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Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2018 12:56 pm
by the elephant
Recently Tabor sold me a clapped out BBb 186 with many holes and cracks in the bell flare, bottom bow and top bow. It was dirt cheap as these are pretty bad and not normally worth the effort to fix. The rotors have some rather loose, rattly bearings and they leak some through them, as well as around the bodies. The leakage is not enough to write them off, but it is enough to require a lot of work to make them right. (The rear bearings simply fall out when you removed the back caps, as an example.) However, to its credit, the inner branches and brass tubes in the valve section are all in very decent shape and the original leadpipe is NOT red-rotted at all and only has a few dents to deal with. All the small ferrules are in good shape and match. The large ones are also very good except for the be ferrule, which is heavily pitted and a bit dinged up. He had removed the hopelessly mangled garland and did some of the major disassembly. I think that is when he discovered that it was pretty badly trashed. This tuba was made in 1971 and seems to be all original except that someone chopped off the S arms and swapped in some homemade linkages using the horrible gray, plastic DVS links that shatter or crack over time. At the time I am sure it was a fun upgrade, but today we know that the S arms are the best and longest lasting linkages if properly set up. Oh, well…

I have already benefitted from having this parts horn as I have stolen some stuff off of it to the tune of just about what I spent on it.

Further, I have serious plans for this set of banged up parts. Some will laugh at me but I do this stuff to learn. Normally I can later apply this to horns I work on, but mostly it is just plain, old curiosity as this is my hobby. I stopped working on horns for others because I don't enjoy working for others. I like to work for myself. So now I only purchase horns, clean them up to the level that makes me smile, then flip them (which is a rather slow process where I live, in "The Land of the Poor-Mouther" heh, heh, heh…

My plans center around another recent purchase: Dan Myer's old 186-4U CC, also from 1971, and based on the numbers I am guessing it is about six months younger than the BBb. The CC has bench marks of 71 and the BBb has 70, so the same guy or his drinking buddy may have made these two horns. Whatever. It is fun to imagine silly stuff like that.

The CC — for how I play — is excellent. Dan had some tire kickers but no serious buyers. I tried to help him sell it but no one would drive out to give it a play test. He wanted me to buy it but I had no money. But I did want it. Eventually I scrapped up the cash and we met in Denton for the sale. Dan and his wife and son and I had a great day hanging out and having a good lunch. It was a great trip. And after I got the horn home and cleaned up I realized what a solid tuba this is. It deserves to be fixed up. I plan on keeping this tuba longterm as my main horn. I like it that much. Others might not, but I don't care what others think of my horns; they do not have to pay for their homes with them but I do.

I tend to go overboard with horns I really like but that are in rough shape. Everyone here knows that based on my silly, long threads. Some like them, some think I am an idiot. (And tell me so. Whatever.)

My plans for these two horns are overly complex and involved and costly for what I will get in terms of equipment, but the education I will reap will be priceless (and entertaining to me, personally).

Here is the CC in a pic I took after having cleaned up some of the mess on the bottom bow (lots of green corrosion from pooch piss)…

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Plans for the CC (some of this has already been done)

• use Z60 to make bell and outer branches look as new as possible
• purchase bottom bow guard, top bow guard, two bottom bow ferrules and keel
• purchase new bell garland from Miraphone with the F spelling engraved on it. (Badger only sells these sans the brand engraving. I don't want that!)
• purchase new leadpipe from Miraphone that is made from rolled tubing using the mandrel used in 1971 and then have them bend it to fit a 1971 horn. I know they can do this, but *will* they? I also want it to be shipped still filled so I can tweak it to fit exactly.
• purchase four brand new rotors
• purchase 5th rotor
• purchase 5th slide parts
• purchase lever and linkage system
• purchase new inner slide tubing (outer tubes are mostly still in excellent shape; I might replace one of them)
• purchase 3rd, 4th and main slide crooks
• purchase the two L tubes on 1st slide with ones form a 5 valved horn (which are about 6mm longer and make room for 5th valve tubing)
• replace the upper paddle rack post with a modern one that will fit around the differently shaped new 1st valve L tubing
• switch over from the installed DuBro linkages to German-made "Minibal" brand (only one "L" you spelling Nazis!) and some stuff from Tuba Exchange that is excellent and cheap
• finish stripping the lacquer and even out the finish
• reassemble with great care and accuracy (or the best I can manage with my tools and workspace)
• while disassembled, measure every part in the bugle to include the fluid volume of the branches

Here is the BBb in a photo taken by Tabor…

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Plans for the BBb (some of this had already been done)

• fully disassemble and clean every part in muriatic acid to remove a lot of "school tuba goo" from inside the outer branches and the pig tail. (eww...)
• rough out the worst damage
• file out all the holes and cracks and repair as possible
• finish the dent machine work to the bell and outer bows
• while disassembled, measure every part in the bugle to include the fluid volume of the branches
• replace all rotors with the ones taken from the CC after swaging, etc.
• replace all inner slide tubing (like on the CC, the yellow brass inner slide tubing is in craptastic shape, but the nickel silver outers are still really solid)
• replace all nickel silver trim using parts taken from the CC or new, if needed
• replace bell garland with one from Badger State that is not engraved but is a Miraphone-made part for this horn
• very carefully de-dent leadpipe and check for roundness
• install Minibal links like the ones I pieced together on the CC
• purchase a new hinge rod and acorn nut for the paddle rack
• purchase needed braces and other missing bits
• reassemble very carefully and test

