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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all. My new Conn/Selmer alto has developed an annoying habit of self loosening its own point screws, particularly on long key barrels/rods. I've already had to tighten one down on a sax that was supposedly set up when it left the shop. Well, now the high F# mechanism is getting a little sticky and slow to bounce back. Someone a while back was good enough to mention that I probably need to oil up the keys, so that's what I'm going to do. That said...

I've searched the forums for "best key oil" and "how to oil the keys" and found some really good info, but I'm concerned about the finish. I don't intend to use any type of oil made for another purpose for fear of additives or detergents so automotive gear oil and sewing machine oils are out. The sax came with anti-tarnish strips which leads me to believe that it isn't lacquered, so naturally I'd like to keep the finish as intact as possible for as long as possible. So for all the experienced techs and do-it-ourselfers, can you recommend a key oil that won't harm my silver plated finish? Does it even matter? Any and all suggestions are welcome and appreciated.
 

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The two things I use are mountain bike bearing packing grease (for pivot screws) and WD40 mountain bike chain oil but I hear your concern about tarnish - I have not seen any of it on my bare brass New Aristocrat that I rebuilt/refitted 6 years ago, though. Sewing machine oil is probably too thin anyway.
 

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Selmer MK VI, Selmer SA80 II Silver-plate Alto, Selmer SA80 II Silver-Plated Tenor, Yani Soprano SC
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Just reading up on Hetman.com

says:
KEY LUBRICANTS

Hetman® Synthetic Key Lubricants are specifically designed for musical instrument keys that utilize hinge tube and rod construction. These high technology lubricants provide superior key action by establishing a tenacious, synthetic lubricating film between the hinge rods and hinge tubes. This protective synthetic layer reduces friction and wear, prevents corrosion of hinge rods, dampens sympathetic vibrations, and quiets noisy keys.



The choice of three viscosity grades (Light, Medium, and Heavy) allows the professional to maximize the performance of the instrument's action by selecting the lubricant grade that is best suited to the instrument. The use of the proper viscosity key lubricant ensures an action that is quick, crisp, smooth, and quiet. Hetman® Synthetic Key Lubricants are nontoxic, long-lasting, non-gumming, and plastics-safe. Each lubricant is packaged in a 22 ml precision needle oiler dispenser making application simple, neat, and efficient.



16. LIGHT KEY - A light viscosity synthetic lubricant formulated for instruments with close tolerance actions. Frees sticking keys by penetrating into hinge tubes. Provides for a smooth, quick action. PN: H16-LK-22.

17. MEDIUM KEY - The preferred key lubricant for most instruments. The viscosity of this synthetic is best suited to actions of average tolerance. Keeps keys moving quickly, smoothly, and quietly. PN: H17-MK-22.

18. HEAVY KEY - A synthetic key lubricant engineered for instruments with worn actions and instruments that characteristically exhibit greater action tolerance. Quiets noisy keys and dampens sympathetic vibrations without slowing the instrument's action. PN: H18-HK-22."


Is #17 more what you looking for?

You may wnat to message them about the silver plating concern you have?
 

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Keilwerth saxes (S/A/T), Selmer clarinets (S/B), Altus Azumi flute
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Just reading up on Hetman.com
says:
KEY LUBRICANTS

Hetman® Synthetic Key Lubricants are specifically designed for musical instrument keys that utilize hinge tube and rod construction. These high technology lubricants provide superior key action by establishing a tenacious, synthetic lubricating film between the hinge rods and hinge tubes.
Note that your quoted text says that these lubricants are made for hinge tube / hinge rod keys, while the OP specifies that his problem is with pivot screw / pivot rod keys. These generally require a more viscous lubricant (i.e., something more like a grease than an oil).
 

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Note that your quoted text says that these lubricants are made for hinge tube / hinge rod keys, while the OP specifies that his problem is with pivot screw / pivot rod keys. These generally require a more viscous lubricant (i.e., something more like a grease than an oil).
Can you say "Marketing"? I bet that a lot of the stuff that's out there is just rebranded. Same thing as when I was still in the computer hardware industry. as soon as you request the material safety data sheet, it redirects you to a "generic" brand at 1/10 of the price, sorry but I had to mention this.
 

