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Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2019 1:13 am
by The Big Ben
Hurrah! That's quite an achievement! Here's to many more!

Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2019 1:39 am
by Ken Herrick
Well done!!

Looking forward to more reports on these 186s.

Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:06 pm
by roughrider
A terrific picture of your low brass section!

Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2019 2:15 am
by the elephant
Thanks! I am not sure I gave credit to our excellent players.

Adam Almeter - prin
James Wilson - 2nd
Joel Grizzelle - bass (former MSO prin, oddly enough)
Ken Lyon - tenor tuba (MSO bass trombone, but a euphoniumist by nature)
Yours Truly - 105 mm Howitzer

More 186 stuff should start to trickle in starting the 18th or 19th. Sorry this is taking so long, but "busy is bread" if you're a musician.

Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Thu May 16, 2019 5:26 pm
by the elephant
Well, I have not yet been able to clear out the carport so that I can work. I have a major problem with one of my cars and need to get it fixed. Until then it probably will stay put. I will take a more careful look at it tomorrow afternoon, but I may have to have it towed about 60 miles to a dealership to see if they can get this ridiculous bolt out — they have all the dealership Miller Specialty Tools for the job.

Anyway, today I spent two hours working on all my nice rotary Miraphone rotary valves. I have available for these two horns the following:

Intended for CC in this thread
• New style 1st — 2009 (unused)
• New style 5th — 2015 (unused)

From the BBb in this thread
• Old style 1st — 1971
• Old style 2nd — 1971 (rotor swapped with 2nd on CC due to stripped out stem threads)
• Old style 3rd — 1971 (leaks in one of the two unused positions)
• Old style 4th — 1971 (leaks in two of the used positions — good 1st/2nd candidate with modifications)

From my parts bin
• Old style 1st — 1978
• Old style 2nd — 1978
• Old style 3rd — 1977 (two good positions, but might leak in the other two, cannot confirm until 4th is removed from stack)
• Old style 4th — 1974 (damaged casing, leaks in all four positions, upper bearing out of round, probably junk)

Currently on CC in this thread
• Old style 1st — 1971 (leaks at top bearing when closed, okay when open, casing has off-center vent that needs to be re-drilled)
• Old style 2nd — 1971 (has 2nd rotor from BBb parts horn)
• Old style 3rd — 1971 (may leak, not tested, but I have issues with this valve when playing very loudly)
• Old style 4th — 1971 (leaks for sure, but not sure how badly)

I have swaged all the old valves not currently installed on a horn. With the rear cap screws adjusted to removed runout these all move very quickly and lack any audible slop/clicking in either axis. (I love that tool!) I have not yet swaged the bearings on the CC that I play every day. I have decided that if I find any leaking in these valves that I will replace the rotors with new ones, and then swage them if needed. I don't want to compress the bearings to fit the 48 year old rotor stems and then not be able to install new ones because they are now too tight.

I *want* to install all new style rotor units, but they are about $300 each and I am not willing to wait until I have that kind of disposable money sitting around at one time. I have two, so I would need about a grand for the other three with shipping, and Ed does not seem to have any that fit together, as though he may have mixed parts to work with. Whatever. I could look into buying directly from Miraphone, but I am sure that with shipping the cost would be about the same and it would take over a month longer to get them. (I *will* check with Miraphone, but I am planning on working around what I have here, which is cheap and immediate.)

So the 1st on the CC has a large, slightly off-center vent that needs to be closed up because it leaks a bit when the valve is down unless I press very hard. The threads on the CC 2nd rotor were ruined and had a spiral insert very much like a Helicore that you use on stripped-out engine block head bolt holes. Both the CC 3rd and 4th rotors seem to leak a little bit.

I plan on having four 1st/2nd units installed on the CC if I can work that out. All of the uninstalled 1st/2nd units are really solid with no leakage at all, but three of them have very loose rear bearing plates; they fall out if you turn the valve over with the rear cap off. I need to think about this issue. I also need to have a set of five very good valves for the BBb, especially if I cut it to CC (again, just for personal amusement).

Of the two leakers: both are worn heavily in the two positions you use, but the reverse sides are like new and do not leak at all. One of these is a 3rd and one is a 4th, and with modifications could be turned into solid 1st units. The one 4th that leaks in all four positions is probably toast. It leaks badly with any of these eight rotors installed, and the bearing is a bit bent. If I can figure out a way to tap the casing walls back into shape to save the leaking thing I will try. As it is, there will be zero loss if I trash it in the attempt, so why not learn more fun stuff? I have to use some of my Prussian Blue gear pattern paint that I use when I set up an axle differential, and that ought to give me a decent idea of where the leaks are. After that and it is just guesswork and tapping.

Usually you use a bright yellow gear paint as the ring and pinion gears are black. Since this valve is a much lighter color I will opt for the darker paint. Here is a photo of a ring and pinion having the contact pattern checked using the yellow stuff. You can see how that color would be hard to read inside a tiny and yellowish rotary valve casing. The Prussian Blue is a dark blue that should be easy to read.


