Chopteeth Afrofunk at Hamilton Live

Last night we joined a group of friends for some rockin’ Afrofunk big band fun. We almost missed it because it wasn’t on the calendar, or perhaps because we were still in a post-vacation haze. Yo was in her PJs and we were planning for a pizza and movie night when our buddy Jeff texted us to say he was holding our table. YIKES! We switched into “Mission Impossible” mode, jumped into some clothes, shoved the pizza in the fridge, hailed a cab and….sat down just before the downbeat. WHEW!

Chop teeth Big Band

Chopteeth Big Band

Chopteeth describes their sound as a “spicy stew of modern jazz” based on “Yoruba tribal music and burning, James Brown-inspired rhythms.” That means it’s danicn’ music, so we had to dance. I had a chance to chat with both trumpet players, Justine and Cheryl. Justine plays a Yamaha Xeno and Cheryl plays a Tony Scodwell Boston model, limited production horns out of Las Vegas. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to talk to the trombone and two sax players. Maybe next tine.

I hope to find them in my shop one day!

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Life through Art in New England

We had the happy opportunity to enjoy a long holiday weekend in New England – the holiday being Yolanda’s birthday. We wanted to re-connect two of our artistic friends who live within an hour of each other along the Atlantic coast from Marblehead, Massachusetts to York Harbor, Maine.

Life through Sculpture

Life through Art

We started in historic Marblehead where Janet Russell has settled back into her home town. She makes elegant jewelry from unusual stones, rough cut diamonds, ancient beads and other special bits fashioned from Mother Earth. Yolanda has more than a few of her pieces. You can check out Janet’s jewelry at http://www.jbirdjewelry.com.

Old Town Hall

Old Town Hall, Marblehead

House on Lee Street

House on Lee Street

Marblehead from Lighthouse Point

Marblehead from Lighthouse Point

Water and Rocks

On the Rocks

We had a great meal the evening of our arrival at 5 Corners Kitchen and spent the next day taking in the sights of Salem, of the infamous Witch Trials. We didn’t see any witches, but we did see some great Art at the Peabody Essex Museum.

Rodin Sculpture

Rodin Sculpture

Intersections by Anila Quayyum Agha

Intersections by Anila Quayyum Agha

Outside the museum we found an installation called “Stickworks,” by Patrick Dougherty.

From the Sticks

In the Sticks

That evening we celebrated Yo’s birthday at Finz, where we were joined by Kate Doyle, painter, sculptor and all-around creative spirit. You can find her work at http://www.katherinedoyle.com.

Artistic Duo, Kate and Janet

Artistic Duo, Kate and Janet

Birthday Bash

Birthday Bunch

Mmmmmmmm!

Mmmmmmmm!

The next evening we had a special lobster dinner at Janet’s house. Lobsters molt this time of year and they were so soft you could break them open with your hands. Caught that day!

First Bite

First Bite

Heading North, we traveled to Portmouth, New Hampshire, an old port city with a newly bustling historic downtown. We stopped for a hipster sandwich at Book and Bar and to rendezvous with Kate so she could show us her studio nearby.

Kate Doyle's Studio with RIver Prints

Kate Doyle’s Studio with River Prints

Studio Chandelier

Studio Chandelier

We found this work of art at a shop along our route to an exhibition at 3S Artspace where Kate was participating in the current exhibition, “On the Map.”

Cornet Spaceship

Cornet Spaceship

Kate, with "E6"

3S Artspace

Kate is currently exploring wood sculptures made from thin slices of a Civil War era oak tree. She mysteriously warps them, shaves them, and plays with a variety of finishes to make pieces that sit, hang and interconnect in all kinds of interesting ways. We are anxiously waiting for our own slice of Kate, which we selected this weekend. She will also be exhibiting in Hickok Cole’s Art Night in DC on November 3rd.

Kate, with "E6"

Kate, with “E6”

Sculpture in "On the Map" at 3S Artspace

Sculpture in “On the Map” at 3S Artspace

We stayed at Kate’s charming cottage by the sea and hiked the Cliff Walk along the shore to York Harbor, across the “Wiggly Bridge” to Steedman Woods. Later that afternoon we visited the Ogonquit Mueseum of American Art, followed by a great dinner at MC Perkins Cove. Yo and Ava had Lobster mac ‘n cheese. I had the chicken.

