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PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2018 7:05 am 
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Terry McGee wrote:
Looks like a German flute to me, mendipman. Vast numbers of these made in the late 19th / early 20th century and sold internationally through such mechanisms as the Sears Roebuck catalog (in the US). Mostly unmarked, probably to allow dealers to stamp their own names for repeat business.


After a short google search, I found that Sears still sells cheap flutes without maker marks.

Though I do say, if mendipan's flute is a Sears Roebuck it was definitely a better buy than my Marx Violin-Uke which was sold in the early 1900s by traveling salesmen to people who didn't know the wiser.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2018 7:57 am 
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That's interesting. Paddler mentioned earlier on this thread that it may be German. But as the G-sharp key is parallel to the flute body and not angled as he described I had kind've ruled that country of origin out. It was acquired here in England so probably no Sears catalogue link in it's history but I guess we had our Victorian English equivalent. I discovered it does have a tuning slide that is unfortunately stuck solid- but I'm not going to go there on this flute! I paid just under £60 and have had to spend a little more on new pads. A grand total of around £75 plus some elbow grease (or should I say almond oil?). So...an old VW Beetle rather than a Citroen or a Morris for my starter wooden pipe ( I play whistle). :)


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2018 1:50 pm 
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Thanks for posting the picture of your flute mendipman! There is a good chance that this is German made, but its not certain. The integral foot with the lower body is a common feature of mass produced German flutes, and yours has that. The embouchure cut on many mass-produced German flutes is a rounded rectangle and fairly large. Yours, however, is oval, which is somewhat non-typical, and in my opinion preferable! The design of the rings on your flute is also a little different to the rings on most mass produced German flutes I've seen. Yours look nicer, and the wood looks very nice too. I think your money was well spent.

As for the tuning slide, that should be fixable. I've done dozens of these. Generally, the slide has become gummed up with congealed oils, beeswax and verdigrease that have solidified over time. The secret is to heat it up (a lot!) before trying to move it.

If you have a sturdy pair of work gloves and a heat gun you could trying the following procedure. Take off the crown and push out the cork so that you can see all the way through the head tub. Use the heat gun (probably on a medium setting) to blow hot air through the head tube, alternating which direction you blow from (so as not to concentrate the heat too long at a particular end and start to burn the wood) and giving enough time for the metal liner to become hot and for the heat to penetrate.

While you are doing this, wear the work gloves so you don't burn your hands while holding the flute, and be careful not to burn yourself with the hot air coming out of the embouchure hole. If you do this for a while the metal lining of the head will become hot, and will start to melt whatever is binding the outer tube of the slide to the head liner. At that point you can remove the heat, grab the head tube in one hand and the barrel in the other, and try to twist them relative to each other. If there is any movement, that is a sign that you are going to ultimately succeed. Just twist and pull repeatedly to open and separate the slide.

As you do this the resistance should get progressively easier as the contact surface area reduces. If it starts to get harder again, it is because the tube has started to cool and the material that is gumming it up has solidified again. The solution is to apply heat again and retry. Once you have the two pieces apart, clean them thoroughly with some solvent (but don't abrade them -- you don't want the slide to get play in it), apply slide grease, and reassemble. Once the slide works you should then be able to determine how the overall tuning of the flute is.

Oh, and one thing to keep a close eye on when you are doing this is the alignment of the head liner in the embouchure hole. Sometime the slide is so gummed up that you have to apply so much heat that it loosens the head liner (which will typically have been glued in place using hide glue or shellac, that loosen under sufficient heat). Then aggressive twisting to open the slide rotates the head liner and you can see misalignment in the embouchure hole. If this happens, remain positive: if you can move it one way, you can move it back again with the same amount of heat and force. Also, remember that the contact surface area between the outer slide and head liner is generally much smaller than the contact surface area between the head liner and the wooden head, so this works in your favor.

The other thing that might happen is that the heat loosens the glue that is holding the rings on at either end. If these rings come off, don't worry, just pop them back on again at the end (being careful to put them on the right way around, because they are generally slightly tapered).


