Sax on the Web Forum banner
1 - 20 of 24 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
49 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Does anybody have any good advice on how to free up a stuck flute headjoint?, I know the obvious answer is take it to a good repairperson, but I wonder if there is anyway I can do it myself. Thanks..
 

·
Distinguished Member, Forum Contributor 2008
Joined
·
3,883 Posts
Yes.

Take it and yourself to a good repair tech.

Let me know what part of town you're in, and I'll recommend someone.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
4,596 Posts
I'll assume you've tried running really cold water over the connecting area to see if it comes free.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Technician
Joined
·
21,289 Posts
Try putting penetrating oil around the crack where the head fits in. Keep redoing this. Use rubber gloves to hold the body and head. Keep trying. The biggest problem is that you can twist the head like a pretzel or break the barrel from the body.
 

·
Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
Joined
·
17,204 Posts
IMO:

If the head is stuck in the flute, rather than just very tight, don't put ANY liquid on it. Many penetrating oils, like kerosene, have a very high grip-slip characteristic, which make it more DIFFICULT to take apart.

Simply get a person with stronger hands to twist it apart. unless the instrument is of extremely low quality, then I think the chance of parting the soldering of the tenon receiver is close to zero. If it DOES come apart, resoldering this part is a very small job.

After removing it, get rid of all the tarnish, and also all the tarnish remover you used, before reassembly.

Don't leave the joint assembled when not in use. That is when the corrosion set is.

Twisting like a pretzel? Seriously, I rather doubt that this has ever been done with a head. I grab the head around the embouchure plate, and I would expect this to rip the leather-like skin off my hand before that tube twisted.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Technician
Joined
·
21,289 Posts
Now clean the inside and outside of the fitting with some wet #800 or higher emery paper so it won't happen again.
 

·
Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
Joined
·
17,204 Posts
I don't use emery. Ideally I like to remove the tarnish, while removing as little base metal as possible. Emery is a hard material (hercynite), easily capable of rubbing away flute base metal. I prefer a less harsh abrasive, and to include some chemical warfare against the tarnish, by using a brass polish such as Brasso. I restrict its use to the unplated metal of the tenon and socket, so as to keep the plating as intact as possible.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,551 Posts
I clean/lube my sax necks and now my flute joints w/Dupont multi purpose lubricant. It is a teflon/wax(no oil/no oil film) lubricant that has something in it that gently cleans. Helps the 9 and 11 year old w/ assembly. Seems to last a good 2 months before reapplication.
 

·
Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
Joined
·
17,204 Posts
Triggered by my posts #5, a high profile (in the web at least) flute teacher wrote to me privately, as follows:

"You wrote on Sax on the Web the post below.
Are you not worried about damaging the solder on the embouchure plate
by grabbing it?
I've seen several embouchure plates pop off, crack and/or bend from
students grabbing them."​

Because other readers may be thinking the same thing, I offer the following reply in this forum:

I am only going from my own experience. I wrote as a very experienced flute repair technician, with considerable teaching and playing experience..

First, it should be said that the problem of extremely stuck head joints does not occur with silver flutes unless somebody has forced in a foreign head that did not fit in the socket. I don't think this is the case here.

The problem is extreme only when the joint has corroded badly while assembled. The only joints that corrode that badly are those that have the brassy look, most being student USA or British brand-name student instruments, such as Gemeinhardt.

Hundreds of times, I have grabbed a flute VERY tightly, around the embouchure plate (for more torque) when I am using the specialised tools for shrinking tenon joints. On some flutes, especially student ones, the tubing is very strong, and enormous twisting force is needed - much greater than that needed to remove a stuck head.

As I indicated, peeling the leather off the palm of my hand is a significant risk with the combination of forces involved, and the sharpish edge of the plate. For some flutes, there is no way, even with my strong hands, that I could get sufficient torque by holding only around the tube. The only way to hold it to get really high torque, is to use the bony part below the base of the fingers to push on the edge of the lip plate, in an action around the flute.

Because this is around the flute, there is almost no bending force on the lip plate. The only lip plate that could bend would be one that is of extremely soft metal, and I have encountered this only on the very cheapest and nastiest of flutes - flutes of a quality that you probably have very little to do with.

The various forces applied cause a sheering force on the solder, not a peeling or tension force. I can assure you as a qualified engineer, that a well soldered joint of the area involved can easily stand that much force.

As I said, the plate can come off - perhaps one in a hundred flutes, and that is because of poor soldering. If the soldering is that poor it should be re-done anyway, and this is an easy job, taking perhaps 5-10 minutes. It is no big deal on the sorts of flutes for which this can happen.

If the soldering is that poor, then it quite likely leaks, and should be re-done anyway. The plate may be held on largely by corrosion. That was common on Hernals flutes.

If it is true that you have students lifting plates off reputable brand name flutes, then I suggest that it is because of a quite different set of forces, that cause a peeling or tension force on the solder, rather than a sheer force. Inadvertently jamming a finger under the lip plate could do this.

