Repaired crack in barrel has resumed leaking - advice?

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Repaired crack in barrel has resumed leaking - advice?

Post by Lozq »

Hi all,

My flute came with a very neatly repaired crack in the barrel, which has been a non-issue for the last year or so. I recently felt that my bottom end was getting a bit weak/mushy, and set about the usual sucking/blowing/probing to figure out what was going on. Turns out the barrel is the source of the leak, and a few winds of electrical tape have solved the problem for now.

Image

While I know that electrical tape on antique flutes is de rigueur in some circles, I would like to attempt a more permanent repair at some point. Trawling the forum brings up the 'superglue and suction' approach which I'm game to try, but considering it's already been glued once before I wonder if packing even more gunk in there is a good idea or if it will just severely miff the woodwind tech that will eventually have to scrape it all out.

Photo is from the the Irish Flute Store, visually it's exactly the same now as when I bought it.

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Re: Repaired crack in barrel has resumed leaking - advice?

Post by kkrell »

Probably time for a repair person to pull the liner, glue & clamp the crack, sand the bore as necessary to re-fit the liner without stress.
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Re: Repaired crack in barrel has resumed leaking - advice?

Post by fiddlerwill »

I’d just fill with superglue, once dry and finely sanded and polished it can be basically invisible. Wood changes shape , the metal doesn’t….. other than that yes kkrell s suggestion .
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Re: Repaired crack in barrel has resumed leaking - advice?

Post by Loren »

Ugh, looking at that photo it’s clear that is a poor attempt indeed at repairing the crack, very amateurish :( A properly done glue repair would be essentially invisible, whereas that looks typical of the result one gets from just squirting some superglue on the crack. No Bueno, Amigo.

At this point I’d suggest the following options:

1. Use some painters tape to mask off the areas directly around the crack and use water thin cyanoacrylate glue to fill up all the voids and see if that solves the leakage problem. It already look like crap so you won’t really be making it worse. If you find proper playability is restored you can clean up the excess glue in one of several ways, but I can get into that later if you decide to go this route.

Option 2. Send it off to someone with a good reputation who can do a proper repair, or better yet make a new barrel.

Option 1 won’t cost you much and really has no downsides, aside from the fact that you may not fix the problem. Option 2 will cost significantly more but will likely yield better long term results and much better aesthetics.

And for the record, the only way a glued crack repair will be “invisible” is if one starts with a clean crack, then fills the crack with very fine Blackwood dust, then adds water thin CA, then has the skills to remove the excess hardened glue while maintaining the proper curvature of the barrel - it’s a bit more challenging than it sounds, if you haven’t some experience filing and sanding on the round.
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Re: Repaired crack in barrel has resumed leaking - advice?

Post by GreenWood »

From where I'm looking, any glue added is going to make a proper repair more difficult if that is later chosen. So in essence, beyond tape, what Loren says in option one if anyone is not too concerned about appearance, if not then a proper repair. Maybe there is some kind of paintable barrier that could be used for masking, because tape is hard to place correctly ? Superglue soaks in quite fast to wood and will leave a different surface to original where it is exposed.

For very fine natural cracks on a rustic kind of flute, oiling every now and again works fine. What I'm thinking is what fluteworld is missing is a kind of semi-permanent not glue crack repair. I cannot think of what would do that... not superglue or epoxy, not water soluble wood glue but close, not wax.... would have to bond with the wood to a small degree, be washoff-able, a bit flexible, something that could be wiped on and then harden quite a lot, and seal. I guess tape wrap is next best thing, more superglue might, or might not, last. The only sealant I am able to think of which is very good and might be a semi-permanent repair is Sikaflex 11FC , but that is quite thick.

The other trouble with cracks and hard filling is that as the flute "uncracks" when moister, if a hard filler has been used instead of a fine glue joint, it sets up different stresses elsewhere, or the flute can readjust its shape and then crack again along the original crack if allowed to dry out again. Also superglue is very brittle by itself for space filling. . The trouble with metal and wood combinations if movement like that is not well compensated for.

Personally I would leave it taped until sure what I wanted to do... or read up at Terry Mcgee's site to understand how barrel linings affect the flute and see if you can figure the good solution for that flute ?
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Re: Repaired crack in barrel has resumed leaking - advice?

