Interesting Marzan stuff

It's been a while since I've added any new stuff to this 'Marzan Page'.  I just started working on a custom valve section for a 'slant-rotor' project I've been wanting to build for some time.  The basis for the valve section is a bunch of B & S .750" rotors I've salved from a few horns that have not been worth repairing.  What I'm shooting for is a five-rotor BBb tuba with a large 'American-style' bugle married to Marzan style valve section.  Fred Marzan's claim to fame was putting the main tuning slide at the top of the horn so it can be adjusted 'on the fly'.  That was an excellent idea but I think the horns also needed a main slide in the conventional location at the bottom so one could set it and forget it...  just using the top main slide for minor corrections.  The two images below are of the assembled rotor set.  Note that the bumper plates have been switched 180 degrees on a couple of the rotors so all of them will turn the same direction.  The jury is out whether or not this makes any difference but I thought I would give it a try for this experiment.  Rotating a bumper plate is just a matter of drilling and tapping two holes on the other side and plugging the old holes.  Once this is done...  new marks have to be made on the rear rotor axle and rear bearing plate for future alignment.  This is the perfect time to do this because the ports and the rotors are visible and the new marks can be place in proper position.  The stop arms have to be prepared to accept the new ball links I plan to use.  The stop arms shown were originally used with 'S' links and had a slot in them.  A couple of the tabs above the slots were already broken off so I just broke off the others and soldered on a piece of 5/16" brass rod.  The rod was later trimmed and tapped #4-40 for the DuBro balls.


Below you can see the position of the rotors so the alignment marks can be placed perfectly on the rotor axle and rear bearing plate.  Of course...  the mark on the edge of the rear bearing plate also has to be aligned with the mark on the rotor housing.


The next three images show different views of the new rotor cluster.  Notice the very minor differences in the engraving on the rear rotor caps.  These rotors came from three different horns.  The farthest right rotor is the 4th rotor from a B & S model 101.  The other four are #2 or #3 rotors from B & S model 101 horns.  The #1 rotor from the B & S tubas was not used to build this cluster because the leadpipe comes in at a 45 degree angle.  I want my new leadpipe to come straight in the top of the cluster.

And finally...  we have the 'left-overs'.  These rotors will be returned to the parts bin for use on other projects.  They could easily end up as fifth valve additions.  Note that the top row are all #1 rotors from B & S model 101 tubas.  The 2nd row is a #2 and a #3 rotor.  Finally...  the bottom two are #4 rotors.  I already sold one of the #4 rotors to someone for a 5th valve addition.

Stay tuned for more about this project.  Virtually all of the valve circuits will have to be hand bent since I want it to be a 'slant-rotor' configuration.  The Marzan tubas are just to rare to sacrifice them just to get the tubing.  .750" ID tubing is pretty common.



Marzan owners....   If I don't already have information about your Marzan horn...  please send it to me for inclusion on this page.

I haven't updated this 'Marzan' page for some time and since repair work is an ongoing learning experience...  I figure it was about time to share some recent discoveries about the differences between the Bohm & Meinl-built 'slant-rotor- BBb and CC horns.  At first glance, the CC versions appear to be just 'cut' versions of the BBb horns.  The differences are not obvious unless you happen to see a BBb and a CC side-by-side.  You can clearly see in the two imaged below that about the only parts that are shared are the rotors and valve circuits.  A BBb tuba is roughly eighteen feet from the mouthpiece to the end of the bell while the CC is about two feet shorter.  The tuning circuits are proportionally shorter on the CC horn.  I've probably seen, worked on, and played more of these horns that anyone other than the folks who made them in the late sixties and early seventies.  But I've not had much experience with the BBb and CC ones next to each other.



Take a look at just the bells in the above images.  Although the flares are the same (19") and the overall length are the same (27 1/2")...  the stem end of the bell is 5.33" diameter on the BBb and only 5.01" diameter on the CC.  Therefore...  the taper of the bell stem is not the same for both horns.  A few weeks back...  I had two BBb 'slant-rotor' horns here that were not exactly the same.  One would think that in the short span when these horns were made that there would not have been any manufacturing changes.  I've learned that this is not the case.