Even so, there would most likely have to be a fault in the soldering for this to part. I, too have encountered bent lip plates, and forcing them unbent has very rarely been enough to part the soldering, even though the forces involved are ideal for parting it.

I don't recall having this problem with the hundreds of students I taught, but yes, as a technician I have come across a few. It probably happens from knocks, that a player is possibly reluctant to admit to, or pushing the far side of the plate very hard towards the tube - pretty hard to do with the fingers while removing a tight head!

Perhaps the built in safety of my procedure is that I use my bare, soft hand, and do not wrap leather or something else around the head.

"I've seen several embouchure plates pop off, crack and/or bend from students grabbing them."

Crack!!! Really, that is rather far fetched, IMO. The metal is really tough. Tough enough to have been stamped to shape from a piece of sheet metal. It takes a huge amount of repeated bending before cracking. There must have been a serious flaw in the metal, highly unlikely in sheet metal. Perhpas the plate was cast - poorly. I know chimneys are ofen cast, but are plates cast? Was the flute made in India?

There is some risk with any procedure. A technician is only as good as he is at managing these risks and being able to deal with the situation if it goes wrong. A DIY person generally knows that there are risks, and that if things go wrong he will need to seek a professional. I think that is pretty much understood by the many DIY guys in this forum.

As I have said several times in this forum, the success or failure of any repair procedure - be it on musical instrument or any other item - is usually in the detail. Readers attempting their own repair work should always be aware of that. If in any doubt, of course they should take their instrumnet to a technician.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
251 Posts
Gordon (NZ) said:
Hundreds of times, I have grabbed a flute VERY tightly, around the embouchure plate (for more torque) when I am using the specialised tools for shrinking tenon joints. On some flutes, especially student ones, the tubing is very strong, and enormous twisting force is needed - much greater than that needed to remove a stuck head.

As I indicated, peeling the leather off the palm of my hand is a significant risk with the combination of forces involved, and the sharpish edge of the plate. For some flutes, there is no way, even with my strong hands, that I could get sufficient torque by holding only around the tube. The only way to hold it to get really high torque, is to use the bony part below the base of the fingers to push on the edge of the lip plate, in an action around the flute.

Because this is around the flute, there is almost no bending force on the lip plate. The only lip plate that could bend would be one that is of extremely soft metal, and I have encountered this only on the very cheapest and nastiest of flutes - flutes of a quality that you probably have very little to do with.
Unfortunately lip plates do bend quite easily on many flutes of all levels. Many of the plate radii are altered just from player's assembling the flute by holding the lip plate improperly. I don't mind grabbing the lip plate in a really stuck issue like this as long as it's checked and restored to it's original radius.

Joe B
 

·
Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
Joined
·
17,204 Posts
Have you ever actually DONE that?
I haven't. And I've never heard of another technian doing it.

I know it is technically possible, but I reckon the skin would come off my hand first.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Technician
Joined
·
21,289 Posts
I haven't done it but I had a .010 silver head brought to me that was twisted about 45 degrees from the lip to the tenon and a Williams 14K gold one that was twisted right at the tenon about 20 degrees.
 

·
Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
Joined
·
17,204 Posts
I guess owners of gold and silver items do not do that sort of thing here.
I reckon it could not be done with a cupro-nickel flute.

Even for relatively annealed silver or gold, I reckon it would need a bending action along with the twisting action. I am tempted to do all the calculations to find what torque (alone) is required, but too busy, and too rusty on that stuff now to do it quickly.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
Hi- I have an older Bundy that I just picked up. The headjoint goes in very tightly, and I only got it back out because someone stronger than I am was able to pull it out. It was really stuck. The flute actually plays well and has a nice tone. I'd like to use it, but don't want to have the head joint get stuck. There is no corrosion - can anyone tell me what type of repair there would be to fix this? Can a repair shop make the headjoint end small or the receiver larger? Which is right? Thanks!
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Technician
Joined
·
21,289 Posts
There is a tool (a die) that shops have to shrink the head. No big deal, takes about a minute. Look at the end of the head and make sure it is not out of round. Sometimes a piece of wood can round it out it it is not too bad. Take it to the shop.
 

·
Forum Contributor 2012, SOTW Saxophone Whisperer,
Joined
·
3,231 Posts
If you see some spots of Black on the tenon and/or inside the receiver, those are spots of caked on very fine metal particles from the wear of taking it apart and putting it together.

Using some trumpet valve oil (very thin, cheaper the better), a few drops will dissolve the deposits. Use the valve oil as a cleaner, wiping it completely off with a paper towel before trying to assemble the flute again.

Do not use this method while the headjoint is assembled in the body.

If you only use a COUPLE DROPS of valve oil, and promptly wipe it dry with a paper towel, this is a pretty low risk procedure. If there is still an issue after this, take it to your tech to be re-sized.
 
1 - 20 of 24 Posts
Top