View Full Version : Need help soldering trombone

03-08-2015, 09:48 PM
My son came home with a broken trombone on Friday. His spit valve fell off while he was playing for the basketball regionals, and they've got another game (and my son another show) on Wednesday. Here's the damage:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v280/jasch/Forum/IMG_5124_zpsebcujryb.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/jasch/media/Forum/IMG_5124_zpsebcujryb.jpg.html)

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v280/jasch/Forum/IMG_5125_zpstxm1fkz9.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/jasch/media/Forum/IMG_5125_zpstxm1fkz9.jpg.html)

My deal is that, sure--I have soldered, but I don't do it regularly or even particularly well. I'm kind of intimidated by working on an expensive musical instrument. It seems like my old second-hand propane torch might be the wrong tool for this type of precise heat application.

I googled for some tips on how to repair this, but didn't find much. There was one video where a guy was soldering a grip on a trumpet. He was using a small butane torch that I've never even used before. . . .

I'm wondering if this is something I should even try? I would be concerned about loosening the other solder joints that are nearby. What do you think leave it to the professionals?


03-08-2015, 10:01 PM
Looks like Heid Music is your best bet.
Brass instruments are way too easy to screw up.
Is it a rental? If so, call the shop.

03-08-2015, 10:19 PM
If you have to ask for help you should not be attempting this yourself. A competent tech will not charge more than $20 I would guess, but you could very easily ruin it.

03-08-2015, 10:48 PM
I played trombone in high school, lots of fun... Now for the repair go to a pro. While soldering brass is actually easy the horns slide metal is thin and the heat easily could discolor the horn. Another possibility would be warping the slide, and believe me, your son would really be unhappy with that :). Worst case if the repair shop cannot get it out before Wed, get your son a roll of black electrical tape to wrap the valve port. There is nothing special about the port, it is just a place to drain, well spit... A wrap or two of tape and all is well till you can get a proper repair. If he uses the tape, remind him to leave about an inch unattached and to fold it in half, sticky to sticky to leave a tab to unwrap easily.


tyrone shewlaces
03-08-2015, 10:48 PM
Brass instruments are way too easy to screw up..

... especially a trombone slide. That is very close to the tube joints. Just a few degrees too much and the sensitive alignment of the slide will go kaput and then you'll be looking at a much higher repair bill.
Don't try it.

03-08-2015, 10:57 PM
You have to take the spring and water key off--otherwise the spring will keep you from getting the saddle clamped back on. Clean the oxidized solder until shiny and flux both pieces with brass or copper flux. Flatten a short length of solid wire solder and put it between the parts. Take two large alligator clips to hold it all together. Apply heat from back side away from the hole in the bow--that hole reinforcement ring is soldered on too and it may fall off if you get it too hot. Some solder may ooze out and you have to clean off with a sharp chisel.

Now you know why I charge $20 to fix these!

03-08-2015, 11:14 PM
Now you know why I charge $20 to fix these!
Cheap at twice that price!

03-08-2015, 11:35 PM
Might be wise to use heat-stop paste around the hole ring and other tube joints. That stuff really works!

03-09-2015, 12:17 AM
Tastefully park a cork in it until Thursday after the game. It's too easy to screw it up and is not a good first time repair on a spendy brass instrument. With at least two brass instrument shops in the area I'd trust them to do it right.

03-09-2015, 04:49 AM
Looking at it if you heat the bracket and tube the brass valve seating flange may drop off if not wired on, I'd guess that was soldered on too.

03-09-2015, 09:07 AM
Glue it on with loctite 330
10 minutes and its done never to fall off

03-09-2015, 09:12 AM
Yeah, I was thinking this was one of those deals where if I have to ask, maybe I shouldn't be trying it! My son was telling me that one of his friends' dads had done a similar repair, so was also thinking maybe it's not that bad? I sent him to school today with a roll of black electrical tape. He's going to explore other options with his band instructor, possibility of borrowing a trombone, etc. I doubt they'd be able to turn his horn around by Wednesday, so had eliminated repair early on. . . .

thanks for all the replies,


03-09-2015, 12:46 PM
My nephew has a brass instrument repair business, and makes quite a lot of his income from correcting the repairs that amateurs have attempted.


03-09-2015, 01:07 PM
... correcting the repairs that amateurs have attempted.

Gunsmiths, plumbers, electricians and lawyers ditto...

03-09-2015, 01:22 PM
I wonder if you could sweat solder it on with a heat gun.....

