All profit supporting special needs music education and Help Musicians
Tutorials

Oiling the action - question on viscosities...

AdamBradley

Member
Messages
134
So I've had my beautiful sax for a year now, I had it checked over briefly at a workshop I went to, which came back with a glowing report ("If all saxes I looked at where like this, I'd be out of a job"), however what with university deadlines building up the last couple of months I've gotten rather slack with both my playing and my cleaning routines. I had a nasty shock when this morning I caught a nasty whiff that smelt almost like a smoker's tonsils, and decided I'd better give it a good clean. I decided to turn this into a bit of overall maintenance, and so whipped out my trusty Haynes Manual!

Gear oil, 75w90, it says, so I went to the garage and found nothing above 15w40! The cashier wanted to know if I was oiling a tank. A quick look on wikipedia and it seems I might be confusing gear oil and motor oil.

"For example, many modern gearboxes use a 75W90 gear oil, which is actually of equivalent viscosity to a 10W40 motor oil."

Not particularly wanting to damage my baby, I thought it best to check in here before I buy anything. Rather helpfully, Sainsbury's don't appear to have a website listing the wares they sell in their petrol stations.

Anyone able to help? :)
 
Messages
509
standard music shop instrument oil tends to be a bit runny, try Wilkinsons i believe they do a gear oil of about the right viscocity for a couple of quid.
regards Zoot.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
yes, 15W-40 is engine oil.

Almost all garages, Halfords and the like will have the gear oil. But... make sure it's dot 4 spec or lower, the higher spec can be corrosive to brass. Both are still made as a lot of older gear boxes have brass in them.

I think music medic do a very thick oil, much thicker than gear oil, but I haven't tried it.

Have been using gear oil since getting Stephen's book. Works well, but is a touch smelly.
 

Fraser Jarvis

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,910
Yes as Kev said above gear oil is very smelly...almost to the point of nausious, not something i would want anywere near my sax, just use good old 3in 1 oil available from anywere, plus it has a handy dripper on the lid.
 

Justin Chune

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,024
Strangely enough, I have seen advice to avoid 3in 1 oil on saxes as it gums everything up. In any case the oil dripper on that type of can is too large. I use a needle oiler that holds it's own oil and delivers it in tiny drops. As an alternative pour some of your chosen oil into a container and use a sewing needle. Dip the point of the needle into the oil and apply the tiny drop.

Jim.
 

Fraser Jarvis

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,910
Strangely enough, I have seen advice to avoid 3in 1 oil on saxes as it gums everything up. In any case the oil dripper on that type of can is too large. I use a needle oiler that holds it's own oil and delivers it in tiny drops. As an alternative pour some of your chosen oil into a container and use a sewing needle. Dip the point of the needle into the oil and apply the tiny drop.

Jim.
Well if thats the case God knows what heavy gear oil will do....
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Well if thats the case God knows what heavy gear oil will do....
Three in one is very thin, parts of it evaporate leaving dry muck behind. It also doesn't stay in the bearings, but creeps out over the instrument where it attracts dirt. This doesn't happen with thicker oils like gear oil.
 

Fraser Jarvis

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,910
Three in one is very thin, parts of it evaporate leaving dry muck behind. It also doesn't stay in the bearings, but creeps out over the instrument where it attracts dirt. This doesn't happen with thicker oils like gear oil.
Oh whatever....
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
Messages
5,545
Unless you partially remove the screws, you need the oil to creep or the actual bearing surface between rod and the screw will not benefit.

Wonder if those exotic oils used in Formula One and MotoGP would do the job? Must nip along to Silverstone today.
 

AdamBradley

Member
Messages
134
Thanks for the replies folks. Opinion seems pretty split, I shall stick with the manual (/worship) and redouble my efforts in finding the oils suggested there :)

Your local woodwind music shop will stock suitable oil.
I'm in lovely old Bath for the time being, and the only music shop that isn't a shoebox recently closed down :( Duck, Son & Pinker will be sorely missed. The only one left that I've been able to find isn't the kind of place that sells all the little extra things - they only had brass oil, which the chap was fairly sure wouldn't be the thing to use.

What makes you think it needs oiling?
I don't, necessarily. I got Stephen's manual a good while ago, and I remembered reading the general maintenance section suggesting that regularly oiling your sax is a good thing to do. To quote:

"In fact if you only adopt one maintenance technique from this manual, it should be this one - keeping your saxophone's action lubricated will help prevent wear and corrosion, maintain a swift and quiet action and prolong the instrument's useful life."

And then to quote another bit of Stephen's wisdom on the same subject:

"And that's about it!! As for how often this job needs to be done, well, it depends on how much use the instrument gets; how worn the action is; what environment the instrument is used in etc.. The only risk from over-oiling is the mess from excess oil running down the pillars; the risk from under-oiling is wear and tear on the action.
A good quality oil ought to stay put for at least six months. So let's say once every three months for hardened pros, once every six to eight months for keen amateurs, and once a year for anyone bringing up the rear! If, in the meantime, you find the odd key that rattles - then oil it. "

So, why do I think mine needs oiling? The thing that made me think about getting off my arse and being proactive with it was noticing during a rehearsal as I sat there counting bars rest I noticed I could feel a slight bumpiness in the action when pressing down the G key. In a moment of quiet and mild paranoia I went through each key slowly, carefully feeling and listening, and true enough there's a definite something that isn't running smoothly on that G key (which I've isolated further by pressing down the Bis key separately, which is totally smooth). Similarly, I can hear a little squeaky creaking when I move any of the lower stack (I think it's called this) keys, F through D, although I actually think that's simply the sound of the cork rubbing on the arm that joins those keys to the Bis pad.

So yes, I felt it couldn't do any harm.

Apologies if my terminology is off, when I started playing more I have less time to keep active on the forums. I read less, but playing more makes up for it :)
 
Saxholder Pro

Staff online

Help!Mailing List
Top Bottom