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Holton 345 Redux

Postby the elephant » Fri Jul 14, 2017 11:13 pm

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Chapter 1 — What I Know About This Tuba's History

This tuba is a 1964 Holton 345 with the cool script engraving on the bell that only seemed to be used for three or four years before moving over to the blocky company logo. It is pretty nice, but not all that readable. I have seen some that are, so these must have all been done freehand using a picture, rather than a stick-down template. I like the logo a lot, but due to reflection and the curvature and width of the bell it is difficult to photograph.

The horn was actually a three-valved instrument in BBb, so whatever model that is would be what I have. (A 340?)

The valve section came from a Bohm & Meinl CC tuba. Anecdotally it is one of the last ones made by Walter Nirschl when he did this for B&M. I think this is the same valve set used on many of the York Master tubas, too. It is extremely well made with a great action and a straight .748"/19mm bore. (The real 345s for some reason had a slightly smaller 4th valve bore, which seems Monty Python silly to me. And I am not a fan of the Big Valve set with the larger 4th valve. Lots of reasons for this, but a different story altogether.)

When I got this horn it was in sad shape, structurally. It played about average for a 6/4 BAT that has been cut. It was a GREAT tuba to use when you needed a BAT in the orchestra but you had to learn to make it work. It was not what most aspiring players would use as a main horn. However, I am not an aspiring player. I have a full time gig and an excellent section to work with as I learned the tuba. I had used an Alexander 163 for twelve years and had no problems playing it very well in tune, but that took me some time to work out and become adept at it. When I got this horn it was much better in tune than the Alex, but it was harder to steer.

It was also silver. So pretty, despite all the bare patches. All over. Everywhere.

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It had no usable low F unless you approached the horn on your knees, offering up a promise of the blood of your firstborn child. It was there, but you really had to sneak up on it. [However, oddly enough, the low G was nails. Remember this characteristic...]

In addition to this the tuba also had a lot of structural and mechanical issues.
Last edited by the elephant on Mon Jul 17, 2017 11:46 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Holton 345 Redux — This is Very Long

Postby the elephant » Sat Jul 15, 2017 12:44 am

Chapter 2 — Baby Loses Her 5th Valve and Then Gets it Back

My initial mechanical issue with this tuba was that the 5th lever snapped off during a concert. One of our stage hands found me an appropriate screwdriver and some gaffer's tape during intermission. I locked the rotor in place with the tape and removed the broken lever assembly and the linkage arm. I finished the concert with a four valved 6/4 CC and I was not happy about this as I had a lot of low Fs to suffer through.

This happened in 2007, and I had no access to a shop at the time (part of the reason I started up my own shop a year later) and I left the valve like this for the time being because it worked more or less okay. My colleagues like playing with this tuba, so it ended up replacing my 2265 (not a 2165) which I ended up selling about six months later. I played for most of the rest of the season like this and resolved to beg some bench time at my old store during the late spring near the end of the season before they got busy. I used my 2265 for the last few things while this was on the bench.

I removed the valve and its slide completely. However, I noted that the 1st slide configuration (with the Conn- and King-like drop before turning upwards) prevented the rotor from being anywhere close to the 1st slide knuckle. There was a 2.5" spacer between the two valves so the stop arm would avoid hitting the slide tube.

Great.

Here you can see the insert between 1st and 5th, and the sleeve that had confused me until I had all that apart...
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While doing this I noted that for some reason (a symmetrical look perhaps?) he put the same length of spacer between the valve and the leadpipe. It was actually just a really long ferrule that covered up a lot of the leadpipe. Anyway, the leadpipe, when removed from all that mess, was only ten inches long! It went from the size of the receiver to .750" in TEN INCHES! This was a stinking kazoo! The combination of all these factors made for a lame low end. When you could get it to speak it was great, but it topped out at a wimpy mf dynamic level and took some real mental focus to push past that. And I'm not any good at that mental focus stuff... :shock:

Here you can see the 5th assembly with the spacer to 1st as well as the mutant leadpipe...
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So I ended up with this 5.5" long .750" cylindrical run in the leadpipe to replace both the valve and the junk on the ends of the valve.

RESULT: The horn improved DRAMATICALLY.