Once it is up and running (if I can fix the holes and cracks, which currently number in the low 30s) I will keep it as a BBb and test it out as my daily practice horn. If it turns out to be excellent I will clean it up and sell it. If it is only *okay* (and I am not sure what will make me decide this - I guess I will just know after playing it for awhile) I will disassemble it and try to cut it to the key of C as I have always wanted to see *exactly* what the difference between the BBb and the CC 186 tuba were, and, with its gentle taper rate, did Miraphone reuse a lot of the parts in the BBb to make the CC, or are they completely different in the taper. I imagine that at least four branches are original, but some are BBb parts that are trimmed, and one may be a BBb part that was not altered at all.

This is not some precious, historical BBb from the Golden Age of Concert Bands or some such BS. This is a horn that had been consigned to the parts bin by at least two people, and three if you include me. My idea to fit it up and make it an acoustical test mule will hurt no kittens or cause no civil unrest. Get over your silly selves if you think otherwise. It is a junked horn. It is also *MY* junked horn, and I am attempting to make it into a horn that will be played again after many years of it being a useless "modern art masterpiece" and home for mice and roaches.

If it turns out to be a BBb and is sold, more power to the new owner, who will have what is a decent tuba for a reasonable price. If it turns into a CC that is less than stellar I will have a new, permanent warmup and daily routine practice tuba. If I have to work on music I can polish it on my work horns. If I have to work on fundamental tuba practice this will be the horn. It will never be packed up. It will always have a mouthpiece in it. It will always be next to a chair and a stand with a stack of my practice materiel on it. There are two spots on the bell where the metal has been folded over and then hammered flat. I am not sure I can fix these two spots, and I am not sure how they will affect the way the bell works, acoustically. So again, I assume the cost, time and risk, so don't whine about what I choose to do with this horn and those resources. (I have received angry PMs in the past sent by busybodies bashing me for adding valves to Eb tubas or stuff like that. Keep that crap to yourself, thank you very much.) ;-)

So, with all this in mind, what follows will be what I have been doing to both horns. I will simply refer to them as "the CC" and "the BBb" in this thread as they BOTH are 186-4U horns made the same year. I won't reveal my parts sources as if you do this work as a business you already probably know them and if you don't they won't sell to you anyway. These are not parts sellers, they are manufacturers who sell to other businesses. Sorry!

Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2018 2:19 pm
by the elephant
First off, I wanted to evaluate the bell and bottom bow. Tabor pulled the guard/keel and the bell garland, so I did not have to mess with that, thankfully. He also removed these two parts. I just had to remove the two large ferrules. I did some bush league dent machine work to the large end of the bottom bow and then hammered the bell rim flat with a leather mallet. It has cracks and lots of scarring that tell a tale of some pretty horrible damage in the past. Some of the work was expertly done, some was done by a gorilla, seemingly. There were obviously two spots that had been hit on something sharp-ish, like a stand leg or something about the size of a drum stick, but heavier and probably metal. The brass had what looks like are two badly stretched out places. The tech did not know how to anneal and slowly work those back to being more or less flat, so he hammered them over themselves. There are now two creases in this bell that are hard, thick lines of folded brass. I know how to fix this. I do not want to do it, though. But it costs me nothing, so I will get around to it, if I get all the simple holes and cracks filled first.

Anyway, with the rim flattened the bell because instantly more rigid and easy to work with.

Later I used the dent machine to remove all the shallow dents and waves along the bell "stack" where more gorilla work had been done: there was a pronounced "hump" where a large dent ball had been run through a badly flattened area just above the large ferrule and they went too far so that they stretched the metal into a weird, deformed thing. With a lot of effort I got that mostly flattened and the bell now looks really decent again, so I can work on the cracks and holes, and I may do that today.

Ones all the repairs are done I can try to do a final and very careful set of passes through the dent machine to make it ready for the new bell garland. (I am *not* buying one of these unless I first get the bell to a very high state of shape and finish. If I can. I am not without home, but it is a lot of work for what may be zero gains.) If everything goes great with the bell and the outer branches tank on me I will just sell the bell.

The final work with the dent machine won't happen until I have a couple more attachments for my Z60. I need these for my Holton 345, and will not use them on that horn until I get in some good practice on this beater BBb 186.

I had to steal the 2nd rotor for the CC because someone (many years ago, by the looks of the work) installed something like a HeliCoil when they stripped out the threads, and when I went to see why the stop arm screw was so much smaller than stock so I could tap it to match the others the HeliCoil came out in one piece. Those are great for your old farm truck if a head bolt snaps off and you have to drill it out and then ruin the threads in the block, but don't use them in brass as they do not hold well. HeliCoil knew this as they stopped making these super small kits many years ago.