Marzan owners have tried various ways to change the string linkage over to other forms of mechanical links.  Most of the conversions I've seen weren't very good and tended to make the paddle stroke longer.  I like the string action because it is a harmonic force on the stop arm rather than a 'bang, bang' back and forth action.  There have been some complaints about the strings breaking.  I think this has happened for two reasons...  1) the strings need to be kept tight to stop the strings arms from 'hopping' causing the string to come off the stop arm by looping over the top.  and...  2) there were probably some sharp edges that cause the string to wear rapidly.  That can be overcome simply by going over all of the exposed edges and the string holes with a fine file.  I've eliminated the string arm 'hopping' by adding plastic washers below and above the string arm.  The modification is shown in the below images.  The stop arm does not need to be modified.  The Nylon washer on the bottom is fit tightly to the stop arm and held in place by the string screw.  The bottom washer is a 'stock' one from McMaster-Carr.  The washer on top is simply held on by the stop arm screw.  Those came from my junk boxes of parts left from my days of electric panel building from industries.  They are actually pushbutton inserts for Square 'D' panel buttons.  By-the-way...  the small thread on the stop arm screw sometimes get broken by either over-tightening or plain old damage.  A good 'fix' is to drill and tap the hole in the rotor oversize to #5-40 and use King F horn stop arm screws such as these.  Screws of this size are also available from any bolt & nut supply house or from McMaster-Carr in Chicago.  Note that I moved the screw in the string bar from the top to the side so it wouldn't interfere with the upper plastic washer.  The string I like to use is Cortland Dacron 80# trolling line that's available from Allied Supply.  Tie a barrel knot in one end and stiffen the other end with Super Glue so it can be pushed through the small string holes.  This setup should last a long, long time without needing attention.  The bumpers are Silicone rubber.  I prefer them over other types of rubber because Silicone doesn't seem to be affected by oils and therefore does not deteriorate as quickly.  Some find the Silicone a little too 'bouncy' but I like the way they feel.




Below is another Marzan that came across my workbench a few years back.  It's a five-rotor CC.  Here it is taken apart, dents removed, stripped of lacquer, and ready for assembly. 

The five-rotor CC Marzan has an interesting fifth valve configuration.  The image on the left shows the two slides arranged for a flat step.  (note the single loop circuit with the longer slide 'parked' behind the first circuit). The image on the right shows the two slides arranged for a 2 and 3 valve combination. (note the double-loop circuit).  I also discovered that just the long slide can be used to make the 5th valve into a 1 and 2 combination.  It's fun to have choices!



Above is the Marzan CC 5V finished...  complete with new leadpipe...  and ready for a play-test.  This one almost makes me wish I played a CC as my primary horn instead of a BBb!

Well....   I wasn't happy with the linkage conversion that was done on this horn sometime before it came to my shop.  Whoever did the conversion did not take into account that by connecting directly to the old string screw on the stop arm,  the rotation of all the rotors is reversed and the alignment marks on the rear rotor stem and bearing plate are no longer useable.  I opted to go back to the original string operated rotors.  The two images below show how the stop arms were 'butchered' for the old string holes to be used to attach the spherical coupling.  The original lever arms were cut and modified by soldering in a piece of threaded rod to accept the couplings.  I could have appreciated this approach if the results had been a little neater.


The first step was to get those stop arms off and figure a way to make them into a reasonable facsimile of how looked originally.  I cut sleeves of brass tubing to fit over the stop arms to restore 'roundness' to them.  The sleeves were then fit and soldered over the stop arms using 3% silver solder.  This solder still works at regular soldering temperature (450-500 degrees F) but is about ten time stronger than convention soft solder that's used for the bulk of brass instrument final assembly.  The gap between the stop arm and the sleeve are filled with solder to essentially make the two pieces into a solid part.


Next up was to put the proper length back on the lever arms.  They were cut to length and a #4-40 hole drilled and tapped in the end.  Then an appropriate length of 3/16" square brass stock was also drilled and tapped #4-40.  Soldering flux was applied pieces of threaded rod and the extensions screwed onto the lever arms.  Again...  3% silver solder was used to join the threaded rod, lever arms, and extensions together.  #4-40 holes were drilled and tapped in the end of the assemblies for the string screw.  Two more smaller holes were drilled through the new extensions for string to pass through. 


The #1 rotor is shown with the new string in place.  When finished...  the new string linkage will look original. Those socket cap screws are all I had and will be replaced with the correct binding head capscrews when I update the image later.

By-the-way....  even though I restored the string linkages to the above horn...  someone 'butchered' it again.  The horn is still out there somewhere!


Here's a B & M-built piston CC that I rebuilt and is now living in St. Louis:




The Marzan below originally started in Brett Morrow's possession.  It was made in the B & M factory in 1970.  He has both bells for this horn but rarely used the recording bell.  Beautiful horn.  It's since been sold and I think is in Northern Illinois.


Three students of Richard Barth's at the University of Akron sometime in the early 80's...

Phil Louden, Gary Adams, and Ken Blasczak.  Thanks for the information, Richard! 


