Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Overhaul

Powell Repair Technician Rachel Baker working on an overhaul.
In a previous post here on Repair My Flute, we covered the topic of how one determines whether their flute needs a COA or an overhaul.  You can read that post by following this link.

If it is time for an overhaul, you may have wondered what exact steps are involved in the process.  We have the answer from the repair page of the Powell website as you will see below...
The Overhaul involves the complete disassembly and reconditioning of an instrument. The time between overhauls is dependent on many factors, including climate and the quality and frequency of C.O.A.’s. A rough average would be three to five years. For a normal overhaul the labor charge is $1000.00 for flutes and $725.00 for piccolos, and the only parts cost is a set of pads. Expect to be without your flute for four weeks or piccolo for three weeks while it is being overhauled. Overhauls are warranted for 90 days.

1. The instrument is play tested and checked for all mechanical and structural work that will be required. The client will be contacted if the required work exceeds the authorized limit, and the charges will be discussed.

2. All pinned sections are taken apart; pads are removed and thrown away.
3. Corks, felts, foams and headjoint cork are removed and thrown away.

4. The flute is cleaned in an ultrasonic bath to remove dirt, oil and grease. The flute body and keys are then dipped in a tarnish remover.

5. Swedging, replacement of worn pins, and key fitting, as well as required mechanical and bodywork are done, as per findings in #1 above.

6. The precious metal parts are shined and treated with silver polish.

7. Pads are installed.

8. Corks, felts and foams are attached. The headjoint cork assembly is polished and a new headjoint cork is installed.

9. The keys are oiled and assembled.

10. During the final padding process the instrument is played frequently so that pads can settle. Adjustments are made.

11. The instrument is play tested.

12. The instrument case is cleaned and polished, then shimmed (if necessary) so that the instrument fits snugly.

Exclusions: The removal of scratches, nicks and dents is done only at the client’s request, and is charged by the hour. A bearing job may be required if the right and left hand sections exhibit side play in the F# post at the cost of $213.00. Re-soldering of un-soldered tone holes is charged by the hour.

You may schedule an overhaul directly through the Powell website. Click here to visit the repair scheduling link.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Packing It Up - Part Two

Packing a headjoint for shipping
In a previous post, we shared tips and techniques for properly packing your instruments to ship them for repair.  The post, which you can read by following this link, also demonstrated how to pack headjoints and crowns.

We thought about a few more scenarios and revisited our Shipping Manager, Chris Lavoie.  Specifically, we wondered about shipping your flute and piccolo together in one box.  To do this, you'll want to make sure you have a box large enough to fit both instruments.  It's best to have the flute and piccolo each in their own case and then in their own box.  Then, you'll want to place foam (or comparable packing material) on the bottom of the shipping box.  Next, place the flute in the shipping box and the piccolo on top of the flute.  Make sure there is packing material completely around the flute and piccolo.  You'll notice a gap from the edge of the piccolo box to the edge of the flute box.  All you need to do to remedy this is to fill the gap with more packing material, as you will see in the photos below.
Gap at the end of the piccolo box.
Foam will fill the gap!
Also, we've had many inquiries about engraving, and we mentioned in a previous post that for lip plate engraving, you only need to send in your headjoint.  As with the instruments, you will want to place the headjoint securely in a small box that will then go into a shipping box.  The small box for the headjoint itself should hold the headjoint securely.  Chris tells us that you want to secure the headjoint so that it does not rattle or otherwise move in the box once it's closed.  We are a bit spoiled here at Powell because we have boxes that specifically are made with fitted foam inserts that hold the headjoint securely in place.  If you don't have this, just make sure that the headjoint is well padded and secured within the box, and you should be fine.

Headjoint secured with foam insert
If you need shipping materials, don't forget that we have flute shipping boxes with foam inserts in the shipping supply section of our online VQP Shop -- and always remember to put an extra layer of padding on top of the box contents.  Craft stores are also a great place to find soft packing materials like foam.  As long as the items you are shipping are secured and do not move within the box, they should have a safe journey!