Here is my temporary solution, a 5.5" insert. Much cleaner, and the tuba liked it better than that funky rotor assembly...
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The whole horn. Not just the low notes. EVERYTHING. So weirdness in the leadpipe really *can* limit what a tuba can do. (This knowledge combined with all I know about my Yamaha 621 — also with a rotor in the leadpipe — has led me to a theory that seems to hold true in most cases. More on that in the future.)

Okay, so now I had a much easier to play tuba, but no 5th valve. Fine. My Alexander never needed a 5th valve. It really is only a convenience. But my low F still really sucked compared to the low G, which was really great. So there was something wrong with the horn for that length of wave. I did some reading and decided that I would put my 5th after the main slide, not in the leadpipe, not right after 4th, but after the main slide where the taper would allow for a much larger valve. Perhaps I would do this at some point in the future.

I got into designing and building that Holton Eb and then received my symphony rehearsal schedule for the following season. First concert of the season had Lieutenant Kijé on it. I really wanted my 5th valve back. So in the middle of that long thread I stopped and started work on my 345 to fix the jumble of parts my 5th rotor was. This was only a few days prior to our first rehearsal. (My wife freaked a bit when I did this.)

I got the crappy 5th parts out of the box I had consigned them to for all eternity and started a full disassembly and cleanup so I could measure and re-fit everything to remove all those terrible gaps. Keep in mind I had blown my entire summer budget on the parts needed for the Eb tuba, so I was required by circumstance to use stuff I had on hand or to modify Mr. Rusk's parts.

I had to ball out the two curved bits that go from the rotor knuckles to the slide tubes. They were .05" too small. That is just stupid! I was really pissed off. I had to anneal these very thin pieces and pound dent balls through them until they were .750" to match everything else. I had to scavenge four ferrules to fit the rotor to all four tubes. I had two from my insert, so I just cut two more like them. I had to work on the knuckles on the rotor casing, too, because they also were way too small. I could fit them inside the 1st and leadpipe ends.

Once all this was done (and the annealing had butchered the silver plate) I reinstalled the complete 5th unit and leadpipe. I also put it on straight. It has been 10º off plane and 15º off to the player's right from the other slides. It just sort of stuck out there in space like it was a lame limb.

The horn was not as free blowing as it had been with no 5th, but it was still miles better than it had been as I received it, with all the nonsense hidden inside the 5th area of the tuba.

I then made a new rotor linkage arm with the hardware I prefer and not the old, brittle Miraphone DVS plastics that can shatter when they get old (and which happened to this tuba shortly after I got it).

Here is the tuba sans 5th valve...
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Here she is with the old one fixed up and reinstalled, but with all the pretty silver ruined...
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Note in the above image that I had to remove the main slide several times to fix an issue that ended up not being something I could correct. I ended up putting a York sousaphone main slide on the horn to fix this. Not only did it fit much better, it also had a far better crook taper than the hand bent one Mr. Rusk put on the horn. Also, the 4th slide long outside tube was badly warped and IT WAS INSTALLED THAT WAY. The top 4th slide was soldered on very crookedly, so that the legs could not allow the slide to pull. The alignment was off by three millimeters at the ends of the legs because the outer tubes were so far off. It had been taken apart and resoldered like that. I discovered this on a gig when I pulled the crook off the slide when trying to empty water. (The second issue I had in a live performance.) Lucky for me the solder was jagged enough to provide an airtight fit until I could get the horn home.

Yeesh...

So I took off the 5th valve. Then I fixed it and put it back on.
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Re: Holton 345 Redux — This is Very Long

Postby the elephant » Sat Jul 15, 2017 1:52 am

Chapter 3 — The Montagues and Capulets Force My Hand

Okay, so this provided me with a workable low F that I could humor. "Lieutenant Kijé" went very well. I still could not hammer that low F, though.

Our MD was on a Prokofiev kick that season (the best season I have ever played!) we were to perform Prokofiev's "Romeo et Juliet" so I *really* needed my low F to be big and hairy. The tuba was still not capable of that type of playing down there. I could do it on all my other horns, but the MD (and the bass bone player) really liked this tuba, so it was expected that I would show up with it.

This would not do.

