Info about Olds trombone Los Angeles

Post Reply
tubbytuba
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2018 6:41 pm

Info about Olds trombone Los Angeles

Post by tubbytuba » Sun Jun 24, 2018 7:19 pm

So I bought a trombone today. Yeah, I just woke up and said hey, I'm a gonna buy a trombone today.
Actually, I've been thinking about buying a trombone for quite a while. I was in a thrift store and saw this lonely t-bone in the corner. It looked like new, and they weren't asking much, so I figured it was probably a cheap horn. Then I took a closer look...

It's an Olds. At first I tossed it back down. "Yuck, an Olds!" I exclaimed. You'll have to excuse me, I'm a tuba player, and I've never played an Olds that was anything but total junk. But the part about "Los Angeles" had me intrigued, so I wised up a bit and went on the googles. And learned I did. lol. Apparently Olds made some great trombones.

I've been trying to find out some info about this thing. Curious as to where it fits in on the quality scale, and what other trombones it would be comparable to. I can't even tell you the model. It specifically says "The Olds", so perhaps it was their flagship? I saw another "The Olds" on ebay, but that one said "Standard" under "The Olds", and mine doesn't. Maybe mine is sub-standard... lol. The serial number is 8899, which is awesomely easy to remember, and the following site dates it as being made in 1935:

http://www.horn-u-copia.net/serial/Oldslist.html

The slide has a slightly higher serial number of "M9127", still putting it in 1935, so it's probably a matched set.

Next to the serial number, where the slide fits into the bell it also says "7M". Maybe that's the model, or at least the size? 7 medium?

It's the first trombone I've seen where nothing locks together. The slide fits into the bell receiver like a mouthpiece; just a tapered fitting. There's also no slide lock. In both cases, there's nothing that indicates anything missing or broken, just the design. The slide itself is pretty neat, it's ribbed. Never saw that before.

Also, I expected to see some sort of counterweight on the back end. Perhaps someone can confirm whether it was supposed to have one and is missing, or just wasn't included in the first place.

I'm having a hard time believing that this horn is from 1935. It looks relatively new. My understanding is that if it was re-lacquered, then the engraving ("The olds", los angeles, etc..) would be gone or significantly diminished.

I'll be in KC, MO in a few weeks, and plan to bring my tuba up to the horn doctor. If this trombone is really worth it, I'll bring it along too and spend some money having it fixed up. There are some spots where the plating is worn off at the end of both of the slide tubes. The slide was really scratchy, but I put some silicone lubricant on it, and now the slide moves much better. I'm thinking it's the worn plating, and wondering if it is worth the investment having it replated, or if such money would be better spent on a different trombone.

I attached a picture, thanks for any info you might be able to provide.
IMG_20180624_164530.jpg
IMG_20180624_164530.jpg (456.7 KiB) Viewed 549 times
Stu
-----
1935 "The Olds" Los Angeles tenor trombone
Miraphone 1291 custom
Yamaha YEB-321S
User avatar
Arrowhead
Posts: 19
Joined: Thu Jun 07, 2018 5:10 pm

Re: Info about Olds trombone Los Angeles

Post by Arrowhead » Sun Jun 24, 2018 9:09 pm

:pant: Congratulations on your "new" Olds find.
The Olds from L.A. are definitely high quality instruments.
I'm not sure how you came under the impression that Olds was "junk" :?
Anyways...
Sounds like you have an Olds Standard with fluted slide and is friction fit (no bell lock)
From my understanding, not all Standards had "Standard" on the bell; some of them simply had the "The Olds" (then again, so did the "Self-Balancing" model :shuffle: )
You may consider just sending the slide off to the Slide Dr. for any sort of realignment. You can take it to B.A.C. but they're going to offer you a slew of "restoration" options that can considerably run up your repair bill. Not that it wouldn't be worth it, but it just depends on how much you want to invest in getting the horn back up to speed. I've never come across one that had a counterweight.
User avatar
BGuttman
Posts: 351
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2018 7:19 am
Location: Cow Hampshire

Re: Info about Olds trombone Los Angeles

Post by BGuttman » Mon Jun 25, 2018 2:25 am

Is this one Tuning in Slide? The M probably refers to Medium Bore, which I believe was 0.485" top and 0,500" bottom.

