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PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2001 9:23 am 
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Boy, you oil these things, try to keep them out of extremes of temperature and humidity, limit your playing and they still crack...

My recently acquired keyless Copeland (about 8-9 years old, well maintained) has developed a very tiny hairline crack in the main body, starting at the edge of the top tenon, but not into the tenon itself. It extends about 1.5 inches towards the first hole, approximately centered with the hole. The crack does not appear to go completely through the wood, isn't causing any leaks yet, but needless to say, I'm worried.

Should I do something now to avoid a major problem later or should I just monitor the problem and take corrective action if it starts leaking?

Also, I've been taking the instrument apart after each time I play it, swab it out, and store it disassembled. Even though it doesn't require much force to assemble or take apart, I'm concerned that perhaps the additional strain is aggrevating the possibility of cracks by putting stress on the tenons. Anyone have thoughts on this?

Thank you for any suggestions!

Cheers,


Michael Eskin

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: eskin on 2001-09-22 11:23 ]</font>


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2001 9:39 am 
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I say get it fixed now before the crack becomes a reel problem. I waited to get a crack fixed and then it turned into a bigger and bigger crack, and now finally I am getting it fixed (along with a few other problems :wink: ). I'd recommed David Migoya, who is currently fixing my flute. I don't know how his work turns out yet, but from talking to him over email, he is very nice and knowledgable. So that's my 2 cents, but get that crack fixed!! You don't want a crack that could of been fixd, when it was small, to turn into a big crack that can't reelly be fixed.

Caryn


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2001 8:21 pm 
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Thanks for the thumbs up, Caryn.
Regarding the crack, Michael, you don't say if your Copeland is a rosewood (he used Brazilian rosewood) or blackwood (he used mostly a grade of grenadilla). The rosewoods often will show surface "striations" that can easily be mistaken for a crack. If it's blackwood, then it's a drying issue.
You say you oil the flute, but do you also oil the OUTSIDE of the flute? You should, especially the grain ends, such as joints and, if applicable, shoulders of block-mount keys. Don't oil as as often as the inner, but surely once a month in humid weather and once a week in dry weather. Kinda like a rubdown for your flute. :smile:
Fixing the crack now would not be advisable, in my opinion. That's because, except for pinning or banding the crack, which I won't do on some flutes, you'll fix it now and the crack will find it's way along a different grain line anyhow. They always do. Maybe not quickly, but it will. I had a client with a cracked barrel on a Murray flute. He insisted on having it done now -- couldn't bear that there was a crack in his precious flute. I asked him to wait out the season to let it finish itself, and he refused. So, I fixed it. Sure enough, about 6 months later he shows up with a new crack that merely moved over from the repair and finished it's way to the other end of the barrel. Happens every time.
It might not happen on the shoulder of your flute body, as it doesn't sound as if it starts at the tenon, which is good. Plus, barrels and head joints have the slides, which exacerbates the problem. The key thing at the moment is to watch which way the crack is moving -- toward the tenon or toward the tone hole. If toward the tenon, it will find it's way to the bore quick enough. If toward the tone hole, it might stay on the surface. I'd recommend a shellac or wax fill on it for the moment, as well as oil inside as always (and outside) and follow its development.
Copley and others on the forum might have a different viewpoint, so their input would be appreciated!
And don't fret. It's wood. Not many of them don't crack.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2001 11:52 am 
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I agree with David Migoya's recommendations. Enjoy playing the flute, and get the crack fixed if and when it causes any playing problems. I would suggest that you monitor the humidity level where you store the flute. Most stores which sell gardening supplies have hygrometers for a reasonable price. Anything below 60% relative humidity increases the risk of cracking, and higher temperature increases the risk more. You can increase the humidity by using a "dampit" guitar humidifier. Also, an effective humidifier can be made by putting a damp sponge in a plastic container with a few perforations in the top.

Dave Copley


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2001 12:41 am 
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Thank you everyone for the great suggestions!