Gear paint is made from a very fine and evenly ground pigment that with the oil base is guaranteed to be a certain number of thousandths of an inch thick. It should be ideal for checking tolerances on something as clunky as a rotary valve cylinder wall gap. I am hoping that it is in this case, at least. In this case the thickest or darkest part of the pattern will be the leaks. Since these are tapered, the whole face of each part meets at the same time when the rotor drops into place. I am hoping this stuff will be as non-tacky as when I use it on gears, but this is a different metal and it might not leave an accurate pattern when the rotor is dropped out of the casing. We shall see. Perhaps I can save this banged up, old rotor unit, and perhaps I will trash it. Either way, the process should be educational for me.

In all three cases, the 4th rotors seem to leak. I do not know why, since these are the least used of the four basic valves. Perhaps there is some wear point that is not obvious, having to do with the linkage arm? I doubt it, but you never know. It is just really weird that in the case of all twelve of the old valves that all three 4ths are leakers. Hmm…


And now for a fun photo…


I seriously cannot wait to get that damned car out of the carport so I can set up my bench again and get back to work. UGH! :mrgreen:

Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Thu May 16, 2019 6:56 pm
by roughrider
Huzzah! You're back!!

Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Mon May 20, 2019 10:20 pm
by the elephant
This afternoon I cracked open the new tank of acetylene and did some stuff.

I currently have between 18 and 20 tuba rotary valves in various states of disrepair. I have one complete set of four from the 1971 BBb 186 and a set of also-rans from two 186 BBb tubas from about 1978. Both sets have gimp 4th valves (stem damage and leaks). Both have one that leaks on the two work sides while the unused sides are very tight. I don't really understand what is happening here. I know that the valves normally only ever rotate through two of the four possible positions, but the entire valve rotates at the same time. Why would they wear on only two ports? Air pressure does zero to the metal. Perhaps these school horns had kids for decades blowing cokes and lunch and stuff through them and the acids, over time, caused one of the port faces to develop a gap? Hmm…

I remembered how I used to cope with crystalized soft solder that would not re-melt for disassembly, and I also have better gloves and such for tightly holding and twisting apart two very hot chunks of metal without too many burns to my fingers and palms. Therefore, I was able to recover every ferrule without damage. Four MUST have been hammered on; Miraphone sometimes has VERY tight tolerances between parts, so pulling them apart when they are very hot can be difficult and frustrating for me. I recovered all six of the short, dished ones that connect two valves together. The two different eras of 186 mean that the figurations on these make them two distinctly different sets; they are not "mix-and-match" by any means. I also recovered all four long ferrules to the leadpipes and waterkey legs.

Then I learned something that many of you may already know. I never had a reason to investigate the top bearing plate and how it is installed into the rotor casing tube. I thought it was a press-fit bearing plate like on the backside, but that the nickel silver "cap" was actually what it looked like. It isn't. The cap with the nice figurations is actually as thin as the slide tubes and such. It has the figurations as well as the knurled edge stamped into it, and that edge is just as thin as the cap. So the entire top bearing plate is a single, thick piece of brass with a thin nickel silver veneer on top.

All this time I thought the knurled edge of the top of the valve was a solid piece of nickel silver that had been silver soldered in place with the thinner brass top plate. So the reality is that this is a bit less robust than I had believed for most of my life.

Live and learn.

I know this because the three ferrules that had become stuck to that valve took a LOT of heat to get free, and I had to use flux and sold solder to get the crystalized stuff to flow again. Some of that flux and most of that heat went under the veneer and it simply fell off. I cleaned the snot out of the brass top of the casing and the inside of the "coin" and soft soldered them back together. For some reason this one had nearly no solder beneath it, so I flowed in a bit more to hold it down fully.

Also, when it fell off it hit the cement floor. I had to do some light tapping with a small anvil and a small leather mallet to get it to lie very flat against the brass bearing plate. I used some slide tube to hold it in place with two chunks of 4x4 to hold everything together until I could get it soldered down well.

What an unexpected hangup but I learned a LOT.

I did no cleanup work at all beyond soap and water to remove all the grit and flux and such. I will scrape, sand, file and buff everything nice and clean tomorrow or the next day. Before that I think two of them need to be swaged again, as I was too gentle and they still have a little bit of slop.

Half of these will go on the BBb 186 and half will go on my K-90 project horn whenever I get back to that. Note that I think three of my valves (one for certain) on the CC 186 leak enough to notice it. When I tear it apart I will remove the valve and leak test them, possibly swapping out any that I have in this collection that might be better (action or leaks). The BBb will get the next best four, etc.

I have to get over my hangups regarding the bell garland install for the BBb bell. I need to get the bell to a point where I stop wanting to mess with it and do the damned job. I keep overthinking it and am wondering how it could possibly work the way it reportedly does using the techniques I know. Bell garlands are a special type of voodoo for me.

Here are some photos from tonight.





Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Tue May 21, 2019 12:24 am
by roughrider
Keep up the great work!!

Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Tue May 21, 2019 2:12 pm
by the elephant
Change in plans...