TIS Olds trombones need a counterweight. I have an aftermarket one that is quite heavy but it balances my 1925 horn very well. Only problem with friction fit trombones is that if you are doing a lot of mute changes or plunger work they tend to separate at the worst possible times.
Bruce Guttman
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra
imsevimse
Posts: 112
Joined: Sun Apr 29, 2018 10:43 am
Location: Sweden

Re: Info about Olds trombone Los Angeles

Post by imsevimse » Mon Jun 25, 2018 3:35 am

The M7 indicates it is an F.E. Olds M7 Military model. A great find. The Military was one line of models next to the famous Super, Recording, Self balancing, Studio and Radio models.

/Tom
"Do your best and then do better" ttf_watermailonman
User avatar
JohnL
Posts: 96
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2018 9:01 am
Contact:

Re: Info about Olds trombone Los Angeles

Post by JohnL » Mon Jun 25, 2018 9:50 am

imsevimse wrote:
Mon Jun 25, 2018 3:35 am
The M7 indicates it is an F.E. Olds M7 Military model
No, it doesn't. As Bruce mentioned, "M7" indicated Medium Bore, 7" bell.

Mismatched serials are pretty much normal for M (medium) and LM (Large Medium) Olds trombones from that era. Less common sizes tend to have matching serial numbers. I think that's because M's and LM's were built in large runs (well, large for Olds) while the others were built in small runs or maybe even on an individual basis.

The build quality of Olds instruments from the pre-WWII period is very high. It was a small, family-owned and -run shop back then. Consider that they started building trombones sometime around 1913 and were at serial number 9000 sometime around 1936.

The OP doesn't give enough information for me to offer an opinion as to which model this is. I'd need to know where the tuning slide is. A couple pics of the entire horn would be nice...

Any date vs. serial number correlation for that era is an estimate. There's no manufacturing records, so some people have put a lot of effort into reconstructing a table, but there are inconsistencies. Man, if piecing together information from less than a hundred years ago is this hard, I hate to think what archeologists and paleontologists go through. What I can say with certainty is that the original fluted slide patent was granted on November 19, 1935 (the application was submitted on April 11, 1935) and the patent for duo-octagonal inner was submitted on September 1, 1936. Since the OP describes the slide as "ribbed", it sounds to me like it's the original style, so that pretty much puts it in that narrow 1935-1936 window.

As for the scratchy slide? Lack of plating is a contributor, but you may well have some mineral deposits inside the outer slide. A good slide job will include a chem or ultrasonic cleaning along with straightening and aligning the tubes. You might be surprised just how well the slide works after that. I've got several slides with significant plating loss on the stockings (including my daily driver) and they work just fine. One caveat - those tubes are 80 years old, so there may be a limit to what you tech feels comfortable doing to them from a straightening standpoint. I've never had a tube snapped, but I know people who have.

Oh, and the refinishing? If the horn didn't see a lot of use, that could be the original lacquer. OTOH, refinishing an instrument doesn't have to mess up the engraving.
imsevimse
Posts: 112
Joined: Sun Apr 29, 2018 10:43 am
Location: Sweden

Re: Info about Olds trombone Los Angeles

Post by imsevimse » Mon Jun 25, 2018 1:25 pm

Thanks JohnL for information. I have read a lot at your good page about Olds instrument but apparently not enough. I have for long thought that M was short for Military just as A was short for Ambassador and P for "Custom crafted" and R for Recording but I understand now it is a lot more complicated.

