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Hey all,

Have recently acquired a 233xxx TT straight soprano (or 'silverplate clarinet', if the vendor is to be believed), which is a basket case. Three springs are broken/missing, and one post is mashed up, somehow with an extra crooked spring hole.

What size springs should I order? Does anyone have pictures of what the missing springs should look like? I probably should replace all of them at once, given the state of the remaining springs. I just dont have a set of vernier calipers to check the dimensions of the current ones.

I intend to overhaul the instrument myself as much as possible, due to cost concerns, and was going to order roopads and nickel plated springs from MusicMedic. Obviously, there are jobs I will need to outsource to a tech, such as repairing that mangled post. Any recommendations on how to approach this? I have good mechanical skill and have done some instrument repair before but nothing on this scale.

Really appreciate your help.
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1) I disagree that you "need to replace all the springs". I'd work with what you have and replace only what needs it.

2) You're going to need calipers. Just bite the bullet and buy some.

3) As for sizing the springs to go in holes where there's nothing presently, one thing you could do is to buy a package of assorted sewing needles, use the needles to size the diameter, then measure the needle that fits just snugly into the existing hole. Remember that you're going to flatten the end of the spring to give it a press fit into the post, so when you go to order springs I'd order as close as possible but round down not up.

4) It looks like some of the "missing" springs may just be broken off in the post, in which case when you get the remaining bit out of there you should be able to measure the diameter that way (measuring the non-flattened portion, if any of that remains).

5) If you think you're going to take up this kind of work (or ANY mechanical work, to be honest) you NEED at least some calipers. Vernier, dial, or digital is up to you. Frankly, I can't imagine how I would do a huge fraction of what I do, in various repairs and building of stuff, without calipers, a micrometer, a set of thread gauges, and a diameter tape. Seriously. Right after the hammer, screwdriver set, and Vise Grips, those items ought to be in the household tool box (well, maybe not the 0-1 mike, but everything else for sure). You can kluge along without measuring tools, but anything requiring measurements will take many times longer than it needs to.
 

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+1 to what @turf3 says. To decide on which springs to buy, measure the springs on the posts near the ones that are missing, and use that as a starting point. Or use his suggestion of a sewing needle set. Yes you need the calipers :)

I would NOT buy the nickel plated springs, but instead use the blued steel ones. This matches what you have in the horn now. A couple of those springs in your pictures look badly bent, and I would consider replacing them too, but if they work as is, don't bother. Springs are pain in every way possible.

For calipers I suggest getting a dial one rather than an electronic one. The good electronic ones are very expensive. I have this one, which is convenient because it reads in both thousandths of an inch and hundredths of a millimeter (well, 0.02 mm). Dual 6-inch Caliper. The cheap electronic ones require a new battery about every 5 minutes or so...
 

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I am just finishing up a True Tone soprano serial #159XXX made between 1924-25. I am not saying this to discourage you but to give you a head's up that it was one of the more difficult overhauls I have done in 20 years of repair. Hopefully Buescher corrected some of the design elements on your later model that made this one such a bear to work on like key design, awkward spring locations, keycups flattened on one side because they were so close together,etc. Good luck on your project. Let me know if I can be of help and answer any questions you may have along the way.
 

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One of these in expensive calipers last a long time. Good for general use. Just take the battery out if you’re not going to use it for a while. I usually get a year out of the battery may be a little more. These are accurate enough for Saxophone repair use.

On the missing spring(s). Do you have one in another position that is loose? Pull it out and check it in the hole that’s missing one.
Reinstall the key in position and check action. that is if it’s long enough.
You can always increase the tension or relax a little bit for final use on the new replacement.
if by chance there is a broken portion still in the post do not attempt to punch it out with a punch. You’ll knock the post out of alignment. Buy a pair of spring removing pliers.

I don’t recommend Roo pads at your experience level. They require a much more precision fit. Everything in the stacks, tone holes, key cup alignment everything needs to be perfect. This includes the pad thickness installed so the geometry is correct.
 

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Honor to you, https, for taking on the task of restoring what could turn out to be a great soprano. Hope all goes well & the instrument both lives up to its potential & exceeds your expectations. My Series II TT looks a bit beat up but sounds glorious.
 

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I've had the same battery for my cheap digital calipers for about 15 years now. I only put it in when I'm going to use it. Yes, that's madness.
 

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Yep, get those calipers off of ebay. I agree that you can save a lot of them BUT I would buy a spring removal tool, also found on ebay that will help remove the ones that are broken off at the post. I would contact MusicMedic and ask them for the sizes and also the length, I find spring replacement one of the hardest parts of an overhaul.The calipers are also a must for measuring the inside of the pad cups for the proper size pads. Assuming the snaps are gone, I would use normal brown pads with metal resos. They look proper and are easy to match later on.
 

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And remember the sax tech's theme song: "Springs Can Really Hang You Up the Most". :) Seriously, Dawkes sells individual blue steel springs. My advice would be to use your new calipers and measure several of the existing springs. Then order several of each size and a few more the next size larger just in case. Follow the instructions on the Music Medic website to install them. A trick I came up with to keep track of where springs go when removing them is to take a photo of the sax and print it on thick photo paper and then glue it to a piece of cork board. Sometimes I draw a small arrow to remember the direction the spring goes. Another useful tool to hold springs when dovetailing is a pin vice. I use a "bench block" or "jeweler's block" and a small ball peen hammer.

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Chefs have a saying: It's not your knife until it has tasted your blood.

When it comes to springs, the same could be said about sax players & their saxophones.
Oh, my…. I have a lot of knives…
 
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I am just finishing up a True Tone soprano serial #159XXX made between 1924-25. I am not saying this to discourage you but to give you a head's up that it was one of the more difficult overhauls I have done in 20 years of repair. Hopefully Buescher corrected some of the design elements on your later model that made this one such a bear to work on like key design, awkward spring locations, keycups flattened on one side because they were so close together,etc. Good luck on your project. Let me know if I can be of help and answer any questions you may have along the way.
Hmm, that's interesting because I did a complete repad with one spring replacement on a series 4 True Tone soprano a couple years ago (including straightening the body - never done that before; there is NO PLACE to grasp the thing to straighten it - it's like giving a porcupine a massage) and I thought it looked very very well designed and made from the mechanical standpoint. Far more precise than the many Conns and few Holtons I've worked on through the years, though not to the Martin level of watch-like precision.
 

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And remember the sax tech's theme song: "Springs Can Really Hang You Up the Most". :) Seriously, Dawkes sells individual blue steel springs. My advice would be to use your new calipers and measure several of the existing springs. Then order several of each size and a few more the next size larger just in case. Follow the instructions on the Music Medic website to install them. A trick I came up with to keep track of where springs go when removing them is to take a photo of the sax and print it on thick photo paper and then glue it to a piece of cork board. Sometimes I draw a small arrow to remember the direction the spring goes. Another useful tool to hold springs when dovetailing is a pin vice. I use a "bench block" or "jeweler's block" and a small ball peen hammer.

View attachment 114652
I've said this before but I'll repeat it again, this is about the neatest trick ever to keep track of springs!
 
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