I had wanted to replace all four valves to match my brand new 5th valve as I already had a brand new 1st valve on hand. That left me with three new valves to buy. After paying for the 5th I realized this would be very costly. Instead, I bought a Ferree's swaging tool.

Well, some of these old valves, now sporting very good action with no noise still have significant leaks, meaning that I may end up three valves short for another project. I am not confident in my ability to fix these leaks. This CC has some leaking, too, but it is pretty minor. So my solution (for now) is to pony up the $$$ to get the three matching, brand new valves, but from Miraphone. And now that I have an estimate for the parts I need I can see that I should have inquired about this much earlier as the prices are very reasonable.

I committed to buying the three new rotary valve units at the end of the month. So, when the time comes, I can detach the four rotors in one piece from all the slide tubing, assemble the four valves, and solder all the tubing back on. Neither easy nor simple, it will still net me a classic tuba with brand new valves, which makes me super happy. I love this tuba! Thanks, Dan M. (if you are reading this)! I am glad I was the guy who got to buy this from you, and that it did not go to someone else.)

So I am adding three more to match these two…


Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Tue May 21, 2019 2:57 pm
by roughrider
Elephant, you are living proof that great tubas and great players find each other. Carry on!

Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2019 6:04 am
by the elephant
Well, the wheels are turning, albeit rather more slowly than I had hoped. This morning at 4:00 a.m. we were awakened by the lovely cry of the tornado sirens.


And just when we got back to bed they started up again. And then… you guessed it — four times, in total.

So here we are at 5:30 a.m. The sirens have stopped, the NWS tornado warning is lifted, and… sleep is not happening. Plus, the cats now all think it is time to eat and do "zoomies" at full speed.

Since I am obviously up for the day now, I checked my email. I received a note from Miraphone with my final price for this order (meaning that the order is ready to ship. I always send them the money the second I get the final price so that I can snag the small discount they allow for prompt payment. I paid them, saving about $30.00 or so.

So now I wait.

I am betting on a delivery date close to July 30.

Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 4:43 pm
by the elephant


Well, I was wrong in the above post. The delivery date was TODAY, July 5th! They shipped it via AIR, which I do not think I paid for. However, it took them a long time to pick my order, which is weird, since 100% of the stuff I selected was parts bin stuff and nothing that was made (or engraved) to order. I suspect my tiny order kept getting bumped back so they could get out large production batches and component orders to larger repair shops. That is fine.

Of note: No one contacted me to tell me it was ready to be shipped and that I needed to remit the final balance (minus the small quick-payer discount). And no one contacted me to let me know it had shipped.

Again, I suspect the office workers were in the shop helping push out high pressure orders by assisting with shipping, packing, inspection, etc. (I know they help out in the shop at times, though I do not know to what extent.)

I once worked at a small tech business soldering together circuitboards and have been pulled off of assembly to open flat boxes, half-fill them with packing peanuts, top top them off once packed with product, then label and seal them specifically so we could get 500 boxes on the dock before our UPS driver arrived.

This is pretty normal for that sort of "mostly family" small business: the clock is in command of the work flow. I am pretty sure this is what happened with my Miraphone order.

The weird thing is that there was no communication with DHL Germany or Deutsche Post, or USPS. Normally you get a note from Miraphone that DHL is scheduled to pick up your package by so-and so date. Then you hear from DHL saying that your package has arrived at the facility in Hamburg. Then, someday, when you have aged and passed on from this earth, you get a communication from USPS that your package is in US Customs. About a week later you get a USPS tracking number and an expected delivery date. None of that happened this time. Again: weird. The package just showed up at the door. I am glad we happened to be home. (We were supposed to be gone.) We had to sign for this, and it contained close to a grand in parts. We have some motivated porch pirates here in YC, so this could have turned out badly.

Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 4:44 pm
by the elephant

I received my three valves and *most* of the parts. For some reason none of the screws or bumpers came with the cork plates, even though the order says I paid for them and the manifest says they were in the box; they weren't. Well, I have a foot of the Miraphone neoprene and happen to have eight brand new nickel silver cork plate screws on hand. (Two extra! Yippee!)

I also got a half meter each of brass inner and nickel silver outer MTS tubing. Unlike some of the stuff I have purchased from Allied this stuff is straight. Once the ends had been sawed and then dressed, the two tubes fit as snugly as they should, but are so straight that one passes completely though the other with no binding. NICE! I will be buying more long tubing from these guys!

I received the six waterkey parts, all very nice, but the nipple has changed over the years — or a single part to you and me is two separate parts to Miraphone. The nipple does not come with the nickel silver flange, it is just a figured ring that solders directly to the water key branch. OR — perhaps you have to order the nickel silver disc separately? I don't know if you have to do this with braces, too. I have to order some to see. Anyway, my Wessex order of parts for the 5th slide loop came with about a dozen nickel silver brace feet discs, already curved to fit the outer tubing size, so I can silver solder one to the nipple and then drill it out. Not sure what I want to do. The one in use is a little banged up but fits perfectly. I would rather leave the entire waterkey assembly in place on that waterkey branch as I want to transfer it in one piece to the soon-to-be-cut BBb.

