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How to oil rotary valves of french horn, rotary trumpet, trombone triggers

Updated: May 24, 2019

Oiling the rotary valves, also called rotors, of the horn, french horn, rotary trumpet, trombone triggers, tubas or other brass instrument is simple, but you will need three kinds of oils and a tuning slide grease for most instruments.

The Ultra-Pure Complete Rotary Lube Kit has all the oils and grease you will need to keep your instrument lubricated. Even if your valves feel good, you should oil them once a week.

Let's start with oiling the bearings. There is a top and bottom shaft that rotates in a hole as you move the valve lever. This rotating shaft is called the bearing or spindle.

Remove the valve caps and use the Light Bearing Oil to oil one end of this bearing. While you have the valve caps off, oil the threads with the Linkage, Lever & Key Oil.

Ultra-Pure Light Bearing Oil lubricates the spindle bearing under the valve cap.

Next, oil the other end of the bearing. It is oiled in the small gap in the valve mechanism. Again, use the Light Bearing Oil. A drop in each gap is all you need.

french horn with light bearing oil
Bearing oil goes into the small gap below the valve to reach the spindle bearing surface.

Pro tip: After the bearings are oiled, pull your tuning slides out a few inches without pressing the valve levers. This creates a little suction and pulls some oil into the bearing surfaces.

Next, oil all mechanical linkages, ball joints, hinges, etc., with the Linkage, Lever & Key Oil.

French horn with Linkage, Lever, and Key Oil
Oil all miniballs, linkages, key levers and any other metal-to-metal parts with Linkage, Lever & Key Oil.

Use Ultra-Pure Professional Valve Oil or Ultra-Light Valve Oil to oil the rotors down the slide tubes for each valve. Press the valve levers several times to work in the fresh oil.

French horn with rotor oil, valve oil
Take out the slides one at a time and drip a few drops of valve or rotor oil down the slide tubes to reach the rotor surface.

Finally, grease the tuning slides with Ultra-Pure Regular Tuning Slide Lube.

brass instrument with tuning slide grease
Rub a small amount of grease onto the slide and put it back into the horn. Wipe off any excess grease with a paper towel.

Pro tip: Even if your horn feels fine, you should oil every week to prevent wear and corrosion.

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