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Not unusual to find differences between a standard set and the actual unit. One size doesn’t fit all over a span of 15-20 years
Providing you measured all the way down inside the cup and not on just the rim you’ll be OK. You’ll be fine using MM clear shellac.
Yeah hotmelt glue is easy. It’s cheap and available at your local grocery store. It also expands and contracts like crazy depending on ambient temperature. I’ve declined to service a few DIY jobs that they used hotmelt glue.
 

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I don't like hot melt glue. I've used it a couple times when I didn't have any shellac sticks, but it strings all over the place. Its properties when heated are quite different than those of shellac. Plus it's a bear to get off any excess. Just buy several Music Medic sticks and you'll be good to go.
 

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Discussion Starter · #103 ·
Makes sense, and kind of what I was thinking. Shellac it is!

What do you guys think about filling the domed key cups with some shellac to level out the surface? The original pads had hardly any shellac on them from the factory, so I have to assume there was a large air pocket behind several of the larger pads. I measured a 5mm depth on one of the bell key cups, which has a 2.5mm edge on it. So the dome itself is 2.5mm deep at the center.

So putting shellac on the pad, and then seating it, would leave an air pocket if I didn't fill the dome 1st, correct? Or the shellac would run into the center creating a non-uniform bond maybe?

I saw this video today, and it makes sense to me ... just thought I'd ask and see what you guys think.

 

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There are various techniques, but most people seem to try to completely fill the space behind the pad.

Here's what I do.

1) The pad has a cavity on its back formed when the leather's folded over and secured to the cardboard. I fill that cavity with shellac.

2) I put a thick-ish coat of shellac on the inside of the cup.

3) Put pad in cup, heat cup, float pad to be in good level contact with tone hole rim all round. Push down high spots, pull up low spots. That "pull up low spots" is far harder so I always aim to have it too thick at first so I can get it good and level all round by pushing. This is where spending time in dry fitting pads and leveling cups really pays off. That's why the factory can usually get away with just a little dab of shellac; because the mechanism is all brand new and level.
 

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There are different techniques and methods various techs use when installing pads using shellac. IMO there is no one right or wrong way, they are just different. My method puts an "ample" amount of shellac on the back of the pad which is quickly flattened on a bench anvil. Next the key cup is heated and the pad is inserted and given a quarter turn. Then after the shellac cools just a bit, I press down in the center of the resonator (if it has one) using a wooden handle of a hammer. The goal is to get complete coverage of both the back of the pad and the key cup without shellac "oozing" out the sides of the pad. For some one who is just learning pad installation, it is a good idea to install a few pads in this manner, and then later heat the keycup and remove the pad to "read" the coverage on both the pad and key cup. If there is no shellac in contact with the center of the key cup, a bit more shellac can be added to the center of the pad. I know many techs pre-coat the inside of the key cup, but I have never found it necessary to do so. Something else I do is to etch a cross hatch into the key cup with a three sided scraper tool. My thinking is that there is better adherence to a rough surface compared to a smooth one. Over the years I have seen quite a few pads that have fallen out showing the shellac intact with a smooth, shiny surface.
 

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This is your first go of pad work. I wouldn’t worry about filling the cup. It is clean and degreased ? Wipe them out with rubbing alcohol.
Filling the back of a pad like this. Then properly heating the cup the clear will flow to the low point. There is some chance of it oozing out. The beauty of the MM clear stick. It flows well and any residual is easy to clean up at low heat.
Food Ingredient Wood Cuisine Baked goods

about double of what you need.
Food Fluid Ingredient Liquid Tableware

One stick on a full tenor with the excessive amount above. Just palm pads left to do.
One stick will do your C. It’s nice to have a spare !
Ingredient Recipe Cuisine Dish Baked goods
 

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Discussion Starter · #107 ·
Thanks guys. Definitely sounds like there are different ways people prefer to do this. Once I dry fit the pads, I'll evaluate and see what I think will work best for me.

