Top Action Piston Valves

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by VegasGeorge, Jan 2, 2014.

  1. The new Tenor Horn I'm getting comes with top action piston valves. I know nothing about top action valves. Mine have always had the springs on the bottom. Is there anything I need to know about the top action to keep them in good working order? Or, can I basically treat them the same as the bottom action valves I've always used? Thanks for any help, and I hope it's not a dumb question. :tongue:
  2. B.Portas

    B.Portas Member

    York, UK
    I always assumed top action pistons to mean that the pistons were on the top of the instrument, as opposed to front action/rotary? You will most probably be able to treat them in exactly the same way.

    Welcome to tMP, by the way. Vegas is a crazy place - I've been twice for karate competitions and thoroughly enjoyed myself.
  3. Thanks Bryn, maybe you're right about the meaning of "top action" valves. If so, then I have nothing to worry about. I have seen Trumpets with the spring mechanism on top of the valve, so that when you press the valve down it stretches the spring, and when you release the valve key, the spring tension returns the valve to the up position. I thought that was what they were talking about. I'm getting a Yamaha Neo Tenor Horn, so maybe someone here who has actually seen the Horn could say for sure?
  4. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    George is right about "top action" - the spring is internal to the piston, and placed above the windway holes in it. I've never heard of anyone having to treat top-sprung and bottom-sprung pistons any differently, so I wouldn't worry. I suppose if left for a long time, they might seize up slightly differently.
  5. Thanks Dave.
  6. cockaigne

    cockaigne Member

    Kirklees, West Yorkshire
    Having never dismantled a tenor horn myself, I had never thought about this - my old Imperial cornet (c.1975, just a teaching tool, you'll be relieved to hear!) has top-action valves, but larger instruments I've played have springs seated underneath the pistons themselves. I'd never thought where the tenor might lie on this spectrum of things.

    It's worth considering that top-action springs work by extension retraction, whereas bottom-sprung valves use a compression spring. I wonder if this has any impact on the speed of response, or strength of the spring action, relative to the mass of metal (ie. the piston) to be moved.
  7. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    A pub, Surrey, UK
    I'm not sure exactly what you mean by this? I could well be misunderstanding your point, but in most of my trumpets (I say "most" because my Getzen picc is in fact bottom-sprung - an unpleasant surprise when I took it apart for the first time without realising ... ), the top-spring mechanism still results in the spring being compressed when the valve is depressed. Is this not what you meant?
  8. Oh! So with top action the bottom of the spring is still the fixed end, and the top of the spring comes down with the valve, compressing the spring? I guess I had it backwards in my mind. I can see how it could be engineered that way.
  9. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    A pub, Surrey, UK

  10. Boy, that sure helps! Nothing better than an exploded diagram to answer all those pesky little questions. Thanks Gareth!
  11. jonny1note

    jonny1note Member

    Back in the 1960's I also used a Boosey and Hawkes Imperial cornet with top sprung valves. It is true that they worked by 'extension retraction'. I believe B & H called it the Floating Valve Action (FVA). I'm not aware that any other supplier used this method, at that time or since. These days, as far as I'm aware, you will see top sprung valves only using a form of the compression method.
  12. bsdunek

    bsdunek New Member

    Michigan, U.S.A.
    Thanks for posting this. The National Music Museum looks like a really interesting place. Next time my wife and I are in the Dekotas we will visit.
  13. Mello

    Mello Active Member

    I realise it is not my business, but may I offer you a good tip to follow - with tenor horn top sprung valves.
    Make sure you pay special attention to keeping the mechanism clean and the threads lightly greased. Particularly the valve which receives the air stream first if the mouthpipe enters the valve block on the 3rd valve , then pay special attention to the pillar which contains the spring in the 3rd valve, as the threads at the bottom of it can get gunged up and easily seize, particularly if left for a while. Likewise if 1st valve entry then the 1st valve is prone.
    Trouble is ....the valves will continue to work well, and the problem only becomes evident when replacing springs or pads.

    I used to play horn for many years...Bottom & Top sprung, with !st & 3rd Valve mouthpipe entry, have a lot of experience, and seen this problem more times than I would have wished. The problem often occurs when the horn is left unplayed and stored with moisture in the instrument.
    Good maintenance and storage preparation will prevent this problem. Neglect , and you are asking for trouble.

    All that aside, I always preferred top sprung as the system helps keep the valve spring straight, and properly looked after the springs will often last the life of the instrument.
    Good luck
    Gordon Higginbottom
  14. Hey Gordon, good advice is always welcome! And, I will take particular care to follow it. Thanks so much!
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