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One problem I've had with my series 1 is keeping it in adjustment. When I got the horn it was from Sarge at worldwidesax and I had him do a premium rebuild. I got it and it sounded great, though I did feel the action was almost too light, and thought about getting it tightened a little in the future. Within a few days I had a couple leaks. Mostly, side C and Bb would open up when I played. (I use a lot of air, generally). Unfortunately, living in Cairo, I couldn't take it back to him for a tune up. Of course, I played it as is, but low notes where tricky.
I just moved to Budapest where I went to see a technician who does all the work for the big names in the region. He was excellent and sat with me to go over the entire horn. Basically he said that the nortons were just too soft. This is something I hadn't heard before, everyone here praises them. But to me it made sense. Maybe for a classical player who doesn't put as much air through the horn it's perfect, but for screaming blues and free jazz on a 10* link, I think it may be too much for them. (of course, I'm sure there are some classical guys who use tons of air all the time, not trying to start a fight:) ). Has anyone else had experience with this?
It was also surprising, after sitting with the tech, he adjusted the springs a bit and it played great, but after two days, the same leaks were back.
When I bought my Conn 30M, Perry Ritter said the previous owner had the same problem with it, and that's why he tightened it up so much. After one year of playing the Conn, it had 1 tiny leak. After a week of the Buescher it had leaks.
At this point I'm pretty confident this is my main horn, so I'm not so adverse to removing Norton springs where necessary, it's just a resale fear. Also, the fact that you can't remove them and put them back in because modern springs won't fit.
Any suggestions?
 

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Hi John,

I'm only an amature technician, and haven't had the opportunity to mess much with the Norton springs on my 400 as I haven't had that issue. According to what I've *heard*, it may be a problem with the spring slipping in it's metal sleeve which then screws into the post. When loose, the tendency will be for a spring to rotate away from tension, thus causing your problem. I remember hearing that this was an issue with some Nortons.

Given the difficulty with getting replacements in your area, and guessing that the spring itself will hold tension and that it is just slipping in it's sleeve; the spring and sleeve could be lightly soldered to be snug. It's a very small part and my fear would be getting solder in the threads of the sleeve, which would be messy (definitely a 'do not try at home') and heat can adversly effect the spring itself. Getting a quality replacement, sleeve and all would be another option I would bring up with your tech. If he's good, he should be able to fix it once he realizes what the real problem is. Springs losing tension is a solvable problem. Searge has a good reputation, it sounds like one of those things that's tough to find.

Nortons IMO were a vain attempt at solving a problem while creating a more serious one. "Anyone can change a spring!" was what they extolled, but not anyone could or wanted to properly diss/reassemble an instrument to change one. In other words, they were a design failure which has become a difficult supply/knowledge situation. I'd fear bringing a Buescher to a technician who had not seen this before not knowing what he'd do. It's the same situation with snap-ons. Even though snaps and springs weren't as great an idea as they thought, the value of the instrument is tied to their presence. You simply wouldn't pay as much for a Buescher which had it's snaps removed and it's norton springs replaced with something more conventional because the horn market (like the vintage car market) values original specs. /end tangent. ;)
 

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My tenor came with very light springing, which I must confess I liked, and my repairer stiffened them up. I don't think he replaced them, just altered the tension. I don't understand the process, but it works very well.

It is possible to buy replacment Nortons, and your repairer ought to be able to fit them if you aren't keen on doing it yourself. This may be the answer, however frustrating it may be to have to pay for repairs so soon. If it is any consolation, I had to do the same with my tenor, which was set up all wrong by a 'leading' Buescher expert!
 

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If it really is the springs, then I believe you can have the ones replaced which are a problem. I think my tech did this with one spring that was worn. Sometimes a horn that has been overhauled or rebuilt will require adjustment after a short playing period. I had this happen with my MKVI and one of my Bueschers. Took them back for "tweaking" and they've been perfect ever since.

I played my 156 Buescher for 4 years, daily, and on many gigs, and it still wasn't leaking. I did take it in for a tune-up but I probably didn't really have to. I've owned and played a series one 'Crat for over two years now, with no adjustment problems or leaks. You really shouldn't have the leak problem you're experiencing on a Buescher, so it does point to something wrong.
 

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Aren't the side-C and side-Bb springs the flat, non-Norton variety? Should be simple to replace with standard flat blued-steel springs of a stiffer tension... These side-keys are prone to leaking open from acoustic pressure, and not just on Bueschers. When checked for leaks, they are sealing fine; in play, they can crack open when pushing a bit of air through the horn.

As to the notion of Norton springs spinning loose (haven't seen it myself), Loctite has the answer to that; no need to solder.