Cliff Walk, York Harbor

Cliff Walk, York Harbor

Kate and me on the Wiggly Bridge

Kate and me on the Wiggly Bridge

Ogonquit Museum of American Art

Ogonquit Museum of American Art

Garden Rhino

Garden Rhino

What an incredible line of coastland. The water is deep blue, capped with silvery-white sparkles. The rocks are sharp along the shore and the small ones crackle as the waves turn them over, turning them into smooth, round stones. Life through art, life as art.

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Coming Clean

I’ve seen a lot of dirty laundry in my time in the biz, along with a lot of dirty horns. It’s always amazed me that people who presumably wash their underwear rarely think of cleaning their horns. After all, we’re blowing moist, hot air into them on a daily basis, maybe with a taco and a Twinkie in the mix. According to a 2011 Time Magazine article about school band instruments, testing yielded “…442 different bacteria, including 58 molds, 19 yeasts and a generous helping of staphylococcus…” Here is an extreme example of all the above. EEEeeewwwwwww!!!

Critter Haven

Critter Haven

In the case of this trumpet, whose player will remain nameless, the accumulation of acids, along with a bountiful bacterial infestation, led to dezincification of the brass, commonly know as red rot. It was so serious the crook had to be replaced.

Now, in the case of this trombone, it’s probably all about chemistry. Some of us have a chemical make-up that just doesn’t mix well with brass or other metals. So we’ll give this conscientious player a partial pass. I gave it a good chem clean and removed the oxidation.

Dirty!

Dirty!

Instruments need to be professionally cleaned once a year. In the interim, you should pull your horn apart once or twice a month and wash it inside and out with soap and warm (not hot) water. Any kind of dish soap will do. I also swab my trumpet leadpipe every day. Your slides need to be greased and the valves oiled each time you give it a bath. This will preserve the integrity of your instrument and improve air flow and playability. Just do it!

Clean!

Clean!

 

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The Redskins’ Sousas

Not long ago I got a call from Santo, who plays Sousaphone in a local band called Crush Funk. It turns out he also plays in the Redskins marching band, one of only two professional marching bands in the country. He said he had EIGHT sousaphones that needed work…a last minute request.

Sousaphones in the Redskins Marching Band

Sousaphones in the Redskins Marching Band

These horns had taken a beating, like they had been tackled on the field. Some were held together with duct and electrical tape; most had broken and missing braces. Due to the time and budget crunch, cosmetic repairs were secondary. I had to work fast!

A Band of Sousaphones

A Band of Sousaphones

Sousa Parts and Pieces

Sousa Parts and Pieces

I worked day and night for a week to meet the deadline. Eric Summers, the band director, and his son, Eric Jr., picked them up and crammed them into his van. Good to go!

Mad Sousa Repair Tech

Mad Sousa Repair Tech

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From C to Shining C

Jonathan Johnson, a fine symphonic trumpet player in Portland, OR, has been bringing his horns to me for 20 years. Now that I’m in DC, he sent his Bach C 229 bell 25H leadpipe horn across the country for a leadpipe conversion. This eliminates the need for alternative fingerings from C to E in the staff, ideal for players who play Bb horns. It’s easier to play because the notes are in tune. My method is not unlike what Yamaha is doing on their Custom Series Cs, with better response and intonation. Super Secret.

Pre-Op Bach C with 25H Leadpipe

Pre-Op Bach C with 25H Leadpipe

New Warburton #3 Bb Leadpipe

New Warburton #3 Bb Leadpipe

I elected to use the Warburton leadpipe because of its unique mouthpiece receiver. The number 3 opens up the horn. This innovative receiver allows easier slotting of the notes.

Parts and Pieces, Ready for Conversion

Parts and Pieces, Ready for Conversion

Parts and Pieces, Close-up

Parts and Pieces, Close-up

Reverse Leadpipe with Outter Tube

Reverse Leadpipe with Outter Tube

Leadpipe Mounted

Leadpipe Mounted

Fitting and Aligning Main Tuning Slide

Fitting and Aligning Main Tuning Slide

Ready for Mahler 2

Ready for Mahler 5!