It is always a little attention-getting when you see brand new, never-been-buffed parts that you normally only see after many years of use (and sometimes additional buffing). The cork plates are all very sharp-edged and "square" looking. These usually are softer looking and feeling after having been buffed and lacquered at the factory, and perhaps the design has also changed a little over the decades between my horns and today.

I will cut new (blank) ferrules for the third set of BBb rotors; they will go on a project horn that I couldn't care less about, aesthetically. I harvested all the old ferrules from the eight rotors I have in a box, but they come from three horns of differing ages, so they look a bit different. The best set is on the CC right now. That horn's valves will also be taken apart from one another and the ferrules cleaned up. The BBb parts horn, once fixed up and ready to assemble, will get the four best of the dozen valves I will have. Five or six of the eight in the box right now do not leak, one leaks, but only on the side that was used for 45 years. When you reverse the rotor by 180º it does not leak. I have looked all over and cannot find *where* the leak is, but I will track it down using some soapy water when I need the information. (Right now I am just curious.) And one of the eight is just boogered up, and every 90º alignment leaks in all four ports of the casing. It is trash. It seems to be just as bad with any other rotor installed, so the casing is junk. I think the rotor is okay, though. Again, when I *need* to know I will work on that. The four valves on the CC are of an unknown condition, leak-wise, but I know that 2nd leaks and suspect they all leak a little bit. Once I have all twelve valves in a box I will assemble four of them that are in the best condition for the BBb parts horn. The other two sets will be made into another decent one and four strays. If I can get them all working well I will use the strays for 5th valves on smaller piston horns, or sell them off for that purpose.

The loose ferrules I have come from four different tubas. I have all of them from the BBb parts tuba, and I have many strays from the three tubas I got the other valves from. (I had twelve of them but have used three on other tubas and sold one to a friend, so eight valves left, but ferrules (from slide assemblies, etc.) from three horns. They have the same basic figurations all older Miraphone had, but were turned on the lathe by different hands in different decades, so they all look a little different from each other.

The BBb parts horn and the CC that I use for work nearly every day were made about six months apart. They have bench marks only one number off from each other, so maybe they were made by the same guy, or perhaps on benches next to one another? I don't know how they used these numbers back then, but it differs from how they assemble things today. I think that today they are just batch numbers, like this set of parts goes together to make one horn, and this batch for another. I think back in the day these were actually the numbers of the employees, assigned to a specific bench. All 27s were assembled by the craftsman assigned to bench 27, or something like that. (This is how Herr Alexander explained their assembly numbers to me, but they have a smaller shop, and every place does their own thing, so who knows?) It is interesting to me that my two 1971 186 tubas were made only six months apart and have very close assembly marks. (One is all 26 and the other is all 27, with one valve having 27D stamped on it. Does the D signify a replacement part because someone damaged it in production? I wish I know what all this stuff meant. Oh, well…)

Anyway, my ferrules on the two 1971 horns match perfectly, in all cases, and the three horns from around 1976-1978 are all in a different style and less uniform within matched sets.

I spent some time taking photos of the ferrules to show these differences. The brand new rotors will all get the 1971 rotors as they look right on this old tuba. I found out that I *could* have ordered the valves with the old style, stamped coin on the front that matches the rear cap. D'OH! I *really* wanted those because you would not be able to tell they were not original. I bought the ones with the blank coin on the top that I really don't like. I am going to inquire about buying five of the old style top coins with the figuration stamped into the surface. They are soft soldered in place, so it should only be a minor annoyance to swap them out if they have not yet been assembled to the horn.

The three new valves all need some minor cleanup to make them ready for primetime. They all still have a little buffing dirt and metal dust in them, so they all spin a little more slowly than my two other ones that have been prepped for assembly. I need to de-burr all the knuckles, for one. The bearings need to be really cleaned up. And, oddly, none of my stop arms fit any of the spindles. It appears that these are all hand-filed to fit when assembled into a set. I got my Swiss file set out and spent about an hour doing all six faces until I was happy with the fit. The two other valves had already had this done to them. The way they were packed got me small dings in two knuckles, which pissed me off. A lot. Why would they toss three heavy, sharp-edged valve units into a single ziplock baggie like that? One would assume that each one would be in a separate baggie so as to minimize metal-to-metal contact during the long trip overseas. That and the missing screws and neoprene were the only issues this time. Last time some of the tubing arrived as brass and not the nickel silver I paid extra for. Hmm, it really is a small business that puts out a huge amount of product, I guess. Whatever, I am please with both my orders.

