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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi fellow SOTWers,

I wonder if I can fix a broken solder part myself.

There's a problem on my older tenor ('60s Malerne) where a solder part in the G key mechanism is broke, and now the G keycup won't close. The solder part is at the end of a key rod attaching to a "horizontal end piece" like so:



The solder is broke here:


Apparently I'm not used to older mechanism, so when I overpress the G key lever I actually induce torsion on the solder part. Below slows the parts involved in the G key action.



The fix should be strong enough to withstand the torsion involved when pressing the G key lever. I added a cork piece under the G lever so it won't be overpressed again.

On closer look I found the "horizontal end-piece" actually has a hole where the key rod stick through:


So I figured the "fix" should be applied to the exact place where the solder is broke.

The reason I'm not going to a tech right away is that the low cost of this tenor cannot quite justify me investing money on (at least at this moment), plus the mere "taking it to the tech" will cost me some...

Now the question(s):

a) is soldering iron and tin/lead solder strong enough? That way i don't have to disassemble all upper stack keys, which I'd like to avoid. Or

b) if a) isn't possible, how 'bout super glueing? I'm afraid it won't be strong enough and hard to remove should I move back to the resolder path.

c) Any other ideas....?

Thank you very much!
 

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Superglue won't hold it for any appreciable length of time. There might not be that much force going through the joint, but there'll be a degree of flex - and superglue just doesn't cope that well with it.

Soft-soldering the joint would be a better bet - but you're not going to be able to bring the joint up to heat without using a gas torch - and to do so you'll have to remove the key.

If you get that far, you might as well do the job properly and have it silver-soldered.
If getting it to a repairer is a problem, why not post it?
If you scored a line across the joint to mark the correct orientation while the key is on the horn, it wouldn't be a problem for a competent repairer to match it off the horn (it would help if you sent the rod screw).
Cost of job like that? Twenty quid or so.

To botch it properly you'd need to superglue the joint, then surround it with an epoxy resin. JB Weld would be my choice.

Regards,
 

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Being realistic, there's not a lot wrong with a 'botch job' - providing it's done properly.
Aesthetics tend to go out of the window, but if the mechanical side of the job is covered then there's no real reason why such jobs can't last. The big problem comes when you want to undo the job and have it done properly...and that's when the costs mount up.

Regards,
 

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If you do choose to go the epoxy route you should do some proper prep. Pull the loose rod from the socket, clean the bejeezus out of the interior of the socket and the end of the rod and then roughen up both surfaces (probably easier to roughen the rod end so that there will be a good friction fit when reinserted.

While disassembled, mix up your epoxy and smear some both in the socket and on the end of the rod, carefully getting more than you need on everything. Twist the rod back into the socket (it should be tight enough that some force and twisting will be required and so that even with the springs in the cradles the keywork will retain its position through the friction fit alone) and then get the mechanism lined up in place, installed on the horn just as it should be when the epoxy is cured. At this point carefully wipe off the excess epoxy not only to ensure that the joint has complete coverage but that it also looks reasonably neat. You do not need a big blob of the epoxy for a good fix.

If you use JB weld as Mr. Howard suggested, you'll have hours to do this- no rush. The stuff has the characteristics of a very viscous liquid for four or five hours so it will smooth itself up nicely on the surface after you wipe it to the final desired coverage. It will also run and form a droplet on the bottom if there's too much. Not to worry, just check it at the three hour mark or so and trim up any droplet with your fingertip or a toothpick/ small screwdriver end, ETC. FWIW if there is a droplet forming you probably left too much on the fix! You want the epoxy IN the socket and right at the external juncture to do the holding- not some large wrap around glue blob to become the equivalent of a cast on a broken arm.

You might consider just placing a bit of plastic wrap on the other mechanism adjacent to the repaired part as any stray JB Weld you happen to get on a surrounding area unnoticed will harden and be a pain to remove.

The hardest part of all of this will be: let it sit immobile for a full 24 hours and don't play it for a full 48. if you move the epoxy when it's in the firm but not cured state you'll radically reduce the strength.