I ordered the pads today, along with 2 sticks of clear shellac, an assortment of cork, an alcohol lamp (I also have a butane torch already), denatured alcohol for the lamp, and some weldwood contact cement.

I'll dry fit the pads, reassemble the sax, and inspect how each pad meets its tone hole before doing any shellac work.

I've been reading ahead on adjustment and regulation as well. Seems this part of the process is probably the most tedious?

When I started down this journey, it seemed very overwhelming ... but I'm actually feeling pretty good about it at this point ... mostly thanks to you guys! (y)
 

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My recommendation - take off all the key regulation corks, then get all the pads seated, then put the new corks and start adjusting. This way you know that if you see light, it's because the pad's not regulated properly, not because it's not seated properly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #109 ·
That's what I was thinking too. Most of the cork and felt fell off when I was disassembling it anyway. There's a piece or two of very thick cork pieces still left under a couple of keys, but I don't think these are regulating pieces? In either case, I was planning to get the pads seated and leveled prior to adding any cork or felt back on. Especially considering there are no adjustment screws on this.

Last night my son told me his teacher said his Alto was sounding "reedy", and asked him to work on making that better. He's convinced it's the quality of the instrument itself though, only because the new Tenor we bought him sounds so much better and he doesn't have the same issue with it. So he brought the alto to me and asked if I could try to figure out why.

I stuck my leak light into it and checked all the pads, and found 3 which were leaking; one of which was a good size gap all the way around. This one was in the upper stack as well, and from wht I've learned, the closer the leak is to the top the more it impacts the horn ... correct? This was really easy to fix though, with just a few slight turns of the adjustment screws, and the leaks were resolved. It definitely made me appreciate a modern horn with adjustment screws as I know it won't be nearly as easy to get things sync'ed up on the c-mel. I suppose the one thing I have going for me is nothing seems to be bent or out of alignment thus far.

This is why I bought the cork assortment pack from MM, so I could have various sizes on hand when it comes time to adjust and regulate. If I stuggle with this part though, I'm not opposed to taking it to a shop to finish it out ... assuming they would do it after I DIY'ed so much ... but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.
 

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I am following your repair journey with interest, please post a clip of when your son plays it. My admirations to your determination!
 
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Great job Dad 👍👍 How did it play for him after the adjustments ?

You’re doing an excellent job for your first go at saxophone repair. 🙌

There’s not much difference in regulation from what you did with the screws. It’s just with cork. The same relationships exist.
I like thinking “systems”.
Stacks. Upper, lower, joint.
LH pinky table,
Octave.
Adjust the bottom 3 keys FED to/at back bar F# key.
Fork on F# closes (holds down) the G# cup.
Set the forked Eb (The little cup by the bow joint on the left side)
On top stack adjust B Bb A to the back bar C cup.
Get both top and bottom stacks to close in sync within each system.
Then put cork under the F# fork that closes the upper stack Bb key. Adjust the relationship as needed. Use felt, sand cork or my least favorite way.…bend the finger on the Bb. The reason you see that part often mangled. Same with the finger off the F# cup.
Musical instrument Gas Auto part Cylinder Electronic instrument


fwiw if the Cork is still intact on the right hand pinky table leave it alone. If necessary sand the face flat and add a layer veneer on it. Later on you can make an upgrade.
I use 150 or 200 grit sandpaper. Let the glued parts cure overnight before trimming or sanding. Apply a thin layer to both sides. I have better luck applying cement with a small pointed tool.
 

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One thing that I read about dealing with vintage horns was to treat them to a modern padded case instead of keeping it in the musty, but "original" one, which doesn't offer as much padding or protection. I use Protec contoured tenor case for my C mel, with a toy fluffy banana at the bottom of the bell for a snug fit.
 
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Discussion Starter · #114 ·
I am following your repair journey with interest, please post a clip of when your son plays it. My admirations to your determination!
Absolutely! My son is actually pressuring me to learn saxophone as well. If an instrument has strings, I'll pretty much play it ... but I've never had a go at horns. I am thinking about it though :)

Great job Dad 👍👍 How did it play for him after the adjustments ?

