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Overhaul Project - Alto saxophones

RMorgan

Member
Messages
110
Hey folks,

How are you?

Well, some of you may remember that I was looking forward to buy an old sax to practice overhauling and repairing.

So, I made a very good deal and now have two alto saxophones to start my project. :)

Both are stencils. One is "The Great Gretsch American" (some people say it´s made by Martin, Conn, Holton...I don´t know) and the other is a "Harwood Professional" (made by Buescher).

I believe both are from around 1920-1930.

Here are some pictures:





They look very similar, except that the Gretsch is heavier and it´s in worse conditions.

Anyway, I´ll start with the Harwood Professional. It´s in great conditions, really. I believe it will just need a major cleaning (complete disassembling/assembling), re-padding and regulation. The lacquer isn´t looking good and a lot of it is missing, maybe I´ll strip it off.

So, I here I am. I have these altos and I need help to start my project! :)

Where do I start? Do you have any tips? Really, any advice is highly welcomed. I can´t do it without your help!

I really hope that, by the end of this journey, I´ll have two really nice sweet sounding vintage saxophones.

If you have any PDF material, schematics or something that could help, you can send them to rafael-at-rafaelmorgan-dot-com.

Thanks so much in advance.

Cheers,

Raf.
 

Andrew Sanders

Northern Commissioner for Caslm
Messages
2,773
Looks like you are going to need Stephen Howard's Haynes Manual Raf. It will give you the information that you need.
Andy
 

RMorgan

Member
Messages
110
Looks like you are going to need Stephen Howard's Haynes Manual Raf. It will give you the information that you need.
Andy

Thanks mate,

I´m really considering buying this book in the future.

However, I´m really short on money right now.

Anyway, it would take about a month for this book to arrive here in Brazil and I´d like to start this project asap, since I´m on vacations and have plenty of time right now.

Cheers,

Raf.
 

RMorgan

Member
Messages
110
Hey folks,

The first stage is done! :)

I removed all keys and springs from the Harwood. All screws are in good conditions and everything looks fine.

Also, I remove the old lacquer, which was in really bad shape. It now is looking pretty nice in pure brass.

For my surprise, there´s a small date engraved in it, it´s says 1914, so this sax is older than I first thought! Really nice! It´s older than my grandfather! :)

I´m just having a bad time trying to remove that green "rust" from inside the sax. It´s pretty hard to reach some places.

Do you have any tips about that?

I had another surprise as well, but not so good. It has more dents in the bore region than I first thought. Do you know if these small dents affect the intonation? Any tips on how to fix them using regular tools?

Thanks in advance. I´ll post some pictures later.

Cheers,

Raf.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
The 1914 may be a patent date, not manufacture date. Very few saxes are stamped with date of manufacture.

The green rust is called verdigris in English. Should come off with vinegar.

Dents need special tools and skills. Best left alone, or taken to a technician. In general small dents can be ignored.
 

RMorgan

Member
Messages
110
The 1914 may be a patent date, not manufacture date. Very few saxes are stamped with date of manufacture.

The green rust is called verdigris in English. Should come off with vinegar.

Dents need special tools and skills. Best left alone, or taken to a technician. In general small dents can be ignored.

Thanks Kev!

Any tips on how to reach those hard spots?

Some places are really hard to clean, even using a toothbrush.

Cheers,

Raf.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
cloth on a stick/wooden dowel. If you go in through the tone holes, make sure you don't bend them.
 

jonf

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,680
Another useful trick is to soak a bit of cotton wool in vinegar, which can then be left resting on the offending area so it's in constant contact. Then it will just wipe clean.
 

RMorgan

Member
Messages
110
Hey guys,

Thanks for all your replies and nice tips.

Here´s a pic of the sax, totally cleaned up and with lacquer removed:



The next step is to remove the lacquer and clean all the keys.

Cheers,

Raf.
 

RMorgan

Member
Messages
110
Hi guys, how are you?

