Sticky pistons

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hyperbolica
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Sticky pistons

Post by hyperbolica » Tue Oct 30, 2018 7:24 pm

I'm an old trombone player, but kind of new to tuba and valves. If I don't play my tuba for a week, one or more of the valves (pistons) will stick. This is a newish Wessex. I've washed it out (which I understand most tubists don't do) and oil the valves when I play it.

Is there something I can do short of playing more often that will make the valves less fussy, or is this the nature of the beast with pistons? Are the valves possibly not broken in, or is this just a thing with Wessex valves? Am I better off trading it in on a 30 year old Mirafone 186?
pompatus
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Re: Sticky pistons

Post by pompatus » Tue Oct 30, 2018 7:33 pm

Pistons can sometimes be picky about the oil that works best, just like a trombone’s rotor. Which oils have you tried? I’ve found that my euph works best with regular old Al Cass.
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sirisobhakya
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Re: Sticky pistons

Post by sirisobhakya » Tue Oct 30, 2018 8:18 pm

Piston needs more frequent oiling than rotor. Normally I see trumpet players oil theirs at least once every two or three days. Rotor can be left unoiled for weeks or even a month and it would still move, although doing that is good or not is another question.

The school band I am helping has valve oil in a 1-litre bottle, and even that, still frequently has to be top up, while rotor oil is in its original 200ml bottle, and the bottle would last for months.
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hyperbolica
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Re: Sticky pistons

Post by hyperbolica » Tue Oct 30, 2018 8:31 pm

I use regular Al Cass too. Is there special cleaning that you need to do with valves, especially new ones?
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ghmerrill
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Re: Sticky pistons

Post by ghmerrill » Tue Oct 30, 2018 9:43 pm

As you can see from my signature, I have a Wessex compensating Eb tuba. The pistons on these horns are VERY tight in the cylinders. And uh, I hope that most tubists DO wash out their horns. I do on at least a 6-month basis, and it's quite a ritual. But that aside, ...

I think it's likely that (a) your pistons aren't quite worn in yet, and (b) you are most likely using oil that is simply too thick. I use Yamaha LIGHT Synthetic valve oil on both my Wessex and my Max Brass horns. Anything else and the valves are at best sluggish. With the Yamaha light oil, I don't need to oil it more than once every couple of weeks, or sometimes more. If you're pouring heavy oil into it on a regular basis, then the valves are going to act pretty dismally. LIke trying to run you racing engine with STP in place of oil.

Also, what are you doing with the horn between practices? Are you perhaps standing it on its bell? If so, you need to stop doing that.

My Wessex Champion Eb is wonderful in terms of pitch and intonation and playability. You should have a good time if your Wessex is a similar instrument.
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/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
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jchiang9
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Re: Sticky pistons

Post by jchiang9 » Tue Oct 30, 2018 9:51 pm

When you clean off your valves, is there a lot of gunk coming off of it? Ie. Lots of black. If it is a newer horn, some oils and grit may be travelling there from other parts of the horn. It may be worth getting a deep clean to get all of the factory oils out. Another thing to do would be to bring it to your tech to have them lightly lapped. This is quite common to do for newer valves.
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Re: Sticky pistons

Post by hyperbolica » Wed Oct 31, 2018 2:19 am

It's a Weesex Bombino, small Eb. Nice instrument, good tone fun to play. I've had it less than a year, and it gets played usually less than an hour a week. The valves totally sieze after about a week. I have a corner where I store it upright. It's not very stable on its bell. Is there some problem other than stability with storing it on the bell?

May get the lapping done., but will start with some valve brushes and another bath.
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ghmerrill
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Re: Sticky pistons

Post by ghmerrill » Wed Oct 31, 2018 6:15 am

I STRONGLY recommend you contact Jonathan about this before you lap the valves. If this is a progressive problem -- i.e., it plays fine and just seems to get tight after a week -- that doesn't immediately suggest a problem that would require lapping. It is not common, to my knowledge and in my experience to have valves lapped on a new instrument. Either contact Jonathan (why not?), or post to Tubenet and see what they say. It's POSSIBLE that there's something not quite right about this instrument, but I doubt it.