Here are some pics of the five new valves (two are several years old but never used for anything, three arrived today). One of them was ordered with the stop arm and screw for the old style "S" links, and I forgot to add a new style stop arm to my order, as well as the more narrow button-headed screw needed for the skinnier MINIBAL link system. So yeah, "One of these things is not like the others" as we all learned on Sesame Street. Also, the three rotors arrived "green". (I think that is the term. I can't remember. Please correct me if you know it.) By this I mean that the two holes for the cork plate screw have not been drilled and tapped. I have to align the cork plate by myself, which is not fun because it has to be exact, and it is not exactly in-line with the ports but canted just a bit to one side. I have the ability to do this, but I have to order a metric tap in that size since Yazoo City is 'Murican as F, baby, and the metric system is the work of Satan and shall neither be stocked nor serviced. (Heh, sorry, just a comment about my local hardware non-store…)

Here are some pics. Thanks for reading…

Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 5:40 pm
by the elephant


On either end are the two older valves. They both have slightly flattened knuckle edges. The three new ones in the middle of the sister do not.


The ferrules in the photo were grabbed randomly from the box so I could press-fit this together and take some pics. These are not the final set, which actually matches.


You can see the center three valves have not had the cork plate holes drilled and tapped yet. Fun. More stuff to do. :tuba:



They really look weird without those two, small holes in the top plate…

Muchas válvulas.

This is the exact ferrule figuration I want on this tuba for the ones that go between the rotors. Note the very old school sculpting done on the lathe; like all old Alexander parts, these were hand-turned in small batches, and the details changed over the years, to include a removal of the sculpted look, replacing that with two simple grooves with minimal sculpting, then just two lines very shallowly cut, to today's which are blank. Personally I really miss all the fine hand touches old horns have that now cost way too much. Bell engraving, knurling on the outer edges of caps and buttons, etc. are all a thing of the past, and that is sad to me. I really like this ferrule as you can see that sculptured texture from a distance and as many different angles, because it is a real, three dimensional thing. The later ones with simple lines grooved into the metal are boring, and the blank ones are just sad looking to me.


First up are the ferrules used to connect the brass slide tubing to the valve knuckles (on all valves but 2nd, which simply has the nickel silver outer slide tubes soldered in place). All of the ferrules from the early 1970s (and maybe before that?) had the figurations farther away from the edge of the part. The two on the left are from the horns from the late 1970. These have the just barely textured lines (really only the outer edge of the outer line on each end) that are closer to the edges. The ones off the 1971 BBb are on the right and have the more heavily sculpted profiles with the grooves cut farther from the edges of the tube. I prefer this look.

These guys are slide ferrules. The lines go on the crook side. When pushed in all the way, the old Miraphone outer slide tubes had stiffener rings installed (like today) that were very nicely figured and textured (unlike today, which are just plain bands of nickel silver). The figurations on these have changed over the years, too. The ones from the 1971 (that I will be using) are on the left in this photo. The late-1970s ones are on the right, and again, have the grooves closer to the edge, and they are less deeply machined. Oddly, the newer ones seem to have a tiny bit more texture; the 1971 ferrules look flat to me. I need to look at my CC to check on what it actually has installed. I don't rightly know…

Here is a 1971 ferrule from the outer edge of the valves to a brace to the body. (I think this one is from the 1st to the 4th branch - or top bow?) Next to is is a current Miraphone ferrule. Not pretty, is it? It is super shiny when buffed up, but she is such a wallflower compared to the brazen hussy next to her. :mrgreen:

Here are some of my between-the-valves ferrules, which are the shortest on the horn. To provide more surface area for soldering while allowing the valves to fit as closely together as possible, these have little divots cut out of them so they can slide closer up to the casing wall. (This is the norm for most good rotary valve makers, I think. I have only seen a few tubas where this was not done to these ferrules.) Note that the 1971 ferrules are three of the right four. One is really close but less sculpted. On the CC are three more, so I will select the four best when the time comes. The mid-1970s ones have a deeper divot. I supposed they must have been able to fit closer together, but I cannot see why they did this because they are already as tightly packed as you can get them and still be able to assemble the horn. Looser, less precise tolerances due to more machine work in the process? That is my guess. A retailer told me (back in the early 1980s) that the late 1970s saw Miraphone upping their game in machine work, which was faster and more accurate. However, they also had a lot of new workers to fill all the crazy orders coming from schools in the US so their assembly was not as neat as it had once been. But the horns played a little more consistently, so it was a trade-off. The divots of the older ferrules in this are smaller, but they are also slightly less accurate, one being a bit crooked and off center. I guess this stuff was eyeballed back then, and jigs were used with mechanical stops to prevent things from coming out different from part to part. Again, who knows?

Here are the ones I plan to use (or include in the pot to choose from when I need these parts). The shiny one is my "example" and the one to its right is the one that is not from any of the horns I have valves for right now. I sold off or used four over the years, and I think this one came from that horn. It is different from all the others. It is the same basic layout, but the texturing is a bit more flat looking and the grooves are a bit closer to the edges. The two on the right are (like the shiny one) from Tabor's old BBb parts horn, and match my CC perfectly. But a four-valved horn only has three of these, so I need a fourth one to add the 5th valve. I will use the three currently on the CC, probably, so the shiny one will get added to that set and these other three will actually go on the BBb horn one day.

This would be a complete set of small ferrules for a 1971 186. The larger ones will be looked at later. So, L to R you have: 2 crook-to-inner-slide-leg, 1 leadpipe-to-valve, 4 valve-to-valve, and 1 valve-to-waterkey branch. The only other small ferrules are the two larger versions of the first two in this photo for the MTS.