03-09-2015, 01:35 PM
Probably several ways to heat the spit valve mounting plate and tube and have success. I wouldn't want this repair to be my first attempt if the instrument is needed in a few days or if it's a Selmer or other high end make. If it's rented, should be able to get a loaner if they can't fix it time.

The Artful Bodger
03-09-2015, 02:39 PM
I wonder if you could sweat solder it on with a heat gun.....

That would be my choice, cover the surrounding areas with generous layers of masking tape with metal foil on top to protect the brass from discolouration, wire the part in place and set to with the heat gun.

Paul Alciatore
03-09-2015, 02:43 PM
There has got to be a reason why it fell off. If that is not corrected, then any repair will also fail. If that solder joint failed, the most likely reason is that one of the surfaces was not properly cleaned. Frankly, it should have been stronger that the thin tube it was on.

I would leave it to the pros.

03-09-2015, 06:23 PM
There has got to be a reason why it fell off. If that is not corrected, then any repair will also fail. If that solder joint failed, the most likely reason is that one of the surfaces was not properly cleaned. Frankly, it should have been stronger that the thin tube it was on.

I would leave it to the pros.

Agreed. a solder joint like that should of ripped the tube in half before giving way. Whoever put it together didn't get the solder to actually stick to the spit valve, I bet it was only held on by solidified flux! or sticking to an oxide layer mechanically like glue would.

If I had to repair it temporary, I would use hot glue! Can peel it off nicely if it fails and need a proper repair later, or heat it up well below discoloration temp of brass and it will come loose. Or the tape/cork other people have mentioned.
I would likely epoxy it before I soldered for a perm repair, it since the soldering should be left to a professional due to discoloration and alignment. that said epoxy is NOT easy to remove and will likely make a proper repair later nearly impossible!

03-09-2015, 06:32 PM
This is the only thing I have to help: http://youtu.be/3m5QNhWencQ

03-09-2015, 08:10 PM
Jim, this is a pretty easy job, I would use tin as the solder, I'm sure you can get lead free solder at a plumbers merchant and a self cleaning flux, same source. These are easily obtained this side of the pond and I feel sure they will be in the U.S. Most plumbing is now done with tin as the solder in place of tin/lead solder
To do the job I would dismantle the assembly with the springs so you have the brass piece only, looking at the joint a good clean with wire wool or better a small S/steel wire brush, flux both parts and assemble using soft iron wire to hold in place. Also wire on the round piece. To prevent the tube joints melting wrap them with very wet cotton cloth, they will not melt unless seriouse overheating occurs.
Lay the assembly on a suitable flat surface and apply heat with a gas torch, medium burner, not a small one, too big is better. The tin solder I would hammer a short length flat, heat the work preferably in subdued light the flame will go green, at this point touch the solder on the joint and it will flow into it. You need only a very small amount and the flame needs to be played on and off the work as required so not to overheat it.
Regards John

03-09-2015, 08:30 PM
"How its made" covered making a trumpet..


03-09-2015, 08:59 PM
If they get hit with a sudden lateral shock, it isn't unusual for them to pop loose. Same with the braces...kind of a force versus surface area thing. Wish you were closer to Nebraska.

03-09-2015, 09:34 PM
Twist some baling wire around it.

Paul Alciatore
03-09-2015, 09:40 PM
Duct Tape.

Duct Tape.


03-09-2015, 10:55 PM
All sorts of good advice. If you were closer I would simply let your son borrow my 1930's silver Conn for the game. It would do it good to see another high school ball game :) as it has been 35+ years since the last time I played it at a game and many more before that when my father played it in the army and high school.. Another thing about repairs to brass horns is actually the looks of the repair. Exess solder leaves a nasty grey stain on polished brass and while it can be cleaned up a good repair tech will not need to...

Get it done well and your son will enjoy it for many years to come.


03-09-2015, 11:14 PM
Duct Tape.

Duct Tape.


Sand smooth, then double-stick tape. First repair I made that way I was thinking 'It only has to last for an hour'. 2 years later when I decided I should do a proper repair, I spent an hour and a half taking it apart....

03-10-2015, 09:52 AM
I had to repair some random brass trinket that was soldered together. The possibility of melting a different joint while fixing the broken one was a strong possibiliity. I used the lowest-temp solder I could find, cleaned everything really really well, and used one of those small, butane-powered, pin-point torches ... think a Bic Flick On Steroids ... and sort of "spot-soldered" the broken bit in a few places. It worked well enough (the joint wasn't really 'structural', it had to be just strong enough to hold the broken piece on the trinket).

03-10-2015, 12:49 PM
Twist some baling wire around it.

Duct Tape.

Duct Tape.


zip ties, done!