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Forum Contributor 2007-2012, Distinguished SOTW Te
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Discussion Starter #1
Totally innocent subject wording, I swear.

So I've noticed again and again that rollers on vintage saxes tend to be shrunk around the rod and shrunk end-to-end. Seems like its always the hard rubber/ebonite type. It stinks because once you get them unstuck and the rod removed and cleaned up, you can drill out the inside so that it rolls freely but you still have end-to-end play, which at best is unsightly and uncool and makes the OCD saxrepair part of my brain light up, and at worst buzzes and rattles.

Obviously replacement rollers can be had that will do the job, but they are rarely the right shape or material. I am thinking of making my own hard rubber rollers (something I am seriously considering doing) to replace original vintage rollers for a perfect replacement and fit, but isn't hard rubber dust pretty noxious? Installing an air handling system over my lathe could be done, but convincing my employer of the necessity of spending that kind of cash to make sax rollers may be difficult.

So- am I nuts? Or do these shrink over time? If so, why? Can they be unshrunk?
 

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Forum Contributor 2007-2012, Distinguished SOTW Te
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Discussion Starter #5
Griff,

That would be cool, thanks so much! Do the shapes match? Like if you replaced the low C roller, would it be noticeable unless you also changed the low Eb?

The horn that has me thinking about this harder than usual is an SML Rev. D, but it would be handy to have them for VI replacements that aren't plastic.
 

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Would anyone notice if they were plastic (ABS, nylon) or wood instead of hard rubber?
 

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I have dozens of replacement hard rubber rollers that I bought from Yamaha, i believe they use them on their custom and 82 series saxes. They're a good replacement for selmer mk 6's too.

Matt- I'm away from the workshop ar the moment but I can get the part numbers if you want them.

Griff

www.dg-music.co.uk
Hey Griff. I would like the P/No. for these as well.
Cheers
 

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If I use hard rubber I go with sticks that most chemical supplier stores sell for stirring up acids and other bad chemicals, and for something related to static electricity that I don't recall what the heck is right now. They come in round rods.

If I can "play" with the material, I like black delrin, white delrin when properly machined (good tooling angles) ends up looking a lot like pearl rollers (whiter and less "veins") or good acrylics. On all plastics (except maybe for delrin wich has nicer machineability) it's crucial to nail the speed and ft/rev cut, and to get the very best edge angles so the tool cuts but creates minimal friction.
 

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Delrin is a much better material than ebonite for rollers as it is much easier to machine and get a good finish on it and it won't be affected by oil.

I've had several ebonite rollers crumble as they've perished - some on instruments only about 25 years old, so wondering if oil can damage ebonite in the same way it can damage softer rubber.

Btw - my Yamaha Customs have plastic rollers.
 

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Hard rubber is mostly immune to oil, strong acids, white spirits and many other things that will reduce softer rubbers or other plastics to a goopy residue.
 

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Delrin is a much better material than ebonite for rollers as it is much easier to machine and get a good finish on it and it won't be affected by oil.

I've had several ebonite rollers crumble as they've perished - some on instruments only about 25 years old, so wondering if oil can damage ebonite in the same way it can damage softer rubber.

Btw - my Yamaha Customs have plastic rollers.
Chris is right these rollers are plastic - I could have sworn they were ebonite - my mistake!

the part numbers are as follows:

N2448530 for the stubby cylindrical rollers on the C# and B
N2448510 for the long tapered from the centre Low Bb
N2448520 for the shorter tapered from the centre Low Eb Low C rollers.

From what I remembered the shapes matched my Mk6 alto (now sold)
my neighbour has it so I'll check it out when I next catch up with him.
 

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Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
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Delrin or ABS.

If a manufacturer had these materials available when they made the sax, that would no doubt have been their choice.

Hard rubber eventually gives of sulphurous vapours, which are no doubt quite corrosive, possibly helping the steel to rust.

... but isn't hard rubber dust pretty noxious?
I can't imagine it being much different from the rubber dust from car tyres that must blow around near every road. (Do car tyres still contain some natural rubber?)

[/QUOTE]
So- am I nuts? Or do these shrink over time? [/QUOTE]

Interesting question. And if it does shrink, then so would hard rubber mouthpieces.

Perhaps the end play is wear (or they were made that sloppy), and the jamming is more caused by corrosion between the steel and the rubber, or gummy residues from an inappropriate oil formulation.
 

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Forum Contributor 2007-2012, Distinguished SOTW Te
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Discussion Starter #14
Good point, Gordon.

Anybody else have experience with this? Am I crazy that I feel like the amount of end play on a lot of these is way beyond anything that could have left a factory? Have I just seen an inordinate amount of ill-fitting vintage ebonite rollers?
 

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Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
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Good point, Gordon.

Anybody else have experience with this? Am I crazy that I feel like the amount of end play on a lot of these is way beyond anything that could have left a factory? Have I just seen an inordinate amount of ill-fitting vintage ebonite rollers?
I've seen modern saxes with both metal and stable-material plastic rollers with plenty end play. I suspect the factory! We have no guarantee that "vintage" instruments were made perfectly!

My suggestion is to just use a thick lubricant to prevent vibration, and stop losing sleep over it.
 

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Forum Contributor 2007-2012, Distinguished SOTW Te
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Discussion Starter #16
Well since even after cleaning the rod and the inside of the roller they are too tight, I'm going to go with at least SOME shrinkage. And I will continue losing sleep over it until I have a good solution! Gotta strive, right?

If I were ever satisfied, my customers wouldn't be.
 

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I would think the rollers have just worn over time from rubbing against the keys. Have you checked any vintage saxes that had very little play time, like some of the more pristine C-melody saxes?
 

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yes they shrink. And yes there's more end play on loose manufacturing tolerances than on shrinkage, but anyway, they shrink some.

Matt, I use a couple of tools I've manufactured out of high speed steel. They have the radii already "carved" in them tools. All I need to do is drill, then one face cut and bingo, they're done.
 

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Forum Contributor 2007-2012, Distinguished SOTW Te
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Discussion Starter #19
Juan, good info, thanks.

Davidw, yep, seen it on all sorts. I'm not saying that its always shrinkage, but if you see a horn that has hard rubber rollers, all of its rollers with end play of a similar distance, stuck around the rod even after cleaning, and the end facings of the rollers still have machine marks in them, they had to have shrunk.
 

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matt you can buy O2 or O1 toolsteel blanks precut in the desired lenght, thickness and wide enough to craft a couple of tools for barrel rollers, shape it and harden it. It's worth the hassle, the first roller set you'll cut on the lathe will reward you plenty enough, being able to take things "to the next level" fitting a freshly tightened up horn with a matching set of non-rattling rollers is just heaven.
 
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