So I like to think that I keep my horn well maintained and oiled etc. especially the valves. However recently I am unable to do as much practice as normal and sometimes have to go a few days (even a week at one point) without picking up my horn.
When playing it next, I notice that the valves are stuck up (in the open position) and I have to get a screwdriver to ease it so that I can press them again. After wiggling the valves for a few seconds they are fine again.
I just wondered whether this is a common problem, whether the valve oil I use could cause this or simply whether it is my horn which doesn't have the easiest and lightest valves no matter how well maintained they are anyway.
Where all on the valves to you oil, and how often? What horn do you have?
My school owns a horn that has extremely slow valves, so when I played it, I had to oil it quite frequently (I thought it was overkill, but since then my philosophy has changed). The valves didn't freeze up very often, only when the horn sat for a long while. My band director supposed that the fibers from the lining on the case might have been getting into the valves, which was reasonable to assume since they got everywhere else. That might be one possibility for your predicament.
I would definitely look into getting some different oil. There are simply too many choices out there for there not to be one to fit your situation.
I oil them every fortnight or when they befin to get stuck with Holton own brand oil which came with my horn (Holton-378).
I oil them underneath the valve caps and also add a drop to the actual mechanism from underneath.
When I come back to it, and have freed the valve, it feels slightly scratchy and rough when pressy the valve (as if there is no oil) but then it loosens up and plays fine AND there is still oil under the cap. Is this likely to be the oil then?
My valves on my French horn and my marching horn get sticky after not playing for some time (like not playing French horn during marching season or not playing marching horn during the off season.) If I find them stuck I usually just get them to moving by pushing them down and up until they are normal. On extreme cases, I oil and make sure there is no debree on the valves or rotors.
You should oil your valves every time you play your horn. Really, You Should.
You should also empty your horn when you are done playing, and again 15 minutes later. Really you should. OIl the back bearing, the front bearing, and put a few drops in your leadpipe.
Here is what is happening with your horn - - - you have some corrosion build up. That scratchyness is the corrosion in your valves. Here is the quick fix; get some distilled white vinegar and put several drops of this down each valve slide. Move your valves and the vinegar will help eat away the corrosion. Then oil your valves.
End of answer see below for more information.
Why oil every day?
1.Because the lubricating properties of your oil evaporate after 10 hours.
2.When you blow through your horn you are:
a)blowing the oil through and past the valves.
b)adding moisture to the oil/moisture mixture.
c)air flow helps evaporate the oil.
3. oil when you put the instrument away, this is when it needs it the most to protect it.
Why empty the water twice?
Because after you are done playing the metal in the horn is still cooling down and creating condensation.
Ah ok, that makes sense - especially with the emptying of the water. I often find when I pick up my horn it is full of water even though I thought I emptied it completelty!!
As for the oil, I will try what you suggest, however in terms of oiling every day/every time I play, surely there would still be oil underneath the valve cap? Should I wipe this away with a cloth and re-oil it?
Usually a flushing out with a few tablespoons of Lamp LIght Ultra Pure Lamp Oil (blue stuff available at Walmart, K-mart, etc.) will remove any built up grease or crud in the valves & get them working slick & quick. I like to add it using a small funnel through the slide nearest the valves, then swirl the horn every which way but loose as I flicker the valves to get the oil in every valve slide. Then dump the excess.
If this doesn't work try washing out the horn with warm water and dish washing liquid and run the snake brush through all the tubing as far as it can reach. Then rinse the whole thing out with warm (not hot) water. After thoroughly draining the water out, put a few tablespoons of Ultra Pure lamp oil & swish it around as described above. Then dump the excess.
I like to grease my slides with HyperLube High Performance Oil treatment available at automotive supply stores. I put Selmer key oil under the rotor caps & on the underside of the rotors in that little crack. My valves are always in good working order using these products.
If all this fails, see if you can get this horn professionally cleaned.
Yet another useful posting. Thank you very much for those lessons on horn maintenance. May I ask whether I'm putting oil right in my horn? I feel the valves are a bit slow (although I cannot compare with other horns), and the thumb valve sticks now and then. I put oil (sorry for the clumsiness with the terminology):
1) Below the caps, where there is a little hole.
2) On the springs where the keys join the rest of the mechanism.
3) In the lower part of the valves, where there is sort of an axis around which another piece rotates, near the place where the string coils around a screw.
4) Inside the side of the main tuning slide that goes towards the valves.
5) Inside each of the six slides (three F, three Bb), in one or the other side at random.
Is all of this right? Now I now I should add the leadpipe, but I don't know whether the five steps above are necessary. Another thing: I use Yamaha Rotor Oil, that comes with a long needle (http://www.yamahamusica.cl/shop2/img/p/336-982-thickbox.jpg) and, in steps 4 and 5, I place the needle as far as it will go (so the oil doesn't end up on the sides of the slides). So I'm never sure of how much oil I'm putting; I squeeze the bottle and hope for the best. Is it all right?
The link has an extra bracket at the end that shouldn't be there.
I think you ARE putting oil in the correct place. And probably more than you need to. If any of your valves are sticking you should use my vinegar technique or Valeries lamp oil technique. In fact I am going to recommend a specific procedure for you after addressing your oil procedure.
1) Below the caps, where there is a little hole. -YES, CORRECT.
2) On the springs where the keys join the rest of the mechanism. I OIL MY SPRINGS ONCE A MONTH.THE FIRST DAY OF EACH MONTH.
3) In the lower part of the valves, where there is sort of an axis around which another piece rotates, near the place where the string coils around a screw. - YES, THIS IS THE BOTTOM OR BACK BEARING.