On the BBb the 4th rotor has a stainless steel replacement screw snapped off below the stem, and it has corroded in place. Please don't use cheap stainless hardware in brass threads. Cheap stainless is softer than nickel silver and rusts badly despite the name. And that is what you will end up getting if you purchase at Home Depot. Go to a dealer or a good shop and purchase the correct replacement parts. They are not that expensive, and being a cheapskate on something like a rotor that costs a lot to replace and have fitted to the casing is sort of a waste of money, even if you do the work yourself and have a spare rotor. If you use stainless make sure it is of a very high grade and hardness so that it does not damage the brass it is in or snap off like most cheap stainless, which is slightly less than a Grade 2 in hardness.

Sorry, but losing two rotors to stupidity makes me mad. I have a lot of work ahead of me to fix these, and they may be overly worn anyway. I need to mic them out to see if I need to try and save them.

Oddly for such an old school beater horn, the inner branches and curved brass valve tubing is all in fantastic shape, with only one dent in the whole batch of parts, and that is near the end where it can be pushed out nicely.

So, even if this cannot be turned back into a nice playing BBb I can harvest a lot of parts from it, sell the good bits, or look for better examples of the bad parts and work from there. No hurry. No need to decide at all.

All in all this was a great purchase and I thank Tabor for the chance to buy it at a nice price. He also sold me a complete bugle (sans valve section) for a model of horn I have liked playing on in the past, and I should be able to make it into something I can use at work with great success. Thanks, man!

Lots of work but nothing but time on my hands for weeks at a stretch with this gig. (Then I am worked to death for weeks at a stretch. It all balances out in the end, and I have long blocks of time to piddle around with my projects and my horn flipping business.)

Pics of the BBb, all quite random, many taken by Tabor…

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Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2018 3:38 pm
by the elephant
The CC seems to have never had any major dent work to the bell. There are zero scars from a dent machine, and the rim is slightly bent up in places and shows no attempts to fix it. I am assuming it plays so well for me because the bell was never crushed. I have found that this is usually the case with CC 186 because these are always owned by an individual. Most of the BBb 186s I have seen and worked on have been school horns and have *many* battle scars. The outer branches have had large dents removed from them using balls on rods, so no dent machine scars or lines, but also, no lines whatsoever. This work was done by someone who was pretty well trained. It did not get really fine detail work done, though. Anyway, skillfully done work is easy to clean up. The poorly done work to the BBb bell will be hell to fix, by way of comparison.

This tuba also has inner branches and curved brass slide circuit tubing in outstanding condition. As I said, the outer tubing is in great shape, but the inner stuff is worn, the ends are boogered up. They would leak some if a thin grease were to be used. I dry fit new inner tubing and the outers fit perfectly without leaking or gaps, so I will cut the new inner legs when I get a few new slide crooks and can re-do all the slides in one pass.

(I think I put above that the outer tubes on the BBb were also fine. That was a mistake. One or two of them are okay. The rest are junk, especially the entire MTS assembly and the loop from it to 4th valve. All need replacing. The crook on the CC MTS is *serviceable* and may get some dent work and be used on this BBb to save some money. A lot of the CC parts are in better shape but will get replaced, so whatever works on the BBb will get reused.)

The CC came to me with DuBro links that everyone here loves. I hate them, personally. I prefer the Minibal links used by Miraphone today. (I like that my Jinbao 410 tries to copy these, but the links are garbage. The stainless steel used is of very low grade and very soft. These start out tight and silent but after about two years of use they have worn to the point of being uncorrectable in their clickiness. They are great for RC model car steering links, but they are just too sloppy for use on a musical instrument. These Minibal links are nickel silver housings with very high grade and hard stainless balls and races that are milled very precisely. They do not really click. Only the thinness of the screws employed dictate how weak these could be. I am using larger ones on the lever side. The Miraphone stop arms for this system need the smaller, narrower ones or they will hit the stop arm when rotated. My set are very nice and did not cost me anywhere near so much as if I had purchased parts from Allied, Badger or Miraphone. I bought them from the maker in a fairly large quantity, so they cost me very little, even with VAT and international shipping factored in. I really like them. They are faster and lighter than the DuBro stuff and they make a lot less noise.

I plan on using the Z60 on the bell and outer branches of this horn after I have gotten a lot of practice on the BBb and some other horns I have around here. Once I have the attachments I need and have gotten happy with my work using them I will tear down this tuba for a complete overhaul (no lacquering or plating, though). At that time it will receive brand new large ferrules, bow guard plates, a keel, and a new garland. I will have to order that from Miraphone and it will take a long time and I am sure will break the bank to have them engrave it with the correct spelling and such. Maybe not. But that will happen when it happens. Then the outer parts can be reassembled.

The leadpipe will be a problem. It has a nickel silver modern one or perhaps it is a 188 pipe. It is WAY different in shape than what I need. Mounted cattywampus to allow for its different curvature, it has been bent in three places and sort of damaged in the process. However, this horn plays really well with this pipe. I suspect the current pipe may be made with the taper of the old pipes from the late 1960s and early 1970s. It is larger than the later pipes and works much better on this era of 186s. I have had rotten luck replacing leadpipes on old 186 tubas because whatever the horn needed, taper-wise never seemed to be available. The fat pipe on a 1975 186 does not work well. The skinny pipe on a 1960s 186 also does not work well. You cannot really mix and match these, but have to find one made to the same taper and shape as the one that came on the horn. They just don't seem to work like that. However, this modern pipe with the bend for the wider new horn (or a 187 or 188, which are even wider) works really well, but it has to be on an an angle that prevents the addition of a 5th valve. So whatever I do, I need a leadpipe that plays really well and that fits the space in which it is supposed to live. I can do that, but it might take me a few tries, and these pipes are not cheap at all!!!

