Monday, February 7, 2022

Piston Valves: What Goes Down SHOULD Come Up
by Chase Cavalier
Manager - PMC Springdale


The piston's a pretty simple thing, right? You press it down and it comes back up. Easy!

That may be true in theory, but in reality, they are tricky little devils that require precision repair work. Tolerances between the outside diameter of the piston and the inside diameter of the valve casing can measure as little as 0.0005". That is 5 ten-thousandths of an inch. To put that measurement into perspective, a standard sheet of printing paper measures about 0.003" (roughly 6 times thicker than the valve tolerance above). With tolerances that close, there is little room for error.

So, when a valve isn't working correctly there are a lot of possible causes: debris buildup, a dent in the valve casing, a bent valve stem, overtightening the bottom valve cap, bent valve slides, incorrect valve guide orientation, missing valve guide washer (low brass), and lack of proper venting.

Although many of the problems listed above require a trained repair technician's assistance, there are several things you can check before taking the instrument in for service:

Properly maintained and serviced piston valves should operate smoothly from top to bottom with minimal noise. If you feel like yours are sticky, noisy, or just don't seem to be as fast as they should be, let us take a look for you! We provide free repair estimates and will let you know exactly what needs to be done to get you playing again!

Chase Cavalier Chase was first introduced to the world of band instrument repair while working a summer job as a shop helper. He quickly realized he had a passion and aptitude for repair. Chase graduated from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor's Degree in Music (Performance-Trumpet) in 2002 and joined the repair profession full-time. After getting married in 2008, Chase and Kalyn moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas where they reside today. Chase has been serving the Northwest Arkansas area for more than 10 years and continues to find new ways to support musicians in their musical needs.

Contact Your Local Palen Music Center Representative
Can we assist you with anything? Please contact your local Palen Music Center school road representative for all of your music education needs.
(417) 882-7000 (573) 256-5555 (816) 792-8301
(417) 781-3100 (405) 896-8111 (479) 464-8877
(918) 286-1555 (636) 229-1904 (417) 882-7000

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