/Tom
"Do your best and then do better" ttf_watermailonman
User avatar
JohnL
Posts: 96
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2018 9:01 am
Contact:

Re: Info about Olds trombone Los Angeles

Post by JohnL » Mon Jun 25, 2018 1:44 pm

imsevimse wrote:
Mon Jun 25, 2018 1:25 pm
Thanks JohnL for information. I have read a lot at your good page about Olds instrument but apparently not enough. I have for long thought that M was short for Military just as A was short for Ambassador and P for "Custom crafted" and R for Recording but I understand now it is a lot more complicated.
Back when the Military model was made, they didn't use designations like that (at least not in catalogs or engraved on instruments).

Just to put it here where people can find it...

Olds Bore Codes:
S - Solo
SM - Small Medium
M - Medium
LM - Large Medium
LLM - Large Large Medium (that size was added later on)
L - Large
SYM - Symphony

There doesn't seem to be a complete correlation between the Olds codes and slide bores - or maybe they changed over the years.
User avatar
ghmerrill
Posts: 91
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2018 4:41 pm
Location: Central North Carolina

Re: Info about Olds trombone Los Angeles

Post by ghmerrill » Mon Jun 25, 2018 5:56 pm

My '47 Olds Standard with the distinctive "serpentine" braces I got off Ebay for $125. The finish is not cosmetically as nice as yours, and the inner tubes aren't fluted (but it may be that these were replaced at some point -- or it may be that they'd dropped use of the fluted/hex tubes). The inners were slightly out of parallel, and the outer slide was just slightly bowed. Those got fixed in a quick trip to my repair guy. I almost never play it (because I almost never play tenor), but it's a kick to play -- with the original #3 mouthpiece (since it seems to dislike anything else). And the braces (used for only two years: '46 and '47) are quite distinctive. No counterweight, of course.

I think that somewhere I have a digitized copy of an Olds catalog from the period. At that point the Standard was their #2 professional instrument (behind the Super?). I don't recall what it's sale price was (somewhere in the $200-$300 range as I recall), but I do remember that when I did the translation to today's dollars it came out to be over $2,000 in contemporary bucks.

I think they're really neat horns (though it seems slide-heavy to me), and it looks like the OP's is a real find.
Gary Merrill
Wessex EEb Bass tuba
Mack Brass Compensating Euph
Amati Oval Euph
1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba
Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/110 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)
tubbytuba
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2018 6:41 pm

Re: Info about Olds trombone Los Angeles

Post by tubbytuba » Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:35 pm

Wow, thanks for all the replies!

I'll try to reply to all the comments:

It doesn't look like there's any tuning-in-slide mechanism, just a main tuning slide on the back end.

I've heard people mention "octagonal", but my slide is round, but with ribs, and there's more than eight. There's actually 15 or 16, I can't see that small. It's like the diameter of the inside tube is smaller, and it's these flat ridges that contact the outer slide. The last 4.5 inches is of a normal diameter and totally round without ribs.

Yes, the bell is 7".

@JohnL you're totally right. It looks really clean, but I pushed some paper towels through the bell and they came out quite dirty. Definitely needs a cleaning. That's so cool that you even know when the slide tube was patented. Duo-octogonal means sixteen? I got sixteen sides, so maybe it's that? I took a bunch of pictures.

If there's any more or better pictures I can take just let me know, I'll try my best. It's a little difficult getting my phone to focus looking at the tubes and all that, but after a few tries most of them came out good.

@ghmerrill I'm very lucky to have found this trombone. I can't believe it's really from 1935! It looks so new! Maybe it was re-lacquered? I wonder how I can tell. If anyone ever sees a Miraphone Starlite Eb tuba at a thrift store, CALL ME!

My feelings towards Olds came from some terrible tubas I've played over the years with their name stamped on them. Clearly, their trombones are much nicer. Maybe Olds made some better tubas, and the ones I saw were low end models.