I purchased the unique 5th valve (unique knuckle directions, stop arm on the top with counterclockwise actuation) and Ed and I both thought it was for the older, five-sided stem valves like are on my horn. What arrived here was a brand new, modern 5th valve. It fits all my tubing perfectly, so Miraphone is fibbing in their bore size numbers - nothing has changed since they listed the horn as a .768" bore in the old days. The old valves and slide tubing are fully interchangeable with the new stuff. If you have to mix parts new stuff from Badger, Allied or Miraphone all fits the old horns without some sort of special order.

Anyway, this valve has no top plate engraving, but it has nickel silver knuckles on a brass casing. It is very distinctive looking. It also has BRAND NEW BEARING SURFACES! I had purchased a NOS Miraphone rotor that was sold to me as a .750" valve that, when placed side by side with the one I got from Badger is identical. It is a 186 1st/2nd valve in the new style, and it matches my 5th perfectly, down to Ed's handwritten marks on the casing wall in black Sharpie. I have the money in December, so I will purchase three more from Ed at that time and put brand new valves on this old tuba. With the new inner slide legs and new valves this will end up being (mechanically) a brand new horn. I like that. Since I will be pulling it completely apart this won't be any extra work, just added cost that I am happy to pay for a horn I plan on using for the next 15 years of my life or longer. Since it is small and lightweight I will have sold off all my other horns when I finally pack it in, but will keep this as my only tuba. So new wear surfaces replacing 47 year old ones is a good thing, IMHO.

This is a very nice tuba, that with careful attention to detail and a willingness to try several times with the leadpipe could be a wonderful instrument that will get my wife needed money after I die while making me very happy while I am alive.

Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2018 3:47 pm
by the elephant
Pics…

Here is the horn just before I got it. It had a lot of thick corrosion from heavy doggy piddle that must have been done every few days for about a year while this horn was not being played much. The bag was ruined, though I tried for weeks to save it. This took some time to remove adequately. There is still some where I cannot get at it. It will come off when the bottom bow is worked on.
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When Dan stripped it he used some sort of wet rag to wipe it down afterwards and then did not polish it and clean it off with soap and water and all that rigamarole. So whatever he used streaked up the finish really badly. It looks terrible in photos, which may have put potential buyers off (along with the dog pee). In person it is not that bad, though, and it polishes out fairly easily.
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More dog piss. :lol: I actually nicknamed the tuba "Dog Piss" as a sort of "working title tribute" until it is finished. I removed the Saturn water key. They are very cool and all that, but the ring is a polycarbonate and very thin, so I have always avoided using them on my horns because of my rotten luck — I can fully envision the thing breaking on me in a concert. I swiped the water key assembly and nipple from the BBb and repaired it. (It was horribly smushed to one side, but the key was only a little bent up. Here are before and after shots.)
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No more dog piss…
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New 5th and 1st valves…
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This is the 5th valve lever kit I bought from someone here years ago. (Brett? Scott? Who sold me this nice kit?) Like the idiot I am, I quickly looked at it before storing it away for years, because I did not have a need for it at the time. I knew I would, but at that time I just gave it a quick once-over. AND WAS CONVINCE IT WAS IN SILVER PLATE. Comes time to dig this up and look it over and I remember that bit of info. I think, "Hey, I don't want silver plate on a raw brass horn - or a lacquered horn, for that matter. I do not want to have to try and sand and buff off BRAND NEW plating on parts with all sorts of complex shapes with inside corners and all that mess. I would never be able to clearly see when to stop sanding. I have to sell or trade this kit. RATS." Yeah, then I realized it was NOT lacquered and it had not tarnished in any sort of meaningful way in years with my fingerprints all over the parts. There was only the very light pink discoloration. This tells me it is very highly and expertly buffed nickel silver, probably unlacquered. I will hit it with stripper just the same, but I bet there is none to remove. Hallelujah! That save me hundred of dollars for new parts. I can uses these "out of the box" so to speak. Nice! (If they are lacquered it does not matter. What matters is that there is no silver plating on the metal!)
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Here are my homemade linkage arms using Minibal rod ends (actually called Heim joints) with stainless rods that fit the old Mirafone perfectly but that may be too short for the newer horns. They do not match the similar looking rods on my 410, which are thinner, more bendable, and show signs of pitting after four years. These fit my horn really well, look great and work perfectly. The SS is harder than the JB parts so I do not imagine they will corrode or strip out. I used the Minibal nickel silver silencers, which work really well. They are a complex disc that curves around the ball on the label side (the captured side is shaped differently) and the outside is nicely rounded at the edge and has a rubber O ring sort of impregnated into the disc. They work MUCH better than the thin nylon washers used on the 410 and on the St. Pete tubas. The screw were purchased from several suppliers in an attempt to find what I want. Some are longer (and not what I ordered) and two have hex sockets, oddly using different keys (ß®¢∞©!!!) and two use Phillips, also using two different sizes. I have figured out which one I prefer, and again, it is a very nice, high grade SS of higher strength and corrosion resistance from McMaster-Carr, the purveyors of the best fiddly bits.