I then embarked on a project to rid my horn of all the problems in its valve section and build what I really wanted. Fourth was a wreck you could not use the upper slide at all because of the bowing in the longest tube. Third was hard to pull on the lower slide. 1st needed new tubes; these had suffered at the hands of someone with a hacksaw. (Rusk? Subsequent owners?) The main slide kept sliding out, making me suddenly go very flat and then... TING! it would hit the stage. Having 5th in the leadpipe sucked. Sorry, guys but for a large tuba this is not a good idea. And lastly, back to 4th: the man intentionally routed his 4th lower circuit so that a permanent loop covered up two of the lower valve caps. The horn had fallen on its valves at some point, so the 1st "in" port and the 4th "out" port were crinkled up, and both valves would stick when hot.

My budget for repair stuff had built up so I bought a lot of tubing and some rotary valves of the correct size.

Off came the entire valve set. I had never done this to this tuba, so there were once again some surprises for me from Mr. Rusk's shop.

I was still working on that Eb tuba during this time, and I had recently decided to turn my old King K-90 contrabass bugle into a concert horn. So out came the camera...

The Holton 345 is certainly a 6/4 tuba, and the Monster Eb is exactly the same size as a 4/4 King 2341. The K-90 is very much like a skinny 5/4 tuba that reminds me of the Kurath CC from back in the 1980s, so here is a nice comparison of the different bugle sizes...
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First on the agenda was to remove everything down to the piston set and 2nd slide. I then very carefully rebuilt and aligned the 1st slide and braced it up to 2nd. This went well. Then I rebuilt 3rd and found that it could not be aligned on both ends no matter what I did. The long tube was curved just like the long 4th tube, so one of the slide was very hard to move. I cut a new outer leg. Simple enough, I would just measure the old one and match it.

Nope.

This horn was actually a 19 millimeter tuba, NOT .750" — meaning that my old tubes were all .748" ID for the inner slide, and (here is the kicker) I did not measure the wall thickness so my outer tube would not fit at all, no way, no how. D'OH!

The 4th slide is off and I am looking at the alignment issue with 3rd and the stickiness of 1st...
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I had to cut new inner legs and ferrules and only reuse the crooks — except that Mr. Rusk apparently had run out of 19mm tubing about halfway through this valve section build, so some of it (seemingly randomly placed) WAS .750" and matched in wall thickness. So then I wasted fresh brass tubing. I ended up keeping *some* of the .750" tubing (the silver plated outer legs) and replacing lots of both inner and outer legs. I cut spacers to fill the long gaps in every slide so there were no steps internally when all the slide were all the way in. I aligned everything as best I could. My 4th slide routing was limited by what crooks I had available. I was not excited by having to bend .750" tubing into tight 180º crooks. I made a few S bend doglegs, but no crooks. This really limited me in my layout. But in the end it played really well. I had two complete builds for the 4th slide where I tacked the tuba together to test it. Both were no better than what came on the horn from Mr. Rusk. (Remember that I had to use crooks that I already had, so this really limits right-to-left or up-and-down alignment possibilities.)

Here is an aborted attempt at a lower 4th slide circuit. It was really cool, but it felt really different from the other valves, which I hate.
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Once I had a working 4 valve section that would fit the bugle properly I used that York sousaphone main slide I mentioned earlier. It fit just about perfectly, too. It also gave me back about 2" of pull the shorty Rusk slide had. (I took it out of other areas.)

This is the York sousaphone main slide with my added braces, and the more openly wrapped lower 4th slide. I had to make a few of those S dogleg parts to keep from having to use narrow crooks and open up the bottom part of the circuit. It plays very well, too. Third time's the charm...
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I had to remove the Holton dogleg, which was easy enough. Mr. Rusk had cut if off the 6th branch and installed it with a ferrule so the dogleg could be rotated to where he wanted it. Nice! So off it came, to be replaced with a straight pipe that was needed to bring my new 4th slide and the piston block to a place where everything met with no stress or tweaking.

I then installed all that except for the straight pipe to the 6th branch. I left that loose and started to figure out how my rotor would live in that space.

Once that was done I installed it and then laid out and built it a slide. I did not like where the slide wanted to go, so I promised myself I would address that in the future when I rebuilt the bugle. (I am doing that right now, as a matter of fact.) After all of 5th was soldered in place and I had a viable 5 valve tuba I fabricated from scratch a nickel silver lever and mounting bracket that would reuse a nice pivot hinge rod and spring from another horn. The entire bracket and rod were made by me, though. Then I fashioned a linkage arm and the tuba was pretty much done.