Here is the inner and outer MTS tubing. I included it so you could see the ID/OD numbers. Note that the inner MTS tube dimensionally *is* the outer slide tube for all the valve slides. However, if you purchase it from Miraphone as inner slide material they will only send brass. It seems that they have decided that NS/NS slides get much more badly stuck if allowed to dry out, so unless you hassle them they won't sell you inner/outer slide leg sets in NS/NS, but only in NS/YB. I have decided that I need a half meter of the outer tube for valve slides in NS. THAT ought to show them, heh, heh, heh…

Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2019 6:08 pm
by the elephant
I now have a place to work, am no longer in my back in bed (as I have been for the most parts since January) and the epic rains have sort of stopped (for now).

I have been soooooo sick. And my main car has been down and taking up my carport space since December 26th. The jerk-off who fixed my car after I hit that deer (poor thing) did a craptacular job with some things. The one that disabled this vehicle for so long was that he did not bother to locate the correct size of hex bit for his air hammer. So he used a small sledge and beat the next size up into the hex-headed cap bolt that holds the idler pulley tensioner assembly to the accessory bracket. This completely hides one of the alternator bolts. And my alternator pooped the bed the day after Christmas. There was — after much head scratching and trial and error — no way to get this deeply recessed, large hex bolt out, save for removing the engine from the car. This info was from Honda.

My only choice was to pay to have a flatbed come 60 miles up to me, trailer the car, and then carry it 60 miles back. Then I would get to pay THEIR price for the alternator and the labor. This was going to add up to more than $1500.

- OR -

I could just do it myself. But pulling the engine is not easy on this particular car. It ain't no Chevy 350 with a carb. It has many wire looms, many sensors to locate and unplug, many hoses. I already have a hoist and engine stand, but I was so sick and it was so flooded out there in the carport that it kept being put off. I had the $500 alternator and had tested the old one and the new to make sure I had not screwed up my diagnosis.

FINALLY: A few days ago my health improved greatly and my carport was fully dry and devoid of ants so that I could get on the cement for a long time.

I had been working out how to get that damned bolt free for months and thought I had a plan that would alter a tool to make it work.

And it did.

When that bolt finally cracked loose I nearly cried. I have been so stressed out over our best car having sat for almost nine months, the condition of our back yard and carport due to absolute negligence while I was abed (or atubaing) and I was stressed about my tuba projects becoming so far behind that a conclusion to them seemed to be a fantasy. My blood pressure went up a lot during this period of super high stress and a terrible lifestyle of prolonged bed-surfing. After I fixed the car (and another one that same day) my BP dropped a good bit and is nearly safe again. I do not expect to pop anytime soon, now.

Okay, so that means I can finally, finally, for real finally get back to work. I cleared out the carport but still have some serious yard work to do, then I can start.

Today I learned from Miraphone why no one in the US seems to be able to accurately identify the size/thread pitch of the cork plate screws. I do not know why Allied has them listed as such, but they are NOT M3x0.5 and never have been. The round-headed screw on the valve stem that holds the stop arm in place *is* M3x0.5 but the cork place screws are M2.6x0.45 and the tap drill needs to be 2.2 mm, and on a hole this small with such fine threads you really need to match things correctly or you will ruin the threads. It would have been easy to just drill and tap something I can pick up at a hobby shop, but I am not willing to put hobby shop parts on my brand new valves. So if you are laughing at me for trying to get this just so, go ahead. I laugh at your half-a$$ed-Home-Depot-looking horn all the time, too. We are even. HAHAHA!!!

I located the needed tap and drill from Grainger (McMaster-Carr does not sell any taps for my purpose in this size) and they will arrive here on the 6th or thereabouts.

I noticed that in all cases the old valves with the S arms had the cork plate mounted slightly clocked toward the paddles, meaning the far side end was a bit lower than the one closer to the player's hand. I was told that this was because when perfectly level the extra rotation would cause the S arm to stick, like a piston in a car that has passed TDC and cannot rotate back but now has to continue on, except that you cannot do this in a rotary valve. So it would just stay open when you let up.

Well they do not do that now. My two valves that had the cork plates installed at the factory are absolutely level, so I think the Minibal link arms with the much narrower stop arm seems to negate this tendency, and this allows them to set these up with the cork plate level. I was worried about getting this angle just right, but it turns out that I can locate my holes level, which will be a bit easier or faster than having to match some angle that cannot use the knuckles as a sort of sightline.

So, despite all my earlier and hopeful posts above about getting back to work, I actually *can* now that the car is out of the only workspace I have.