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After…
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Here is a side-by-side comparison. The rear screws are the same as the ones used by Tuba Exchange in the past for their St. Pete Minibal linkage upgrade kits. These have a nice shoulder that fits that Minibal link model perfectly. The current ones do not have a shoulder, which is cheaper. I would like to find some for the smaller ones that have shoulders. Back to McMaster-Carr…
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Because the horn is hard to hold with no thumb ring and no 5th valve it feels unstable. I used to remove my thumb rings because my thumbs are large and tend to either not fit or do not line up with the builder's vision of what the human hand is supposed to be shaped like. Since I started working on horns for a living back in 1995 I have learned that I simply need a certain minimum ID ring and it needs to be located to fit my hand. I bought a new nickel silver thumb ring and it makes playing this horn much more stable in my hands. (I balance the tuba on top of my right thigh, not cradled between both legs, so my horns always want to rotate away from my face as I play. Holding on to them can be a musical distraction. Certain pairs of pants can get me glares from the conductor. (Yeah, I replaced those like 20 years ago when I got a clue.) Here is the new Mirafone ring, still un-buffed by the factory. The base plate is not in the right place for a 5th valve lever, so I will have to buy a new one that has not had the corner cut off, and I will relocate the ring once the lever has been installed for awhile and fully adjusted to fit my hand. In the end I may still have to go with no ring depending on the lever location. I am not familiar with the Mirafone levers that are a horizontal bar. I have always used the ones that are like the other paddles, but curved and more narrow. We shall see.
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First rehearsal with this tuba (pre-linkage and thumb ring)…
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Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2018 3:47 pm
by the elephant
~~ double post — deleted ~~

Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2018 4:18 pm
by bort
Yessir, those Miraphone 5th valve parts came from me. I bought them through Horn Guys about... yikes... 7 or 8 years ago, and paid around $200 for the parts. I never got around to installing them on my old 188. AFAIK, it's just solid nickel silver, no finish. Glad you are finally able to use them!

Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2018 4:29 pm
by the elephant
Thank you for these! What a great find for me, even if they have been sitting for years!

Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2018 10:28 pm
by roughrider
These restoration threads are the #1 reason why I read TubeNet! Thank you Elephant for posting your pictures and text as you tackle these epic projects. I was glad to read the note about the Holton 345 as well. Keep up the great work and keep this thread going!

Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2018 11:12 pm
by the elephant
i really *care* about my Holton and I have to do some work with the dent machine using an attachment I do not yet own and have not used for many years. After the BBb Mirafone and a few other bells and bottom bows I will do the CC Mirafone. Then I will feel confident enough to tackle the damage I did to the Holton. Until then that project is on hold, so I am rushing into the work on the two Mirafones. I promise I will get back to the big project as soon as I can. My section mates like this Mirafone a lot and they miss he Holton, too. ;-)

Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2018 6:02 am
by oedipoes
the elephant wrote: I am not familiar with the Mirafone levers that are a horizontal bar.


I think you will like the T-bar 5th... that's the one I have on my Norwegian Star.
It gives more freedom on how you orient your thumb through the thumb ring, as the T-bar is much longer than the width of a traditional 5th paddle.

My 2 Eurocent for what it's worth...

Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2018 3:42 am
by tofu
So was the dog making a statement about Mirafones or tubas in general?

Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2018 12:02 pm
by the elephant
Ha!

Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2018 4:31 pm
by the elephant
Okay, so I did some work today, mostly teardown and cleanup, but some studying of parts.

I removed the nickel silver leadpipe that fits so poorly. After side-by-side comparison, comparative fitting of both old and new several times in several positions, and finally testing both on the horn, I am convinced that the leadpipe on my tuba is not a "new style" pipe at all but a 188 pipe. They differ in many small ways, but the nickel silver pipe is simply a good bit wider and appears to be close to 2" longer. (I have not actually measured them. I will do this later this afternoon.)

The NS pipe gets a much darker, meatier tone than the 186 pipe I just purchased. I have to take some measurements off my 410 clone, but I am pretty sure the new pipe will match it. The NS pipe is the odd one out, here. I still have to confirm this, but the new 186 brass pipe and the unknown NS pipe play differently, with the sound being much better on the NS one. The brass one is tighter, brighter, perhaps sweeter. The horn plays better with it overall, and the pitch oddities are more in line with these horns. The NS pipe is easier to steer and can be played lower and louder but is a little weird above the staff. The brass pipe is great above the staff.

I got the AGR off and spent some time cleaning up the threads and making it sellable. I am not sure if I will sell this (for more parts money!) or keep it just yet, but it is immaculate again.

I also — just for fun — put the BBb parts tuba's leadpipe on the CC 186 and it plays just fine, but 40¢ flat, as you would guess. (Two people have asked me to measure the difference in pitch between the BBb and CC leadpipes. I will measure the lengths, too, eventually, but the answer is (for me) exactly 40¢ lower.)