This is the cut and ferruled dogleg...
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Here is the newly fitted 5th rotor, a very nice .825" St. Pete unit I got in raw brass. (The slide tubing was still nickel plated, unfortunately.) This shows the completed valve section prior to final installation. So much neater outside, so much more accurate inside. I was a happy fat man that day.
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These are a few shots of me making the 5th lever, the installed lever, bracket, linkage arm and my thumb ring, made from a St. Pete ring and part of a Miraphone paddle rack post silver soldered to a fat stump of nickel silver that was tapped for the threads on the ring. All in all the lever is very strong and has no flex to make it feel sloppy; it feels very connected and direct, like the pistons. The thumb ring is also very comfortable for my fat paw.
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Last edited by the elephant on Thu Aug 30, 2018 9:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Holton 345 Redux — This is Very Long

Postby the elephant » Sat Jul 15, 2017 1:58 am

This takes me up to the "The Montagues and Capulets" and the low F was still not perfect, but it worked much better. Baby steps. After all this work I was really pleased, but I had a new horn, so I sat down to really practice the thing. I also switched to a mouthpiece that suited it better. Three months later we did Prokofiev 5, so all this was totally worth it when our Principal Trombone turned to me during dress and said, "You know, I like that tuba. It is a bit over the top on some stuff, but it really rocks the house when you need it to. It is the perfect horn for this piece." I told him that Fletcher did the London/Previn recording on one of these horns and that it was exactly what I had in my head, and also was my impetus for wanting a Holton 345 for many, many years.

End of part 1 (2007-2014)

The next installment will bring me up to about two weeks ago when I tore down the bugle and discovered the horrors that were hidden inside the large branches...

Ciao for now, Freak Jury.

This last shot is of my 345 during intermission of the Prokofiev 5 concert in 2014...
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Re: Holton 345 Redux — This is Very Long

Postby YORK-aholic » Sat Jul 15, 2017 2:10 am

Without a doubt, that was one of my favorite reads on tubenet of all time. At times it felt like I was reading a good novel, other times a philosophical read, heck maybe even some metaphysical words in there somewhere.

I really did enjoy that.

Keep going please. I want to see how the story ends :-)
Some old Yorks, Martins and maybe a rotary King...
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Re: Holton 345 Redux — This is Very Long

Postby the elephant » Sat Jul 15, 2017 8:25 pm

No work getting done around here, today. Perhaps tomorrow...

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Re: Holton 345 Redux — This is Very Long

Postby KiltieTuba » Sat Jul 15, 2017 9:03 pm

Wade, have you considered using Google Drive for your photos? It has a 15GB cap before you need to pay for anything. I have all of my photos on there (a few years old) and I'm only using 4GB.
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Re: Holton 345 Redux — This is Very Long

Postby the elephant » Sat Jul 15, 2017 10:08 pm

I am not a fan of Google despite using some of their services. But thanks. It does not allow me to do the things Photobucket *used* to do. SmugMug does. I appreciate the suggestion.
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Re: Holton 345 Redux — This is Very Long

Postby the elephant » Sun Jul 16, 2017 5:07 pm

Today's Mystery, Brought to You by Our Friends at Frank W. Holton...

Why would there be a copper strike coat UNDER the guard wire, unless someone screwed up and sent it to the tank with the wire missing? Then they had to fix that little whoopsie. Hmm...

Whatever, this is a cool photo of this tuba in a stratified, archeological sort of vein.

The wire ALSO is copper plated on the inside. Very odd. Normally you would not do a strike plating until the horn was 100% finished and fully buffed and degreased.

So perhaps this joker dunked the tuba, then noticed the missing wire before he rolled it down to the silver tank, quickly coppered the wire by itself and soldered it on and buffing it down clean? It seems that this would have removed the very soft copper to the point that he would have had to dip the tuba in the copper tank a second time. So why not just solder on the yellow brass wire, buff the seams, and then re-plate it? Or can you spot plate copper along the soldered seam of the wire? Perhaps that is it, then. He plated the wire and neatly soldered it on. He used a small hand buffer to touch it up and then spot plated where it needed it. Then he silver plated it.

Or, perhaps all these large parts were pre-plated with copper? That could be, but it makes no sense to me. Also, there is not much copper at all, so where the silver has come off the copper came off with it. (It is softer than silver, I think, and would wear down faster.)

