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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My wife and I enjoy travelling, and checking out the local thrift shops, antique shops, estate sales, all that good stuff. Sometimes we find interesting things, sometimes we don't.

A few weeks ago, we found ourselves in a shop and I found a horn. A 1926 Conn New Wonder II alto. This girl needs work; it hasn't been played in forever, so the 40+ year old pads are falling out and useless, the silver plate shows extensive gross on it, the microtuner on the neck is a disaster, the case is garbage...but the action is surprisingly in great shape.

https://imgur.com/a/rkG5Zaz

I have already ordered a set of roo pads with riveted dome resos from Music Medic, and have started the long process of cleaning the body (using the walk through from Matt Stohrer's site).

The best part is that I have what will hopefully be a beautiful little alto, and the initial expense was $100.

What do you all think should be done with this horn? I can do SOME of the work myself - cleaning, removing the old pads, that sort of stuff. I don't have the tools to properly adjust the horn after I get it cleaned up and the new pads put on, and have no idea what I can do with the microtuner. Definitely getting a new case (protec XL) ASAP, then hopefully getting everything done slowly but surely.
 

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Looking at the photos, it appears that someone has sprayed clear lacquer over the silver. I think that stripping the entire horn would make it look better.
 

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Wow....I'd love to find one of these gold nuggets. Even in a poor condition that's a treasure for a skilled guy with experience. Unfortunately in east Canada, finding a saxophone, no matter how old or rare it is, that's in itself a rare event.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Wow....I'd love to find one of these gold nuggets. Even in a poor condition that's a treasure for a skilled guy with experience. Unfortunately in east Canada, finding a saxophone, no matter how old or rare it is, that's in itself a rare event.
I found it not too far from eastern QC, actually.

You never know what might be in the next shoppe.
 

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I found it not too far from eastern QC, actually.

You never know what might be in the next shoppe.
Yeah, one of those rare lucks. But good old vintage instruments are quite rare here. Quebec never had - until recently - a rich and well developped high school band program. I remember when I was in high school, there was some wood flutes, old complete out of tune pianos and old beaten, cracked and holed classical guitars. I don't remember I played or even saw a wind instrument in the music class. The used market is thus very poor. Yamahas, Yamahas and Yamahas....

Though one of my friend trumpet player had the rare luck to find a pristine 1952 Martin Committee at the back of a wardrobe, close to Montreal. The case was totally covered with dust. Got it for $150 If I remember....wow!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I did some cleaning of this horn and can confirm that there is a layer of ancient lacquer over the plate - I will guess that it was sprayed in the 50s, as it looks like that was the last time this horn really was serviced.

Knowing this, I am debating on no polishing the horn and leaving it with the patina of age, but still replacing all pads and getting the action set up good and quick. I've never been much of a "shiny horn guy," and the idea of the old aesthetic appeals to me in a weird way.

I still cannot wait to play it.
 

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Having been down this road a few times, here are some thoughts. First, good idea junking the old case. I know that there are those who will say keep it, but if they appear in this thread, offer to sell them the case for $5 and shipping. They will go away. Buy some anti-tarnish strips to put in your new case. Also, if you use an ebonite mouthpiece, keep it in a Ziplock baggie (after drying) if you keep it in the case.

Photograph your disassembly (phone photos are okay). It's also nice to keep a written "diary" detailing the order. It might take an additional 15 minutes to write things down, but it will likely save you an hour of assembly time. Buy a good set of jeweler's screw drivers. Use the one that fits best, especially on the little grub screws. If you can find a little magnet, put that on the screw driver so that the grub screw stays stuck on the end of the driver. Try to keep things organized. I've used Ziplocks and canning jars. Post It Notes are also helpful. I even put the old pads in with the keys until I get the new pads.

The rods are generally what slows the action on these old beauties (assuming no obvious structural damage). One of the invisible conditions that effects the rods is the entire body tube having been torqued over time. Once everything is off, take a good look down the tube to check whether it is straight. Often there will be a slight curve towards the bell with the bell brace being the apex. This can effect the long rods and should be carefully straightened, especially before any swedging is done. Swedging isn't always required, as excess motion can be remedied in some situations by a slight adjustment of a post. Which ever method is used, getting rid of sloppy and or stiff action is what really makes the oldies come to life.

Once stripped down and ready for deep cleaning, the options vary and many have their favorites. If there is a coating of lacquer over the silver plate, I would try boiling water for removal. I've had great success on old lacquer. I would be very careful about polishing, especially the gold plating inside the bell. That plating can be so thin that you will polish through it. I would recommend a bottle of Tarnex, a wash tub, an old toothbrush, and Q-Tips. You can accomplish in 15 minutes what would take several hours. You still might have to use a polish in some areas after rinsing with hot water. Now is when the anti-tarnish strips become important.

Once you've gotten this far, repadding is one of the easier tasks. You will need a leak light and a heat source. I've tried a few and the light I use most is a $14 LED light bar intended as an under cabinet/counter top light from Home Depot. My heat source is a little $3 butane cigarette lighter. My glue gun is a more expensive battery powered Ryobi, but I got by fine with a cheapo hobby store gun for a few years.

The only caveat is that if you are intending to take it to a tech at some point, you may want to talk the them at prior to getting too far into the rebuild. Some techs don't like hot glue, so if you've started seating pads and decide to take it to a tech, you will have to endure some whining. Same if you use shellac and the tech prefers hot glue.

Mark
 

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You can do ALL of the work yourself, if you feel you posses good mechanical aptitude and can understand the relationship of the multiple key adjustments. Take your time and study all the relevant articles you can find here. My first repad from 2005 is still playing well with almost no readjustments over the years. I just recently replaced the palm key and low C# pads. The original effort included body tube straightening, post soldering, tone hole leveling (I didn't have rolled), and lacquer removal. All done successfully with information gleaned from this site. Since then I've done 7 or 8 more. The cost of a few necessary tools and supplies will be minimal compared to the ultimate value received, plus the satisfaction of having done it yourself. Good luck !!!
 

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I love my 1927 NWII alto.

She is wonderful.

Good luck in making the right decisions with yours to get the music.
 

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As noted by Mark...its fairly likely the lacquer can be removed by putting the body and keys in boiling water. You can add some washing soda to the water (not baking soda-washing soda). Leave things in the water for a few minutes, then pull out a key and test it with a soft-bristle toothbrush, see if the lacq peels off. If not, give it another 4 or so minutes. Fair chance this will work.

If you can get the lacq off, use Wright's Silver Cream and warm water to then clean the silver plate. You can also just submerge the keys in Tarn-X.

You can leave her as is...but considering the lacq was not a factory job to begin with....and the fact it'll sorta look like crap even after a thorough bath should you leave it...I would vote trying to get it off.

Microtuner...I'd say try disassembling it, but honestly hardware-store tools ain't gonna quite do the job as you have to remove the interior lock collar to take it apart (there are two tiny holes in the top surface facing out which you have to get into to use turning leverage. If lucky, this can be done with a small screwdriver or some sorta needle or metal rod...but in all likelihood it won't budge. I actually had a machinist make a tool for me, specifically for this purpose.

Other than that, not much point in speculating what might or might not await you as far as other conditions. You can keep posting here as you proceed.

Your pad choice is an installation challenge for a DIY'er, IMHO. But go for it.
 

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Watch the neck tenon.

A little slack here could cause the motorboat to chug on you.
 
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