If you do "debotch it" at a later date, JB Weld can be easily popped off with a screwdriver tip once the metal is decently heated with a small torch, leaving no trace- in this it comes off far better than either soft solder or superglue (which stinks to high heaven and leaves bits to scrape off).
 

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Getting the angles right on jobs like this that appear to be simple, can be a lot trickier than it looks.
The G is also operating the octave mechanism, so it needs to be repositioned correctly. Definitely a job for a repairman IMHO.
 

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The reason I'm not going to a tech right away is that the low cost of this tenor cannot quite justify me investing money on (at least at this moment), plus the mere "taking it to the tech" will cost me some...
What you paid for it is irrelevant when it comes to repair work. How much would an equivalent tenor cost to buy new? If it was an SBA or a MkVI which you paid very little for (hypothetically speaking), would you still not be able to justify spending money on having it repaired because it didn't cost you much regardless of the fact it's a good instrument? Put things into perspective - it's not as if it's an old car of little value which you can't justify having any welding work done on it as it's worthless.

You're best bet is having it taken apart so it can be cleaned up and silver soldered back together properly as that'll make for the strongest joint.

Soft solder won't really be strong enough and will eventually fail, plus all traces of soft solder (if used) will have to be removed in order to silver solder it which can be a pain to do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks so much for the opinions so far.
Thanks Henry D for the detailed explanation on the epoxy route.
For information I think I bought this horn for a fair, appropriate price but chances are I cannot resell it locally, not to mention covering the shipping cost, maintenance cost etc. That's my attitude towards saxophone gear - some day I might have to sell it. :twisted:
But now having read all these opinions, sending it to a tech may be relatively worthwhile.
 

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You're more than welcome, of course.

Quite frankly, though you could probably create an epoxy based fix which might well last indefinitely and be quite presentable (or at least not jump out), key work repairs such as this really do fall into the category of things on a sax which ought to be properly fixed.

"Properly fixed" in this instance is silver soldered.
 

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To botch it more properly, just take it off the horn and mash the offending part in a vise. That'll take care of the potential to rotate and it won't make a mess of glue.

OTOH, take it to a tech if you choose to play the horn. Chances are the horn has a few leaks that could use fixing as well.

If you don't care enough to play the horn in decent condition, sell/give it to someone that will.
 

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This is a fairly simple silver solder repair for most repair people. It will take longer to check the sax for leaks after the silver soldering is done.
Matt
 

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IMO this part takes a fair bit of leverage load over a small area, making both lead solder and epoxy unsuitable.

And lead solder sure is a pain to totally remove before the job is done properly at a later time, after the lead has failed. The tiniest trace of lead mucks up the strength of silver solder.

Another option is to take it to a local silversmith or jewellery maker, who will have experience and the gear for silver-soldering. But you will have to give him an indication of exactly what the alignment has to be, and supply the pivot rod to assist with that.

BTW, the key should bend long before such silver-soldering fails. Indeed the soldering should be as strong as any other part of the key. So the failure was because it was not done correctly in the first place.
 

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I had a Muramatsu flute in recently where the split E mechanism bridge had come adrift just like this.
 

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To botch it more properly, just take it off the horn and mash the offending part in a vise. That'll take care of the potential to rotate and it won't make a mess of glue.

OTOH, take it to a tech if you choose to play the horn. Chances are the horn has a few leaks that could use fixing as well.

If you don't care enough to play the horn in decent condition, sell/give it to someone that will.
And for the final finishing coup de grace, tour de force, icing on the cake; duct tape. Just suck it up and take it to a repairman, or since you didn't pay much, maybe a muffler shop.
 

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...or epoxy it which will look homegrown but may well work just fine, play it, and never ever admit having done so lest you be tied to a giant reed and flamed for heresy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Just for update, I ended up taking it to the tech, who silver soldered the joint, eliminated a few leaks and regulated the horn. Turns out the leaks made me pressed too hard and eventually broke the solder. The original solder wasn't too strong to begin with.

Thanks again to everyone for their advices.
 
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