Jonathan is a happy camper. I love to do work for fine players who appreciate my efforts. He will be performing the Tomasi Concerto on his newly converted C in a recital this week on August 20th at Colonial Heights Presbyterian Church in Potland, Oregon at 2:00 pm.

Concert, August 20th

Tomasi Collection

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Roy Hargrove’s Carbon Fiber Trumpet

Roy Hargrove’s Carbon Fiber Trumpet

Last week I got a surprise call from Larry, the band manager for Roy Hargrove, trumpet player extraordinaire. Roy is a world famous jazz trumpet player, arranger and band leader for small ensembles and big bands. He has played with Winton Marsalis and Herbie Hancock and has won two Grammys. He had a gig at Blues Alley in DC and was having trouble with his second valve. Larry wanted to know if I could work on Roy’s custom horn with a super cool carbon fiber bell – in short order. Now, that’s an offer I couldn’t refuse!

Roy Hargrove

Roy Hargrove

I’ve never worked on or played a horn quite like this. The carbon fiber bell gives it a darker sound, and yet is has quick response. It’s light weight and pretty indestructible. Besides that, it’s seriously BAD-ASS!

Larry, with Roy's bad-ass horn

Larry, with Roy’s bad-ass horn

Larry was in a hurry, so I restored the action on the second valve, using a small amount of garnet lapping compound. I cleaned out the residue and put it all back together.

Good as new!

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The Empire Strikes Back, Episode 3

The Empire Strikes Back, Episode 3

And now for the finale. We had been looking forward to Budapest all along, and it did not disappoint. Like Bratislava, it has had more than its share of nasty foreign occupation, although it has bounced back with its own bohemian flavor. There are roughly 2 million people in the city and they spend about 60% of their income on housing. This makes for a tough road to capitalism, making them dependent on tourists to fill the restaurants and buy stuff in the shops. Nonetheless, it has latched on to an arty, shabby chic vibe that gives it more grit than the pristine streets of Vienna.

Buda

Buda

Pest

Pest

Buda is the original city, built on the hill, now dominated by the dubiously “reconstructed” Castle. Pest is on the opposite side of the Danube, and is where the heart of the city lies today, dominated by the fanciful Parliament Building.

We stayed at an art hotel called Brody House, not far from the center of everything. It’s unique features were the rooms, each modeled on a specific artist, and the Honor Bar, where you make your own and then write it down on a pad, to be charged later. They also give out club passes to their own artful events like book launches, exhibits and parties.

Brody House Courtyard

Brody House Courtyard

Honor Bar, the site of Martini-making

Honor Bar, the site of Martini-making

On our first day we took a walk on Vaci Utca, the pedestrian tourist street full of familiar and not so familiar shops and restaurants. It was here that the first McDonald’s broke into Soviet Bloc. They say that lines formed around the block day and night. We then headed up Andrassy, the Champs Elysee of Budapest – well almost. There we wandered into the Opera House, and by a stroke of luck, were able to buy tickets to that evening’s performance of the Budapest Philharmonic. We nabbed box seats!

Building on Vaci Utca

Building on Vaci Utca

The first COmmunist MacDonalds

The first Communist McDonald’s

The old City Hall, in a bit of disrepair

The old City Hall, in a bit of disrepair

The Opera House

The Opera House

The concert was fantastic! They played selections from Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, Mendelssohn’s Mid Summer Night’s Dream, and Othello by Dvorak. What a great way to spend an evening. They sang in German, with subtitles in English and Hungarian.

The Budapest Philharmonic

The Budapest Philharmonic

The next day we walked along the river and across the bridge to Buda. We went to the National Art Museum which has a large collection of Hungarian art, and for now, a big exhibition on Picasso and friends.

The bridge to Buda

The bridge to Buda

Buda with boats

Buda boats

Matthius Church in Buda

Matthius Church in Buda

It was time for a picnic! The best place to get provisions is at Central Market, an enormous industrial building full of veggies, poultry and MEAT. We eventually found a cheese booth, so if you are looking for a business opportunity, they have a serious cheese deficit in Budapest. Mike was testing out a sausage or two, when he was suddenly surrounded by a mob who snatched away the plate before I could get a sample. Aggressive meat-mongers!

