Never trust a .....

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Terry McGee
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Never trust a .....

Post by Terry McGee »

We have a saying in our family. Never turn your back on a cucumber. I was reminded of it today. Went down into the garden hoping to come back with a cucumber to include in our Thai Beef Salad, and came back with eight. And then found I had two in the fridge from a few days back. Even now, I reckon I can hear the next batch of cucumbers swelling up out there. Never turn your back on a cucumber...

Flutes have a bit in common with cucumbers. Long, round. And inherently untrustworthy. I was also reminded of that today. I've been restoring a smallish holed Rudall Rose, and was pretty happy with its response down to low Eb, but the low D was distinctly marginal. So I hooked up the foot to the Magnahelic Flute Leakage Detector, having removed the keys and having plugged all the key holes with rubber bungs. No leakage. And then, more by good luck than good management, removed the bung from the Eb keyhole and covered the hole using my finger. Enormous leakage! Er, what? Repeat. Bung in hole, no leakage. Finger over hole, enormous leakage.

So, what's the difference? The Eb key on this flute has a pewter plug key, like the C# and C keys, and the plug seats in a little square silver plate, set onto a flattened section of body, and secured to it by four tiny wood screws. When you poke a bung through that plate, the bung continues on in, blocking up the hole in the wood below it. Perfect seal. But when you put your finger over the hole in the plate, it allows for leakage sideways between the underside of the plate, and the flattened section of wood the plate sits on. I guess over the last 200 years, the flattened section has probably warped a little, opening up gaps through which air (notoriously thin stuff) can leak.

Didn't take long to introduce a gap-filler into the space between plate and wood, and was rewarded with zero leakage and a much happier low D.

I sometimes think flutes are not to be trusted either. I guess after 200 years, you get a bit tired of all that travelling wave-front stuff, and would prefer just to see out your days sitting attractively on the mantle piece. So it's a reminder to those of us who enjoy (hmmm, enjoy is a strong word....) coaxing old flutes back into action to be ultimately suspicious. If a flute can leak, it will. Often in places you would never think of.

Never turn your back on a flute. Or a cucumber....
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Steve Bliven
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Re: Never trust a .....

Post by Steve Bliven »

Terry McGee wrote: Thu Dec 07, 2023 5:49 am Didn't take long to introduce a gap-filler into the space between plate and wood, and was rewarded with zero leakage and a much happier low D.
Please tell us you didn't use a cucumber slice as a gap-filler.

Best wishes.

Steve
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Conical bore
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Re: Never trust a .....

Post by Conical bore »

Cool story! I've always wanted one of those Magnahelic gadgets to chase down the more subtle leakage problems now that all my flutes have keys. They're fairly expensive though. Hard to justify for the very few times they would prove useful if you're not running a woodwind repair business. One day I'll get one. I have a thin LED light-up strip for detecting leaks, but I doubt it would have found the warped plate problem on that flute.
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Re: Never trust a .....

Post by eilam »

always love your stories Terry !
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Terry McGee
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Re: Never trust a .....

Post by Terry McGee »

Steve Bliven wrote: Thu Dec 07, 2023 7:53 am
Terry McGee wrote: Thu Dec 07, 2023 5:49 am Didn't take long to introduce a gap-filler into the space between plate and wood, and was rewarded with zero leakage and a much happier low D.
Please tell us you didn't use a cucumber slice as a gap-filler.

Best wishes.

Steve
Damn, didn't think of that, and I still have nine in the fridge!

No, I used a rubber-infused superglue. It has some gap-filling qualities, being much goopier than the normal runny superglue. And is slow enough to let me get the four screws in and done up before it sets!

It's probably overkill, as all I needed was a filler, not a glue. I probably could have gotten away with a thin circle of poster putty around the hole, which would flatten and squish out as I tightened the screws. But this should certainly do the job. Some repairer in the future may curse me when they remove the four screws and the plate stays firmly attached. But who would ever want to remove the plate? If needed, applying heat to the plate will soften the glue underneath.
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Terry McGee
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Re: Never trust a .....

Post by Terry McGee »

Conical bore wrote: Thu Dec 07, 2023 9:23 am Cool story! I've always wanted one of those Magnahelic gadgets to chase down the more subtle leakage problems now that all my flutes have keys. They're fairly expensive though. Hard to justify for the very few times they would prove useful if you're not running a woodwind repair business. One day I'll get one. I have a thin LED light-up strip for detecting leaks, but I doubt it would have found the warped plate problem on that flute.
I'm not so sure about that. I did get the impression that there was an "almost visible" gap under the plate - it would have been interesting to try the LED light approach to see if it would have worked, but I didn't think of that at the time.

How do you find the LED strip approach? I tried a LED once on a metal flute, but found it wasn't helpful because the pads being fishskin diffuse the light through them. I imagine it would be much more effective on a flute with leather pads, but maybe that's still an issue?

The Magnahelic is really sensitive, but yes, too expensive for home use. The old suck test would have been quite enough to detect and locate this issue, although again you'd have to identify that the leakage was from under the Eb valve seat and not through the plug/seat combination. You could waste a lot of time and sucking trying to get that valve to seat!

Perhaps that's where the term "sucker" comes from?
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Re: Never trust a .....

Post by plunk111 »

Terry:

A LITTLE off topic... Peel and shred the cukes, add some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and garlic salt (maybe some salt and pepper). Trust me!

Pat
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Re: Never trust a .....

Post by Katharine »

Good sleuthing, Terry!
Steve Bliven wrote: Thu Dec 07, 2023 7:53 am Please tell us you didn't use a cucumber slice as a gap-filler.
Why not? Sounds like he has plenty to spare! :D

plunk111 wrote: Thu Dec 07, 2023 8:41 pm Terry:

A LITTLE off topic... Peel and shred the cukes, add some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and garlic salt (maybe some salt and pepper). Trust me!

Pat
Tomatoes are also nice...
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