Thanks, Service King, you wankers! (You wouldn't believe the number of deep cuts and horrible bruises I have from working within this tiny space with sharp metal edges all over the place. I will NEVER take a car to this company again, even if USAA wants me to. I had to cut up a hex bit to fit down in this one inch wide space but that had to be an inch and a half long to reach the bolt head and still be reachable by my breaker bar AND still fit within that narrow space between the engine and the fender well/motor mount/AC lines/thick wire looms/personal hell/etc. I had to suffer for my art. Wait. No. Different story. Anyway, I had to get the overly long bit into this narrow, deep hole with the hex head flush with it so that nothing could grab it and then (the truly fun part) I had to get a small tack hammer in there and tap the bit fully into the socket. The larger bit had wallowed out the outer half of the hole and then jammed shavings into the inner half, so that none of my hex bits or keys fit. Hammering it in (after grinding off the end to fit) allowed it to be tightly wedged in the bolt so that, even though it only had about three millimeters of purchase it was able to break it loose. I had been further wallowing out the outer half because it could not seat any deeper due to the very small shavings, so the bits and keys would just walk out, further stripping out the outer half of the opening. Anyway, I got it and am rather proud of that. This was physically the hardest auto repair I have ever done, and that includes re-gearing differentials and rebuilding engines.This flat out sucked. :cry: :lol:



Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2019 8:03 pm
by Ken Herrick
I'm really glad to hear that you are getting past the frustration of the car having been messed up first by a dear then by an obviously ignorant mechanic, and that your health is improving. We will now look forward to further chapters on the "twins" rebirth!

I've been spending a lot of time in the horizontal position too over the past few weeks - first with a bad fall (not good when you have twin knee replacements) and now just getting over an awful urinary tract problem.

Best of health to you.

Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2019 9:00 pm
by the elephant
You too, Ken.

Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2019 11:32 pm
by roughrider
I applaud your tenacity and willingness to find another solution! All because someone was too damn lazy to find the correct item to use. We all look forward to your continuing reports on the "Dueling 186s". Your reports are the #1 reason why I check in on TubeNet. Carry on!

Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2019 7:57 pm
by the elephant
Okay, I'm back on this.

Today I put in six hours working on the new rotors for the CC. They came all the way from Germany stuffed in a large ziplock bag with no padding, so there were a few bent up knuckles, and one knuckle has a dent in it. (I am pissed at how these were packed, and that they forgot to drill and tap the strike plate screw holes, but it's in the past.

Two of the rotor casings had knuckles with sort of bad bending at the edge. I had to use my flute headjoint expander and some love from the dent hammers to make them round again. I also made sure their were no invisible leaks for solder to flow through during assembly.

I had to lap two of them for a minute or two each, very little, because of some burrs that manged to get burnished in place in the casings when they got their initial light lapping. Also, one of the knuckles that I had to work on pooged in a tiny bit. Some burnisher work fixed that.

All five valves work really well and are air-tight, which will be an improvement over the 49 year old ones on the tuba right now. With the exception of 2nd, they are not too bad, but these new ones are much better.

I got all of the strike plate holes located, drilled and tapped with only one or two hiccups along the way.

I still need one nickel silver and one brass stop arm and one brass strike plate. I may get another nickel silver strike plate, too. (I scratched one up.) I also need two of the narrower, round-headed screws for the stop arm. I am using one S arm stop arm and screw on these five valves at this time.

I will probably buff these for the first time tomorrow to clean up some old scratches on 1 and 5, and to clean up the tops of the rotor casings, which look like they just came off a lathe with cutting tool marks in concentric circles. I also will be removing that dratted ding in the one knuckle. Also, I cut my fingertips about ten times because all these parts are still rough finished and everything is quite sharp. OUCH!

So here is the result of today's work. I was slow and clumsy, but it has been nine months since I have been able to do any sort of work. With that in mind I am pleased with how stuff turned out, don't GAS about the time, and am excited to be back to work.

Here are old style strike plates where the screw holes were made by the tech assembling the valve, so each horn is a little different from the other, and these sometimes would not interchange with the ones on other horns. The new ones (middle and right) are all 100% uniform, but have different centers for the screws. If you lose one of these off an older style horn and think a replacement from Allied is the ticket, it will not fit in most cases. You might be able to order strike plates without holes, but I don't know for sure. The may be cast with holes that just need cleaning up.

These are just pressed together to check everything. None of the ferrules have been soldered in place.



Ginger helped the whole time without getting into any trouble. Miraculous!

Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 9:09 pm
by the elephant
Okay, this will be very dry, with no photos, and very long.

Today I did all my measurements and comparisons (save for two inner brnches, which I will measure later). Here is my two-part long-ass report, for whomever wants the information. Skip this post if you just want to see pictures; I have none today. Sorry. :mrgreen:


The bells are identical. Yippee. That was pretty obvious, but it needed to be confirmed.

The bottom bows are identical except that the small side has been trimmed about 1.5" to 2" shorter, but *my* BBb is more or less STRAIGHT there — no taper. When trimmed to be a CC bottom bow the same ferrule fits perfectly between the bottom and top bows. I have not measured fluid volume, and I have not taken measurements of the OD at several points to see if they are actually the same or just start and end the same. I might do this, but they really *look* the same to me; if they are different parts (other than the slight trim to the small side) I cannot tell by simply eyeballing it — they are very close.

Oh, the two bottom bow ferrules? You got it: identical, both large and small ends are the same diameter, over the same overall length of tubing, so the taper is the same, too. These are interchangeable, like the bells, between the BBb and CC horns.

