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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have an old student Armstrong tenor that I picked up secondhand. I plan to slowly work my way through cleaning and lubricating it. Dr G alerted me to this helpful video -
- and I have now done the C# and D# keys as shown in the video. In the past, I did similar work on the G# key on my alto while addressing a sticky pad issue. I assume "changing the oil" on the G# key on my Armstrong tenor would be the next logical move. After that, what's next? I ask this from 2 perspectives: 1) I need to develop some skills before I start messing with more complicated mechanisms and (2) if I'm "changing the oil" in a sax that works fine, which keys might be the most important ones to give some TLC?
I'm doing this slowly - maybe a key (or keys on a rod) every few days, so I can still play the sax. And I'm doing this to learn, not to save money at the shop. I hope soon to be buying a much better tenor. I have another question about buffing the keys, but I'll post that separately.
Thanks, as ever, for your guidance.
 

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If it’s in good mechanical shape and needs no major repairs, why not just spend an hour or two and take the whole thing apart, clean it, and do a lube job while you put it back together?
 

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I agree on stripping and lubing the whole horn - especially if it has not been done in the last several years.

If you persist in a spot check, loosen the springs from their cradles and check all the keys for free movement. If they don’t flop freely, then they are binding - either from lube issues, bent mechanism, or other.
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
If it's in good mechanical shape and needs no major repairs, why not just spend an hour or two and take the whole thing apart, clean it, and do a lube job while you put it back together?
Ha! It takes me "an hour or two" (maybe more….) to do one key!
 

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Whenever I take something apart, I take a video of the whole thing. It's easy with phones these days, and it's a great resource when you can't figure out how something went together.
 

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Keilwerth saxes (S/A/T), Selmer clarinets (S/B), Altus Azumi flute
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I agree with the previous posters. Some of the keys can't even be removed unless you first remove others, and the order varies somewhat by model, especially for older horns (newer horns tend to be more similar).

If you're concerned about remembering what goes where, then in addition to taking video or photographs of the process (as @hackbar suggests above) getting a rod organizing board (like this one, this one, or this one), could also help.
 

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Regarding learning how to do it. You've done one or two already, so, congratulations, you already know how. The rest are exactly the same. You just have to remember (or record) how everything goes back together, including how to re-attach the springs. If you're not mechanically inclined, best to leave it to the professionals.
 

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Taking it apart and putting it back together is a great way to begin to understand how all the parts work together. The idea of making a video of each part being removed is great. If not a video at least take a lot of pictures as you go. I mean a lot. You can't take too many. Even with 50 pictures from every angle you'll be surprised how tricky it is to get it back together right. You'll end up finding out you skipped a step and have to take it apart again to get the one piece in place that you missed. No big deal. That's how you learn.
 

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Spread out a large towel for the bits.

Get pad pf paper and pen and tools.

Take keys off one at a time, recording order and noting anything unusual.Put keys down, with rods/screws, in the order they came off, and keeping them in the same orientation they were on the horn.

clean, lube, assemble.

Do not force anything on or off.

if you are extra nervous, do all of the side keys but not the main upper and lower stacks.

Not mixing up the parts and having enough space will solve a bunch of problems
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for these tips. For the most part, that’s how I’m doing it. But the thought of getting more than 5 or 6 parts off at the same time is intimidating! I used to take my bicycle and my wife’s down to the bearings every winter, but I always made sure one bike was intact before I started deconstructing the other; that was before the days of videos and digitized pic. I don’t hear any loud warnings about what particular part(s) of the sax I should save for my more experienced self (or a skilled technician…..). That’s probably good news. :)
 

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One last piece of advice (I agree with everyone else about doing it all at once). Keep the pivot screws in their posts. That is, when you take a key off that uses pivot screws, put the pivot screws right back where they came from. The reason is that these screws may be slightly different sizes (most common on older horns) and the fit of the key depends on the individual screws.

When it's time to reassemble, take the screws out again just for the key you are putting on, thoroughly clean the posts where they came from, and reassemble. This way you won't be messing up the key fit, and the operation of the key. I have learned this lesson the hard way...

If it really takes you an hour to clean one key, keep doing that with easily removed keys (side keys, alt. F#, the palm keys, etc.) until you gain more familiarity. When I last did this to my alto, I allocated a day to it because it hadn't been done in a long time, and some extra cleaning needed to be done, including pad cleaning and some cork replacement. The whole process took me about 5 hours total.
 

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I don't take them apart anymore for clean/lube. I use spray Pledge which does a great job, then I use a special spray Teflon grease that I spray into a needle oiler - slightly cloudy and thinner than water. This allows it to 'wick' into the rod assembly when applied at the friction points while moving the key. When the solvents evaporate, very light Teflon grease is left. While liquid, it flushes out the old black oil and then because it is a non-sulfated product, it does not attack the brass and turn black like most lubes.
 

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. I don’t hear any loud warnings about what particular part(s) of the sax I should save for my more experienced self (or a skilled technician…..). That’s probably good news. :)


the main stacks man !!! Hi
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
. I don't hear any loud warnings about what particular part(s) of the sax I should save for my more experienced self (or a skilled technician…..). That's probably good news. :)

the main stacks man !!! Hi
Yep, I heard that as soon as I hit "post reply"! I wasn't familiar with the term "main stacks"
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Yep, I heard that as soon as I hit "post reply"! I wasn't familiar with the term "main stacks"
Botched that post! I've since learned what "the stacks" are, but even without knowing the term, they are what was really scaring me! I'll take all the good advice to get as familiar and skilled as possible with the easier keys. Then……. I've made a number of mechanical mistakes on bikes and VWs, but I haven't exactly learned how to stop messing around with stuff. But I heard you and get it - No stacks for now!
 

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Right. Upper stack and Lower stack. More complicated that the independent keys.
palm keys left and right
Side f#
low Eb and C
Octave mech
High E and F# ( if not under stack! I am looking at a Bundy tenor right now where the high E is underneath but can be fiddled out)

Get brave next time and add the left pinky keys.

And then the durn stacks.
Have fun!
 

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When disassembling a horn, I use a blanket on the dining table and lay out the pieces from right to left as I take them off the horn. When the horn is stripped, it is ripe for polishing and getting to those overlooked spots that are most difficult to clean. I then work from left to right, cleaning and lubing as I reassemble the horn.
 
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I started a thread a few years back sharing my experience on this subject. This information may be helpful for those who have removed, cleaned, and oiled several of the "independent" keys and have built up enough courage to want to tackle disassembling the entire instrument. So Ya Wanna Learn Sax Repair
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Okay. So you guys are worth a small fortune once again. I took off the G# key, since that was something I was familiar with from my YAS 23, but in order to get the rod off on my Armstrong, I first had to disassemble the rod to which the Bb key is attached. Without partially removing that rod, I couldn’t get to the screw to take off the G# key’s rod. I guess I’ve already started messing around with the dreaded “stacks” So 1) I see why folks suggest taking everything off and starting from scratch (still deeply frightening for those whose curiosity is greater than their aptitude) and 2) why this forum wisely encoraged me to buy a YAS 23 as I was getting into saxophone, pointing out that parts were easily accessible and the layout of keys was widely understood. My old Armstrong tenor seems to be a decent student horn of a less easy-going nature. But what a delightful hobby! And kudus to those who can fix these amazing musical machines. Einstein summed me up when he said “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” But this forum helps fill in for the missing talent.
 
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