WD40 for valves ?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by iancwilx, Aug 2, 2006.

  1. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    I've never done this, but is there any reason why WD40 can't be used to clean and lubricate valves ? (apart from the smell !)
    I'm constantly having bother with my Sov. EEb Bass valves.

    I've use "Blue Juice"
    I've changed the valve guides.
    I've washed them in soapy water and brushed them through with a soft brush.
    I've polished them with tooth paste.
    I've cleaned out the mouthpiece pipe with a "Flexy" brush.
    I've had the bottom of the valves off and cleaned all the "Green" out.
    I've flushed the whole instrument through with a hosepipe.

    "When arr wer a lad" we used spit and never had much bother.
    Some folks used water with a splash of Washing up liquid, but surely this would degrease the valve and remove the oil which is there to lubricate it.

    I'm on the verge of reaching up to the top shelf in my garage for the WD40 - you know how an idea can nag at you !!!!
    Anybody tried it ?

    - Wilky
  2. steve_r

    steve_r Member

    Last edited: Aug 2, 2006
  3. davidsait

    davidsait Member

    Re: The safety data sheet.

    I'm not in any way trying to make a comment on the safety of using WD40 as a valve lubricant, just that MSDS (Materials Safety Data Sheets) need to be read quite carefully, in context, and interpreted by someone who is skilled in doing so.
  4. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    I'm presuming that you were a lad in the days when Besson could actually bore a straight cylinder. Sounds like the problem is with the engineering not the maintenance...

    I wouldn't use WD40. It's no more toxic than valve oil (which is pretty noxious if you ingest it) but it's more volatile (i.e gives off more fumes), which means you will be breathing it in a lot more, especially while playing. Excessive inhalation by you or anyone sitting next to you can lead to dizziness, headaches, nausea, etc. I presume (although I don't know for a fact) that valve oil is made to not give off strong vapours for this reason.
  5. steve_r

    steve_r Member

    Nor was I - thats why I posted the link to let someone else make a decision

  6. Darth_Tuba

    Darth_Tuba Active Member

    Don't!!! A guy at Lancashire youth band tried this once, and they worked great for about 5 minutes... then it starts forming a thick white emulsion and your valves clog up.
  7. Rapier

    Rapier Supporting Member

    Try Will Spencers Snake Oil it has teflon molecules in it and is fabulous. My Sovereign used to have a terrible 2nd. Valve but has been great since using Snake Oil, and only needs a slight dab evey month or so now.
  8. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    Spot on - It's a fact !
    I can't turn any of the valves around in the cylinders when the guides are not engaged so they cannot be truly engineered.
    Besson would probably quote tight tolerances.

    I'll forget using WD40 on valves then and just stick to using the odd squirt to freshen up my lager !!
    - Wilky
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 2, 2006
  9. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    This sounds great stuff - will Band Supplies in Leeds stock it ?
    I'll try anything.
    By the way, thanks to all you guys for the advice - much appreciated.
    - Wilky
  10. SuperMosh

    SuperMosh New Member

    You say the above like it is a bad thing, I am now off to my local Homebase (other stores are available) to buy a job lot of this stuff for our bass section.

    Joking aside (and back to topic) I had similar tiffs with my Sov EEb - could I recommend a pressure washer to the valve tubes and the use of 'wet and dry' to the actual valves. I then soaked the things in Blue Juice and hey presto it is the best it has ever been. Highly recommended but please be careful with jet washing your bass.

    Small Print: I am a responsible adult and I will not really do this. I am joking, please do not act on any advice I give, I am a fool and not to be listened to. It is up to you whether you ultimately use any propellant based lubricant but if your bass is worth £4/5000 then you would perhaps be a muppet if you did.
  11. Deano

    Deano Member

    Don't use WD40

    I depped for a band the other day on baritone, as the baritone I used hadn't been played for 6 months I used a bit of WD40 not on the valves but to loosen the valve tops and a bit must of got onto the valves. I washed and oiled the valves but in 5 mins the valves had built up a white film and the valves seized. Good job I did this 3 days before the job as it took me a good few hours to clean the valves and casings with 'T cut' to get them into a workable state.

