Posted by Joe S. on May 17, 1999 at 01:31:09:
In Reply to: Expert Advice Needed posted by Jeffrey Chronister on May 17, 1999 at 00:49:56:
I have had the valvesets on several important tubas (MINE !!!!! among others) and many student instruments rebuilt by Dave Secrist at Anderson Silver Plating Co. in Elkhart, IN. His work, in my opinion is better than quite a bit of "factory" work. He will also take care of special problems, such as rotten port tubing, unsoldered port tubing, other damage, manufacturing new extra-wide valve guides to accommodate guide slots worn wider over the years, repairing stem receiving threads, and manufacturing new stems (all of these, of course, for extra charges).
Here is the catch. The work is done with the valveset OFF of the instrument, there must not be ANYTHING extending above nor below the tops or bottoms of the casings, and nothing extending more than about 12 inches off to either side (left-right) of the valveset. On top-actions, this means a lot more unsoldering and resoldering. On front-actions the unsoldering-resoldering is considerably less.
***I would ask anyone who claims to be able to rebuild valves without taking the valveset off of the instrument to show you a couple of examples of their work. Approximately two decades ago, I sent a collector euphonium (Buescher double bell) off to a Wisconsin concern for an "mounted" valve rebuild. I got the instrument back with freshly nickel plated pistons, rougher action than before, and even looser piston-to-casing tolerances than when I sent it off.***
I think that for the basic job, Dave might charge roughly $50 per piston. This wouldn't include handling or any extras. It also wouldn't include ANY of the un-soldering re-soldering that is required. There is a repair concern called Petafore right in Elkhart that might be willing to work with Mr. Secrist on the un-soldering/re-soldering part of the job.
As to whether or not to pursue the job and its cost-benefit ratio: If you pull each valve-slide out a couple of inches and wait a couple of seconds, can you push down the corresponding pistons and still hear a bit of a "pop" (vacuum release)? If so, the instrument will probably play at least somewhat OK (pending no other real problems). If not, you are probably not able to enjoy the potential of this instrument, right now. If there is no "pop" at all, the expense on the pistons rebuild job will make the tuba a "possibly" OK, good, or great instrument, rather than one that is of little use, other than decoration. If you determine that the piston casing tolerances are "shot", no one but you can decide whether or not this, risking the money to find out whether or not you have a fine instrument, is viable.
Whether the tuba remains a decoration or whether it becomes an outlet for your creativity, I'm sure that you will continue to enjoy it.