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Forum Contributor 2017
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I'm curious to know what techs think of the differences between SS and Blue tempered springs.
 

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Discussion Starter #3

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Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
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Thanks Saxoholic.
You saved me from writing an epistle the same as my others.
 

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Stainless springs carry fewer pathogens when they puncture the skin on your fingers. ;)
 

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Stainless steel springs are pointless.
 

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Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
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But depending on the shape of the cradle, this sadomasochist puts them in the bench motor and gives them a point.
 

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How about rust? My blue steel springs are showing some signs of rust. This may be because I spend the winter months near the ocean. Good quality SS does not rust and should last longer.
 

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Since I started playing these old 60s Keilwerths with have stainless steel springs I have grown accustomed to them, they are fairly light action, I don’t think they give you the power of good blue steel, but I like my action on the lighter side anyway. They feel absolutely fine to me.
 

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How about rust? My blue steel springs are showing some signs of rust…
If you keep them oiled, they won't rust. But it is a bit of a pain in the you know where to oil them.
 

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Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
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Since I started playing these old 60s Keilwerths with have stainless steel springs I have grown accustomed to them, they are fairly light action, I don’t think they give you the power of good blue steel, but I like my action on the lighter side anyway. They feel absolutely fine to me.
Diameter and length being the same, the good alloys of stainless steel have the same spring characteristics of blued steel. (I did not believe this when I first heard it - from Kraus, engineer and supplier to our trade - so I did a controlled test and found it was correct.)
A feeling of lightness in the springing comes from a lower diameter-to-length ratio, i.e. spring design. and that has do be done in conjunction with total key design and post placement, so it's not straight-forward. It is one thing that Selmer did exceptionally well in their Mark VI.
The sluggish feel of many springs is when the force needed to "fight" the spring when the key is pressed increases a lot during the travel. That comes from a high diameter-to-length ratio.

Springs can also feel sluggish if the "cradle" design is such that there is sliding friction rather than rolling friction against the spring. This is where cradle design and pointedness of the spring can play a part. A point is not needed if the cradle design is appropriate.

How about rust? My blue steel springs are showing some signs of rust. This may be because I spend the winter months near the ocean. Good quality SS does not rust and should last longer.
Indeed. Rust is really common with blued steel springs - both needle springs and flat springs.
High quality stainless steel is far better because of that.
It's unfortunate that poor quality stainless steel, with inferior "springiness", and often crappy installation, gave them a bad name.
 

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How about rust? My blue steel springs are showing some signs of rust. This may be because I spend the winter months near the ocean. Good quality SS does not rust and should last longer.
How ‘bout surface treatments?

Gold plate, titanium nitride...

Those gold-plated Norton springs on Bueschers seem to last well. TiN has a nice gold color, is relatively hard so it doesn’t scratch as easily as gold, and very corrosion resistant.
 

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Those gold-plated Norton springs on Bueschers seem to last well. TiN has a nice gold color, is relatively hard so it doesn’t scratch as easily as gold, and very corrosion resistant.
Buffet used gold plated non-tapered springs. I don't know what's under the plating. They are great on 2 horns I have from the 70s. Even so, gold is not permanent as the Nortons on my TH&C would indicate. Then I have some original blued springs on a 1930 Conn which look perfect despite wear and corrosion on the silver plate.

While I think either is fine, I cringe when I see a stainless spring on a nice vintage horn that has most of its original blues. In some cases, where the spring is short and thick, it can cause the pivot screw hole to wear and deflect.
 

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How about anodized titanium with all those cool colors? How well does that last?
TiN is the gold-colored coating that you may see on drill bits - it’s tough. The trendy, anodized Ti coating for jewelry is significantly thinner and less durable.
 

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Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
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I don't know about titanium - probably pretty expensive for small production runs such as sax springs, but in my experience, in their often damp environment, spring platings tend to invite galvanic corrosion and peeling.
 
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