So my remaining questions are:

What other trombones might this be considered comparable to?
Comparable sound-wise, as well as quality-wise.
Would you call this a "Student", "Intermediate, or "Professional" trombone?
What's it worth, and is it worth investing money into?
What to do about the slide? Replate? Send to Slide Dr.?
I can get it ultrasonically cleaned locally, however if I bring it to the horn doctor they can clean it, as well as whatever the necessary repairs are at the same time. I don't know anyone locally that I trust to do any repairs on it.

Thanks again for all the replies!
Stu
-----
1935 "The Olds" Los Angeles tenor trombone
Miraphone 1291 custom
Yamaha YEB-321S
tubbytuba
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2018 6:41 pm

Re: Info about Olds trombone Los Angeles

Post by tubbytuba » Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:36 pm

Pictures 1-3
Attachments
IMG_20180626_221858.jpg
IMG_20180626_221858.jpg (76.05 KiB) Viewed 360 times
IMG_20180626_221848.jpg
IMG_20180626_221848.jpg (570.7 KiB) Viewed 360 times
IMG_20180626_221802.jpg
IMG_20180626_221802.jpg (2.3 MiB) Viewed 360 times
Stu
-----
1935 "The Olds" Los Angeles tenor trombone
Miraphone 1291 custom
Yamaha YEB-321S
tubbytuba
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2018 6:41 pm

Re: Info about Olds trombone Los Angeles

Post by tubbytuba » Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:37 pm

Pictures 4-6
Attachments
IMG_20180626_222047.jpg
IMG_20180626_222047.jpg (129.47 KiB) Viewed 360 times
IMG_20180626_222039.jpg
IMG_20180626_222039.jpg (223.98 KiB) Viewed 360 times
IMG_20180626_221908.jpg
IMG_20180626_221908.jpg (124.82 KiB) Viewed 360 times
Stu
-----
1935 "The Olds" Los Angeles tenor trombone
Miraphone 1291 custom
Yamaha YEB-321S
tubbytuba
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2018 6:41 pm

Re: Info about Olds trombone Los Angeles

Post by tubbytuba » Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:37 pm

Pictures 7 and 8.
Attachments
IMG_20180626_223053.jpg
IMG_20180626_223053.jpg (1.47 MiB) Viewed 360 times
IMG_20180626_222921.jpg
IMG_20180626_222921.jpg (2.71 MiB) Viewed 360 times
Stu
-----
1935 "The Olds" Los Angeles tenor trombone
Miraphone 1291 custom
Yamaha YEB-321S
User avatar
BGuttman
Posts: 351
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2018 7:19 am
Location: Cow Hampshire

Re: Info about Olds trombone Los Angeles

Post by BGuttman » Wed Jun 27, 2018 5:45 am

The only Olds that was intended to be a student instrument was the Ambassador. Note that the F.E. Olds company folded in 1979. The name was taken over by a number of entities making instruments of questionable quality; certainly not on the level of the Olds company. You may have been playing these later tubas. Then again, Olds was known primarily for trombones and trumpets.

The inner slide is chrome plated and getting somebody to replate it is going to be difficult. Chrome plating uses some VERY environmentally unfriendly chemicals and a lot of the people who used to do it stopped. Others have had to charge very high prices. As long as the wear on the inner slide has no sharp edges (evidence of lifting) I would just polish the corrosion off the exposed brass and add an extra dab of slide cream over the spot.

Olds "fluted" (the 16-sided inner) tubes are no longer made and you would have to replace them with conventional inners (assuming you can find ones of the correct size). That would lower the value of the instrument if you wanted to sell it, but may be necessary if you want to play it. I would see if somebody can straighten out the slide and use it as best it can be made.

Note: friction fit trombones are nice to play, but not in a jazz band situation. If you need to do a lot of mute changes or plunger, they can come apart at the worst possible time (don't ask me how I know this).

If you decide to give it a bath, don't use hot water. Older lacquers can bubble and flake off if the water is too hot. Warm water (what you would bathe in) with some dish detergent is best.