Post by GreenWood »

I had a browse around for what might be suitable for a semi-permanent repair, and so far the only offer is shellac. Has anyone repaired cracked flutes with shellac ?

The reason I suggest it might work is that not only is it used as a glue, or like superglue/sawdust as filler glue, but it is waterproof and washes off with alcohol. So in theory it could be temporary and the flute cleaned for a later proper repair if nescessary. It could also be used to fill any new cracks if they should appear, because it is a liquid mix.

I'm not suggesting it without first having some feedback from instrument makers and repairers... but I don't see how it can be worse than superglue in terms of possible damage to a flute.

Here are some links :

http://www.antiquerestorers.com/Article ... hellac.htm

https://www.finewoodworking.com/forum/m ... nd-shellac

"...and I've read that boat builders used to laminate timbers this way over 50 years ago (for obvious reasons they didn't use hide glue)..."

https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/in ... ve.123188/


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Re: Repaired crack in barrel has resumed leaking - advice?

Post by Terry McGee »

Oooh, I feel for you, Lozq. This is one of the hardest faults to deal with. And the slightest leak at the barrel - in the centre of the flute - takes all the edge off it.

And it's a very historical problem. I have on my bench at the moment a Clementi Nicholson's Improved with just such a crack. In those days, they loved making the barrel as thin as possible, presumably to get away from the bulky look of the baroque flute. It doesn't leave much "meat". And cocus doesn't have the strength of blackwood.

Such cracks usually happen because the wood shrinks with humidity lower than wherever the wood was seasoned, but the underlying metal slide of course doesn't. Tension builds up until finally, bang. The best solution (but still a difficult one) is to remove the slide, glue the crack closed, ream or sand out the bore until the slide fits easily, glue the slide into place. But it's still a risky repair. Every time you assemble the flute, inserting the top tenon is forcing that crack open. Even playing the flute, the pressure of holding the flute up to your lips is tending to open the crack.

This is presumably a modern flute - you could talk with the original maker or a local maker about a new barrel, using the original slide. It might mean having to compromise on matching colour and grain.

I do have a repair at: http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/cracked_sockets.html but it requires someone with a mill and a lathe, and nerves of steel.

More supaglue is possibly an informal fix. I wouldn't worry too much about adding supaglue - it will dissolve in acetone if a better repair is later carried out. Most supaglue is brittle, but I have had better results with Tarzan's Grip supaglue - it has rubber added to provide some resilience. Indeed, synthesizing what I just said, it might be good to use acetone to dissolve away the earlier supaglue (if that's what they used), allow time for any residues to dry, then glue up again, allow time to dry and harden, and then assemble carefully. But, for all the reasons we talked about above, there will be no guarantees. Mother Nature tends to have her way. She doesn't like to be challenged by we poor puny humans. (Given our sins against her, I have some sympathies with her views!)

You can see what lead to my "new improved tuning slide" design, which interposes a layer of cork to buffer wood movement pressures. http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/fluteslide.html There are probably other, possibly better solutions to this problem yet to be found. I encourage other makers to ponder deeply on it. How much longer are we going to be pushed around by dead trees? Ooops, sorry, Mother Nature. I'll come quietly....
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Re: Repaired crack in barrel has resumed leaking - advice?

Post by GreenWood »

@ Terry

I didn't realise acetone could unbond superglue Terry, I will try with some test pieces glued together to see how hard to do and how clean to original is possible. One thing I have always found frustrating is having to reglue a previously glued join, but properly...especially as it is usually an own previous effort.

I would be surprised though if it is at all easy to undo and tidy up, at one guitar site I was reading the advice there was not to use superglue because it was too permanent, as in not undoable compared to hide glue etc. (though obviously on a final flute repair you would want it to be fixed)...but another site had uses for it ..so I have glued an offcut and will see how much acetone it takes to unstick it... and I have made a small pebble of superglue that I will sit in acetone and see how long it takes to dissolve, and how it is as it dissolves (i.e. does it all turn rubbery first, or just the outside melt off etc.).

Either way, it is an added hassle to clean up.