Always remember to cover box contents with extra padding

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Care Tips for Wooden Instruments

Powell Grenadilla Custom with 14k rose gold mechanism

Break-in Period 

A brand new wooden instrument must be properly broken in to assure the instrument reaches its fullest potential. For the first two months you should play your instrument for no more than twenty minutes at a time. Let it rest for four hours, making sure you swab your instrument immediately after each playing session. During the first month, do not play the instrument more than twice a day; during the second month, you may increase the frequency to three times a day. After the first two months, gradually increase both the time and frequency of playing sessions until, after six months, the instrument may be regarded as fully broken in.

Preventing Cracks

A well made and well cared for wooden instrument will improve with age and give you years of delight. To minimize the chance of cracks occurring, two cautions are absolutely essential: 
(1) Avoid rapid changes in temperature (keep the instrument well insulated and do not leave it in your automobile), and (2) Never allow standing moisture to accumulate in your flute or piccolo, especially in the headjoint. 

The benefits of oiling are an improved appearance and a slight increase in the moisture resistance of the wood. Only Powell Flutes or an authorized Powell repair technician should undertake the task of applying oil to the bore of a body or footjoint. Your wooden headjoint may benefit from an occasional application of almond oil to the bore and embouchure hole after it is at least one year old. Use only pure pressed almond oil. Use extreme caution in wiping around the embouchure hole, as the delicate edges of the hole might become damaged. After it is applied the oil must be wiped off thoroughly but gently.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Fall Back into Flute Care!

So, the time has come -- it's fall, and many college students are back in high gear performing in lessons and ensembles after a long summer break.  That being said, there are a couple of things to keep in mind in terms of flute care and maintenance to help students as they shift back into a heavier practice and performance routine.

1.  One simple step you can take as a flutist is to swab out your flute and/or piccolo during rehearsals.  There will always be at least a few pauses or breaks when you can swab out your instruments.  College and university rehearsals are certainly longer than those in high school, so don't limit yourself to swabbing out once at the end -- swab as many times as you need when you can!

2. Wiping down your instrument after you play is critical.  It might seem like it's, well, not that big of a deal to just put it away without wiping the outside, but it is!  You want to wipe down the instrument and headjoint to remove oil, dirt, and residue that can accumulate on the body, keys, and in the embouchure hole.  (Click here to read our previous post on this topic, "Keeping It Clean.")  Those quick breaks in rehearsals when you are not playing are also opportune moments to wipe down the instrument -- so keep a cloth on your lap or closeby!

3.  This may seem like a "no brainer," but it really is important to brush your teeth and wash your hands before you play.  Carry a toothbrush and toothpaste with you -- maybe "travel sized" ones that are small.  There is usually a bathroom where you can stop to brush your teeth and wash your hands before rehearsals.  In fact, you will probably see many people from your ensemble there at the same time!

3. Moisture will affect flute pads, so depending on how much you play and the humidity level of your environment, you may want to keep your case open and let your flute or piccolo "air out" a bit before you close the case and put your instrument away.  Of course, this should be done after you have thoroughly swabbed out the instrument.  There may not always be time to do this extra step, but if there is (say, after you finish practicing), it will definitely help.

4.  Finally, if you have the chance to run a rehearsal -- maybe a sectional, chamber group, flute choir, etc. -- make sure to give the ensemble players time to properly swab out, clean, and put their instruments away before they need to rush off to the next class, rehearsal, or lesson.  Your performers (and their instruments) will greatly appreciate this gesture, and it can really make a difference.

We're sure most of these tips are familiar, but in a college or university setting, the time one spends on his/her instrument can greatly increase -- so proper care for the instrument must match the demands on the instrument itself.  Just remember, the more you play, the more you will need to care for your flute.  Seize those maintenance "opportunities," keep yourself prepared, and your flute should definitely be able to keep up with you!