The new pipe fits just about perfectly, despite the newer horn being like 5 or 6 mm wider at this point, which is a LOT when you are trying to bend something to be without any gaps. I have discovered that the pipe fits perfectly using one of the little braces meant to lift it off the bell, so that will be employed first. I have never personally experienced anything but success (or at least no perceptible change) when lifting leadpipes off bells. I have, however, heard multiple times that players had this done to an old 186 and preferred the horn with the pipe soldered to the bell with the long bead and had it put back after some time. Perhaps it helped to dampen the thing when you play loudly? I don't know. Regardless, the brace is a cheap way to avoid having to bend this pipe pretty much at all, which is great; if I dislike it I will refit the pipe minus the two braces.

At some point this pipe will be made removable, anyway, so it will have to be lifted from the bell for the two small braces (on the bell and the top bow). I plan on repairing this 188 (?) leadpipe as best I can. It has a lot more damage than you can see when it is on the tuba. Once I have it as sorted as I can do I will then try to get it to fit my horn like the pipe I just purchased. Once they both fit well (or well enough?) I can make direct comparisons between the two pipes' tapers (noting both physical as well as playing differences).

If this turns out to be a 188 leadpipe (I have to ask Dan Myer, as I think he installed it) I will have to re-bend a new one to fit this tuba. I think I prefer it to the pipe I just purchased, but I may replace it with a brass one because it is far easier to bend without damage, it is less expensive, and it might have a less aggressive tone. Plus I already have a NS one that can probably be repaired and fit to this tuba. It is fun to mess with this sort of stuff over time and see how I feel about the different parts. Many here know a lot more than I do about leadpipe alterations and I am interested in seeing for myself what happens with these changes to my own horn.

So it has occurred to me that this may not be a 188 pipe, that the new ones are actually this different from the old. If so, that means that I managed to locate an elderly NOS 186 CC leadpipe, which I seriously doubt. I cannot know for sure until I take some measurements and send them to some people who know more about these horns than I do.

Whatever. This process is a lot of fun for me, regardless.

Moving on, I test fit the 5th rotor just for grins. I took a shot of the horn with both the new 5th and 1st rotors in place, so it is a SIX-valved 186. This is the depths to which my geekery has sunk. The new valves look great, but I really miss the top plate engraving, which I have always thought added a lot to the aesthetics of these tubas, in my mind. Anyway, having five new ones will be very nice. January cannot come fast enough for me since that is when I will get the three additional valves.

Anyway, here are some pics of my "random carport tuba puttering" from this morning.

Ciao!

You can see the NS pipe is wider when the receivers are lined up pretty closely, and that width difference is close to 3/4" which is a huge difference when trying to bend these to fit. The new and old horns are about a quarter inch different in this area. The new horns have a .25" post between the two NS plates that are soldered to the bell and top bow. The old ones are just the two plates brazed directly together. This is three times that difference. The 188 is a good bit wider at this point, so I am still voting for this to be a 188 pipe. Also, the bends are in different locations and the angle from the top bow out to where the valve is located is slightly different in depth (which is not illustrated by this photo - sorry) and the corners are very different. The 186 pipe has sharper bends that are, frankly, less attractive looking. The NS pipe has very smooth transitions in this area in comparison.
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This pipe plays very well on this tuba, but it fits really poorly. I can make it fit, but it would be easy to screw it up because the NS is so unhappy when being bent. But as you can see, it *really* does not fit this horn, so again, I suspect it is for a 188. It is hard to say as it has been bent in three places to make it work, but I am nearly certain after a careful inspection that it used to be even wider than this.
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I am sorry for my mediocrity as a photographer, but I could not capture how this not only cants very far to the side but also forward. The 5th valve is exactly in line with the other four valves, so the pipe at that point must be in the same place, spatially. This one is off by about 3/8" in the other plane and 1/8" in this one. There is precisely zero ways to get the 5th valve to fit using this pipe without some serious surgery being done to it first. I will install the new brass pipe and then get my 5th valve and slide on and working. THEN I will try to make this used pipe fit. If I can: GREAT! If not, at least I did not butcher a brand new one.
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The brass pipe fits nearly perfectly out of the box. (Literally. I just took it out of the box. HA!) There is a small gap, but the top bow is punched in a little here. I think it will fit fine once the top bow dents have been lifted out, and if not, the small pin brace that has been living there is just this size, exactly, so I have that to mess with...
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Yeah — nope. Just nope. Not at this time. I will figure this pipe out later as it plays wonderfully. But as far as how it fits this old 186: Nope.
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Here is the brass one. No comparison. Note that the gaps are mostly flat areas in the bell that will be fixed eventually.
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NS pipe alignment as it came to me. Again, regarding installation of a 5th valve with this pipe: No freaking way, man.
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Not perfect, but really darned close for having zero adjustments to it.
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Yeah, it's crooked. It also has the full length ferrule not intended to be used between valves, because that is still soldered onto the 1st valve. I am sure you will get over all this, heh, heh...
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And six, just for fun...
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Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2018 9:44 pm
by the elephant
I installed the new leadpipe today. I also spent about an hour putzing around dry fitting parts and taking measurements to see what will have to be modified or moved for the 5th valve addition to go well.

I did not bend the leadpipe at all. It is on surprisingly straight and well, but the bell being over a quarter inch from where the current bells live within this leadpipe bend is a factor. First off, the two long beads of solder holding it to the top bow and bell are a lot shorter than they need to be, so it feels a bit "bendy", and secondly I want it to be about an inch higher up than where it is currently.