Good luck with your horn.
Bruce Guttman
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra
User avatar
JohnL
Posts: 96
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2018 9:01 am
Contact:

Re: Info about Olds trombone Los Angeles

Post by JohnL » Wed Jun 27, 2018 9:23 am

tubbytuba wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:35 pm
It doesn't look like there's any tuning-in-slide mechanism, just a main tuning slide on the back end.
Bell tuning would make it a Self-Balancing.
Here's a catalog page:
http://rouses.net/trumpet/olds30_cmi/olds_cmi_9.htm
I've heard people mention "octagonal", but my slide is round, but with ribs, and there's more than eight. There's actually 15 or 16, I can't see that small. It's like the diameter of the inside tube is smaller, and it's these flat ridges that contact the outer slide. The last 4.5 inches is of a normal diameter and totally round without ribs.
Sort of like rifling, but on the OD of the inner slide? That's the original fluted slide design. Olds only made that style for a short time before introducing the duo-octagonal design. Having worked in the tube drawing business for a few years, I can tell you with some certainty that the duo-octagonal cross section would be MUCH easier to make.
My feelings towards Olds came from some terrible tubas I've played over the years with their name stamped on them. Clearly, their trombones are much nicer. Maybe Olds made some better tubas, and the ones I saw were low end models.
Olds tubas came along after the company was bought out by CMI and moved to Fullerton. Student horns, sold mostly to schools. Given that the last ones left the factory in 1979, you're looking at horns that have been subjected to the tender mercies of high school and middle school students for almost 40 years, as a minimum. They were built to last, but were never really intended for professional use.
What other trombones might this be considered comparable to?
Quality-wise? I'll stack a mid-1930's Olds against just about anything as far as build quality. Trombone design has moved on, though. Which brings me to your next question:
Comparable sound-wise, as well as quality-wise.
Nothing currently in production plays like a vintage Olds. Size-wise, it's fairly close to a King 2B or a Yamaha 697Z, but it doesn't play the same.
Would you call this a "Student", "Intermediate, or "Professional" trombone?
Definitely professional.

What's it worth, and is it worth investing money into?
A few hundred bucks. Like I said - there's nothing being made today that plays like a mid-1930's Olds. If that's the feel and sound you want, you spend the money to make it playable. If you're just looking for a nice trombone, there are probably better options out there.
What to do about the slide? Replate? Send to Slide Dr.?
I wouldn't replate it. Send it to the Slide Doctor and get it cleaned, straightened, and aligned. A little polishing to smooth out the areas that are missing chrome and you'll be surprised how well the slide runs.

As an aside: Plating loss if often the result of a poorly maintained slide. If the slide is out of alignment or the tubes aren't straight, that causes excessive wear in a localized area. Mineral buildup (think hard water scale) can cause rapid wear, too.
User avatar
ghmerrill
Posts: 91
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2018 4:41 pm
Location: Central North Carolina

Re: Info about Olds trombone Los Angeles

Post by ghmerrill » Wed Jun 27, 2018 12:17 pm

Also, thoroughly cleaning the insides of the outer slide tubes is very important. I thoroughly cleaned mine several times, then used some Brasso on them. Then cleaned several times again. Then used some J-B bore paste. Then cleaned several times again. The silde is actually quite good after all that.
Gary Merrill
Wessex EEb Bass tuba
Mack Brass Compensating Euph
Amati Oval Euph
1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba
Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/110 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)
tubbytuba
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2018 6:41 pm

Re: Info about Olds trombone Los Angeles

Post by tubbytuba » Fri Jun 29, 2018 4:25 am

JohnL wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 9:23 am
A few hundred bucks. Like I said - there's nothing being made today that plays like a mid-1930's Olds. If that's the feel and sound you want, you spend the money to make it playable. If you're just looking for a nice trombone, there are probably better options out there.
Could you elaborate on that a bit? I'm not very experienced at all with the trombone, and curious as to what the sound differences would be between this trombone and today's average mid-market trombone.
I wouldn't replate it. Send it to the Slide Doctor and get it cleaned, straightened, and aligned. A little polishing to smooth out the areas that are missing chrome and you'll be surprised how well the slide runs.
How could I determine if the slide isn't straight or aligned as it is now? I measure 65mm between the tubes at the base, and 66.5mm at the end of the tubes. Is 1.5mm within tolerance?