After reading your write up about the difficulty with tuning slides that get stuck, electrolysis came to mind. It isn't as severe as it first sounds. I have had a lot of practice at cleaning metals (old coins) ... to the point where I don't much bother anymore because usually you cannot improve the look beyond superficial cleaning unless returning the coin to bare metal, which generally is not the idea either. However, electrolysis will lift all encrustation off a metal over time... the circuit, if rigged correctly, is actually trying to return the corrosion to pure metal on the object, which it doesn't manage to do usually but instead breaks up the corrosion allowing it to dissolve away. As a last ditch method at least, before hammering anything to pieces maybe. Any acids used to dissolve corrosion will also dissolve the metal to some degree, so they tend to be avoided... but a soak in vinegar for a day might loosen the corrosion enough also...it really depends which metal. Voltage and current don't have to be high for electrolysis, I have often used plain 9V batteries just left overnight. Bicarbonate of soda electrolyte, carbon rod as sacrificial anode (purchased, or from disassembling common acid AA batteries if you find them still) ....keeps it all innocuous. This is one site that explains, but I would not use modified mains power as they do

https://www.metaldetectingworld.com/coi ... ysis.shtml

That would be for when the slide wasn't on the flute anymore I suppose. I know eletrolysis has been used to separate coins fused together over time.

There are all sorts of odd effects that happen with metal alloys and coatings over time - segregation, crystallisation, galvanic corrosion are just some. For the slide you talk about, if it was tin coated copper or brass (you mention tin), then not only will tin eventually corrode but galvanism might be set up with the copper content below, because tin is slightly less noble. For example

https://www.finishing.com/361/31.shtml

...but you never know...it might as easily have been an arch rival the night before a big performance, pot of glue and paint brush in hand....
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Re: Repaired crack in barrel has resumed leaking - advice?

Post by Terry McGee »

Yeah, good idea to test the solubility of hardened supaglue in acetone, Greenwood. I'm pretty sure I've used an acetone-soaked rag to remove overspill (even after hardening). But that's a relatively easy task given the good access. I'm imagining it would take a while to dissolve a chunk of it. But against that, it probably doesn't have to dissolve it, just render it pliable, and you could get most of it out of the crack, and then clean up any leftovers with more acetone. Let us know what transpires!

What I would expect is that the acetone will eat whatever finish has been applied to the barrel, inside and out. But that should be easily refinished after a successful repair.

All of this however raises in my mind the question of why are we bothering? If the barrel was made by Rudall and Rose and bears their mark, yes, you would go out of your way to save it. If it was made by a current maker, it would be less effort to get them to make a new one, than for us to fix it. And ultimately more reliable.

On electrolysis, I think you'd need to get the slide apart before doing this, or you'd face the risk of making matters worse. And once you've got the slide apart, clean-up isn't difficult.

The worst situation I think I've had to deal with in the matter of stuck slides was an old Clinton flute which just wouldn't come apart. I'd tried all the usual tricks like a heated poker run up inside. Fortunately (!) the barrel was cracked in two places, and I was able to loosen the rings and unpeel the two semicircles of wood, revealing the barrel slide still attached to the head slide. Determined to beat this one, I played the gas torch lightly over the barrel slide, expecting to be able to pull it off easily. No! I had to really hit it with torch. The room filled with the familiar smell of burning paint. It then struck me what had probably happened - a previous owner had "oiled" the slide with linseed oil, which then dutifully dried into glue!

All of this should remind us all to go today, clean the gunge off the mating surface of our slide (an alcohol-soaked rag will do this), and run a little cork grease over them. And perhaps put a repeating note in our calenders to do this, what, say every 6 months? International Flute Slide Cleaning and Lubricating Day? Hmmm, is there a traditional Flute Slide Cleaning and Lubricating Shanty we could be singing while doing it?

"A well-oiled tuning slide, wouldn't do us any harm, (x3)
and we'll all hang on behind...
and we'll roll the old <insert model of flute here> along....."
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Re: Repaired crack in barrel has resumed leaking - advice?

Post by an seanduine »

As we would be told when I was US Navy ´squid´: A Clean Tuning Slide is a Happy Tuning Slide :D
I´ve done a few barrel repairs. The ´narstiest´ one, someone flared both ends of the tune to encourage its retention in the barrel. :boggle:

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Re: Repaired crack in barrel has resumed leaking - advice?

Post by Terry McGee »

Yeah, that's quite common in the period ones. I guess they'd had experience of slides coming loose (in damp dank London's dismal clime) and pulling out. Probably also explains the chased scoring you often find in the outside of the slides, to lock into the wood.