Well, everything is going fine with the Harwood Professional overhaul.

However, the Gretsch is going to give me a lot of trouble...

I was starting to disassemble it today when I found out that 90% of the screws are very stuck; some of them are almost disintegrating, really!

It´s impossible to remove some screws with screwdrivers, even after spraying some WD40.

So, I need your help! How do I remove those screws? Then, after I remove them, will it be possible to find replacement screws?

I´ve found some cheap spare screws for alto on ebay, like this one but I have no idea if they will fit.

Thanks in advance,

Raf.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Check that the stuck screws aren't held by locking grub screws. These are easy to overlook. And even easier to lose...

WD40 isn't a good corrosion remover/freeing agent. Try plus gas if you can find it.

If you need to replace screws, there are a few threads used. Ferree's should be able to help, but you'll need to identify the maker/model. If it's rods, then mearure the diameter and make up new ones, but you'll need to source taps to cut the threads.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
8,098
Kev's advice is spot on. If it is possible to show a few more photos of the Gretsch American someone might be able to tell who manufactured it. That will go a long way to help identify which pivot screws it takes. A close-up of an intact pivot screw would help as well.

If the pivot screws are not held in place by set screws, and are in fact frozen a bit of tapping with a plastic or rawhide mallet and heat along with penetrating oil (PB Blaster is great) will often do the trick. If you don't have a plastic mallet, the handle of a small screwdriver works as well.

Welcome to the world of old sax restoration.
 

RMorgan

Member
Messages
110
Thanks Kev and JBT, :)

I´ll give plus gas a try.

I´ll try to make my own screws and rods as well. There´s an aeromodelling shop nearby; they´ll give me a hand cutting the threads.

Some rods are literally impossible to remove; their screw heads are gone. I´ll have to saw them with a fine jeweler saw.

I´m almost sure it´s made by Martin. It has beleveled rolled tone holes. I also compared the screws with Martin screws from the internet and they seem to be identical.

Anyway, I´m glad I started with the Harwood Professional because its restoration is going incredibly smooth. If I had started with the Gretsch I would be traumatized by now! Hahaha!

Cheers,

Raf.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
One trick with old threaded rods - save the threaded part and silver solder them to the new rod.
 

clarnibass

New Member
Messages
20
With stuck screws it's worth using penetrating oil (WD40 can actually work pretty good) and heat cycles. It's sometimes helps to also use some cycles of regular thin oil and lighter fluid. If you heat with a flame them becareful with the lighter fluid... don't set the sax on fire! :) It's important to use very good and good fitting screwdrivers. It can take some time, even a few days. Very useful is to try to unscrew while the area is hot, this gives me the most success fast, I've never had a screw stuck more than one day if I do this.

Re the ruined slots, I don't knoe if this will help since it required special tools, but I use a dental micromotor to make a new slot in the rod that is inside the post, without damaging the post (the precise control of a dental micromotor allows this).
 

RMorgan

Member
Messages
110
With stuck screws it's worth using penetrating oil (WD40 can actually work pretty good) and heat cycles. It's sometimes helps to also use some cycles of regular thin oil and lighter fluid. If you heat with a flame them becareful with the lighter fluid... don't set the sax on fire! :) It's important to use very good and good fitting screwdrivers. It can take some time, even a few days. Very useful is to try to unscrew while the area is hot, this gives me the most success fast, I've never had a screw stuck more than one day if I do this.

Re the ruined slots, I don't knoe if this will help since it required special tools, but I use a dental micromotor to make a new slot in the rod that is inside the post, without damaging the post (the precise control of a dental micromotor allows this).


Hi clarnibass,

Thanks for the reply!

Well, I´m managing to remove most screws using heat, WD40, gasoline and vibrations, like someone else suggested.

However, I did exactly how you suggested with the ones with ruined slots. I used my dremel tool to drill them of very precisely.

Man, one of them was so stuck that looked like someone welded it there. Looks like this sax has been neglected for decades.

Cheers,

Raf.
 
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