I was able to use the bell-to-leadpipe brace from the BBb parts horn. I will use it on the BBb eventually, buying a new one for this horn at some point.

I have decided that this pipe is not so different as I had first believed, but it is still not quite as good for how I play. So my next step will be to de-dent the old nickel silver pipe as possible, then anneal it where I need to alter the shape, fill it and then try to fit it to this horn correctly. It plays well enough that I will use it again if I can make it fit, regardless of any tiny bits of damage I cannot fix. Despite its many tiny flaws it plays unexpectedly well. This new one is almost as good, so having two to play with will be fun.

I used the Z60 on the bell right where the leadpipe crosses it, which had several sad, deeply punched-in spots and flat areas. I did not do that whole area as the bell really needs to come off, so I only did the area where the leadpipe would have to rest and be tacked down.

I used my homemade MDRS to iron out the deep dents in the top bow from having that pin brace there. It was moved around several times, and each time the top bow took a hit and this little brace dented it. It is nice and smooth now.

I had to hammer on the edge of the 1st valve ferrule to the leadpipe as it had been misshapen by the old NS leadpipe being forced on at a sharp angle off the centerline.

Once all the small bits of dent work were complete I was ready to install the pipe… except that the pipe was fresh from the Miraphone factory leadpipe jig and had never been sanded or buffed. The surface on the inside of curves is much thicker as all that metal has to fit in a smaller area. The surface becomes dimpled and it pits and gets ugly. On the outside of curves it is stretched and still has these imperfections, but they are from the forming and annealing processes and have been somewhat stretched smooth as that metal now has to cover a larger area than when it was straight.

I first burnished the pipe to smooth out the surface as much as possible before I sanded it. This made hand sanding possible rather than the much hated belt sander that I refuse to employ unless there is no other alternative. I do not like removing metal unless I absolutely have to. Lots of techs will sand parts until they are thin and fragile. These same guys will also buff a bell until the logo partially disappears. This is a bad practice, so I avoid the buffer and sanding as a matter of course.

With that in mind I was able to sand the pipe more or less smooth in about an hour using 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper. Without resorting to the belt sander you cannot remove all the imperfections. In this pipe you can still see some small pits and several sections of the pipe's seam that did not fully fill with the smelt used to braze it together. These few low spots did not sand out using my (probably overly) mild method.

After that I lightly buffed it and it looked really quite decent. (Keep in mind that this is probably only a temporary leadpipe.)

This fit well enough that I only had to use a single piece of baling wire to hold it in position, and that was to hold the bell-to-leadpipe brace to the mouthpiece receiver. That was it. So for not fitting the curvature of the bell correctly it fits the horn nicely.

Pics…

Top bow after magnetic de-denting. I did not tart this up any by polishing it, so the surface looks like garbage, but it is now very well shaped in this spot.
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Bell "stack" (I hate that term, but pretty much everyone knows what it means, so…) where the leadpipe had punched in two deep dents, nicely smoothed by the Z60…
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Without adjustment the leadpipe wants to live right here, but *I* liked the old spot. I will fix that later. For now it goes where the Sharpie is.
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The leadpipe showing the factory finish on the left, the lightly burnished on the right showing the pitted finish that has to be fixed, and in the middle the heavily burnished showing how much less I will have to sand off the pipe to get it smooth enough for buffing.
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It took me about an hour and a half to fully burnish this pipe, and the finish was smoothed enough to allow me to hand sand it smooth in only an hour using 400 grit automotive wet/dry sandpaper. Tedious, but nearly no metal was removed.
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After buffing it out I did a dry fit to mark the horn and wire it down. Then I soldered it onto the tuba.
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It lined up pretty darned well, IMHO.
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Looks straight enough to me for now.
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I had to hold it down with my fingertip here. It kept wanting to tip forwards and open up a small gap between the pipe and the top bow. It did not take any force to hold it down properly, it was just gravity screwing with my day.
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This is the brace I cannibalized from the BBb parts horn after a lot of cleanup, sanding and buffing. It has deep pits all over it from decades with spotty lacquer. The lacquered parts were still factory thick, and the spots that were bare are deep pits. I got it as smooth as I could before I became bored with it.
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The fit is not perfect. It is bent for the circumference of the area about an inch higher up, which is larger, so it has a more gradual curvature. This brace, right here, needs to be bent. I did not feel like it and just filled the stupid gaps. Again, it will move later, so it does not have to be customer level work; its just for me and only for a month or two until I can install the 5th valve.
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It's on! I have cleaned up as much as I feel is necessary for this temporary stuff.
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Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2018 11:24 pm
by roughrider
It does not even look like the same horn! Terrific work as usual with your fine attention to detail. Keep this thread humming!

Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2018 12:40 am
by bort
the elephant wrote:Top bow after magnetic de-denting. I did not tart this up any by polishing it, so the surface looks like garbage, but it is now very well shaped in this spot.
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Hey Wade -- my bottom bow looks like this, from magnetic de-denting. How did you get this to look better? (Sorry, I got a little lost at that point, maybe I missed something obvious)

Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:42 am
by Ken Herrick
Wade, I find this most interesting - I have a 186 which I should be putting together.