Cure for the 'hopping' string arms on the Marzan 'slant-rotor' tubas:

The 'slant-rotor' Marzans are wonderful players and the string-operated rotors are very smooth...   with one very irritating little problem...   The string bars tend to 'hop' when the finger levers is pressed and 'dive' when the lever is released.  This is a natural action due to the design of the linkage.  The system still works well but presents an annoying little 'click'.  The phenomenon can be helped by keeping the strings nice and tight but I've also noticed that rotor speed is sacrificed if the strings are too tight.  I converted one of my Marzans to Dubro spherical ball ends as I've outlined below.  However...  I really like the looks of the string-action and wanted to keep my horns as original as possible and still function in a way that I like.  My latest effort is to add a couple of O-rings to the stop arms to give the string bars more of a defined path and do away with the 'hopping' action.  In initial trials, I simply forced O-rings over the stop arms above the string path.  The 'hopping' action was suddenly totally controlled.  So...  I decided to put another O-ring UNDER the string path to control the 'diving'.  There was no way this one would stay put so I ground a shallow groove around part of the stop arm and over the outside of the lug that holds the string screw.  It worked so well to locate the O-ring that I also spun a groove in the top of the stop arm.  The O-rings that I'm testing here have a .088" cross section.  The top one has a 3/8" ID.  The bottom one has a 1/2" ID.  Both 'snap' into the grooves.  Three pictures below (sorry about the fuzziness.  I'm a repairman... not a photographer!) show the stop arm on the left with the grooves top and bottom.  The center picture shows the stop arm with the O-rings installed.  The picture on the right shows how everything looks put together.



String to Dubro linkage conversion on my slant-rotor Marzan:

To follow are several pictures showing the steps in removing the string linkage and installing the more reliable Dubro spherical rod ends.  Although I really didn't have any string breakage, there was a slight noise from the string arm 'slapping' the side of the stop arm that was bugging me.  The new linkage is strong and quiet.  The stop arms had to be modified to accept the new spherical balls.  First,  I drilled a piece of brass with the pattern necessary and then cut out and shaped the new pieces.  The pieces are then soldered onto the stop arm with the hole for the spherical ball 180 degrees opposite the old string screw.

Next, I cut the old string bar and drilled & tapped a #4-40 hole directly into the end.  A Dubro gizmo called a 'turnbuckle' is screwed into the tapped hole.  Note that there is also a locknut on the turnbuckle.  Then...  a Dubro link is screwed onto the left-hand thread half of the turnbuckle.  The Dubro links are not threaded but are in interference-fit for the #4 threads on the turnbuckle and can be screwed on either right or left hand.  This makes the length of the link assembly fully adjustable so the finger paddles can be raised or lowered by turning the turnbuckle on way or the other.

More views of the link assemblies.  Now, all I need to do is take things apart and replate the silver.  I like the silicone rubber bumpers.  They are nice and quiet!  NOTE:  since these pictures were taken, I've added spacers under the paddle bar to make the links parallel to the valve section.  The function and force vectors remain the same but it's just a bit 'prettier'.


Here's the basis for Fred Marzan's horns.  View his patent here:

There are several Marzan tubas and euphoniums documented on this page.  As far as I've determined, no actual production numbers or serial number lists have ever been published.  If you have any additional information about Fred Marzan's horns, please contact me.

This recent addition belongs to 'Dave in Kentucky'.  It's the first B & M-built Marzan I've seen with a detachable bell.  As you can see, Dave has BOTH bells for this unusual horn.

Here's something you're just not going to see every day...  both of the large Marzan tuba (piston and slant-rotor) side-by-side.  I've owned the piston horn for a couple of years and just came across this silver slant-rotor and bought it on September 1, 2008.  Never thought I would get a chance to play and compare the two types of Marzans:



A couple of folks asked about the routing of the Marzan 4th piston wrap.  Below is about the best picture I could get.  The wrap exits the 4th pistons and head toward the top of the horn.  After about two inches it takes a 90 degree turn toward the rear... then another 90 back towards the top where there is a tuning slide.  After the tuning slide it heads to the bottom of the horn after making a 'dogleg' near the thumbring.  It's then hidden from view (indicated by the smaller red dots) and makes a full 360 degree loop and goes to another tuning slide in front of the bottom bow.  It then goes up and returns to the 4th piston.  Note that ALL tuning slides, including the main, are at the top of this horn.  In my opinion...  one improvement Mr. Marzan could have made to his horns would have been to have ANOTHER main tuning slide that could be left in position.  It would be nice if the one on top could be left all the way 'in' to only be used for 'pulling'.



This beautiful Marzan (Willson) euphonium (below) is owned by Mauro Cadei in Italy.  The restoration work, silver plating, and trigger on the main slide was done by G & P ( )  Mauro is the maintainer of (the Italian web site for tuba and euphonium players). 



The owner of this outstanding example is Rabbi Doug Weber of Rutland, 
Vermont.  It's a slant-rotor CC that he bought new in January of 1973 
for a whopping $1,185 plus shipping.