Anyone?

Anyone?

Bueller?

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Re: Holton 345 Redux — This is Very Long

Postby the elephant » Mon Jul 17, 2017 1:15 am

Okay, so this tuba is a dumpster fire, but luckily I have put out most of the flames and the last ones are about to get hit with the water.

I have decided to fully take down this tuba. It really, REALLY needs it. OMG. So the last bits to come off and have the silver plate (already in rotten shape due to age) ruined with the torch when I anneal parts of it will be taken down tomorrow. The last bits I really wanted to avoid disassembling were the bell, bottom bow, their connecting ferrule, the guard wire and end cap. These were in bad shape when the horn was built and were replated at that time. The top bow and inner branches were in good shape back then and are now quite worn and ugly. I was going to try to save some money by not having the bell and bottom bow replated. It would have looked bad, but it would have still looked pretty nice from out in the hall.

Today I removed the top bow wire and *finally* was able to properly dedent it. It made a huge difference.

The bottom bow is cut crookedly — like really crookedly — and the bell and top bow cannot be mounted in any fashion other than cattywampus. And the bow is on slightly crooked, front-to-back. (Once seen it cannot be unseen...)

So I need to really work over the bottom bow. The guard cap and wire both are a little rough. I can get a new wire. I will have to break out the Z60 dent machine to work the cap. I am great at some things, very good at others, I have my weak points, and then there is stuff I am afraid of doing because I had to teach myself, had bad experiences, and did not continue working the skills needed to use that tool or do whatever it was. And dedenting these thin caps is not something I am happy about. I am afraid of opening up both axes of the compound curvature. I will have to see if the shoes I have can do this, task well, then I will need to work on several old caps until I ruin them and can then un-ruin them. This puts my completion time back to a completely unknown date.

So tomorrow I will be hacking on my bottom bow and its messed up ferrule, then trying to re-fit everything together properly for soldering. And then the planet will cease to spin on its axis until I figure out how to become good at this one thing...

On a happier note, so far everything I have done has gone almost perfectly. And that goes for all five of my other builds I am doing right now, too. Kind of scary, if you know how my life generally goes. Fingers crossed.

On an even happier note, the 5th branch serves as the wrist rest for the left hand so you can access the slides. It was deeply pitted and worn. However, the brass is still in good shape despite the uneven thickness. I fixed a lot of the issues with the branch by lightly sanding down the silver plate and then burnishing the whole thing for hours. When finished all the high spots had been mashed down without removing them. The surface is now — well — burnished smooth. It is not week feeling at all; it is still very stiff.

I do not really trust this and I will put a cap on the now-bare-brass branch to keep it from cracking or slowly collapsing inwards. Since I will be replating the horn this will look pretty good in the end.

I also have three of the six branches/bows free of silver plate. There was not much left. I still have the bottom bow, which alone will be hell to strip to bare brass, and about half of the top bow. Ugh...

This will probably all be worth it to me when completed, but I am not doing anything to the finish until I know I want to keep the tuba until I retire in ten to fifteen years. If so, I will do what needs to be done to get it looking nice. If not I will leave it bare brass.

My AC compressor blew out two hours ago. After about ten minutes I tried to restart it. No joy. But after an hour or so it is again working. Not sure what is up, but this is NOT the time of year to lose your outdoor compressor unit! So I will be calling our local guy tomorrow (Monday) morning to see if he can come sometime this week. Until then I may have to shut it down and sweat for a week. I am more worried about our cats, specifically Ray, who is very large and has very long, thick hair. He does not take to these AC-free spells very well, medically. Poor, little guy...

Keep your fingers crossed for our fluky AC, please.

More later...
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Re: Holton 345 Redux — This is Very Long

Postby binlove » Mon Jul 17, 2017 3:41 pm

This is a fascinating thread. Thanks for taking the time to document your work and thought process. And good luck with the AC!
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Re: Holton 345 Redux — This is Very Long

Postby the elephant » Mon Jul 17, 2017 11:17 pm

Today I pulled apart the bottom bow and the bell, removing the ferrule, too. I cleaned off all the excess solder and then cleaned all the parts in my chem tank. The ends of the bell and bottom bow were pinched in like from a pipe cutter. The were razor sharp. The ends of everything looked to have been cut by a blind child with a hack saw. I did not think to photograph what all I found, but it was terrible and depressing because of all the added work.