Storing on the bell is not good for two reasons. First, this will attract woodwind and high brass players to the area, and they will then step on the bell. This may happen even if the horn is in your own home. The attraction of tuba bells to the feet of these players is strong. Second, if you put it on the bell, since it has (3) upright valves, all the valve oil will then migrate downwards to the valve caps and felts. You'll get the same migration in the opposite direction (towards the bottom caps) if you leave it upright or in a stand (which is what I do), but it won't be getting into the felts.

You don't say what oil you're using or how frequently you're using it, or how much you're using, or exactly how you apply the oil. If I don't play my Wessex Eb for a while (like a week), then one or more of the valves is a bit stiff for a moment. If I let it set, this condition is more pronounced. This is not true on my 92 year old Buecher Eb tuba -- on which I use the thicker Yamaha "standard" or the "vintage" synthetic oil. Yes the valves on these Wessex horns are tight. But that's great. Beware of taking a dramatic step to fix a problem that doesn't require it, and degrading your instrument in the process.

As for trading it in on an old Miraphone 186, that's a bit like asking if I should trade in a King 3B on a Bach 50B2. But it would have one advantage for you: If you ever have ROTARY valves stick, then you'll KNOW there's something wrong with them. They're a lot easier to maintain. I played a Cerveny 781 BBb for about 20 years (virtually a twin of the 186), and it was a great horn. But I prefer the feel of piston valves, and prefer an Eb tuba.
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/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)
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Re: Sticky pistons

Post by Bonearzt » Wed Oct 31, 2018 8:57 am

Hey Matt, find some of the brown paper towels used to dry hands and aggressively burnish your valves in a linear motion, then swab out the casings with muslin or cheesecloth. Then oil your valves well.
Might polish the valves just enough to get the new "glaze", for lack of a better word, off the valves & let them move correctly.
Keep the valves well oiled for a couple of days, like 4-5 drops minimum, and then a couple of drops daily.

If this doesn't help, then yes, a light lapping might be in order.
Also check your guides.

Eric
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hyperbolica
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Re: Sticky pistons

Post by hyperbolica » Wed Oct 31, 2018 9:16 am

@ghmerrill,
I'm using Al Cass. I've never really played piston valves before, so I just oil them every time I play. Sometimes I play a couple times a week, and sometimes I don't play for a couple of weeks. The valves don't slow down or gum up, they actually sieze. To release them involves pressing hard or unscrewing a valve cap to get some oil in, or getting oil in through the bottom vent or through a tuning slide.

Thanks all for the suggestions.
pompatus
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Re: Sticky pistons

Post by pompatus » Wed Oct 31, 2018 9:46 am

hyperbolica wrote:
Wed Oct 31, 2018 9:16 am
...and sometimes I don't play for a couple of weeks. The valves don't slow down or gum up, they actually sieze. To release them involves pressing hard or unscrewing a valve cap to get some oil in, or getting oil in through the bottom vent or through a tuning slide...
It sounds like what might be happening, is that the valves are drying out after a period of time and are sticking (seizing). That has happened on every piston low brass instrument I've played if it's not used or oiled in a while. I don't think that, necessarily, indicates a problem with the instrument, especially if the valves aren't looking dirty or wearing strangely, but that experimentation with other oils may help fix the issue.
hyperbolica
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Re: Sticky pistons

Post by hyperbolica » Wed Oct 31, 2018 10:03 am

pompatus wrote:
Wed Oct 31, 2018 9:46 am
It sounds like what might be happening, is that the valves are drying out after a period of time and are sticking (seizing). That has happened on every piston low brass instrument I've played if it's not used or oiled in a while. I don't think that, necessarily, indicates a problem with the instrument, especially if the valves aren't looking dirty or wearing strangely, but that experimentation with other oils may help fix the issue.
That's more along the line of what I was thinking. But it also seems to be the case that older horns are less susceptible to this sort of thing. I'm going to give the thinner Yamaha oil mentioned earlier a chance. Thanks for the answer.
Jnoxon
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Re: Sticky pistons

Post by Jnoxon » Wed Oct 31, 2018 12:22 pm

You might take a look at Tromba T-2 valve oil. It is silicone type of oil and it seems to work well on tight tolerance valves.
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Re: Sticky pistons