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Can you say "Marketing"? I bet that a lot of the stuff that's out there is just rebranded. Same thing as when I was still in the computer hardware industry. as soon as you request the material safety data sheet, it redirects you to a "generic" brand at 1/10 of the price, sorry but I had to mention this.
I'm sure that's true, though I'm not too concerned about it since the amount used in oiling a saxophone is miniscule (e.g., I have a small needle oiler from MusicMedic that's lasted me a decade, and I do a dissassemble and lube on each of my horns at least once a year).

However, to your point: I don't think that the OP has anything to worry about regarding tarnish when using any oils made for lubricating metals. One of the primary purposes of these oils (regardless of how they are marketed) is to prevent oxidation/corrosion, which is what tarnish is.
 

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However, to your point: I don't think that the OP has anything to worry about regarding tarnish when using any oils made for lubricating metals. One of the primary purposes of these oils (regardless of how they are marketed) is to prevent oxidation/corrosion, which is what tarnish is.
Silver tarnish is silver sulfide, versus iron oxide. It is worth avoiding lubes with high sulphur.
 

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I've been refurbishing clarinets for the last several years. My biggest complaint is that people over oil their instruments and the excess oil causes grime to build up on the joint and only gums up the works more. I prefer cleaning the pivot screw and rods with WD40 and then lubing again with WD40. I do the same thing with my own woodwinds.
 

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I've been refurbishing clarinets for the last several years. My biggest complaint is that people over oil their instruments and the excess oil causes grime to build up on the joint and only gums up the works more. I prefer cleaning the pivot screw and rods with WD40 and then lubing again with WD40. I do the same thing with my own woodwinds.
The best way to avoid over-oiling is to disassemble the keys when oiling them.

I wouldn't recommend WD40, not because it will harm the silver finish, but because it's too thin to last long for the OP's required application (pivot screws). Moreover, because it's very thin, WD40 tends to migrate away from where you put it and it contains solvents that, while they won't harm the finish, may dissolve the glues holding the various adjustment materials (e.g., corks, felts, etc.) onto the keys.
 

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Good point (and a brain fart on my part). What lubes typically contain high sulfur?
It's not common. Certain high viscosity gear lubes.

To the OP, I've been applying oil to my various silver plated instruments for over 40 years now with zero ill effects on the finish. It's not something you need to worry about.

The truth is that a saxophone is not a very demanding application for lubricants. Pretty much anything that's low enough in viscosity to wick into the mechanism and high enough to stay put will do. The biggest thing is not to apply so much that it makes a big mess and dissolves the glue holding corks on. Personally, I've been using grease (Phil Wood bicycle grease is what I've been using, but ordinary hardware store white lithium would be fine) on rollers recently, as it stays in place a little better rather than getting oil on your fingers. For point screws and rods I just use the same "key oil" you buy at the music store, which is just a light oil of some type. It's probably basically the same stuff as sewing machine oil. I don't like 3 in 1 just because it has such a strong smell. WD40 is too light, once the solvent carrier evaporates.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for the input all, good stuff as usual. I went with the Ultimax medium key oil in the needle applicator bottle. Also got a nifty little spring tool dohickey, looks like one of those small hobby screwdrivers. Hopefully I don't need to visit the tech. That's 7 hours away.

Speaking of... anyone know a good tech in the Denver area?
 

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Thanks for the input all, good stuff as usual. I went with the Ultimax medium key oil in the needle applicator bottle. Also got a nifty little spring tool dohickey, looks like one of those small hobby screwdrivers. Hopefully I don't need to visit the tech. That's 7 hours away.

Speaking of... anyone know a good tech in the Denver area?
How many do you need? There is SaxAlley, Kolacny, Greg Meis, and down in COS Mark Santarelli (he's the best), Dennis Ueshida, Justin Carpenter and half a dozen others.
 

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I use ATF automatic transmission fluid because it will not allow metal pieces to bind... look it up... if I want something stiffer I will use Teflon Grease on the pivot screws
You could say the same thing about molybenum disulfide, and it’s good to 500C, works well at high pressures, and is corrosion resistant.
 
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Moto goop.
Package says 360F drop temp. Presumably for the lithium carrier.

Footnote to self: Keep the tenor heat on medium.
I forgot all about assembly lube. worthy of trying. Went digging in the goo box. I found some interesting Teflon. Was using this on the felt for ignition points cam. Wonder how this stuff works. A little pricey these days. Any thoughts on Lubriplate ?
Rectangle Font Gas Auto part Automotive exterior
 
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