He but the bottom bow up to where the inside edge of the bow was already curving around, so he *hammered* the bell ferrule to the bottom bow. Because the inside edge was already curving in toward the other side the ferrule could only fit on canted inwards at an angle of what looked to me like about 25º off plumb. Both sides were like this, actually.

So imagine that he hammered them on flat - that would give you one side rammed against the ferrule tightly while the other side curved away from the ferrule, leaving a large gap. He used a peening machine to beat the curve up against the ferrule. Except that it never got anywhere close to where it needed to go, and it created a V-shaped fold in the brass that ended up being a large air pocket between the bow and the ferrule. So it was barely attached on one half of the circumference of the ferrule. And the other side that was tight was only inside the ferrule by 3/16" — barely sealing it off, offering no structural strength. It was sad seeing that ratty tube end and how the ferrule was hammered on and bulged in the middle just a bit, seeing the telltale marks inside the ferrule. It was as readable as a book.

I got the end of the bell fixed up fairly well in short order, but the end of the bottom bow was pitiful. I worked on that for hours today. I finally found where both ferrules fit well and flush up against the floor when on the bow. (Just to be sure this is easy to replicate tomorrow when some of this gets soldered back together I used my welding scribe to mark the ferrule locations clearly.) Now the ends are sort of flat, the ferrules both fit properly, things *look* much less weird to me. The centerline axes of the bell and top bow can now be perpendicular so the outer branches look like they do on other people's 345. The fit between all the parts is airtight or very close, without gaps. All the ends have been pre-tinned after very careful fitting and then cleaning; soldering this back together ought to go very smoothly with all the dross and crap out of every joint.

So I made a list for myself today, and it seemed like it was really lightweight. Then I took apart this joint and was struck by the worms coming out of that can I opened. So I did not get it all done, but I got close. I am exhausted, burned up and cut in three spots from the stupidly cut, un-dressed, ragged joint. It was a bad day, but I got a respectable amount of stuff done on this horn. (I worked for three hours on another project horn earlier in the day. I clocked six on this horn.)

Here is an example of how Mr. R cuts tube ends. I would show you the razor sharp, heavily burred edge but I forgot and cleaned it up so I would not slice myself a second time when I started Dremeling off the crazy tube end. Sorry. It was epic, too. Oh, well...

So these shots are of both sides of the bell side of the bottom bow. Most of the ends of the bows of this tuba looked just like this or were worse.

I will solder the 1st ferrule to the bow's large end and the 2nd ferrule to the large end of the top bow tomorrow.

My braces from Allied should be here soon, perhaps by Thursday. I will try to reassemble the bugle with its new and improved bow alignment this weekend. Once that is done I have to take down the 4th slide loop and fit the 123-valve cluster to the horn and make a new leadpipe. Then I will redesign 4th to fit the new space.

Goodnight...

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Re: Holton 345 Redux — This is Very Long

Postby the elephant » Mon Jul 17, 2017 11:19 pm

Oh, yeah — the black Sharpie line is where the ferrule edge will go. You can see in the second photo that this is not along the same, exact line it had lived on. The solder mark is not in the same place on one side but is on the other. The stupid bow was on so that it flopped to the side by like 5ºs and this line is where it needs to go to make the bow sit on the tuba all straight-like and purdy...

The pat above the line now fits the ferrule correctly and is as level as I could make it. There is a low part that is a very small overlap that makes me worry. That is how he cut it. Anyway, it was strong enough when I played it, but just looking at it makes me worry. Whatever...
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Re: Holton 345 Redux — This is Very Long

Postby the elephant » Mon Jul 17, 2017 11:43 pm

One last shot for tonight.

This the bottom bow of my horn, which had a bunch chopped out of it in Mr. Rusk's shop to help remove the 24" needed to get this BBb tuba up to CC. The two long slip joints removed close to half the needed amount, and this bow made up a good part, too.

You can see that he hacked out probably an inch on the small side and around two or three on the big one. Look at how he had to hump it over to one side to get it to fit, and how he had to mangle the ends to get them to seal with solder. The horn played rather well (for a 6/4 tuba — always that stipulation) when I got it, but there were lots of issues that made it a very so-so tuba when compared to things like a good 186 or what have you.