I've played a few Aristocrats (no Serie I's though) and felt that the spring tension was almost ideal, being very even from top to bottom (from key fully open to fully closed).
 

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Some of the side keys do use the needle springs rather than the flat ones. If the spring is slipping in the thread, it can have some material put in the thread to hold it. My biggest problem with Nortons is that they are hard to tension on older honrs and break off. When this happens and the slot is damaged, the part will need to be drilled out which is quite a job with the post on the body. If you need to put a flat spring in place of a Norton, your choice is to solder or epoxy one in the large hole OR drill a new hole below the old one. Nortons are still available from sources like Ferree's but you need to know the exact size.
 

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bruce bailey said:
Some of the side keys do use the needle springs rather than the flat ones. If the spring is slipping in the thread, it can have some material put in the thread to hold it. My biggest problem with Nortons is that they are hard to tension on older honrs and break off. When this happens and the slot is damaged, the part will need to be drilled out which is quite a job with the post on the body. If you need to put a flat spring in place of a Norton, your choice is to solder or epoxy one in the large hole OR drill a new hole below the old one. Nortons are still available from sources like Ferree's but you need to know the exact size.
Bruce, I've worked on a few True-Tones and Aristocrats of the pre-Selmer era, and I haven't seen any Bueschers, even True-Tones, that used needle springs (or screw-in Nortons) for the side-C or side-Bb. Just flat springs screwed into the underside of the key arm.
 

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I agree that the flat springs are on the pad part but the one I am working on has a needle spring for the C lever that opens the flat sprung pad. One of the biggest problems people find replacing flat springs is that is not only the built in tension of the spring but also the length and were it puts pressure on the body in realation to the pivot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Well, everyone, thanks for the response. Hmm a lot here to think about. I will check on these issues with the tech.
For reference, the side keys on my horn are standard flat springs. I hadn't realized these were non norton. I just assumed they were a different kind of Norton. That's good because I do think they are the big problem.
It was pretty obvious while playing, I could feel the side keys vibrating. For a while I just lightly wedged the side C shut which helped, but then my altissimo G# was shot.
But as a way of judging some of your norton tensions, when I release my right hand F the key above it, which it closes as well, will bounce slightly after opening all the way. Does anyone else have that?
 

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The bounce on that pad above the F (I call it the F# pad) can be reduced by changing the material on the linkage in the back and/or changing the material under the key foot. The real culprit however, is usually the play in the mechanism. The play is usually between the key and the rod or the post and the rod.
In this case, that F# pad is connected to the lower stack Rod in 2 places. First, up by the pad cup them down the stack a bit. The part that connects lower down the stack is usually the culprit. You can check for this type of play by tapping on the sides of the RH stack pearls with your fingers perpendicular to the pad cups. Also, you can wiggle that bar in the back that is connected to the F# pad.

It's probably best to just take it to a tech and show him the problem.


FYI: although it seems your problems are flat springs, the new Norton Springs available are not as strong as the old gold plated Nortons that came on Bueschers. Though possible, it can be difficult to achieve excellent spring tensions when replacing all of the springs.
 

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John_Dikeman said:
It was pretty obvious while playing, I could feel the side keys vibrating. For a while I just lightly wedged the side C shut which helped, but then my altissimo G# was shot.
I just went out to my shop and had a look at a Series II Aristo that's disassembled. The flat spring on the side-C key pad assembly is reversed; in other words, oriented in the oppositie direction under the keypad arm (compared to True-Tones), such that if nothing is holding/pressing against the key itself, it will be wide open.

The side-C lever is mounted between two body posts with two pilot-type pivot screws, and is sprung with a Norton spring such that its arm extension (fitting under the "south" end of the side-C key) is lifting up, keeping the side-C pad closed.

The two springs work against each other, but this shouldn't be a big problem unless they have almost equal tension and/or the pad has a leak. (The Norton spring should be much stronger.) If something were preventing the lever arm extension from rising high enough to push the side-C key completely closed, you'd have a leak even if the pad were properly seated.

I would also take a look at the two pilot pivot screws to make sure they are straight, well-greased, and not over-tightened. Otherwise they could easily cause the lever key to bind such that its arm extension doesn't lift high enough to keep the side-C key pad completely closed. If the screws are straight, but you detect binding, the pivot posts themselves would be in question. They should be perpendicular to the axis of the lever. Pilot-type pivot screws are much less forgiving when a post is out of alignment.

Even without any of the above problems, if the side-C assembly were sprung for a very light touch (normally a good thing), it is possible for the vibrating air column inside the horn to crack the pad open slightly during play.
 
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