Sunday, October 23, 2016
I would never have found this leak with my leak light. I thought that the octave pip pad might be bad, as some of the upper pads were shot. I put plastic wrap over the upper pads, secured them down, and tried a vacuum test and thought that the octave pip was leaking. I got the pad wet and it still leaked. When I took the pad off, it looked perfect and newer than some of the other pads. What??
I couldn't see why that pad would leak. Then I put a pipe cleaner down the pip. I should note that I didn't expect the pipe cleaner to really help me find the leak, but I ran it through because the upper pip hole (on the neck), had been full of fuzzy fibers red fibers that matched the fabric lining in the case exactly. Somehow over the years it had gotten clogged up. I think my next blog might be about cleaning a sax to get rid of gunk like that.
What's wrong with this picture?
The octave pip on the body of the horn was just jammed in place, maybe held by the pip pad, but the solder had failed to the point that running a pipe cleaner through it was enough to pull it out.
The pip had to be re-soldered. That's always spooky because the melting temperature of solder and the scorching temperature of old lacquer are pretty close. This 1937 Conn 10M has really nice lacquer and I didn't want to mess it up.
Here it is back in position. It might actually be sitting slightly deeper in the horn than before, but that's okay as I'm going to completely repad the horn, so it will get a new pip pad.
Once again, I wonder why the last owner sold this beautiful horn. Pip #1 being full of fuzzies and pip #2 having a constant leak would make a horn play weak and unstable. Then the owner goes to the music store and plays the new Yamaguchi "Super Groover" tenor and says "Wow, this is so much better than my old horn." Maybe that's what happened, maybe not. I'll have a better idea when the horn is rebuilt.
Another leak in this horn was a Vox microphone pickup on the neck. You can Google Vox if you are not familiar with this older style of pickup. A Vox pickup is a fairly good indication that the horn was used professionally, as a casual player had no need for a microphone. These pickups came with a little plug to seal the opening when the microphone is not being used, BUT THEY DO NOT SEAL TIGHT ENOUGH WHEN USING A VACUUM TEST. Because of the issue of solder repairs on a horn with nice lacquer, I'll probably seal the pickup with something that's actually air tight and leave the fitting in place.
I changed my mind about just sealing the Vox fitting. Here's the blog where I completely removed the fitting.