Thursday, February 7, 2013

Back to the Fluture

Boooo terrible title pun, I am aware. But we are back! Back in woodwind lab again. Turns out my clarinet was in really good shape when I handed it in. Yay! My flute? Pretty ok. There were good things, but lots of pads not sealing too. Not super surprised--I knew I had problems getting the hang of it the first time around. To be honest, there were a couple pads that took hours... many hours. But that is just part of learning these new skills. Speed and efficiency will come with time--so we are told  almost every day... because it's true! As I am seeing in my return to flute padding.

Coming back from winter break, our first project in woodwinds was to do a playing condition repair on our project clarinet and project flute we had handed in during the first semester. The goal was to get them up to speed again, as if they were an instrument that came into the shop for its yearly maintenance. We evaluated what had to be fixed, fixed it, then went after things we maybe didn't like (but that didn't affect the playability of the horn) if there was time. I finished up my clarinet pretty quickly, and was very happy with how things were working. Riding that wave of confidence, I set out on my flute! Started out good. Padding was 3-5 times as fast as before, and things were mostly sealing. Exciting! I still have a couple to finish up, right now, and only really got stuck on one. This time I'm getting my friends and teacher to check my work and help out more, instead of spacing out at my bench when I get frustrated. So far it's helping, and I am much happier with my work than the first round when I did the complete overhaul.

...What complete overhaul? Oh, right. This one. Here is my long-overdue post of my first-ever flute repad!
Lots of pictures! Here we go: First after chem flush and silver dip was key fitting. 

After fitting keys, I started padding. First, setting the pad protrusion by measuring the gap between pad iron and pad cup using my handy-dandy set of auto feeler gauges. 
As you can see, right after installing, the bladder skin on flute pads will be wrinkled. If tested for seal as-is, there would be tiny little leaks where the folds happen, and that is NOT ok! So... 

...we iron them!

A little water on the pad turns to steam, working like a clothes iron to smooth it out before leveling to the pad cup. 


One way to level the pad cup to the tone hole and create a  better seal is to flex the pad cup. The white plastic leveling tools protect the pad from the edge of the tone hole as the cup is flexed down by hand.

I tested every pad with a feeler gauge to find leaks, and then marked their location with a permanent marker. We used the pad cups like a clock face to reference where the leaks are in relation to the arm. So this one leaks from 10 to about 2 o'clock.

To seal small leaks, little paper shims as thin as  0.001" are installed behind the pad to push it out to conform to the tone hole. Because of the way they are made, student line flutes will rarely have tone holes that are perfectly level all the way around. See where this particular pad was leaking, though? Around the 12:00 area? In that case you should not use partial shims to fill the leak, but rather install more full shims first to bring the overall protrusion out. Alas... did not learn that lesson until we were just about done.

When I get into a project sometimes I tend to be stubborn and keep digging away on something when it doesn't cooperate, rather than ask questions and try something else. One of my least-favorite sayings is "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, while expecting different results" ...most likely because I'm guilty of trying it anyways. I learned a big lesson with this project, and definitely experienced padding insanity. The leaks! Aaaa... But really things have been much better with my playing condition. Back to the overhaul:

Besides flexing the pad cups by hand, another option (depending on which way and how far it needs to move) is to brace with leveling tools, then tap to flex! Mr. Key, meet Mr. Hammer.

Here's a shot of a disassembled key being put back together. This is the A, the Bb key slips on over the hinge rod shown above. A tiny steel knock-pin, inserted through the hole in the hinge rod holds the Bb in place.

After all the pads are shimmed, we set a slight impression in them by baking them in the pad oven while lightly clamping the keys shut with clips.

Ding! Pads are done. This is the oven at school :)

Assembly blooper! The thumb assembly is a closed key, right? Woops.

Swedging the head joint tenon to shrink it down for an easier fit.

The beauty ring at the body tenon got knocked loose, so I got to fix it. The first thing I EVER soldered! 

See the problem? The tenon fits fine in the socket, but leaves an ugly gap with the foot joint when assembled.  These rings are separate pieces slid onto the flute and soldered in place. They somewhat protect the flute where they are attached, but are mostly for appearance. Hence: "beauty rings."

Ok... technically the first thing I ever soldered. After tapping the ring back into place with a hammer and plastic wedge, I was able to just flux and reheat the existing solder to hold the ring in place.

Back where it should be!

Much better!

One of the last steps--sealing the head cork before installing it in the head joint. We used paraffin wax to coat the outside.

Then spun the cork in the bench motor, burning (melting) the wax in to the cork with a strip of leather.

There's my first flute overhaul!