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2018 1:54 pm 
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Oh, and one more detail I forgot to mention. I find this procedure is much easier if the work gloves have a rubberized palm surface so that they grip well. You often have to apply quite strong twisting and pulling forces to keep the movement going, and this necessitates a good grip on the outer surface of the flute head and barrel.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2018 3:18 pm 
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paddler wrote:
... apply slide grease ....

Apologies for the thread drift, but there is such a thing? I've been told by a couple of flute makers and whistle makers not to use any sort of grease on the slide as it will catch and hold any grit and "gum up the whole thing." Rather, they suggested a thorough cleaning with a soft cloth instead.

Appreciate your thoughts.

Thanks and best wishes.

Steve

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2018 3:27 pm 
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Apologies for the thread drift, but there is such a thing?


Some will recommend vaseline, others a mix of vaseline and beeswax. (And silicon grease has been mentioned (yuk) but was shouted down by others). So, opinions vary. And you're right, you don't want to get sand caught in it ;-)

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2018 3:45 pm 
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Chicken fat works every time. Just saying.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2018 3:55 pm 
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Steve Bliven wrote:
paddler wrote:
... apply slide grease ....

Apologies for the thread drift, but there is such a thing? I've been told by a couple of flute makers and whistle makers not to use any sort of grease on the slide as it will catch and hold any grit and "gum up the whole thing." Rather, they suggested a thorough cleaning with a soft cloth instead.

Appreciate your thoughts.

Thanks and best wishes.

Steve

I've seen (and had) both, but the lubricated slides were on sub-par instruments that reputedly would have had marginally looser tolerances between the slide's socket and tenon than your better makers would allow. Didn't like it myself; there also seemed to be graphite included in the mix, so it was dirty and gross, making the flute more like a shop implement than anything else.

This isn't to say that a lubricated slide will mean a sub-par instrument every time, but I personally haven't seen it any other way.

I've heard of old slides seizing up from years of a flute lying idle, but I'd agree that if they weren't built to be lubricated in the first place, then one shouldn't if it can be helped. Here, disuse is a greater contributor to metal-on-metal seizing than is a lack of lubrication. So long as you're regularly using the flute, moving the slide in and out, and keeping it clean and cared for, lubrication shouldn't be needed for a well-fitted slide. If seized, my impulse would be to get it apart (with a careful application of Liquid Wrench, maybe? Just a thought, not a recommendation), clean and probably polish the contact surfaces, and go from there.

What would an expert builder recommend or do? It would be nice to know.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2018 3:25 am 
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paddler wrote:
As for the tuning slide, that should be fixable. I've done dozens of these. Generally, the slide has become gummed up with congealed oils, beeswax and verdigrease that have solidified over time. The secret is to heat it up (a lot!) before trying to move it.

If you have a sturdy pair of work gloves and a heat gun you could trying the following procedure. Take off the crown and push out the cork so that you can see all the way through the head tub. Use the heat gun (probably on a medium setting) to blow hot air through the head tube, alternating which direction you blow from (so as not to concentrate the heat too long at a particular end and start to burn the wood) and giving enough time for the metal liner to become hot and for the heat to penetrate.

While you are doing this, wear the work gloves so you don't burn your hands while holding the flute, and be careful not to burn yourself with the hot air coming out of the embouchure hole. If you do this for a while the metal lining of the head will become hot, and will start to melt whatever is binding the outer tube of the slide to the head liner. At that point you can remove the heat, grab the head tube in one hand and the barrel in the other, and try to twist them relative to each other. If there is any movement, that is a sign that you are going to ultimately succeed. Just twist and pull repeatedly to open and separate the slide.

As you do this the resistance should get progressively easier as the contact surface area reduces. If it starts to get harder again, it is because the tube has started to cool and the material that is gumming it up has solidified again. The solution is to apply heat again and retry. Once you have the two pieces apart, clean them thoroughly with some solvent (but don't abrade them -- you don't want the slide to get play in it), apply slide grease, and reassemble. Once the slide works you should then be able to determine how the overall tuning of the flute is.