Or the inside end is flared, and a decorative silver tube is pushed hard over the protruding brass tube at the other end. Easy to do, but not so easy to undo!

Or Mr Clementi's sneaky trick - the inside end is flared, the timber of the barrel extends all the way to cover the slide right to the other end, but is then turned down paper-thin and a paper-thin decorative silver tube installed over that! So the protruding section of slide is actually a cylindrical sandwich (er, enchilada?) From the inside out, brass, timber, silver.

I can imagine morning tea at Clementi's works, with Muzio and the lads are sitting around joking about those poor sods in the future having to get these damn things apart...
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Re: Repaired crack in barrel has resumed leaking - advice?

Post by GreenWood »

@ Terry

I always took superglue to be "unmodifiable" after drying, stories of people supergluing their noses to tables and the like... so maybe it is a reputation thing, but still it always seemed pretty decided to me ... and not that I had tried dissolving it. I will post what happens... I glued the pieces yesterday and am giving them a full day to dry.

"All of this however raises in my mind the question of why are we bothering?"

I could think of several reasons the original maker is not sought.

1. Out of business...probably for making flutes that crack easily.
2. The buyer doesn't trust them to replace or do repair after their new flute cracks.
3. No customer service.
4. The cost and time of shipping might mean no flute for a while... they would usually demand the old one handed in if under guarantee etc.
5. Cost... as far as applying some glue or tape at home is concerned at least.
6. Embarrassment or similar... if I had a quality flute I would feel slightly awkward about contacting a reputable maker who made it, about bothering them with it.
7. Seems a waste to not repair if possible, and people get to like their instruments as they are.

In other words it is up to the owners, and owners choose repair for a reason ?

Electrolysis could just possibly fuse the slide together with fresh created metal, but I really did mean that as last ditch attempt instead of throwing the slide away etc.

Linseed oil is brilliant, but it is not a lubricant. I don't plan to use metal on any flutes I make except just possibly for some keys if I ever add any... even then I might try wooden ones .. I have seen enough metal in day to day and have decided that for flutes the simpler the better :-).

Second verse ?

"Oh we'd be allright if it was only made of horn (x3)
and we'll all hang on behind...
and we'll roll the old <insert model of flute here> along....."
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Re: Repaired crack in barrel has resumed leaking - advice?

Post by Terry McGee »

GreenWood wrote: Sat Oct 02, 2021 5:08 pm @ Terry

I always took superglue to be "unmodifiable" after drying, stories of people supergluing their noses to tables and the like... so maybe it is a reputation thing, but still it always seemed pretty decided to me ... and not that I had tried dissolving it. I will post what happens... I glued the pieces yesterday and am giving them a full day to dry.
It can be pretty slow to undo. For example if a protestor glues their hands to the front door, it would take too long to just introduce the solvent around the edges. I think at that point they attempt to slide a safety razorblade in to create a gap. Doesn't sound like fun....
Linseed oil is brilliant, but it is not a lubricant.
Indeed. I think people should avoid getting any bore oil on the mating surfaces of the slide!
I don't plan to use metal on any flutes I make except just possibly for some keys if I ever add any... even then I might try wooden ones .. I have seen enough metal in day to day and have decided that for flutes the simpler the better :-).
I have seem wooden and plastic ones on recorders, so it wouldn't be unprecedented. I enjoy working metals - particularly silver - and don't see any problem with using them outside the wood. It's when they are inside that conflict arises.

Hmmm, in a world warming through climate change, even flutes by modern makers are going to be at risk. And period flutes we have so carefully salvaged will be at risk again. Flute players may need to move to the coast.....

Third verse ?

"Oh we'd be allright, as long as we're at sea (x3)
and we'll all hang on behind...
and we'll roll the old <insert model of flute here> along....."
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Re: Repaired crack in barrel has resumed leaking - advice?

Post by GreenWood »

@ Terry

Silver is a nice metal, I'm ok with tin, copper and bronze also, and why not gold :-) ?

But for me wood is wood is wood, and don't let anyone say otherwise unless they want to see me vouch my way into a purists corner from where I would have to spend long hours battling the temptations of...of....those shiny new keys...staunchly graceful mechanisms....enough...

