 1:11 am

Informative and thorough as usual Sir. Thank you.
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Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

Postby Ken Herrick » Fri Nov 02, 2018 4:44 am

Good stuff!!
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