Horn DIY: Replace a Water Key Spring

waterkeyspring

Water Key Spring, Sold by Votaw Tool

While practicing this summer, I heard a soft “pa-ting” from my horn, and knew pretty much right away what it was; the spring on one of my horn’s two water keys had broken. Though not a common occurrence, the metal on these springs can and will wear out from time to time, requiring a replacement. Rather than take the horn to a shop, I decided to attempt the repair myself. It is not difficult, and only requires a few tools. Here’s what you will need if you want to try it yourself.

  • Wire cutters, for trimming the ends of the spring
  • Screwdriver
  • Replacement spring(s): You can order these from a variety of places, including Votaw Tool and Allied Supply.  Not knowing exactly what to use, I bought an assortment of springs for a few dollars total. The first spring I tried, listed as a “Trumpet Water Key Spring,” fit the horn just fine, but didn’t have quite enough tension to function properly.  The next one I tried, listed simply as a “Waterkey Spring,” also fit and had a similar tension as the other water key already on my horn.
  • Water Key Tension Tool/Installer:  This little device is meant to hold tension on the spring as you install it, and seemed like a very handy item to have. However, I wasn’t able to use it for this particular job because it simply wouldn’t fit in the space without hitting the tubing. Should you wish to make one of these yourself, you can find detailed instructions in Glen Perry’s The Essential Guide to Horn Maintenance.

Here’s a short video showing the process.

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