You’re doing an excellent job for your first go at saxophone repair. 🙌
Thanks! It played great for him after the adjustments. He said it sounded much better, but also said he's getting an intermittent squeak when he plays a forceful D. I don't think this is related to the instrument though, and could be some of his technique. I made a note to check out his reed placement though, just to be sure.

@Stoopalini you can still buy denatured alcohol in Texas? That’s a banned chemical in California ! Yeah the Everclear or 151 Bacardi option $$$. A cylinder of butane is less.
Yep, here in TX, you can pretty much buy whatever you want :) I got it on Amazon, scheduled for delivery on Sunday.

Rectangle Font Parallel Screenshot Electronic device


Yesterday, I did some more checking of things on the horn. I installed and tightened all the rods without any keys, and gave it a tap test. There are a couple of rods which are very slightly loose on the slotted side, but only after the rod is inserted all the way. If I back it out a few turns, it tightens up in the post. This makes me think the slotted end of the rods may be compressed slightly. Is it worth using a screwdriver to try and spread the slot just a tad, to try and tighten the end inside the post?

The center of the rod is tight in the post, it's just the very end of the rod on the slot end which is loose, and only when it is threaded all the way in. This is present on only two of the rods.

One other place where I have some play is in this bell key.

Here is the key pushed all the way to the left:

Musical instrument Wind instrument Brass instrument Gas Auto part


And here it is pushed all the way to the right:

Musical instrument Fluid Automotive lighting Wind instrument Motor vehicle


Initially, the gap was slightly more than this and the rod was also not perfectly aligned through both posts. The threaded end of the rod was shifted toward the body side (away from the bell) just a bit. Not enough to prevent it from threading in, but when I let gravity take it through the 1st post, it hit the threaded post off center.

So I adjusted the post without the threads (the one on the left in the above pics), and moved it just slightly toward the threaded post. I was hoping this would not only adjust the posts for the rod to align with gravity only, but also close up the gap.

The result is the rod is now aligned, and the gap around the hinge tube was lessened, but it does still exist. Here is a pic showing how the rod now aligns when I let gravity take it through

Gas Musical instrument Bicycle part Metal Machine


It's also worth mentioning the pad cup is very well centered on the tone hole ... So I think the right solution to this would be to swedge the hinge tube to lengthen it just a bit .. but for my purposes, I'm not sure it's worth me buying swedging pliers to do this considering my end goal for this horn.

I'm chalking this up to manufacture defect most likely?
 

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Doing an "amateur" overhaul one can quickly get "into the weeds" when it comes to key fitting. My advice is if there is not too much "play" in the keys, use a thicker key oil to quiet the keys and use softer pads. To do key fitting at a higher level these are the tools I use:

Ferree's Swedging Tool makes fewer marks on keys
Key Swedging Pliers Thin when the swedging tool won't work
Key Swedging Pliers Regular when the swedging too won't work
Post and Hinge Cutter Set to "over expand" the hinge tube and cut it to length while facing, and facing posts
Post Fitting Pliers to close the hole in posts so the rod fits more snugly
Steel Pin Guage Set a great time saver when swedging to insert a pin .001" larger than rod and swedge using that in the tube

I am sure I have left out a few, but this gives a general idea.
 

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Discussion Starter · #119 ·
Thanks Saxoclese, that was my thought too. The play in the two rods, as well as this play in the hinge tube, are probably not worth me trying to tackle the same as a pro would.

For the hinge tube, it would need swedging pliers which are not worth me buying just for this one issue. I suppose if it really bothers me when I'm done, I could have a local shop do this fairly quick and easy for me.

For the two rods, I don't think it'll cause much noise especially with the Aisyn heavy duty key oil I have .. but even if they do cause some noise, it's not really an issue for this particular horn as it won't get played very often and will likely spend most of its life looking pretty on the wall :)

My post above was more just for my knowledge growth. Upon coming across these issues, I just wanted to confirm if my thoughts on how it would be dealt with were correct. (y)
 
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