Making Valve Button Extenders

I made my valve button extenders from the handle of an old stainless steel spoon. I sawed it off to the right length with a hacksaw, using a vise to hold the material. I took a valve button down to an old-fashioned hardware store where a knowlegeable counter man helped me determine the size and thread of the screw. He sold me a drill bit, a thread- cutting "tap", a stainless-steel screw, and a couple of small lock-washers. Drilling into the stainless steel is tricky. You have to start the hole with a sharp punch and you have to use a very sharp (new) drill bit. I cut threads into both holes with the tap, and attached the steel strip to the top of the valve stem with the screw, with one or two lockwashers between them. (You also have to put a felt ring over the valve stem to work as a bumper.)

I first tried this on an older junk tuba, just using the end of the spoon handle as a finger spatula. That worked well but looked odd. So on the newer valve section pictured here I screwed the original button into the second hole at the other end of the steel strip. (That may be more trouble than it's worth, but it looks better.) I used a dremel tool to trim off the rim of that button so that it could be screwed down farther.

Since this arrangement does put a lot of stress on the valve guide I replaced the original nylon guide with a stainless steel one that I made by filing down a round-headed screw. With a loose fit it made a bit more clatter than nylon, but with a more snug fit it does not clatter at all. The nice part is that it does not wear out. (Actually, some wear has become evident in the keyway groove after 8 years. Now I have replaced the stainless steel valve guide with a longer one made of brass.)

On a 3-valve tuba I would suggest putting an extender on the 3rd valve only, since that one normally is subjected to less wear & tear. EXAMPLE:

Making a Support for a Heavy Tuba:

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