4) Inside the side of the main tuning slide that goes towards the valves.
5) Inside each of the six slides.
If you put oil in the leadpipe you can skip steps 4 and 5.
I am not familar with Yamaha Rotor Oil. I use either Aja Rotor oil or Al Cass oil. I personally know two people who make horns by hand and they both use Al Cass oil exclusively. And there is nothing wrong with their instruments. Valerie uses lamp oil. Lamp oil is kerosene based, when I was a student we made our own valve oils at home and they were kerosene based also. Valerie has never had problems with her valves and I don't have problems with mine.
Here is how to check your oil. Put a drop or two on your finger tip and then rub it between your thumb and finger. As you rub it will evaporate; if you feel scratchy,sandlike stuff, or if it gets gummy then DON'T use that oil in your horn.
MY SPECIFIC TREATMENT FOR YOUR HORN
Do this each day for a week.
DISTILLED WHITE VINEGAR* - Use the vinegar like oil. put a drop under the valve caps and on the back axis/axle put 3 or 4 drops of vinegar in your leadpipe,blow gently two or three time and move the valves slowly. Then empty your horn.
Play for 5 minutes then oil your horn with valve oil (either Aja, Al Cass, or lamp oil).
One drop at each location, two or three drops in your leadpipe.
When you are done playing wait 5 or 10 minutes then empty your horn. After it's empty put two or three drops of oil in the leadpipe, blow gently two time while moving the valves slowly.
*Vinegar. I use a German vinegar called SURIG Essig essenz. You can get it at German specialty food store, or on-line. This stuff is highly concentrated. It is 25% acid, strong stuff. Vinegar is acetic acid and acetic acid is what many companies use to clean your horn, this is the stuff that will eat up the built up corrosion on your valves.
Thank you very much for all the advice. I'll try to find some kind of pure lamp oil over here, and meanwhile I'll try vinegar. I don't know what distilled vinegar is, but I've googled for Surig Essig Essenz and it looks the same as the one I use for salads. Anyway, there's a bottle of acetic acid at my workplace. Could I use that? Or should I dilute it? (I haven't been able to check what its concentration is, because someone must be using it, and it's not in its usual storing place.)
I'll also make that test with my Yamaha oil. I'll ask for Aja and Al Cass oils at the shop where I bought the horn, and if they haven't got them I'll try to order them (I've seen Amazon sells Al Cass oil, which is great, because I can always find someone who's going to place an order there -otherwise postage and packing would be much more than the price of the oil itself).
An important quesion that has just come into my head: when you talk about putting vinegar and oil in the leadpipe, do you mean putting it in the hole where the mouthpiece usually goes? Is that the leadpipe?
Up to now, I haven't had big stickin issues, but they have happened, so I want to take care of my horn properly. It's not a year old, and I don't want it to start going wrong this early.
Yes, where you put your mouthpiece is the Leadpipe or mouthpipe.
Since your in Spain you might consider buying valve oil by the box, then the shipping charges migth be worth it. I buy by the box so I can keep a bottle with the horn, one in the music room, etc. I always have a bottle. You never know when someon is going to borrow it at rehearsal and not give it back.
If you use Valerie's idea of lamp oil you don't need the Al cass oil. Just some smaller oil type bottles. Take the oil you have and dump it out and then you can reuse the bottle with whatever you choose.
Acetic Acid - someone has placed a type of acid in a jar or bottle at work and not labeled it properly?!?! Yikes!. You can use it for our purpose here, if you know it is acetic acid. Oh, when you use it don't be surprised or shocked about the blue/green fluid that comes out, that's what you get.
You can also probably use the vinegar you use for salad, so long as it is white vinegar and not red vinegar.
The warning about the colour of the liquid comes too late! That blue thing, blue as a Smurf, has left me flabbergasted! I have used normal white vinegar, not with my beloved horn, but with the borrowed one I first used, which was a swine to play (it belongs to the town council, and when I tried to return it after buying my own horn, I was told to carry it to the dumping site myself!) I felt more safe trying it with this horn before trying it on mine. The three finger valves are now right (only one of them was somewhat stuck), but the thumb valve is still stuck. I've put vinegar all over the horn, except inside the thumb valve cap (I cannot remove it!) Maybe I overdid it, because there was a terrible vinegar gurgling when I blew inside the horn, and nothing came out of it for a while. I've tried to remove it all, but the valve is still stuck. I'll try to be more careful next time (and maybe use a dropper!)
No, our acetic acid is properly labelled (or it was the last time I used it). I haven't been able to check the label because it's the whole bottle which is missing, but I suppose that, wherever it is, it's labelled! It should be!
Good idea about buying oil by the box. Anyway, I've done what you did about putting my Yamaha oil in my fingers, and it looks all right. And it smells great (I hope it's not addictive! )
I say, couldn't you experts make sort of a sticking posting (one that always remains on top of the thread list) about horn maintenance? I am sure that all you've said here would be very useful for everyone from the very first day of their horn playing, and I bet there are a lot of advice and tips I haven't even dreamt of about cleaning the horn and keeping it in good shape. I wish I really knew how to take proper care of my horn.
Taking care of a musical instrument is like taking care of a car. First you learn how to change a tire and change your oil. Most people don't want to know how to change a valve cover gasket, or replace valve seals, or rear main seals. You learn these things over time - I've been messing with instruments for 30 years, use to rebuild Steinway pianos, and I also managed an automotive repair garage. I had many conversations with Horn builders over the years. So I've learned a thing or two.
The valves on my trumpet are also sticking if I don't play it for a few days, and when I do move them, there is the same scratchy feeling that flymagicmidget described earlier.
Will the vinegar/lamp oil technique work here too?