Any tips: valve maintenance / cleaning ... ?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Jerry, Jul 20, 2017.

  1. Jerry

    Jerry Member

    Hi All

    Quick question and plea for tips re cleaning / maintaining valves:

    I have, unfortunately, had to put a number of my instruments (trumpets, cornet, flugel) in storage for quite a while (i.e. months / years), without the chance to properly prep them for it or regularly maintain them whilst in storage. As a result, valves in several instruments have suffered. Having come out of storage, on inspection even fairly new instruments have now acquired unpleasant oil residue 'patina' on their valves, which lead to stickiness even when oiled up nicely - not a great motivator trying to re-energise my playing following a fairly lengthy (and arguably still ongoing!) enforced sabbatical!

    Any tips as to how to polish these valves up gently (pistons and casings) - I've heard all sorts from toothpaste to steel wool (NOOOOOOO!) - would be very much appreciated!

    Many thanks in advance. Keep on banding!
  2. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    For want of a better first response to your question might I suggest that you try cleaning and polishing your valves and casings with some 'light spirit' such as petrol or lighter fuel (if it's still available) and a rag. With safety in mind it might be wise to protect your skin from the solvent, beware of what you might later breath in and work in a well ventilated place, etc. Some valve oils evaporate more quickly than others - there was a thread about valve oil viscosity years ago but I can't readily find it now - and I suggest using one of those after cleaning to help disolve any remaining residues.

    I hope that others come to your help with better answers.
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2017
  3. Jerry

    Jerry Member

    Thank you for the initial pointer, I might have some white spirit hanging around from the perpetual DIY efforts going on in the house - and I'll avoid working by candle light! ;)
  4. Euphman2

    Euphman2 Active Member

    I recently had a problem with the 4th valve on my Euph and used a small children's toothbrush to remove some residue, then LIGHT rub with one of those (well used) green washing up scrubbing sheets to remove any other debris. A gentle wipe over with brasso and it seemed to work.
  5. Jerry

    Jerry Member

    Thank you! Just for the avoidance of doubt, did you use any 'product' on the initial toothbrush scrub or dry or just water?
  6. Euphman2

    Euphman2 Active Member

    Water only but open suggestions if any better
  7. Jerry

    Jerry Member

  8. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    For cleaning gummy residue off, methylated spirits or surgical spirit would be my choice - slower to evaporate than lighter fuel, but a better penetrant than white spirit.

    The mildest metal polish I know is jeweller's rouge, also known as crocus; you can buy it on-line, and in small amounts, too. It's a very finely ground form of ferric oxide, used by jewellers for the final polishing of gold and silver. It's a LOT less aggressive than something like Brasso - though, of course, it all depends on exactly what level of corrosion you're dealing with. If you think something a bit stronger is called for, I'd first give it a go with one of those white scourers meant for non-stick saucepans / frying pans, which are considerably less harsh than the green type. Using it wet, rather than dry, will also soften its action a bit.

    Final point; if you use anything in the way of abrasive and / or polish, be scrupulously careful to flush every last trace of such products off the parts that you clean; even pot-scourers will leave minute fragments of plastic behind, and if you leave a trace of such stuff in the innards, it will happily keep on grinding away at your valves every time you move them - not nice . . . :(

    What's best to flush them with? Plain old boiling water. Don't put detergent in with it, as domestic detergents are thickened up with common salt, which can leave traces of salt crystals behind - more stuff to grind away at your valves. Maybe I'm being a bit obsessive, but if I still lived in an area with hard water, I'd use something like Brita filter to clear out the lime before boiling it (and clean out the kettle!), or get some de-ionised water from a motor factors - on the basis that a pound or so on such precautions would be a darn sight cheaper than a new set of valves!

    HTH, and best regards,


    PS - I'd appreciate it if you let us know what you do and how well it worked for you, as any of us could find ourselves in a similar situation at some point.
  9. Jerry

    Jerry Member

    Thank you very much for this, Jack E, there's a lot here to try!

    And yes, will do - I'll need to block out a bit of time in the diary or possibly apply to HR (aka wife) for holiday from the DIY and then try some / all of the above to see what works well - there's enough valves to do to give lots of suggestions a go. :)
    I'll feed back once done!

    Many thanks again.
  10. B sharp brass

    B sharp brass New Member

    Hi I suggest you try using the b# virtuoso cleaning kit. It removes the biofilm from the inside, it decreases all valves and slides and puts an anti static coating on the whole instrument. It's available from most major retailers or online.
  11. Jerry

    Jerry Member

    Thanks for this, I'll have a look.

    Has anyone used this kit, out of interest?
  12. B sharp brass

    B sharp brass New Member

    Hi Jerry
    Please take a look at either or go to our facebook page B Sharp keep it clean you can see some testimonials and we are personally endorsed by Mark Wilkinson - Principal Cornet, Fodens Band, Brett Baker - Principal Trombone, Black Dyke Band, and Fodens Band themselves. We are also supported by Sterling Musical Instruments, Steve Mead - International Euphonium Soloist, and backed by Brass Bands England.
    We are a small UK company from Cheshire, the product was developed by brass players and we are proud to be the only dedicated cleaning kit in the world.
  13. Jerry

    Jerry Member

    Right-ho! I'll check out those sites.

    Thank you.
  14. pbirch

    pbirch Active Member

    my repair man cleans valves with a solution of warm water and washing soda crystals (about 2 tablespoons in a standard washing up bowl) and good rinsing. He also uses an ultrasonic cleaning machine, (you can get them for about £30 for cleaning jewellery)
  15. Hsop

    Hsop Member


    The B# company lists a finishing polish on their website. It states that "this polish gives your instrument that sort after championship finish". Perhaps B# could explain what this means exactly to help my understanding.

    2nd tenor likes this.
  16. B sharp brass

    B sharp brass New Member

    Yes certainly, it gives your instrument a great shine, what in the car trade they would call a showroom finish or good as new. It is non abrasive and is designed to shine your instrument after cleaning or before you go on stage. The polish is made from avocado oil with added carnauba wax and the same anti static we put in the soak. If you go to our website and look at the testimonials Steve Mead states one of the best polishes he has used.
    I hope this has helped your understanding.
  17. Mesmerist

    Mesmerist Well-Known Member

    I'll give it a go. My instrument is heaving. Just ordered your product.
  18. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    Have a care, Mesmerist - you never know what might emerge from the undergrowth - that odd sock you lost ten years ago, the Lost Chord, a woolly mammoth . . . :eek:
    Mesmerist likes this.
  19. Mesmerist

    Mesmerist Well-Known Member

    Yes Jack, I'm a bit worried about where Fred is lurking. He is a massive spider who sometimes appears to terrorise the humans then disappears. Don't know where his home is. The cornet is left out of the case and *ahem* may or may not have been moved lately. (Hoping MD is not a reader!)
  20. Mesmerist

    Mesmerist Well-Known Member

    Well, instrument has started its soak. At least an hour according to instructions. Smells nice.