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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've started fixing my 100 year old Buescher C Melody, and I've ran into a bit of trouble. Most of the keys have been removed, but all of the main keys, along with a few side keys, and the screw for the octave key on the neck are stuck. I've used a ton of WD40 and WD40 rust removal, and although they feel a bit looser, I still can't get the screws out. To make matters worse, they are also stripped a bit. How can I get them out, preferably without breaking them? Also, I'm a little concerned that I'm not twisting the screws the right way. Is left still loose, or do I turn it right to loosen it?
 

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Have you tried heat ? A cigarette lighter might help. All the same, you might need to drill some of them out. Sounds like a job for an expert…
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I've tried using heat, I used an open flame and that burned the lacquer, so I tried a heat gun and that didn't do much either.
 

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Counter-clockwise loosens.

That may be characterized as 'left' or 'right' depending on the person, I suppose.

Have you tried "heat-quench" ? Whereby, in addition to penetrating oil (I prefer liquid wrench to WD40, personally) left to soak in overnight, you heat the post head, then quench it immediately with an ice cube.

Lather, rinse, repeat a few times.

This...in theory...alternates expanding the metal (heat) and contracting it (quench), sometimes resulting in shaking off enough rust to succeed.

It is unclear from you OP, however...are we talking point screws...pivot rods...or both ?

If all else fails (you ain't gonna wanna hear this)....I next move to actually unsoldering the posts (this way one can actually turn the post, not the rod or screw). Works quite well on rods. But most DIY'ers wouldn't wanna go there...which is probably wise.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for that help, do you think compressed air would be good for cooling it? Also, they are all rods, sorry I didn't clear that.
 

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If the screw slots are stripped as a result of using poorly fit screwdrivers, the repair has been made even more difficult. Without a good mechanical grip by a screwdriver blade in the slot at the face of the rod none of the other techniques are likely to work. This is one of those cases where professional tools and years of experience pay off. I recommend taking it to a professional since more invasive methods may required to disassemble the key work. There is a good chance that the sax is going to need some new rods made as well. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I have been there and done that and have learned the hard way.
 

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First determine whether the screw is stuck in the key, the posts, or both. Can you move the key itself? If you can, does the screw rotate with it? The most common case is the rod screw stuck in the key but it's not the only possibility.

Is the slot good? Do you get a very good hold with the screwdriver or does it tend to slip? If the latter then it might be necessary to improve the slot before removing.

"Stripped" usually refers to the threads. You can try tapping from the other (thread) side while trying to rotate it. I'm not sure how you found that it's stripped if it is stuck. If you meant the slot is damaged, see above.

Cycles of lighter fluid, thin oil, penetrating oil and heat work well sometimes, better than just penetrating oil and heat.
 

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I’ve used Kroil on some really stuck height adjustment screws on the low Eb, C, B and B flat. The large ones that are on the guards.
It’s a really effective penetrating oil. I’ve used it on stuck bolts on my cars and scooter also.
We’ve probably all seen the filing in to the post and screw to get a bigger screwdriver or better grip too.
I’d say with a 100 year C melody cosmetics aren’t that important since you can just hang it on the wall the right way or get a lampshade to cover the blemishes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well here's the thing, the key loves, and the screws move with it, so I don't know why the screw won't budge. I know the slot is stripped, so could I somehow make the shot deeper to get a better grip? Also one more question, and I re attach all of the side keys and still be able to access the main keys afterwards? I have everything I need to fix the rest of it.
 

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OK, so if I understand right....when you turn the rod, you can see the keys move with the rod ?

If that is the case, then in fact it isn't the rod threads which are buggered and frozen - it's the fact that the rod is sorta fused to the key barrel(s).

Although this sounds horrible, it's actually perferable.

But as Saxoclese says...IF the screwdriver slot is trashed, then that puts you at a disadvantage. If it's really stripped so the screwdriver does not grip/hold any longer....that's not great. The only way to re-slot the end of the rod would be to actually saw into the post head:
We’ve probably all seen the filing in to the post and screw to get a bigger screwdriver or better grip too.
....this can be done, but is not advised because then you've permanently put a slot/scar into the post head...and it's not guaranteed to succeed even if you do manage to reslot the rod head.

But the issue here is not the threaded end, it now becomes freeing the rusty rod from the key barrels.

