Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Bit of A Snag

We stopped in to see our repair technician, Rachel, earlier this week.  We were not surprised to find that she was working on a flute overhaul!  This is a very common operation at her bench.  She told us that she had already put the flute body and keys through the ultrasonic cleaner, so when we caught up with her, it was time for some manual cleaning.  As she ran a pipe cleaner through the mech tubing on the low B key, she felt a bit of a snag.  According to Rachel, the key tubing should be "round and straight," which we thought was a great rule of thumb.  Obviously, something was wrong.  She then put the steel through the tubing, but it did not run through smoothly.  Rachel detected that the key tubing was bent.  She then re-attached the key to the footjoint to check the motion, but the key was not moving "up and down" properly.  Definitely a snag here -- bent key tubing.

Luckily, the problem was easy enough to solve.  Rachel knew after a few manual diagnostics that the key tubing was bent, so she shared the remedy with us.  She said the way to correct the bend is to run the steel through the key mech tubing, applying pressure very carefully against the bend in the opposite direction.  These are all very small tubes, so the pressure really must be applied carefully -- just the right amount in the right spot with the right technique.  She mentioned that it does take time to learn how to do this properly and effectively.  With a couple of runs of the steel through the tube, applying the appropriate pressure, Rachel was able to fix the bent tube.  She showed us the steel running smoothly thought the tube, and she reattached the key.  Proper vertical motion was restored, and the flute was much happier!  But, how does the key tubing get bent?  Well, there could be a couple of reasons, including normal wear-and-tear.  Another culprit could be a case that does not fit the flute securely -- which is something we will talk about in our next post.  Stay tuned...

Running pipe cleaner through and feeling a snag
Rounding out tube with a steel
Putting key back on to test
Not quite right -- disassembling for more rounding
Putting everything back
Key on, motion tested, and good to go

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