When I'm not playing the flute, I'm keeping it stored in its roll case inside a sealed briefcase slong with a dampit wick. I'm keeping the briefcase stored in my closet where the temperature is fairly constant. I think I'll toss a max/min hydrometer in the case and see what kind of humidity and temperature range the instrument is actually experiencing.

Cheers,

Michael Eskin


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2001 2:54 pm 
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Quote:

And don't fret. It's wood. Not many of them don't crack.



Y'know, now I'm kind of curious. In my life, I've owned 4 wooden Clarinets, 1 wooden Oboe, a dozen wooden recorders, 3 wooden flute headjoints, 1 wooden flute, and (a newly acquired) wooden weasel.

I honestly don't think I've ever had a wooden instrument crack on me.

I oil all my instruments at least once a year. But I don't do anything in regards to humidity. In fact two of the clarinets have been played in Rain Storms and in the middle of Borrego Springs in Marching Band.

Am I lucky or are flutes more prone to cracking?

Just Curious,
Frank


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2001 4:47 pm 
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I can't say flutes are more "prone" to cracking, Frank, but you didn't say one very important factor: Where in the country are you (or the world for that matter).
Cold climates tend to dry wood, not from the temperature, but our incessant use of heaters and furnaces. Terribly dry air.
Also, arid climates (such as the mountain states where I am) can wreak havoc on instruments without proper care.
When I was in NYC, I oiled my fifes once a year. That's all I needed and they were fine. When I lived in Michigan, the flutes were great -- until the winter months, but my basement was horribly humid! (even needed a dehumidifier) and the flutes were wonderful.
Also, there's the importance of maker and proper seasoning of wood. There's one flute maker out there (nameless please) who makes wonderful flutes.....but they're not seasoned properly before final boring and sale. Ergo, I've had 6 come through my shop with cracks, each about a year or so old.
Then there's the issue of oil, the type used on the variety of wood, the frequency, and, more importantly, the method used for applying it. And, too, swabbing after use. Some people give is a real scrubbing (bad idea) and others do nothing at all (bad idea, too, depending on the climate and frequency of use).
Then there's the variety of wood. Cocus, blackwoods (grenadilla and ebony amond them), boxwood, ironwood, rosewood, mopane, even maple fifes! They all react differently and cannot be treated the same way in the same climate.
I've got 200+ year-old flutes without a mark on them and have a 10-year-old that gets a split. How? Depends on the wood, the maker, the care, the climate, the usage, etc, etc, etc.
Funny science, isn't it?
I say wood inevitably cracks. Why? Because it USUALLY does. But not all the time. Some are lucky. Others aren't. Sigh. I wish it weren't true.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2001 4:54 pm 
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>>When I'm not playing the flute, I'm keeping it stored in its roll case <<

Follow-up to Michael:
Is this case fleece (or fake fleece) lined?
I'm a believer that without exterior oiling, these linings TAKE moisture from the wood. It's fibrous, semi-absorbent material, so why wouldn't it? Even if in a sealed case, these things draw moisture away.
Also, the DAmp-Its (which I sell specifically sized for wooden flutes...see website) only work when properly wetted. They dry out fairly fast (ie, a few days) so if it's not wet (damp-its or case linings), it's taking valued moisture from the flutes.
Keep this in mind when storing your flute -- if it can get wet, then it will likely take it from the flute if it can.
Hope this helps!

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2001 5:08 pm 
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Hi David,

No, this is one of Michael Burke's large whistle roll cases, some kind of nylon material as far as I can tell....

Cheers,

Michael


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2001 9:08 pm 
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On the general topic of crack prevention ....
If I have not played an instrument in a while I treat it like a new instrument that has to be broken in slowly. I'll play it five minutes the first day ten the second etc. I have mostly played oboe and english horn and have never (knock on wood) had an instrument crack, not even when I was in the service playing in an Air Force band in Spain where we played in all sorts of interesting conditions.


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