The top bow is different, but I think I can make mine work with very little re-tapering of the ends. However, I think that the ferrule to the 3rd branch will have to be purchased from Miraphone new. [If Ed Stregge has one for a CC I will get it. His stuff is older in many cases, so it might have the two double line figurations; the current one sold by Miraphone is blank. I think. They can probably cut in the lines, but the extra charge would make it not worth it.] The CC top bow gets fatter faster, I think specifically to fit the ferrule to the bottom bow. The taper changes from the Bbb part right as it finishes its big curve and starts down toward the bottom bow. (Honestly, this was eyeballed, too. I did not measure it. I *will* measure them once I have the one off of the CC. I didn't feel like doing that extra bit yesterday.)

The 3rd branch is pretty different and much shorter on the CC. Therefore the taper is pretty fast. I think I may decide to buy this branch and both ferrules because I don't know how suitable the BBb ones are for what I want to do. The 4th branch is also much shorter with the same issues, so perhaps I will buy both branches and both ferrules? I have to play with these parts for awhile to decide that.

The 5th branch (the "pretzel") that connects to the MTS seems to be identical on both horns, which is great! That part is more costly than the next two branches due to the work needed to bend it to shape and round and smooth the surface.

The BBb 4th slide loop can be cut and ferruled to work. It will require the purchase of the current lower 5th slide crook, some ferrules and some of the scrap you will end up with when (almost) done. I had originally believed that all new 4th runners and ferrules would be needed. I think I was incorrect. It will just take some work and it won't look the same, exactly.

The lower runner is very different on the two horns. The BBb bends back 90º from the valve and then goes down 90º — the length of the bit between the two bends is short enough to keep that loop inside the inner branches of the horn.

The CC part bends backwards about 110º and then curves around the bugle and bends about 80º upwards, pointing outwards to allow the slide to fit behind the top bow. The slide assembly solders onto the end of this part.

It might be worthwhile to buy one of these, too. Otherwise you can chop up the BBb part and ferrule it in two places to duplicate the CC part. It won't look factory if you examine it, but the slide will go to the correct location.

The large hoop on both horns that is the "top bow" of the slide loop is 1" narrower on the BBb tuba, again, to fit deeply inside the inner branches to tuck that slide right up against the 3rd slide. The curvature of the hoop in the very middle is straight enough to cut and ferrule in a 1" spacer to make it fit like the CC part. The down-pointing ends would have to be trimmed to fit as it is way too long. However, if you do NOT cut the long, outside end you can get rid of one of the funkier parts of the CC and use a 5th slide crook and a slightly different angle to make most of this part, and then you can insert a straight piece to the other end of the 4th slide unit. It would have to be bent a bit where it joins the slide to match the angles, but this would be easy to do. I need to lay these parts out and photograph them as it is really hard to describe what I am taking about here. Sorry…

The 5th slide parts will need to be purchased. You can sort of buy it like a kit, and depending on how you do a 5th valve (a real one or one that you hack on to make work) you might need a different top crook. I think I can make my 3rd valve (with its incorrect porting) work using the wider bottom 5th crook rather than the 1st crook used for the top slide. All other parts would be the stock Miraphone ones for the current 5th slide circuit.

The issue here is that the runners on the 1st slides of all the older four-valved horns (BBb and CC) did not leave enough room for one of the 5th slide runners. To make it work Miraphone decided to trim the two 1st slide knees differently, so that the whole assembly sits 6mm farther away from the valve. You need to purchase the two knees, which are simply this weirdly shaped U, and you mark and cut the parts to fit. This is good because you can correct the original dimensions to what you need — no hacking required.

So, outside of some voodoo to the inner branches, a shortened water key knee and leadpipe, and some trimming to the outer branches, these are just about the same horns, sharing many of the same parts, and not the completely re-designed and re-tapered horns that many believe them to be. I think the 3rd and 4th branches are actually completely different parts, but that the top and bottom bows are simply trimmed BBb parts, the top bow possibly being completely different, too — again, I have to measure them both when they are off of the horns.

Finally, I went through all my old 186 rotors and found four 1st/2nd units and one 3rd/4th unit that did not leak at all. The 3/4 valve is the correct orientation for a 5th, but to get it to rotate the correct direction and from the correct side the valve needs to be rotated 90º and the stop arm will require some modification. I have done this before many times, so this is not an issue, just a minor PITA.

The one knuckle that is pointed in the wrong direction can be fixed with a very short, tight 90º knuckle to point it up. This can be made to be the length needed to simply swap out the normal 1st slide crook used for the top 5th slide with an additional bottom 5th crook (which used to be the top 5th crook anyway on the old "flat M3" horns). I will have sufficient parts left over that I can even make this a not-so-tight bend so it might not affect how it plays. (I could buy an actual 5th rotor, but that would destroy the fun of making a 186 CC out of the carcass of a BBb parts horn full of cracks and holes. I want to do this so that the horn costs me under a grand and that it plays very well. Seeing how little needs to be changed and purchased, this might just happen after all.