Central Market

Central Market

Mike, with Meat Mongers

Mike, with Meat Mongers

Yolanda had read somewhere that he lower level was devoted to one of my favorite food groups – pickles. It took a while to find them, but there were indeed many stalls of delightful, happy pickles. There were happy candies as well, all dolled up for the kids.

Happy pickles

Happy pickles

Happy candies

Happy candies

We took the Metro to Heroes Square, the entrance to City Park. The statues celebrate seven Magyar Chieftans and National leaders. Beyond that is a 300 acre park filled with fantasy architecture and gardens. We parked ourselves and enjoyed a leisurely picnic.

Heroes Square

Heroes Square

City Park entry

City Park fairytale

Fancy Chapel

Fancy Chapel

Cinderella lives here

Cinderella lives here

Enjoying a Necturine

Would you like a sandwich?

Would you like a sandwich?

How about a cherry?

Yo and I had a nice dinner out that evening at a new hip restaurant called Kiosk. It was there that we saw the most veggies on any menu. These people love their meat! They are famous for duck, and goose liver pate.

DInner at Kiosk

Dinner at Kiosk

Duck, Duck, Goose LIver

Duck, Duck, Goose Liver

Kiosk outdoor bar

Kiosk outdoor bar

We read that no one knows where the Hungarian language comes from. it’s not a Latin-based or Anglo language and is most closely related to those spoken in Finland and Estonia. Try to square that with their Magyar, central Asian DNA. It’s not adding up for me, but then, the only thing I know about is Borodin’s interpretation of the Stepps of Central Asia in the language of music. Good thing for us, most everyone speaks English.

Metro boys

Metro boys

Our last day in Budapest was devoted to Art Nouveau and Terror, the opposite ends of the spectrum of Hungarian experience. The Art Nouveau period was one of peace and prosperity, with a focus on bringing all the arts together as a utopian lifestyle.

Museum of Art Nouveau

Museum of Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau Art

Art Nouveau craft

Moving from peace to war, we felt we needed to better understand the deep scars the people here carry with them from years of authoritarian rule. The House of Terror was the headquarters of the Nazis, followed by the Communists. They built tunnels to other buildings and an underground prison inside these walls. It was indeed terrifying.

House of Terror Museum

House of Terror Museum

It was time to say goodbye to Mike and return to Vienna for our last day of vacation. It was great to see him. He has many adventures lined up through July with friends and family before he boards the next cruise ship bound for the South Pacific. We had an amazing dinner at Onyx, a meal full of food and fun.

Our last dinner with Mike

Our last dinner with Mike

So long, selfie

So long, selfie

In Vienna we spent our last evening at the Daniel, a quirky hotel with a surrealist boat dripping off the edge of the building, an airstream trailer in the garden, and hammocks in the rooms.

Hotel Daniel, with boat

Hotel Daniel, with boat

Airstream in the garden

Airstream in the garden

The hotel is right next to the Belvedere, the museum with the largest collection of Sesessionist art in the world. It was time to take another look at Egon and Klimt, including the world-famous “Kiss.” If you have a chance, see the movie, “Woman in Gold,” which is a true story about a woman who fights the Austrian art establishment and the US Supreme Court to retrieve a family painting by Klimt, stolen during the Nazi occupation.

The Belvedere

The Belvedere

Yo in black and white

Yo in black and white

It’s hard to fathom that it was not until 1955 that Austria became a sovereign nation. It was in this Marble Hall where the Austrian Independence Treaty was signed.

The Marble Hall

The Marble Hall

Our time was up. We had our final dinner at Motto am Fluss, a ship-inspired restaurant floating above the Danube. That’s the necklace Yo bought in Philadelphia, with the matching earrings from Bratislava.

Yo at our final dinner at Motte am Fluss

Yo at our final dinner at Motte am Fluss

Despite the aggravation of having my stuff stolen, we had an incredible time exploring the lands of the Austro-Hungarian empire. This area of the world has survived a history of invaders, warring monarchies, evil dictators and authoritarians. They may no longer be the empire of old, but THEY’RE BACK!

