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Discussion Starter #1
Hi folks,
I was looking for another horn to practice repairs on, and I found a director that might be worth it.

The serial number, 4254, was odd, as the seller claimed there was no letters or other numbers around it. Searching the site, I saw that years ago @JayeLID had posted about the remaining Vito horns from Nogales being engraved as shooting stars, and having the confusing 4-digit serials. Sure enough, the horn I'm looking at has the Vito stamped metal key guards, so mystery solved.

I'm thinking about taking a look at this horn soon. The pictures don't show any obvious damage (no apparent bent keys, no dents).

Attached is a picture which shows the engraving, USA mark, and horn color.

Since my goal is just to get another practice-repair horn, the finish isn't too important. But I am curious - what can be done with the brass in this shape?

View attachment 216144
 

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Since my goal is just to get another practice-repair horn, the finish isn't too important. But I am curious - what can be done with the brass in this shape?

View attachment 216144
I've noticed these have a different lacquer and age differently than other horns from the era. If the lacquer stays intact, it can darken quite a bit, and takes on a blue-green spectrum, probably due to some trace corrosion under the lacquer. Could have something to do with the brass alloy Beaungnier used? I purchased some brass ager, that will help the bare spots blend with the rest of the horn, essentially creating a complimentary hue. Fairly effective, and much less time and effort than stripping to bare brass.
 

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Nice job of researching older threads, Brent.

I'll repeat a synopsis just for posterity sake:

Conn bought out the Coin Art facility in Nogales, AZ which has been a subcontractor for Vito, Kenosha...making their altos in AZ. This would be around '61ish. At that point they discontinued making the 14M Director in Elkhart, replacing it with the 50M Director, really a Vito design.

The 50M Director is pretty much the same horn as a model of a Vito Alto of the time. The serial #'s are Vito serial #'s, likely bodies that had already been produced for Vito which had not been outfitted yet. When Conn took over the tooling, they changed to their lacquer, serial # sequences, and changed a few key designs on the model.

That is funny that yours actually has Vito stamps on it. That is kinda cool.

That lacquer hue will always remain. Even after you clean it up...it will clean up the bare brass areas but the coffee-esque hue will remain. You can spot treat with a false patina as noted above, or just let the bare, clean areas patina back by themselves.

A good horn, really. Made in USA, good factory. Sadly, people automatically see "Shooting Stars" and think "Mexico", thus they typically get dismissed; failing to recognize that the Shooting Stars appeared in '57 and up until '70 they were all made in USA, still.

I used to refurb these and sell 'em as a good budget alternative Alto. But the mistaken associations with Mexico ! Cheap Horn ! which had taken root over the decades was too hard to overcome...and I could never get half decent $ for one considering the significant work I would put into 'em.

But they are solid horns, decent keywork, beautiful tone, good intonation ~ good choice for a fixer project.

Have fun.
 

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Thanks for all the comments about the finish, and the horn itself, guys. I appreciate it.

I didn't get to see the horn until today, and I've passed on it for now. The situation was a bit odd and there wasn't a way to negotiate.
 

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Well, here's a two-fold lesson.

When I looked at the horn the other day, in spite of what I said earlier about the appearance not being an issue, when I saw the horn the appearance became an issue. It had a uniform coffee brown, but no places where the brass itself was heavily corroded with red or green spots. So it was ugly, but the metal was intact. The mechanics were very good on it. The only problems were the G# pad needed to be replaced, and the low Bb pad needed alignment. But the situation was the owner wasn't around when I was looking at it on their front porch, and there wasn't a way to negotiate on the $100 asking. So that's why I passed on it.

FFWD a couple days, and I've been reconsidering it, and have talked with the owner a couple times. But yesterday when I decided to just ignore the finish and go for it, the owner said they just sold it.

That would have been a great deal: a 95% working horn for ~$50. Oh well, my pickiness and losing sight of my goal got the best of me this time.
 

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These go for about $100 as project horns, usually, so it isn't like you missed a golden opportunity; although the advantage there was you got to inspect it firsthand.

Live and learn....
 

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Hi guys,

Don't know if this will be seen by anyone as I'm hijacking an old thread, but I have one of these 50M alto's with the 4 digit serial number (#8815) and I'm trying to nail down year of manufacture (a difficult task). When BrentB mentions the Vito stamped metal key guards, is this a particular key guard or all of them? Also, I'm assuming that the stamp would be on the outside of the keyguard. Does anyone know when this stamping stopped? The more I read about these the more I'm realising that I was gifted a diamond in the rough. I was given the horn about 16 years ago and haven't really done anything with it, but recently have found the love for it again. It was repadded as part of the refurb done on it before it was given to me and still plays really nicely, but after so long in the case (and only partially cleaned up initially) needs a chem bath to get rid of a small amount of verdigris in the body. All in all I'm getting happier and happier with it the more I research it.

Hope this gets to someone and I can get a little bit more info on it.

Thanks,
 

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Don't know if this will be seen by anyone as I'm hijacking an old thread, but I have one of these 50M alto's with the 4 digit serial number (#8815) and I'm trying to nail down year of manufacture (a difficult task).
The 50M entered production in early 1960. 50Ms with regular Conn serial numbers begin appearing in late 1962, and from what I've been able to find, these early-run 50Ms have serial numbers going from 1001 up through at least the mid-11000 range. So for yours, I'd say late 1961 or early 1962.
 

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FYI - if anyone is looking for a good 50M project, I know where one is, with a great dark patina, but not freckled or missing much lacquer. I'm tempted, but I already have one that needs a repad...
 

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I personally would not have been a buyer at $100 either. I've gotten comparable instruments for under $50. I've even scored a 16M for $25 bucks. is.

Be patient, pick your projects. More good opportunities will present themselves....
 
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