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Repairing a Bent Trombone Slide (2004) (oberloh.com)
114 points by camtarn 12 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 45 comments

From time to time you wonder how things end up on hacker news. I think this time its just pure Internet nostalgia, someone giving a somewhat obscure advice away for free, without agenda or commercial interest..

Well I clicked because my trombone's slide is bent.

I clicked because it's trombones. My problem though is that the valve for the F-attachment is broken off and I need to resolder it. Does anyone have a nice tutorial outlying the pitfalls associated with soldering that (my approach would be to heat the lever part in the oven, heat the installation site with a blowtorch and add solder and put the preheated part on it, hoping it's no cold solder joint)

Depending on how much you value the instrument my first port of call would be to go to a music store and get a quote, and if you feel that the quote is high relative to the value of the instrument then you can go the DIY route.

What you want is called brazing, not soldering, and it will cause the silvering of the parts to be burned off so you'll have to re-silver it (assuming a silver plated trombone).

Mine is too, but after looking over their process and equipment I decided I'm better off taking it to a professional

Mine too :(

I got my son's French horn overhauled by Dan. He is one of these inexplicably dedicated craftsmen in a very offbeat art--the kind the world would be poorer without. I believe that people with his kind of obsession with completeness and refinement should be appreciated, studied, and--as a lot of computer programming pursuits can benefit from the same qualities--emulated!

I just submit anything I happen across that I find interesting. In this case, my trombone's slide is very sticky and I was googling around to see if there was anything I could do myself to fix it.

After reading this page, I think my answer is 'not much'!

The only stories I wonder about are thinly veiled gossip or marketing. Anything music related reminds me that many(most?) hackers are musically inclined

> Anything music related reminds me that many(most?) hackers are musically inclined.

Hmm. News to me - I've never heard this before. Got any references on that? Annecdotally I can only think of one person I vaguely know who liked playing keyboards. Again annecdotally one of my parents is a professional musician so you'd imagine some of that would run off and perhaps I'd be more likely than the average to be musically inclined having grown up in a house full of instruments and music, yet I have absolutely zero interest or inclination.

Sure people listen to music a lot, but never seen any other connection beyond that?

You can add another person to that list, me!

I'm currently working as a software engineer, but I made my living as a musician (jazz, blues, piano bar) for several years.

I could see jazz especially being interesting to tech folks. There's a fantastic mixture of theory and logic and puzzle-solving mixed with creativity and expression that meshes very well with hacker culture, at least to me. I personally know quite a few people who are into both.

It's also something that can be largely self-taught, which mean a lot of the people who are into it are into it because they're passionate about it.

Also a jazz musician (bass), though it's been years since I've done any gigs.

I thought i first read it on esr's how to be a hacker thing about 20 years ago, but it may have been something else.


It was these sorts of websites which led me to fall in love with the internet. How far we've fallen. I miss those heady days.

There’s a ton of similar content on Youtube.

And that sucks, because videos are good as an augmentation to pages like this, but sometimes you just want a step-by-step on how to do things without fooling around rewinding over and over. Plus, no "make sure to like and subscribe" or "hey guys!!" in this page.

This! I absolutely hate instruction video’s! Skipping forward and skipping back.. watching it for ten minutes to discover you probably skipped the important part. I guess i am impatient.

Coding video tutorials - never understood it. Car repair video’s: very hard to follow because most of the time the lightning is bad and the camera is shaky. A few good pictures with descriptive text. Perhaps a movie if you have to do something which requires a specific kind of move.

That said: instruction movies about sports are pretty useful.

True, but this is the fastest loading page you'll visit today and has zero tracking.

More generally, there is zero Javascript and zero CSS.

There are no advertisters paying for anything, and yet the content exists and is available.

If there was such a thing as "free" content on the web then this page seems to represent that idea better than the pages of today.

While today's pages may be more technically impressive by showcasing browser "features", they also pose more potential risk to users on several fronts. There is a cost.

I was looking to see if they anneal the brass; maybe the process of removing the solder heats it enough for that, or maybe the brass used in this application doesn't require it?

I'm restoring a 25 year old car, and discovered that new heater cores for it are no longer available. Both my original and the used spare I got were crushed on the tube ends (from people using vice grips to remove stuck hoses). I never had much luck reshaping aluminum or brass, but I had recently read about the process of annealing (which restores plasticity to a work-hardened metal piece) so decided to give it a try. (As for how someone can be in the habit of attempting to reshape metal and NOT know what annealing was: such is the life of a self-taught DIYer.)