Another new addition is this Willson-built Marzan owned by Anthony Longano.  Anthony is a student of Paul Scott in Northern New Jersey.



This Marzan is owned by Dean Snavely and was added to this page on 12/3/2007.  This beauty is one of the Willson horns with the 17" bell. 



This is a fine example of a slant-rotor Marzan owned by Jeff Hudson at the VCU Center for Performing Arts in Richmond, VA


Here's a Marzan tuba that sold on Ebay on June 24, 2007.  It only had one rotor and was missing the whole fingerboard assembly.  Maybe the new owner will provide me with some more photos after a little restoration work is done.



Here's an exellent example of a Boehm & Meinl tuba was was the same model as those that bore the Marzan logo.  It's owned by Jose Hernandez:  


The following pictures of Fred Marzan's personal horns.  The first set of images are Fred Marzan's solid copper Sander CC.  Although this IS NOT a Boehm & Meinl 'Marzan' tuba, it represents an outstanding item from the Marzan estate.  The second set of images are his slant-rotor CC.  The pictures were provided by Bill Wheeler of Buddy Rogers Music Company with the help of Gregg Saunders:


Well...  the bidding's over and the new owner of Fred Marzan's solid copper 'Sander' tuba is Kit Johnson.  Kit plays tuba with the Black Swan Classic Jazz Band.  Have a listen to Kit's arrangement of 'Dude Ranch Blues'.  You will find a bit of information about Kit, the Black Swan Classic Jazz Band, and a link to 'Dude Ranch Blues' here:


Fred Marzan's personal slant-rotor CC


  Marzan Horns

If you have information about Marzan tubas, please forward it to me and I'll include it on this page.  I need such things as a description, photos, serial number, history of the horn, date of manufacture, previous owners, etc.  The first picture below is my Marzan four piston BBb.  The serial number is 74265 and I think it was manufactured in the Bohm & Meinl Factory in 1971. The bore is .751" (19MM).  The diameter of the bell is 19"...  and the overall length is 37".  The horn is all yellow brass with the exception of the main tuning slide which is nickel-silver.  The main slide is on top the farthest from the bell.  Note that ALL of the tuning slides are at the top...  a characteristic of many of Fred Marzan's horns.

My Marzan 



Steve Shoop's Marzan

Steve's Marzan is pictured below.  It was manufactured by Willson.  It has a 17" bell and a smaller bore than the horns that were built by Bohm & Meinl.  Beautiful horn, Steve!



Marzan Euphonium

Pictured below is an example of one of the Marzan's euphoniums.  It was formerly owned by Al Stark and was sold to an unnamed buyer in May 2008.  



Below is a picture of one of the pistons out of the above Marzan euphonium.  Notice the concave profile of the cork on top of the piston.  The profile of the cork matches the underside of the top cap.  There is no felt bumper...  just the cork.  Maybe one of you repairmen can give me some insight into what Marzan had in mind when using just cork and no felt...  and some reason why the profile instead of just a flat cap and cork.


Bill Tipkemper's Marzan 



David Sokol's Slant-Rotor Marzan

Below are two pictures of David Sokol and his Marzan.  The images were taken by Richard Cowels while David was working with bluesman Mark Tolstrup in Sarasota, NY between 2002 and 2005.  Outstanding horn, David.  Thanks to you guys for sharing the pictures.  



Michael Keller's 'Slant Rotor' Marzan


Donn Cissinger's Marzan



Ryan Robert's 'slant rotor' Marzan

Thanks for the great pictures, Ryan!  It's very interesting that none of the slant rotor horns have any serial numbers.  I guess the factory expected the US dealers to assign their own serial numbers.



Here's a page out of the DEG catalog showing the Marzan tubas:


Below is a view of the Meinl Weston factory where the larger Marzans were made:

From left to right:  Oskar Kasponski, Anton Meinl, Mrs. Anton Meinl (Mary), Fred Marzan, William Bell.



Below....   The IU Octet:

Back row L to R:  Peter Sexauer, unknown, L. B. Oliver, Fred Marzan, unknown.

Front row L to R:  William Bell, Jerry Lackey, Richard Council, James Linn.

Note:  The ITEA website notes that "Mr. Bell is holding L. B. Oliver's rotary Martin CC".

(I wasn't aware that Martin made a slant-rotor CC, especially one with a tuning slide in the leadpipe.... but I've confirmed that the horn was indeed built by Martin...  apparently before the Marzan tubas were produced.)


Here are 'the tubaguys' at Cumberland Forest Lake Music Camp:

L to R:  Arnold Jacobs, William Bell, Fred Marzan


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Send me your Marzan stuff and I'll add it to this page

page edited on April 4, 2018