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Slow, clunky action = poor springs?

1223 Views 4 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  ThunderWhale
I realized today, in attempting and failing miserably to perform a specific gliss on my Zephyr, that it has the slowest, heaviest, clunkiest action I've ever seen. Don't get me wrong, I don't love it any less because of this, but I'd rather like to find out what the problem is and how to improve it.

Since I still have that old Cigar Cutter sitting around, which has the smoothest, most fluid action I've ever seen, I compared the two together. Now, I think that the King's keys have a greater degree of motion - based on the way they're designed, but I figured that wasn't the whole problem. So then I compared the springs - which I know very little about.

The Cigar Cutter seems to have those blue steel springs that everyone talks about. They're pretty small, and seem to bend very easily while still being quite durable. On the other hand, my Zephyr has these awfully thick brown ones (look like tree trunks in comparison :shock: ) takes a lot of effort to bend them, but they are strong.

So - what's my problem? Do I just need to oil the old beast, or is it time to upgrade the springs? Are they causing the slow and heavy action?

If the latter is the case, please suggest what to upgrade to, and, if you know, also quote a full replacement. Thanks a billion! I look forward to playing Flight of the Bumblebee in the near future! :D
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In my experience - the quality or the materials the springs are made of - even the degree to which they are bent have little to do with how fast the action the horn has.

The springs should be able to be fairly light - and the horn should work very well. Sometime folks bend springs extra to make up for other things that are wrong - I've seen the results of that - it's not such a good playing horn.

More suspect would be the state of lubrication in the keys - and the condition of the rods relative to the keys.

When I rebuild a horn I pull it completely apart and clean everything - especially the rods and the tubes. I make sure the rods are not binding in the tubes at all - this will really slow things down. Any time a tube is bent or has a burr in it it will give you similar syptoms. As will lubrication that is too thick - or has dried out -or has a bunch of dirt in it will also. If you have all of the above - well, you get the picture.

Lots of things could be doing it - but THAT horn should be quick just fine.
I don't think it's the springs my friend. Are you handy?
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Sure - glad to put in my $0.02. This was part of my foray into instrument repair. Still doing my own horns mostly - but it's cool.

I recommend Alson heavy duty key oil - it seems to work well and doesn't attract dirt. I'm sure there are many other things that could be used - I haven't varied much because I've been sticking to what works for me.
Some folks use car motor oil - not sure I would recommend it - but I guess it would work - I just think it might make a mess of my tux..

If you do get into this you'll need some really thin round files to remove burrs (easy with the files!) I also use CLP (clean lube protect) as a cleaining agent - avaliable at your local friendly gun dealer. Great stuff - really.
Rags, pipe cleaners & cue-tips. Take your time. If you get good you might find some loose rods as well - eventually swedging pliars may come in handy - but one thing at a time-
If it doesn't move easy without lube - the lube aint gonna help. Straightening rods is more art than science. Patience is very good here.

Might want to start some of the simpler keys first & see how it goes before you rip into the stacks (lots of relationships there).

Of course you could just take it to a tech - but I don't usually take the easy way out anyhow..
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