Favorite Heavy Piston/Rotor oil

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mrdeacon
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Location: Los Angeles, California

Favorite Heavy Piston/Rotor oil

Post by mrdeacon » Sun Dec 02, 2018 2:07 pm

Hi!

I'm looking for some recommendations for heavier rotor or piston oil. Both my New Standard Besson and Minick bass have valves that have looser tolerances than most horns and I need some thicker oil.

Currently, I'm using Ultra Pure on the inside of the bass rotors and on the euph pistons. I was using Hetman #2 and then switched to #3 but I found neither of those options to be thick enough. The Ultra Pure was a noticeable improvement from the Hetman but I still feel like I could use something a bit thicker.

What do you guys use for old and leaky valves??
Conn 88H 1980s, Elliott XT
Rath R1 2000s, Elliott XT
Minick Bass Trombone 1980s, Elliott MB
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BGuttman
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Re: Favorite Heavy Piston/Rotor oil

Post by BGuttman » Sun Dec 02, 2018 5:32 pm

mrdeacon wrote:
Sun Dec 02, 2018 2:07 pm
...

What do you guys use for old and leaky valves??
10W-30? :evil:

You can find some heavier spindle oils that might work OK for the rotor.

Problem with a piston valve is that heavier oils have higher viscosity and will get sluggish. You need a non-Newtonian material with a high standing viscosity and very low shear point. I'm sure they exist but I will guarantee they are not sold as musical lubricants.
Bruce Guttman
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra
Schlitz
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Re: Favorite Heavy Piston/Rotor oil

Post by Schlitz » Sun Dec 02, 2018 10:05 pm

Original spec Besson New Standards have brass valve guides. A competent tech can retrofit the standards, like my euphonium, to nylon threads. Yamaha coated springs and synthetic oil works fine for me. Mine is a ‘75 w/ large shank.
mrdeacon
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Re: Favorite Heavy Piston/Rotor oil

Post by mrdeacon » Sun Dec 02, 2018 10:13 pm

BGuttman wrote:
Sun Dec 02, 2018 5:32 pm
mrdeacon wrote:
Sun Dec 02, 2018 2:07 pm
...

What do you guys use for old and leaky valves??
10W-30? :evil:

You can find some heavier spindle oils that might work OK for the rotor.

Problem with a piston valve is that heavier oils have higher viscosity and will get sluggish. You need a non-Newtonian material with a high standing viscosity and very low shear point. I'm sure they exist but I will guarantee they are not sold as musical lubricants.
Ha!

It's possible the Euph might have a leak too... I need to have a tech look it over.

The Ultra Pure is more than functional for the Conn rotors on my Minick but it definently doesn't last as long as it should. These rotors seem to eat the ultra pure oil in the same way thayers eat oil. Hence me looking for something a little thicker.
Conn 88H 1980s, Elliott XT
Rath R1 2000s, Elliott XT
Minick Bass Trombone 1980s, Elliott MB
mrdeacon
Posts: 209
Joined: Tue May 08, 2018 2:05 am
Location: Los Angeles, California

Re: Favorite Heavy Piston/Rotor oil

Post by mrdeacon » Sun Dec 02, 2018 10:16 pm

Schlitz wrote:
Sun Dec 02, 2018 10:05 pm
Original spec Besson New Standards have brass valve guides. A competent tech can retrofit the standards, like my euphonium, to nylon threads. Yamaha coated springs and synthetic oil works fine for me. Mine is a ‘75 w/ large shank.
It's actually not a speed thing. The valves just feel leaky. There isn't too much wear on the valve plating so I don't think that's the problem... I'm hoping I don't have a serious leak somewhere and instead it's a problem that can be fixed with a different valve oil :biggrin:

Seems like I need to take the New Standard to a tech and have it looked over.
Conn 88H 1980s, Elliott XT
Rath R1 2000s, Elliott XT
Minick Bass Trombone 1980s, Elliott MB
SimmonsTrombone
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Joined: Tue Jul 24, 2018 7:43 am

Re: Favorite Heavy Piston/Rotor oil

Post by SimmonsTrombone » Mon Dec 03, 2018 4:31 am

I have a 51-year old former school instrument tuba, so you can imagine how the valves were treated. They don’t seal well, so I’ve been experimenting with the automotive oil additive Hyperlube (from Walmart). I put a large drop on the piston, spread it all around, then put the piston in the valve body and work it up and down. It’s very sluggish at that point. I remove the piston, wipe it off well, then add valve oil - lots. That way seems to seal the valves and still permit them to move freely. May it will work for you.
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ghmerrill
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Re: Favorite Heavy Piston/Rotor oil

Post by ghmerrill » Mon Dec 03, 2018 7:18 am

Here's a simple way to leak-test the euphonium:

Take a kitchen plastic garbage bag and put a roll of paper towels in it. The roll has to be of a diameter that will fit tightly into the euph bell when you push it down into it. The plastic bag provides a kind of sealing gasket.

Push the roll of paper towels (now in the plastic bag) tightly down into the bell. Get it in TIGHT -- you need an airtight seal. Put your mouthpiece in the horn and blow firmly into the mouthpiece -- like you're trying to blow up a balloon. If you hear an air hiss anywhere, you've got a leak. Find it and fix it. You should be able (with more effort) to blow that plug up in the bell and break the seal just with the force of the air. But you're trying to hear if there is an air leak before you do that.

The leak will often be at a water key. But it may be at a joint. Or it may be through the valves. If you can't tell where the hissing is coming from while you're doing the blowing, get someone else to listen and track it down.

You'll discover that even an old instrument may be quite tight in terms of any air leaking. My 1924 tuba exhibits a very minor leak through the 3rd valve (you can just barely hear it hissing a little when you blow strongly in this test) -- but not enough to do anything about since it has no obvious effect on playing and pitch. There's no evidence of any leak in the other two valves. On the other hand, I bought an old Martin euphonium once that failed this test dramatically by leaking substantially through each of the valves. It got donated to a school as a decoration. The only "lubrication" that made it play actual notes was Vasoline.

The pistons on that 1924 tuba show some obvious wear (it's almost a century old!!), but they still seal well. I did replace the old (very worn) brass valve guides with nylon ones, and this made it work better and MUCH more quietly. It's easy enough to do yourself if you're comfortable with drilling and tapping holes and cutting/trimming nylon screw heads. But it takes time and care. It's a huge improvement to these old instruments. No more clankety-clank. And if the guides are severely worn, then the pistons can be twisting side-to-side a bit as they're going up and down, and that can be causing you problems with piston sealing as you're playing. To test this, see if you can twist the piston side to side (even a little bit) by grabbing the finger button and trying to rotate it back and forth. If you can jiggle it back and forth in this way, you have a worn guide. If you do replace a valve guide, then you may also need to true up the guide channel carefully. Over time, what happens is that the force of the piston moving up and down bangs the top of the guide and peens narrows it a bit at the top by this peening action. So it needs to be opened up a bit (with something like a Swiss file) to make the channel fully parallel along its entire length. This was a problem with my old tuba.

Also, don't forget to check your valve alignment and change felts/corks if necessary. That can make a huge difference.

On that old Buescher tuba, I CAN use Yamaha Vintage synthetic valve oil, but it tends to make the valves a tiny bit sluggish. Not bad, but I do notice it. The Regular version works fine, but the Light version also works. They really don't leak (except the 3rd one, a bit).

You can get a long way towards diagnosing this sort of problem yourself with some simple tests.
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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