I plan to work the metal on the small side along the inside edge to try and bring that flat area within the circle in some so it looks less, well, weird. The rest will stay the way it is now after all my work. You can see that the ferrules now sit fairly flat on the armoire, so the top bow and bell have a chance to go on the horn in a manner that is aesthetically more pleasing than what I had not three weeks ago.

Anyway, ugly as it is, everything fits far better than before, and the bow alignment will be very good when reassembled.

Now, and for real: Goodnight.

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Re: Holton 345 Redux

Postby the elephant » Wed Jul 19, 2017 5:19 pm

Pics later tonight. I worked out in the near-100º heat for four hours today. With only some of the needed tools I managed to get the bell, bottom bow and top bow together and rather well aligned.

If the horn plays like doo-doo afterwards, at least this one very disturbing irritation is fixed. The silver has been destroyed with all the hammer and torch work, and because it is silver the solder ran all over. Because it is that shitty lead-free stuff cleaning it off was like sliding around grease instead of water. I miss my old Lead-based death solder. Much easier for me to clean up. This lead-free junk works well but is so messy as to be useless on a silver instrument, at least for me.

My plan for now is to remove all the silver plate over time. Once that has finally been accomplished I will then do all the hated buffing and prep work to have it plated again. Until that day I will simply buff, degrease, and lacquer the thing. If I do a good job I might just leave it lacquered. I just hate a polished brass tuba. I like them with a heavy patina (with shiny nickel silver bits) or bright silver plate. (I do not like satin silver plating, however.)

So this will end up lacquered for some time, then it will be prepped and sent off to Anderson's when I am rich. (Read: perhaps never)

As I said, pics later. I have to rest from the heat. My diabetes meds just eat my lunch when I am out in the heat for any length of time.
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Re: Holton 345 Redux

Postby the elephant » Thu Jul 20, 2017 12:07 am

Man, it's getting uglier and uglier... :-(

So the shoulder looks like it is pointing too far to the right. It is, but not as much as it looks in the photo. It is actually off by about a centimeter, which is not too shabby. The bell and top bow ended up being dead-on straight with one another from the side, with the bottom bow matching them. There were precisely zero well aligned joints in this tuba's bugle or the valve section when I got it. Now just about everything lines up great. The one exception is the over-bent top bow (the norm for these tubas). I have to straighten out the inner branches a bit, one at a time, so the transition to a valve section lined up with the outer branches won't look odd, or I do not end up with one of those horns with a valve section that is on crooked.

I am very pleased with the fit of these large joints, with solder penetration through 100% of the joints and not just at the outside edge as they were. (These were some huge, and largely empty connection points, barely sealed, with parts that did not fit well at all. So, despite my one alignment error and the horrid silver I am pleased. This should play much better than it did before.

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Re: Holton 345 Redux

Postby the elephant » Thu Jul 20, 2017 12:08 am

I spent about two hours dedenting these three parts, by the way, and I am pleased with that work, too. Not perfect, but not bad, either...
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Re: Holton 345 Redux

Postby The Big Ben » Thu Jul 20, 2017 12:27 am

I have one raw brass tuba but, when I don't polish it for a year, it doesn't have a 'patina' that is even or close to even everywhere. I'd like to get one of those 'Borodi epoxy lacquer jobs' for $1200 which is buff/clean/lacquer and no minor dent work but that would double the money I have in the instrument. Hoe do you get the "patina" besides just using it and wiping the sweat off of it?

Is the silver on the bell from where the lead pipe is mounted to the rim going to stay? That looks pretty good and a shiny bell seems to be what the people in the audience like the most.
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Re: Holton 345 Redux

Postby the elephant » Thu Jul 20, 2017 12:59 am

It is all solder pads from either me or Mr. Rusk. Moving things around. Silver does not take kindly to having solder dumped upon it. :-)

I just let my horn sit in the bag. I never had an even patina on my Alexander or my 2265. They just looked polished or brown. I would keep the nickel silver parts polished, though, as I personally like that look.

Here are three more pics. I had to "edit" what you could see in the reflections, heh, heh...

The alignment of the outer branches does look better in these photos than the first one. (Thankfully.) It is still off, but it looks much better in these pics. The third is the bell brace I used, which is a King 2341 part that is very close to the original Holton part, but beefier. The feet/flanges are thicker and the "bead" post has more mass.