Post by walldaja » Fri Mar 08, 2019 12:09 pm

I've gotten into the habit when putting away my horns after playing of taking my pistons out and shaking / wiping the excess moisture off them. Then I put them back in with a fresh coat of oil and work them a few times. I figure sitting with saliva on them and any wayward particles is what causes them to freeze when they dry out. I now find my pistons are free even after sitting for months--too many horns to play all the time when I'd rather play my trombones. My poor flugelhorn has to sit the longest without any play. Maybe I should call it my Christmas horn?
Dave

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Re: Sticky pistons

Post by timothy42b » Fri Mar 08, 2019 3:14 pm

There is a guy on tubenet who has drilled oil holes in his top caps. He uses a needle oiler every time he plays. Check out the recent thread.
SimmonsTrombone
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Re: Sticky pistons

Post by SimmonsTrombone » Sat Mar 09, 2019 3:47 am

I use lamp oil from Walmart on my tuba. Cheap enough to use plenty. There are folks on YouTube who say you only need a drop or two of oil - I use a lot.
walldaja
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Re: Sticky pistons

Post by walldaja » Sat Mar 09, 2019 5:18 am

I've found there is no "one" oil for all my instruments. I used Space Filler Ultimate II for tight valves on most of my trumpets, my cornet does just fine with Al Cass, and my euphonium prefers Hetman's #3. I do believe the synthetics do a better job as they sure do make your fingers slippery if you get some on them. I replaced the original fluid in my Mustang's standard transmission with synthetic oil and it make a noticeable difference in easing shifting, especially when cold.
Dave

Antoine Courtois AC280BO with AC 6 1/2M
Yamaha 421G Bass with Yamaha 58L
Getzen 351 Tenor with Yamaha 51D
1967 Olds Ambassador with Yamaha 48
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Schlitz
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Re: Sticky pistons

Post by Schlitz » Sat Mar 09, 2019 6:08 pm

ghmerrill wrote:
Wed Oct 31, 2018 6:15 am
Storing on the bell is not good for two reasons. First, this will attract woodwind and high brass players to the area, and they will then step on the bell. This may happen even if the horn is in your own home. The attraction of tuba bells to the feet of these players is strong. Second, if you put it on the bell, since it has (3) upright valves, all the valve oil will then migrate downwards to the valve caps and felts. You'll get the same migration in the opposite direction (towards the bottom caps) if you leave it upright or in a stand (which is what I do), but it won't be getting into the felts.
String players will do a certain amount of damage to a horn too. Be it rehearsal, or home, I break the horn down and rest my horns on the floor, in their cases. There’s a school string teacher, viola, 5 doors down. They’re on their 3rd garage door in 7 years. The tuba I have, a Yamaha 641 BBb, will be more problematic as I get older. Right now I place it on top of some file cabinets during a break.
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ghmerrill
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Re: Sticky pistons

Post by ghmerrill » Sun Mar 10, 2019 5:04 pm

Schlitz wrote:
Sat Mar 09, 2019 6:08 pm
There’s a school string teacher, viola, 5 doors down. They’re on their 3rd garage door in 7 years.
This appears to be a viola joke I haven't seen previously.
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/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)
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Re: Sticky pistons

Post by Schlitz » Sun Mar 10, 2019 8:10 pm

ghmerrill wrote:
Sun Mar 10, 2019 5:04 pm
This appears to be a viola joke I haven't seen previously.
Quite seriously true. I met the husband walking the dog last year. He’s a music therapist married to a viola playing strings teacher. Can’t make this stuff up.
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ghmerrill
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Re: Sticky pistons

Post by ghmerrill » Sun Mar 10, 2019 9:12 pm

Well, I could understand if there were, say, a tuba being stored in the garage.

I almost NEVER put any of my instruments on their bells. For the tubas I have a (Jupiter -- no longer available, I think) adjustable stand that will hold anything (upright) from a very large tuba to a euphonium. I never leave my instrument (trombone, baritone, or tuba) unattended for more than a couple of seconds. Even so, a couple of years ago a clarinet player almost got my bass trombone (sitting beside me on its stand) by knocking a music stand towards it as she plowed her way through the trumpet section and completely across and down the stage to the opposite corner. Never occurred to her to walk around the band and then enter through the front into the second row.
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/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)
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