Wow. :o Thanks for taking the time to post this method.

I don't for a second doubt your track record of success freeing up tuning slides this way. I have a heat gun that I've stripped paint with - it's great for that job. But the idea of bringing that potential anywhere near my delicate thin-walled wooden flute is a hard one to entertain. These are fierce heat sources. I'm curious. When you do it are you referring to directing the hot air just two or three seconds at either end of the barrel? It's also hard to imagine how that hot air can be focused narrowly enough.

Of course the idea of being able to free and use the tuning slide is tempting. But to adapt the saying about a hammer to crack a nut, the heat gun does seem a bit like using a flame-thrower to light a cigarette. I get nervous enough just using my spirit burner to float new pads in situ on the flute and not burn the wooden body. Is there a less radical way of applying the necessary heat directly to the tube from within?


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2018 5:35 am 
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mendipman wrote:
Wow. :o Thanks for taking the time to post this method.

I don't for a second doubt your track record of success freeing up tuning slides this way. I have a heat gun that I've stripped paint with - it's great for that job. But the idea of bringing that potential anywhere near my delicate thin-walled wooden flute is a hard one to entertain. These are fierce heat sources. I'm curious. When you do it are you referring to directing the hot air just two or three seconds at either end of the barrel? It's also hard to imagine how that hot air can be focused narrowly enough.

Of course the idea of being able to free and use the tuning slide is tempting. But to adapt the saying about a hammer to crack a nut, the heat gun does seem a bit like using a flame-thrower to light a cigarette. I get nervous enough just using my spirit burner to float new pads in situ on the flute and not burn the wooden body. Is there a less radical way of applying the necessary heat directly to the tube from within?


Terry McGee has a page about immovable slides as well. Terry offers a few suggestions, but the heated suggestion goes something like this:

Quote:
"a heated mandrel is inserted into the lower end of the slide via the socket. The heat breaks the grip of the condensate and the slide comes apart easily by twisting."


So, if his other suggestions don't work and you decide you need to apply heat, heating another object seems like a good option.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2018 10:35 am 
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The hot air flowing through the restricted area of the head tube does the work here. You could use a piece of copper pipe to direct it if you want to keep the heat gun a bit further from the flute. My heat gun has a relatively narrow nozzle, and has three heat settings. I use the medium setting and place the nozzle right at the end of the flute, heat for a few seconds, switch ends, and repeat a few times. After two or three repeats the metal head liner is too hot to touch and at that stage it is worth trying to twist it open.

Wooden flutes are very tolerant of heat. Its humidity changes that cause problems.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2018 3:17 pm 
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Once clean, the slide left bare is fine, especially if the slide is 'worked' each time you assemble and play the flute. This prevents any corrosion forming a bond. With really old instruments, and particularly ones that a infrequently played, you might use a very slight application of anti-seize compound to the joint.

Bob

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2018 3:59 am 
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After some thought I've decided that I'm going to give the heat-treatment a cautious try to see if I can free my stuck tuning slide.

My idea is to heat a 3" section of copper pipe, sufficiently smaller than the diameter of the brass lining of my flute to allow for expansion, in a saucepan of boiling water. Then using work gloves, remove excess water and place it inside the head joint and roll so all internal surfaces are heated before removing. Then twist and pull the heated slide by hand. Repeating as necessary. This seems less risky than a hot-air gun for the wooden body of the flute.

Has anyone tried and succeeded in freeing a stuck tuning slide with this method (or a more efficient variation on it)?


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2018 11:31 am 
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Give it a try, but I think you are unlikely to transfer enough heat that way. I've tried similar, and even more drastic, approaches in the past without much success.

Another alternative would be to place the copper pipe partially inside the stuck head, so that the end roughly aligns with the area of intersection between the head tube and slide, and use your heat gun, or a hair dryer if you prefer, to blow hot air into the pipe which will redirect it to the target area. This would have very low risk for your flute, because it would keep the source of the heat further away, but would allow you to get the stuck area much hotter.


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