There might be a couple ways to add a 5th valve: either cut the lead pipe if it has enough straight tubing or, maybe after the valve block - harder.


My thinking is that the 4th valve circuit can be routed so that one side goes over the 1,2,3, tubing and the other goes below the 4th valve then straight up. When it gets to the top there is enough tubing required that if you double wrap you can have a 4th valve slide with enough pull to tune all of the bottom end and make a 4 valve horn fully chromatic. I THINK there is more than enough room for the branch to run under the valve linkages. I'd be interested in a measurement!!! I'm considering buying a full linkage bridge from Miraphone but need that measurement to make a decision.

I suggest you leave that 186CC as a 4v and find other solutions than adding a 5th valve.


Ages ago I had a MW 32CC 5V which, when I removed the 5th valve and did a couple tweeks, was very good.

Good luck with whatever you do. I'll be looking on with great interest.

Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2018 7:38 am
by bort
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!

Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2018 1:51 pm
by the elephant
Ken Herrick wrote:Wade, I find this most interesting - I have a 186 which I should be putting together.

There might be a couple ways to add a 5th valve: either cut the lead pipe if it has enough straight tubing or, maybe after the valve block - harder.


My thinking is that the 4th valve circuit can be routed so that one side goes over the 1,2,3, tubing and the other goes below the 4th valve then straight up. When it gets to the top there is enough tubing required that if you double wrap you can have a 4th valve slide with enough pull to tune all of the bottom end and make a 4 valve horn fully chromatic. I THINK there is more than enough room for the branch to run under the valve linkages. I'd be interested in a measurement!!! I'm considering buying a full linkage bridge from Miraphone but need that measurement to make a decision.

I suggest you leave that 186CC as a 4v and find other solutions than adding a 5th valve.


Ages ago I had a MW 32CC 5V which, when I removed the 5th valve and did a couple tweeks, was very good.

Good luck with whatever you do. I'll be looking on with great interest.


No, you misunderstood me, Ken. I am doing a 100% factory 5th valve, which is quite easy, except that the 1st valve slide must move over about a quarter inch to make room for the Miraphone part that fits between the 1st and 3rd slides. (The BBb horn and the old 4 valve CC horn use different tubes for 1st than the 5 valved CC horns. I need to buy them.) Everything else is simply soldering on factory parts at factory locations. I have the valve. I have the leadpipe. You cannot buy a CC leadpipe for a 5 valved 186. It is for the 4 valved horn and you cut it to fit the additional rotor.

I am, in fact, replacing all the 47 year old valves with brand new ones (which are slightly different, but have all the same clearances/knuckle dimensions, so they are a direct swap. This will give me essentially a brand new tuba. (I am also replacing all the inner slide tubing, which is pretty shot.)

The issue with the leadpipe is that the one that was on it when it came to me is probably a 188 leadpipe. It is very unlike the 186 leadpipe I just installed. It was sold to the PO as a 186 pipe but it is not. I guess he got this pipe by mistake; it happens.

Anyway, again, I already have the valve, all the linkage and lever system, and the slide crooks. I need the part that connects the upper and lower slides and the part that connects the valve to the lower slide, as well as the four braces. I have the tubing needed to make the inner and outer slide legs, but I will probably buy those as well so that they have the figurations at both ends. That way this will look 100% factory.

I did a mock up with the 5th valve using the uncut leadpipe (which made it like having the MTS out about an inch too far, pitch-wise) and it did not have any response issues and the intonation was still very good, once I adjusted all the valve slides out a little bit to account for the flatness of the too-long leadpipe. This will make an excellent 5 valved 186 CC. I am quite excited by this. I may install the valve and linkage system and lock the valve down and cork and tape off the slide ports because I have the time. Then when I get the slide parts I just have to make the two slide and then brace one up, connect the two, and brace up the second one. I could do that in a few hours on a weekend if the valve is already on, the lever system is functional and the leadpipe is already cut and installed. It is a wonky way to do this, but it would work fine, and I have to take my free time for this when I have it.

Thanks for the suggestions, though. :tuba:

Re: Dueling 186s - Twin Restorations

PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:01 pm
by the elephant
bort wrote:
the elephant wrote:Top bow after magnetic de-denting. I did not tart this up any by polishing it, so the surface looks like garbage, but it is now very well shaped in this spot.
Image


Hey Wade -- my bottom bow looks like this, from magnetic de-denting. How did you get this to look better? (Sorry, I got a little lost at that point, maybe I missed something obvious)


I just polish it out. All you are seeing is the patina and the burnished spots from the magnet sliding over the surface. The magnet burnishes off the patina and leaves shiny, smooth brass. I did not use my fragment of clear snare drum head because there is no lacquer to ruin and I intend to polish out the whole horn. Eventually I will lightly buff it out and then let it sit untouched for a summer so it can develop a spot-free patina and look even. The nickel silver trim will all be kept highly polished because I *really* love the look of an even, brownish patina with bright NS parts all over the horn. That is really beautiful to my eyes.

Anyway, this was bare magnet with spray Pledge as a lubricant. It is a thin part, so it was nicely re-shaped in next to no work, so the patina was burnished out with very few passes of the magnet, so very little was actually shined up, if that makes sense. One of the other photos shows it after I polished it up some.