....for if I really felt to make a flute whose tuning would reach widely and finely , it would be such a masterpiece as that every instrument in the land would be set to it. Even the bells would ring to its pitch in hommage. No slide would it need. That however is for another day, as for now I play alone. Only poor lost vagrant travellers may occasionally listen, blissfully unaware that one day all music may carry the same sound they are hearing.




I'm not fully convinced on the climate change theme , might or not. Habitat destruction, species loss, energy crisis and political shenanigans to go with, for sure... mankind is generally quite destructive. I studied marine science at JCU in Townsville for a while (which is tied to AIMS), as well as having family well placed in a large energy company, and as well as living in the middle-east on and off since the 80's, so I'm privileged/subject to various related arguments and circumstance ... and won't argue either way because it tends to be a very divisive topic. Certainly minimalist, renewable, sustainable, efficient, independent, natural, local etc. are good values .

My oldest woodworking tool is very durable, a 5000 yr old stone axe, that if an even older flint scraper were not used also on wood. I don't use it though it is same condition as ever. Population in europe after the last ice age was several thousand, now it is over 300 million , which I don't see as good or bad, but is definitely going to have something to account for. It's funny looking at it like that, because some of my ancestors in Britain (from celtic Pretani) probably moved there from where I am now, after the last glacial maximum...probably be back down here again if it gets too cold, or a km of ice settles on London.

These are objects I find while out walking and researching... coins I find various and it is always something to find one where left hundreds (or more) years ago. Just now I found a coin of Dom Sebastião (King Sebastian) from around 1550... not much to do with Ireland right ? Well apart from King Sebastian being descended from John of Gaunt (if I remember), he also led an expedition to conquer part of north Africa, from which his return is still being awaited...after the battle of the three kings. Around that time Thomas Stukley had amassed a small army to free/invade Ireland and England, and decided on his way there to go to Morocco instead, along with Dom Sebastião... very few returned, and Stukley wasn't amongst them.

So it just goes to show...something...erm...


Image


For some unexplained reason I'm much more at ease with Renaissance period and earlier, and the mid 19th century onwards, maybe Baroque just got too Rococo or something ?


For moving to the coasts...I don't know...I'm always a bit lost if I don't know which way the sea is, and in Oz you have a desert taking up the whole middle of the country so it's not surprising that you feel pressured to move towards the waterline... but I couldn't imagine UK being anything more than cold and damp almost all year round... it's lovely when it's not though. Heated cold air is as dry often... except in UK.... in UK it's just about always damp... always...and cold... brrrrrr.

............

Something about a flute repair...sorry Lozq ... the pebble of superglue is still drying but I'll post that up when its done.

...........

Fourth ?

"Well a night on the town wouldn't do us any harm (x3)
and we'll all hang on behind...
and we'll roll the old <insert model of flute here> along....."
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Re: Repaired crack in barrel has resumed leaking - advice?

Post by GreenWood »

Lozq

This is what I am going to test when I have a few hours free. It is something I need to know anyway, now that I occasionally use superglue, but maybe the result will help you decide on whether to just glue more or not, i.e. if that fails then at least it could be cleaned off, or even that the existing glue is removable with reasonable effort. I think Terry is right about crack joins, that they deserve reinforcement to be sure, and I have read other slightly less sightly methods also that pin or tie from outside surface... but possibly just glue is ok sometimes.

Image

The small cylinder of superglue at center is going to be soaked in the pot of acetone at left. I will take it out every ten minutes to start with to see how it is going. I will do a squidge test of some kind each time, a nail test, check how the surface is and measure width, weigh it, and return it to the pot.

The flute section is glued in two places opposite each other. I will start on one join by just wiping on acetone continuously from outside and keep checking if I am able to pull it apart with just average pull. If it reaches night fall I will then leave it to soak with that one seam in acetone and try next morning to pull it apart. At that point I will give up on it.

The other seam I will do a continuous soak of all sides and keep checking if I am able to pull it apart every ten minutes, and onwards.

Afterwards, I will let the now exposed joins soak in acetone, swill them occasionally, and try to figure out if the glued surfaces clean up down to bare wood like that. I will also try to figure out how strong any glue left on a surface but not then cleaned off, actually is (i.e. is it left brittle or soft etc. ) .

Fortunately it is warm enough here to allow lots of ventilation and so avoid getting yuhued by the acetone...I don't much enjoy working with it.
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