The Empire lives on!

The Empire lives on!

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The Empire Strikes Back, Episode 2

The Empire Strikes Back, Episode 2

Episode 1 left us at the train station in Vienna, having just had my luggage stolen out from under me. The station is clean, modern and full of swanky shops, so my guard was down, and I needed a cup of coffee. Mike, Yo and I were sitting right next to the luggage, and somehow during the coffee purchase, mine rolled away. All my clothes, shoes, money, toiletries…and my pre-fire Warburton 3M, 10 backbore with a 25 throat trumpet mouthpiece, were GONE.

In a stroke of incredible luck or premonition, Yolanda had collected my passport just minutes earlier when she went to buy the train tickets. WHEW!!! So we were off to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, albeit in a bit of a funk.

Town Hall, Bratislava

Town Hall, Bratislava

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St. Michael's Gate

St. Michael’s Gate

I had never heard of Bratislavia (formerly Pressburg) before we looked at a map of our journey from Vienna to Budapest. It sits on the Danube in between these great cities, and was, in fact, the location of 18 coronations of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and a favorite spot of the Empress Maria Theresa, who rebuilt the Castle on the hill over the town.

The Castle in Bratislava

The Castle in Bratislava

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A fine beer at the food fair below the Castle

A fine beer at a food fair below the Castle

St Martin’s Church (site of coronations) from the Castle

The old town center is charming place, trying to make a break into the world of tourism. Restaurants and bars abound, but taxi transportation is variable and the fares are at the whim of the drivers. We were staying in a beautiful hotel on the hill, and while we could jump on a very efficient bus to get down the hill, getting back up was a challenge at night.

Hotel Albrecht

Hotel Albrecht, bar lounge and terrace below

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Due to its prime location, many famous musicians passed through Bratislava and played here:  Mozart, Lizst, Beethoven, Haydn and others. Mozart played his first concert for the Empress here at the age of 6. It is said that he hopped up on her lap! Hummel was born here. There is a museum today in his tiny house.

Hummel's house

Hummel’s humble house

Outside the old town, it becomes Soviet territory pretty quickly. The architecture is blandly bombastic and the streets are eerily empty, with pockets of amazing buildings here and there, like the Blue Church, their prime example of Art Nouveau. It is a high contrast place, trying to find its place in a new world order while hanging on to its former glory.

The Blue Church

The Blue Church

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Speaking of Soviet territory, we had an evening of vodka tasting – get this – at a Thai restaurant. The food was surprisingly good and the vodka was even better!

Vodka Tasting at the Lemon Tree Sky Bar

Vodka Tasting at the Lemon Tree Sky Bar

Before dinner, in an amazing moment of exploration, we came upon a small church, and when we peeked in, we discovered that there was a concert that evening featuring the Eastman School of Music Octet. Who would have thought? Great players, great fun.

Eastman School of Music Octet

Eastman School of Music Octet

OH, and I almost forgot. Having lost everything except what was on my back, we had to do some quick shopping. You may not be up on the latest Slovakian fashion, but if you need any pointers I can help you out. We went to a Soviet-style department store and loaded up on the latest looks. In another moment of “how can this happen?” In the old town, Yolanda found a shop that had the matching pair of earrings to a very cool necklace she bought in Philadelphia just the week before. Stranger things have happened, I suppose.

Bratislava at dusk, with Vodka

Two nights and then on to our next destination. STAY TUNED for the finale in Episode 3!

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The Empire Strikes Back, Episode 1

The Hapsburg Empire, that is. We just returned from a trip to the land of Austrians, Slovaks and Hungarians, each of whom claimed the center of power at one time or another in centuries past. Each is very proud of their place in history, and some are still reconstructing their former glory after decades of Nazi and Soviet occupation.

We began our journey in Vienna, where we were pleasantly surprised to find this view of Stephansplatz Cathedral out our hotel window! Chock full of history, it is now the modern city central, with the convergence of the entire Ubahn system steps from our door.

Stephasplatz Cathedral, Vienna

Stephansplatz Cathedral, Vienna

Inside the Cathdral

Inside the Cathedral

It turned out all kinds of things happen outside our door, including this unexpected parade for Corpus Christi, featuring the Bishop, a brass band, and…shhhhhhhhh! The “secret people,” members of the Knight’s Templar. The band played on rotary trumpets and European style rotary euphoniums.