And yeah, that is burnt flux in the cracks of my finger tips. Nothing gets it out all the way. I used Fast Orange and several soaps. Oh, well...

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Re: Holton 345 Redux

Postby the elephant » Thu Jul 20, 2017 10:41 pm

I removed all the silver from branches 3 through 6 today. I gave everything a 1,000 grit sanded finish so I can better see any flaws in the tubes. These are old, so there are many tiny flaws that are hard to see. I will get as much of that out as I can and restore the shine by completely burnishing everything and raising low spots as I discover them. When finished the burnishing is almost as good as buffing, but zero metal has been removed. Then I can finish up by LIGHTLY buffing the parts until they are ready to go.

I will then sand down, burnish and rework the top bow. After that I plan on assembling the inner branches to the horn from the top bow in, one at a time, checking for alignment very carefully. These have been slightly over- or under-bent by Holton, so some fiddling with alignment will be needed so the horn has minimal internal gaps at the ferrules while not looking wonky.

I will then buff off any blatant solder marks and hand polish everything to get rid of the torch heat discoloration. The next step will probably be to neatly mask off the bell and bottom bow up to the brace feet and lacquer the top bow and inner branches. I will use my automotive paint spray rig and air compressor with the right tip for lacquer and set up my outdoor "paint booth" (it is laughable, but it works. I have painted a few cars this way and am now adept with the spray rig.)

I will probably just leave the bell and bottom bow their scratched, solder-scarred, ugly silver for now. Perhaps next summer I will have the energy to remove all that silver from those two parts and repeat this process to lacquer the bell and bottom bow, masked off from the rest of the horn.

And for those who care — I am not in to horns with a nice finish. I actually prefer raw brass with blotches and spots. Really. I like the way that looks. (I know, some people here are not capable of understanding others liking stuff they hate, but that's too bad. Anyway, I do not care whether my lacquer is beautiful or if my buffing was fantastic. I want my tuba to be a four foot tuba, meaning that it looks great from four feet away. If I do a halfway decent job of refinishing it this way it will have a maintenance-free finish for at least five years. After that, who really cares? I have two spots that are now worn very thin from skin acids, and they were deeply pitted. I fixed the surfaces without removing any metal, again, by burnishing the high spots down. These two parts are actually the cleanest looking branches on the horn now. I do not want to patch over these hand contact places, and the wear *must* stop, so burying it in five coats of a modern lacquer should help to keep it looking nice while preventing further damage. My skin oil is not acidic, so I have never had silver plate come off of one of my horns. However, one of the previous owners of this tuba really mangled these two spots.

So silver or lacquer?

I hate it, but lacquer wins out because I can do a high level of work myself for little to no cost. I cannot afford the shipping and the price for silver plating such a large tuba. Oh, well.

I have another idea, though. Opinions are sought, too, so chime in, please...

I want to move from the .750" bore slide tubes to .770" because the internal difference really is negligible in the real world on such a big tuba, nowhere near as large as the jump from .687" to .750" — AND — I can get hold of matching sets of nickel silver outer and brass inner slide tubing. If this will be a lacquered horn it needs some bling, and nickel silver is how this is normally done. It looks great, is stronger than brass (tensile and compressive strength) and is corrosion resistant. I would also bend a nickel silver leadpipe if I do this.

I think this would be a great playing tuba with a slightly oversized bore that could be compensated for with a more slowly expanding leadpipe.

It is all just raw speculation right now. If I could source some .750" (or 19mm) ID sets of NS outer/brass inner or NS inner/NS outer tube sets that would be IDEAL. If anyone here has contact information for a source for such stuff in this size PLEASE let me know. You can PM me (they still seem to be working properly despite the email system being down) or you can post here or hit me up on Facebook. If you wish, post here and I can send you my email address so you do not have to put up information that the seller would not want up on TubeNet. (Some are like that. Some do not care.)

Alternatively, if you have about four 2' to 3' lengths of .750" ID telescoping slide tubing with the outers being nickel silver and would like to sell them to me, please (without gouging) name your price. I would be willing to pick them up if you are not too many hundred miles away, just to ensure they actually get to my house. (Shipping in Mississippi generally sucks, all carriers, all the time.)

Opinions?

Comments?

Telescopic NS tubing set supplier contact info?

Telescopic NS tubing FOR SALE?

Bueller?
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