Thanks for all the info,

-Stu
Stu
-----
1935 "The Olds" Los Angeles tenor trombone
Miraphone 1291 custom
Yamaha YEB-321S
tubbytuba
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2018 6:41 pm

Re: Info about Olds trombone Los Angeles

Post by tubbytuba » Fri Jun 29, 2018 4:42 am

Yesterday I did a lot of cleaning! First, I cleaned it the way I would a tuba, I filled it up with vinegar for about an hour and dumped it out. I didn't see as much come out as I would have expected. Then, I used a slide-o-mix rod and flexible brush, and the only other thing I had around - 91% Isopropyl alcohol. The dark brown mud that poured out was quite disgusting. So I kept working away at it with the brush until the alcohol poured out reasonably clean. I think this explains why the vinegar didn't produce much for results; the brass was covered in gook so the vinegar couldn't get to it. Perhaps this weekend I'll find time to do the vinegar again. I used some Wrights silver cream on the slide tubes, and they look a bit shinier than they were before. I also went to town on the mouthpiece, and after about ten applications of silver cream, the mouthpiece went from black to pretty much new looking. Sorry I didn't take a before picture, but here's the after picture...
Attachments
IMG_20180629_060941 (1).jpg
IMG_20180629_060941 (1).jpg (1.16 MiB) Viewed 219 times
IMG_20180629_060929.jpg
IMG_20180629_060929.jpg (1.04 MiB) Viewed 219 times
IMG_20180629_063505.jpg
IMG_20180629_063505.jpg (152.98 KiB) Viewed 219 times
Stu
-----
1935 "The Olds" Los Angeles tenor trombone
Miraphone 1291 custom
Yamaha YEB-321S
User avatar
BGuttman
Posts: 351
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2018 7:19 am
Location: Cow Hampshire

Re: Info about Olds trombone Los Angeles

Post by BGuttman » Fri Jun 29, 2018 5:07 am

Wow, that's an original Rudy Muck! Those are really prized by jazz players, but they tend to be really small. If you have never tried anything else and you are really used to playing a tuba you may find it uncomfortable. You might want to find a Bach 7C or even a 4C and see if it plays better.

For what it's worth, I've never seen a 24 before. I used to have a 23 and I've tried a 26.
Bruce Guttman
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra
User avatar
Arrowhead
Posts: 19
Joined: Thu Jun 07, 2018 5:10 pm

Re: Info about Olds trombone Los Angeles

Post by Arrowhead » Sun Jul 01, 2018 9:09 am

ghmerrill wrote:
Mon Jun 25, 2018 5:56 pm
My '47 Olds Standard with the distinctive "serpentine" braces I got off Ebay for $125.
I have that exact horn. One of the nicest playing horns I have ever come across. Nice compact rich tone!
I'm not sure what the bore is? Probably .485/.500
User avatar
ghmerrill
Posts: 91
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2018 4:41 pm
Location: Central North Carolina

Re: Info about Olds trombone Los Angeles

Post by ghmerrill » Mon Jul 02, 2018 7:06 am

Yeah, I've tried to figure out the bore but don't have quite the right gauges to do it accurately. It could be .485/.500 or the one that's a little larger.
Gary Merrill
Wessex EEb Bass tuba
Mack Brass Compensating Euph
Amati Oval Euph
1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba
Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/110 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)
Post Reply

Return to “Instruments”