    I could also still smell the WD40 when I did the job 3 days later.
  12. 1st Position

    1st Position Member

    I've used WD40 on trombone slides. I borrowed a trombone earlier this year whilst mine was in for repair. The borrowed trombone hadn't been played (or cleaned) for a very very long time. No amount of superslick, water or other remedy seemed to work. A quick spray of WD40 and the fastest slide in the east was up and running. Yes, after a few minutes, it did start to stick, but wiping the slide down removed that stickiness, and it worked brilliantly. Couple of days later, I completely cleaned the slide, and went to my usual superslick system. Result - a perfect slide.

    Two main problems, 1) Inhaling the taste of WD40 (if you know what I mean) and 2) The owner of the borrowed trombone wants me to maintain the slide all the time now, as it is superb.
  13. andyp

    andyp Active Member

    I tried it once (when young and silly) - the result was 3 valves jammed solid as if I'd used Vaseline to oil them. Needed a complete strip and clean out to get it working again.

    Basically valve oil mixes with water, WD40 doesn't, in fact it's designed to repel water (like on car electrics, for example), so if you try to make it mix gunk is the result. It also has a strong solvent in (it's very good for getting pen and glue off stuff) so you don't want to be breathing it.

    I use Roger Webster's valve oil, which is excellent, rarely needs oiling, although my Sovereign dates from when Besson made excellent valves!
  14. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    I used to use Blue Juice (and have sung it's praises here a few times in the past), but recently I became suspicious of the amount of green gunk I was getting in my flugel and my wifes bari. After spending two hours trying to get three of the four valves of t'missus' baritone out of their casings, past the film of green gunk after it seized up just a month after I'd washed it, I decided enough was enough and switched to Snake Oil on a recommendation. I've used it since the beginning of this year on both new flugel (with good valves) and oldish bari (with sovereign valves ;) ) and I find that its excellent stuff and works very well on both.

    Not sure about getting it from Band Supplies, as far as I know you can only buy it from Phil Parkers, or direct from Will Spencer himself via his website. No fear with buying online though - his service is great.

    Anyway the link to his website is:

    http://www.willspencer.org/ and click the "snakeoils" link on the left hand side.

    Don't use WD40 - the white film build-up mentioned is a fact (must be something to do with the water displacement properties I guess, but I don't know) and it stinks worse than anything you can imagine - including Bach valve oil ;)

    EDIT: Oh and if you're still not sure about it, if you ask nicely he'll do a free sample for you. :)
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2006
  15. Anonymous_user

    Anonymous_user New Member

    Is it your 3rd valve? if it is, it could be that your 3rd slide has been bumped or knocked and this has caused an obstruction in the valve case. Its happened to me on most Besson tubas I have played, because the slide sticks out from the main body of the tuba. When you put it in a case it CAN push the slide in and cause the said obstruction.

    send the tuba in for the valves re lapping (i think they call it)

    Hove Edge
  16. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    You've got me thinking now, because it's the 1st valve, and perhaps it is possible that the mouthpiece pipe has had a knock and "Invaded" the casing.
    I've been having trouble with it for months.
    Definitely going to get the Snake Oil, and if that doesn't work I think it will indicate that re lapping is probably the only answer.
    Isn't this forum great pooling ideas and advice ?
    Thanks guys
    - Wilky
  17. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    It's similar to the emulsion you get when your cylinder head gasket blows - water and petrochemical are forced to mix by the action of the valves.
  18. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    WD40 is also a penetrating oil - use on non-ferrous metals could cause accelerated corrosion. I wouldn't put it anywhere near a Monel valve body.
  19. BrianT

    BrianT Member


    I remember sitting next to a chap who complained of sticky valves. Turns out he'd cleaned his instrument, and being really thorough he'd dismantled his valves too. But the valve stem tops were a bit stiff to unscrew, so he'd stuck a screwdriver through one of the valve ports and used pliers to unscrew the stem. Ouch. Don't try this at home...

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