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 Post subject: Loose key
PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 5:10 pm 
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Location: Somerset, England
I have noticed a leak that is caused by a loose key. The key has play from side to side. It is post mounted and the mounts, spring and key all look to be in good order. I've recently replaced the pads. But with that movement are worn spacers on the pivot the usual cause? Is this a DIY fix or should I take my flute to a repairer? If I do how much is this likely to cost?


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 Post subject: Re: Loose key
PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 8:01 pm 
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Wait for more advice before you take mine, but I had a post mounted key fixed by a local instrument repair person here in Chicago. He was quite experienced in clarinets and oboes, but had never seen a simple system flute before. He was quite able to fix a wobbly long c natural on my post mounted keys. Some may say never do that, only take it to a person experienced with simple systems flutes, but such repair persons may be few and far between. I was lucky in that I had an expert in his field with 30 years experience who could apply his experience to my instrument. My repair was very inexpensive, about $30. He adjusted two keys and put on some cork so I ended up spending $75. Others may have an recommendation for a person near you.


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 Post subject: Re: Loose key
PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 8:16 pm 
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I don't believe you're all that far from jemtheflute. If he doesn't spot this post and chime in, I'd suggest you give him a hail.

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 Post subject: Re: Loose key
PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:05 am 
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This sounds like it needs "swedging", a term which seems peculiar to the woodwind industry, probably a malapropism for "swaging" (pronounced "sway-jing"). The key is removed, and the axle inserted into the hinge tube. Special "swedging pliers" are then used to compress the tubing onto the axle, which has the effect of slightly lengthening the tubing. Then the ends are neatly dressed to the length that fits perfectly between the posts. This achieves two things - the length between the posts being perfect removes side play, and the tubing now a tighter fit on the axle removes any tendency for the key to rotate slightly laterally (as seen from above). This second tendency occurs because of wear or slop in the axle-to-tube fit.

Then the service technician should check for leakage through the pad, as the pad may have been installed with the keycup in a slightly different position or angle.

Woodwind repairers should be able to handle anything a wooden flute throws at them, given they routinely do clarinets and metal flutes, which pretty much covers our flute technology. They do tend to look at pewter plug keys on antique flutes with firstly disbelief, then horror.

Ask the technician to give the flute a good look over and contact you if they think anything else is amiss.

Oooh, one other thing. Does the axle unscrew, like a clarinet, or is it just an unslotted pin? Some of these push out either way, some only push out one way. If so, it would be good to warn the technician that this might be the case. You can usually just see the difference in diameters with the one-way pins, or sometimes one end is flat, the other slightly rounded.


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 Post subject: Re: Loose key
PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 5:56 am 
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What Terry said.
If mendipman is in the Mendips, he's rather awkwardly far from me.....

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 Post subject: Re: Loose key
PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 8:30 am 
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Location: Somerset, England
Thank you all for the advice and technical information. It does sounds like more than a DIY project for a novice and that I'll have to make a trip to my nearest woodwind repairer...that's probably in Bristol. I would happily let Jem take a look at it but North Wales is (for us) quite a hike from the Mendips.

Terry, the axles on my flute push out. I've recently done a complete repad so I know none of them are stuck. I've taken the loose key off and found that the tube that runs through the key body is loose. That appears to be what the problem is.


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 Post subject: Re: Loose key
PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:43 am 
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What's the expression: "North Americans think 100 years is 'a long time', while Europeans think 100 miles is 'a long way'".

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 Post subject: Re: Loose key
PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:30 pm 
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mendipman wrote:
Terry, the axles on my flute push out. I've recently done a complete repad so I know none of them are stuck. I've taken the loose key off and found that the tube that runs through the key body is loose. That appears to be what the problem is.


Is the hinge tube a loose fit on the axle, or is the hinge tube loose from the key shaft?

If the former, swedging. If the latter, the hinge tube needs to be soldered back to the keyshaft.


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 Post subject: Re: Loose key
PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:36 pm 
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Sounds like a solder job.

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 Post subject: Re: Loose key
PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:54 pm 
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The tube is loose in relation to the key shaft.

I'm taking it in to have a flute repairer fix it on Saturday.


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 Post subject: Re: Loose key
PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:00 pm 
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Terry McGee wrote:
This sounds like it needs "swedging", a term which seems peculiar to the woodwind industry, probably a malapropism for "swaging" (pronounced "sway-jing").


My dad sometimes used swaging tools for use with HVAC tubing, and he even pronounced the word correctly. It's been over two decades, but I seem to recall some inner dies and a set or two of special pliers. Sounds like the same principle.


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 Post subject: Re: Loose key
PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 1:18 am 
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Exactly so, awildman.

We also use "swages" and "swaging tools" in the carillon industry, for attaching the pull and down-wires that connect the bell clappers via cranks to the playing clavier. The wire is passed through the copper or stainless steel swage, bent through a hole on the item to be connected, bent back in the direction from which it had come, then the swage is slipped over the loose end and "swaged" with the swaging tool. Essentially a squashing motion.

Interestingly (for some!), one 19th century flute maker, Cornelius Ward, used carillon-style pull-wires and cranks to operate some keys on his Patent Flute. You can see a schematic drawing of the instrument at http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/Ward_FE_5.htm although it doesn't actually show the pull wires. They run from the Left Thumb to the foot keys. I don't think the design proved very popular - you rarely see them in museums, and I've never found one that worked!


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 Post subject: Re: Loose key
PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:46 am 
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Terry McGee wrote:
The wire is passed through the copper or stainless steel swage, bent through a hole on the item to be connected, bent back in the direction from which it had come, then the swage is slipped over the loose end and "swaged" with the swaging tool. Essentially a squashing motion.


For electrical wiring a similar technique would be called crimping here. The difference is that the crimping pliars leave a significant indent to assure solid connection. Swaging seems more designed to leave the surface intact while maintaining 'round'.


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 Post subject: Re: Loose key
PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 3:24 pm 
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Indeed. We now use crimping in the electronics field (my original career path, and one I still make regular use of). I don't remember doing it in my day (seventies). We soldered everything.

Interesting to compare two activities both based on squashing. In crimping, we need the indent you mentioned to guarantee electrical connection, and to prevent the wire pulling out of the connector. Uniform squashing isn't enough.

In swaging, we want the interior of outer piece (the hinge tube) to take on the diameter of the inner piece (the axle), but we are definitely not looking for a permanent connection - we need the tube to be able to rotate smoothly around the axle. This doesn't always happen automatically - the tube may need light reaming after swaging.


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