Picture of Brass horn repair with ice

Use the power of ice to remove dents in a horn. If you live in a cold climate, you know frozen pipes bursts. That is because water expands about 9% when it freezes. You can use that property to pop out dents and expand crushed tubing in brass instruments with a little luck. I had a crushed leadpipe on my old horn that I couldn't reach with a pushrod (out of a V8 motor, worked like a charm with its rounded end!) So I filled the leadpipe with water, sealed both ends at the mouthpiece receiver and first slide with a rubber balloon (or fingers cut out of a latex glove) and pipe clamps loosely tightened. Put horn into freezer for 4-5 hours or until your sure the ice is solid. Take out with a towel and set bell down so it will drain out. You will notice that the ice has expanded out of the leadpipe. The amount of expansion out of the leadpipe is proportional to the amount of outward force it exerted, ie, if no ice came out, your leadpipe will probably have burst, or at best straightened out completely!   Remove seals and let water drain. With any luck, your dents or crush zone will have been pushed out by the expanding ice. If it didnt work, you can try sealing the ends with a more rigid device like a cork or hard plastic cap. Be advised that if the water has nowhere to expand, it may rupture your leadpipe or brass tubing, so keep that in mind. Hope it works, you really have nothing to lose and your horn will be cleaner than when you started.
Fostegert3 months ago
How much time would you guess a second valve trumpet slide would take?
swander (author)  Fostegert3 months ago
Took about 4 hours, or just long enough to freeze water. Brass offers no insulation.
Fostegert swander3 months ago
Thank you! I appreciate it
swander (author) 7 months ago

enough to fill to first bend or wherever you can cap it, first valve?

JoshuaF27 months ago

There's a kink in my leadpipe and was wondering how much water is safe to use for something like this?

GofishRC0073 years ago
I have a trumpet and It had dents in it so i followed this ible and it worked great! Thank you!
mkebodeaux3 years ago
A soap mixed water solution is actually the method generally used to make the bends in the instrument to begin with (that is how it is done to keep the bends from folding). The soap makes it pliable enough to not break when making the bend. Of course not many freezers make 49 degrees below zero, celsius. This really should work but as you mention, gotta be careful. OTOH, a trip to the specialist would be worth the peace of mind most of the time.
You play french horn? Me Too!
This kind of seems unstable, the ice could expand too much, but
This would work well with an old horn or a horn you don't care about too much.

P.S. you should get a double horn... they are fantastic!

-building king
swander (author)  building king3 years ago
Have not played one since 4th grade, but this one is my kids. I dont believe the small amount of ice involved with the leadpipe can burst the tube as it has the ends to expand out of. Now if you cap the ends with something harder than expandable rubber, it will have much more force. This is how Motorcycle exhaust ppe headers are repaired. They are much thicker and they dont burst either.
jmorgan73 years ago
That actually use this method when making brass instruments to prevent kinks when bending the pipes.
zleyes3 years ago
Nice idea! I just don't believe it can be done with a tuba or a bari sax, unless you have a very large fridge...
aclacombe3 years ago
Any ideas on how to do this with a sousa?
i will try this on my tuba
swander (author)  mr.squeakers3 years ago
hope you got a big freezer...
Grzld3 years ago
This doesn't damage the lacquer on the horn does it, because i know it can be clouded easily if you use too hot of water when cleaning the instrument
swander (author)  Grzld3 years ago
no, modern laquer is supposed to be much better than the old organic based laquer, and cold water or temperatures shouldn't hurt the instrument as it gets pretty cold in Michigan and they are out there marching around with plastic mouthpieces so their lips dont get stuck.
rimar20003 years ago
Genial, very useful. Thanks for sharing!
mikeasaurus3 years ago
You should enter this in the musical instrument challenge!
mrmerino3 years ago
Who's Burt?
swander (author)  mrmerino3 years ago
Well, Burt is my dads friend..why do you ask?
"If you live in a cold climate, you know frozen pipes burts." You put burts instead of bursts.
HexKrak3 years ago
This is a great idea. Thanks for sharing!
Phil B3 years ago
I have heard of using the same technique with a dented gasoline tank for a motorcycle. Thank you for sharing.
swander (author)  Phil B3 years ago
absolutely, works with motorcycle exhaust pipes too, especially the expansion areas of offroad motorcycle header pipes.