I used propane with a turbo-torch tip to heat the ends of the brass tubes cherry red, and let them cool. Then, in a process very similar to page 2 on the linked website, I used an internal mandrel (a thick steel pin) and gentle taps with a flat hammer to reshape it. It was amazing to see the capital letter "B" shaped crushed tube ends become round again. The first few strikes move the metal easily; after that each tap makes the metal harder. I could fix any mistakes by re-annealing and starting over.

This goes nicely with this video on repairing a damaged (looked destroyed to me) trombone bell that by coincidence I watched yesterday.


Quite similar to some autobody work, except the metal is much softer and thinner.

It's interesting that a lot of people would be surprised at just how fragile a brass instrument is, given that the things they usually have experience with which are made of brass are much stronger --- plumbing, doorknobs, etc; you really have to experience one in person to feel the thinness of the material (and they're already pretty heavy, which makes them even more fragile.)

You can wreck a saxophone (ok, technically a woodwind) by putting it down uncarefully. They are all quite fragile.

It's pretty cool what can be repaired by those with the right know-how. A friend of mine bent his bell much more than the one in the video (one side was folded over, almost like a taco) and apparently it was still fixable.

Wow, that looks like a shit ton of work for $300. The pictures make it look like it takes hours and dozens of specialized tools.

Yeah, I thought that too. I feel like they're charging a lot less than what their labour, expertise and tools really should be worth; but presumably the price is set there because that's what the market will bear and/or that's what their competitors charge.

Unfortunately, the clientle isn't swimming in money. I play the double bass, and was visiting my repair shop. The luthier was showing me the instruments he was working on, and each story ended with: "Of course the customer doesn't have any money."

He has no competitors. Good instrument repair technicians are pretty rare. These guys could be making a lot more money repairing things like high-tech medical equipment.

$300 in 2004. I expect prices have gone up, like everything else.

Almost as if physical labour isn't priced at $300 an hour, but more like $30...

If this is physical labor, then so is typing at a computer keyboard all day.

15 years inflation would make a difference too.

Interesting. My initial thought was that it was the old article about repairing dents in a brass wind instrument with a super strong rare earth magnet.


I'm no music expert, but as someone who has tried and failed to straighten out numerous metal objects, I can definitely appreciate this detailed guide.

Loads so fast. I miss you, Internet.

I miss the old Internet, web 1.0. Great web-page!

I bet the good old stuff, and a lot more good stuff, safe for work, families, and children, is still out there. Sooo, look for my announcement on HN of my alpha test!

LOL! I said almost this exact same thing to my wife as I showed her this site. web 1.0 before we knew it was web 1.0.

Based on 1st 4 comments on this thread, readers might like:



Not sure why this got killed - it's an extremely relevant comment that I was about to make myself.

Context: This site was linked in a comment the other day in the "Lesser-Known Search Engines That Are Worth Checking Out" thread [1]. It's a search engine for "old internet" style sites such as this one, and the S/N ratio is so high they even have a "surprise me" button that more often than not gets you something interesting.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19350679

I saw it mentioned on HN at least 12 mos ago. What is the story behind it? Does not appear to use Google or Bing.

In a way, it has the effect of being something like "AMP" before that project was started: a way to encourage or filter for smaller, faster webpages (but even better, without the injected advertising).

If you don’t already have the backstory you’ve provided, the original comment looks like spam. A bit of explanation would have helped.

The amount of work spent straightening straight brass tubing seems excessive. You'd think they'd just replace the straight parts, and consider them consumables, like strings.

I think it says a lot about how the musical instrument industry works --- you can buy the tubes, but they're not that cheap, possibly because they're not made in large quantities:


On the other hand, if you don't restrict your search to "instrument-oriented" suppliers...


Now I wonder if anyone has made a trombone (or other brass instrument) from plumbing supplies. That would be more in line with the "hacker spirit"!

There's some Youtube videos[1] of people that made trombones out of PVC pipes. However they have a tendency to sound awful and have awful slides. However there is the P-Bone, which is made almost entirely out of plastic while still being a decent trombone[2]

[1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxVSP0hcL8s

[2]: https://pbone.co.uk/ I think the only non-plastic bits are the spring and a cotter pin that make the spit valve work

My guess is that the raw tubes don't start out straight enough, so it takes the same amount of effort either way.

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