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The Bishop is Coming!

The Bishop is Coming!

And then there were these clever electric bicycle taxis that scurried around the Platz like a bunch of bugs, competing for crumbs from the tourists.

Taxi scramble

Taxi scramble

Our master plan was to meet up with Mike Hankins, somewhere on the vast Haspburg estate of Schonbrunn Palace for an outdoor concert of the Vienna Philharmonic. Amazingly, we found him amongst about 140,000 other music lovers. Yo was thrilled to hear the incredible flute solo in Ravel’s Daphne and Chloe and we were captivated by the Labeque sisters who played a mean Poulenc double piano concerto, with gusto.

Schonbrunn Palace

Schonbrunn Palace (side view)

Mike on the lawn with a beer

Mike on the lawn with a beer in sunlight

The Vienna Philharmonic at Schonbrunn Palace

The Vienna Philharmonic at Schonbrunn Palace

You are constantly reminded of the grandeur of old in the stately architecture and museums, of which there are many. We spent a day checking out the Secessionists at the Leopold Museum, where we were pleased to discover Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka in the midst of the more familiar Gustav Klimt.

Egon Schiele

House on a River by Egon Schiele, 1915

Self Portrait by Oskar Kokoschka, 1919

Self Portrait by Oskar Kokoschka, 1919

Death and Life by Gustav Klimt, 1910

Death and Life by Gustav Klimt, 1910

Yo had a special interest in the architecture of the period so we sought out some of the prime examples of Jugendstil, the Austrian version of Art Nouveau.

The Sucession Builiding

The Secession Building, by Joseph Maria Olbrich, 1897

Apartment Buildings

Apartment Buildings, by Otto Wagner

Fast forward to the modern world. We discovered a gem in the Haus Der Musik Museum, a contrasting combination of techno sound exhibits and experiences and special rooms devoted to the Vienna Philharmonic and old world masters who lived or played in Wein.

Sound experiment

Sound experiment

But the best of all was the interactive exhibit where you can conduct the Vienna Philharmonic! You select from 1 of 4 pieces, and a video/audio tape of the orchestra is synchronized with the baton. You control the tempo and dynamics with your movements, in what seems like real time. If you mess up too badly, the orchestra will stop and give you tongue-lashing (in German, with subtitles), which happened to me on the first round.

Conducting the Vienna Philharmonic

Conducting the Vienna Philharmonic

The Austrians love their music, art and architecture, all of which could take years to explore properly, but it was time for us to move on. We headed to the train station, a very clean, modern shopping mall with trains, where all of my luggage was promptly STOLEN.

Kunsthistorisches Museum

Kunsthistorisches Museum

Stay tuned…for Episode 2!

The Cathedral at night

The Cathedral at night

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Good Bones

Tim Dugen dropped by my shop about a week ago with a broken bone. Tim plays a Shires large bore trombone in The President’s Own US Marine Band. He came in to have a bell dent removed, but when I examined the slide, I found a problem with the socket on the inner hand assembly. Stay with me, repair nerds!

Ouch!

Before

After

After

Here are the bits and pieces of the inner slide assembly. The silver solder joint had failed at the socket.

Broken Bone

Broken Bone

Residual lacquer and solder has been removed in preparation for new silver solder.

Silver Solder Prep

Silver Solder Prep

Flux applied to allow the silver solder to flow properly.

The Flux

The Flux

Silver soldering. The two pieces here are of different mass, so it’s tricky to direct the flame to make sure they are heated evenly. Otherwise, the socket could melt into a puddle.

Yikes!

Yikes!

After a quick dip in acid, the part is ready for buffing.

Ready to Buff

Ready to Buff

Good as new!

Buffed

Buffed

Assembling the cork barrel.

Some Assembly Required

Some Assembly Required

Better than ever.

Upper Cork Barrel

Upper Cork Barrel

Preparing to solder the socket.

Line up

Line up

Ready for spot lacquering.

Done!

Done!

Tim approves!

Happy Customer!

Happy Customer!

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