My suggestion (IF there's still sufficient slot left to hold the screwdriver to the rod):

1) Hit the seams of each key (the ends of each barrel for each separate key) with the oil. Let it soak in overnight. Honestly, even the BEST penetrating oil is just NOT gonna really penetrate very deeply into the barrels.

2) Then go to the heat and quench method. No...you need something cold as all heck...thus the ice cube. Air won't cut it.

3) NOW...instead of concentrating your effort on turning the rod...we know (assume the rod threads are fsomewhat free in the post head, so we wanna concentrate on freeing the key barrels). Put the screwdriver into the rod slot and HOLD it there, don't try to turn it.

4) then pick a key and grab it and try rotating the key up and down while you are holding the screwdriver/rod stationary. You are hoping to get some movement in the key without taking the rod along with it.

See how that goes.

If it fails, or if the slots are so far gone you cannot get any screwdriver grip on the rod - then you are at the worst case scenario, as noted by others ....and you'll have to bring it to a tech to extract the rods and indeed the likelihood is some of the rods will not be salvageable.
But it's not a completely lost cause. Just sort of a not untypical pain in the butt.....
But this is why when I buy a project horn I always ask in advance if the screw heads move
 

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Hello. How long have you been trying to loosen the screws? I was working on a Conn New Wonder 1 and pretty much all the screws were unmovable. I tried WD40/heat/heat and cold every day for a least 2 weeks and over time I got more and more movement until eventually I freed all of them. With the screw heads, could you use a Dremel to slightly deepen the slot? Good luck with the work.
 

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I recommend the Wurth Blue Ice, this is the best product for this purpose, the screw is cooled (frozen at -45 ºC) and the diameter is reduced, facilitating the removal...
 

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As others have said:
Repeated (i.e. many times over several days) applications of a decent penetrating fluid (eg PB Blaster) with significant heat - not quite enough to melt solder or burn lacquer - tends to work in the end. However you must never do anything that will damage the slot. That means top quality, undamaged, long-shafted, largish-diameter-handled screw drivers of the perfect size, used with excellent alignment and huge pressure pushing towards the screw, and not quite enough turning force to destroy the slot. These screw drivers are expensive! And the risk of it slipping and pushing it through your other hand is real.

And and determine whether the rod is seized in the post or the pivot tube. If the latter, then there are further special techniques.

This all takes a lot of judgement that comes from considerable experience. If you don't have that, then leave well alone. You will just wreck the slotted end and make the job far more expensive for the good tech when you give up.

Let's be blunt: If you don't even know which way to turn the screw driver then best advise is that you shouldn't be doing this. Stop before you wreck it more!
 

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I recommend the Wurth Blue Ice, this is the best product for this purpose, the screw is cooled (frozen at -45 ºC) and the diameter is reduced, facilitating the removal...
I believe that when heat is used, what it dos is:
1. Greatly lower the viscosity of the penetrating fluid, so that it penetrates into tinier spaces, i,e, into the rust.
2. Expands the air that is in the pivot, so that it bubbles away from the area, to be replaced by the penetrating fluid upon cooling.

Cooling would do pretty much the opposite.

Proponents of cooling seem to believe that loosening is done by shrinking the steel rod inside the key or post. Both the steel and the brass would be cooled together so both would shrink. They coefficient of linear expansion for brass is 19 and for steel it is 13 (/1,000,000 per degree C). This means that the brass would shrink more than the steel, making the combo tighter still.

Even if hypothetically it were possible to keep the brass warm while cooling the steel inside, cooling the steel from say 20C to -20C - because of conduction there's no way it will cooperate in getting to -44C! - this cooling by 20C would decrease the diameter of a rod from say 2.5mm by 0.0013mm (0.00005")... 1.3 microns. I don't think that would make much difference.

I'm not disputing that it works, only because I have not tried it. But if it works then I think it would be for another reason, such as making some gummy binding material, such as residue from substandard oil, more brittle.
 

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With the screw heads, could you use a Dremel to slightly deepen the slot? Good luck with the work.
This might be possible if you went with a very fine Dremel etching bit, actually. But, again, it'd take a pretty experienced hand not to mess up the interior of the post hole (which is made of softer brass, of course).

I tend to echo the advice here that if the screwhead slot is trashed....you, as a DIY'er...have probably come to the end of the road as far as what you can do to free these up....
 

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As Gordon said: if you're not sure which way to turn the screwdriver, stop now and take it to an experienced tech. It'll barely cost you anything and insures there's no significant damage.

- Saxaholic
 
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