King Rotary CC Tuba Build

The two images above are the closest I could find to how the horn looked when I received it.  I have already removed the paddle assembly and rotor parts.  The paddles had been horribly modified.  The paddles were bent and some fake fingerbuttons were soldered on.  The third valve circuit is shown modified to remove the double-loop that was in the original design.  Note the large bow ferrule.  It has been expanded on an extreme angle to accept a bell off 'who knows what'.  This horn originally came with a detachable bell stack and that's what I have planned for it.  I'll need to replace the large bow ferrule and also the smaller one that attaches the bottom bow to the back bow.  All of the large ferrules have been ground down to remove the distinctive King design.  The small ferrule that's visible just below the first valve wrap is broken.  Fortunately...  these ferrules are the same as the very common King 1240/41 tubas.  When finished, I will invert the third valve wrap so it is at the top.

It's difficult to see in the pictures but there are two large patches on back of the top bow.  I don't know what's under those patches but I'm going to find out!  More about that later.


I mentioned earlier that I will be using some parts from the common King 1240/41 tubas to make this King rotary CC 'go'.  The only bow that's common between the rotary CC and the piston 1241 BBb is the big bottom bow.  The large bows of the CC are taller and narrower.  Notice how the inner open bugle fits inside the outer bows.  The bright side is that the bow ferrules will interchange.  This is helpful because somewhere along the line, most of the ferrules were adulterated by someone.  Another big plus is that the leadpipe on the rotary CC is near-perfect!

I don't have a clue what the 3" long piece of guard molding is doing on there.  I took it off expecting to find a crack and the brass underneath was just fine.  At one time...  a piece of guard molding went all the way around the bottom bow like the piece on the back bow to the left.  Also...  that ferrule in this image once had some decorative grooves.  Don't know why the prior repairs were done that way but the horn will look a lot more respectable and more original when I'm done with it.

Does anyone know what those holes in the paddle bar are for?  They are about the same size and the spring wire that gets wound onto the paddles but surely the wire would not pass through there for any reason!


Here's where I am at the end of the day on September 4th.  The bottom bow is straightened out...  the valve section is cleaned up...  and the paddles are restored to their original status.  The bottom bow cap had to come off but will go back on at a later time ... along with a new guard strip.

September 5th starting below....

Yup.  Just had to see what was under all those patches.  It turns out those two nasty crescent-shaped jobbies were covering up just two small cracks which I will repair with hard solders.  The top bow cap to the right is not correct and will be replaced by a REAL King top bow cap.  The bow guard strips weren't doing anything and will be replaced by guard strips that are much thinner and narrower.  I didn't turn up any real problems here.  ...   just some 'over the top' repair work.  Whew!

The bottom bow shown above is lookin' good!  The bow cap was taken off so everything could be straightened out....  put back together, and a new guard strip put on...  just like it was when it left the factory over 75 years ago!


Had to do a little work on the paddle assemblies.  There is a short ridge on each end of the lever tube to keep the spring where it belongs.  One was missing on one of the paddles.  No problem.  Just soldered a piece of tubing over the lever tube...  cut the tube...  and trimmed it to match the other end.


The springs are a little out of the ordinary inasmuch as they begin by threading the wire through the hole under the paddle and them winding it onto the paddle tube.  To find the length of wire required for each paddle, I used and piece of string to simulate the wire.  Then...  I used the string to measure out the piece of wire.

I had two diameters of music wire on hand...  .048" and .023" diameters.  I started with the .048" wire...  threading it through the hole in the paddle and winding it around the paddle tube.  It goes pretty easy if you anchor on the of the wire in a vise and pull the wire as tight as possible while winding it on.  Turns out that the .048" was too heavy and the .023" too light.  I've ordered some .030" and a trial is on the agenda when I return to the shop after the 17th.


The valve section is back together.  The rotors aren't aligned yet but that's on the list once I get back to the shop on the 17th.

Well...   I just couldn't stand to be away from the shop.  We returned home late on the 14th and I was in the shop bright and early on Monday, the 15th.  There are two major things to accomplish today....   winding the paddle springs, and repairing the stop arms.  I started with the stop arms pictured below.


The stop arm at the left in both of the above pictures is how they had been repaired.  The stop pin was brazed to the bottom of the collar and the hole in the top that holds the string was relocated outwards and tapped oversize.  The threads were stripped in two of the stop arms so the way to go is to put them all back the way they came from the factory.  Originally...  the string screw was in the center of the stop pin and the pin was soft soldered through the stop arm.  I machine out the hole in the stop arm and soldered in a piece of brass rod...  cut the rod to length...  and tapped a new hole for the string screw.


The 2nd attempt to wind the springs went a little better.  This wire is .038" and is a bit easier to handle that the .048" wire I tried above.  Note that the wire is threaded through a hole in the rib under the paddle.  This is a job!  The wire is held in a vise and wound as tightly as possible onto the paddle sleeve.  Care is taken to make the turns as uniform as possible.  Once one side is wound on, the wire is wound once around the paddle to hold it into place.  Then...  winding the wire is repeated on the other side.  The wire is kept in place wound on the paddle by wrapping it around the paddle.  Now the paddle/spring assembly can be laid aside without the wire coming 'unspooled'.


Above is a top view of the finished paddles back on the bar.  The springs are unwrapped from the paddles,  trimmed,  and allowed to relax against the paddle bar.  At this point the spring force is still a little heavy but the spring tension will be adjusted later by pushing or pulling on the spring ends.

Above is a bottom view of the rotor assembly.  I don't have a clue why someone added the extra screw holes in rotors #3 and #4. 


For those of you who keep checking back for progress on this horn....   I have pretty much decided what direction to take in the restoration but have just had too much other stuff to do to stay on the King rotary CC.   This is an unusual horn and I'm in no real rush to complete it.


Finally!  I managed to spend some time with the rotary CC over the Christmas Holidays!  After many conversations with 'those who know' and soliciting some opinions...  I've come to the conclusion that the flat bow ferrules pictured at the top of this page are the result of some very bad repairs and had to go.  Pictured below are two sets of large ferrules I had ready to use depending on which way I decided on.  The four ferrules at the top have been modified to look similar to the ones on the horn when I got it.  The set of ferrules at the bottom are the ones that are found on the common Kings that were built from the 30's thru the 80's.  Note that the top ones are more-or-less flat with two simple shallow grooves.  The bottom ones have a carved profile with a convex shape in the center and concave on the outside segments.  These ferrules were 'donated' by a King 1240 except for the 2nd one from the right...  which came from a King Eb sousaphone.  It had to be expanded about 1/16" to work.  The tool I used to expand the ferrule is highly sophisticated...  the same tool you can buy for just a few bucks at Harbor Freight that is used by muffler shops to expand tailpipe tubing!


Below...  the bottom bow is ready to reassemble and the top/back bow has been repaired and is ready to receive a new bow guard and guard strip.  The bow guard and guard strip were donated by a King 1240 carcass that I had for parts.  Again...  it took a while to decide exactly what parts I should use to put this horn back into shape.  This tuba is said to be one of seven that were produced for Bell Bell, Novotney, and Torchinsky.  It has been suggested that these horns were returned to the H N White factory for modifications.  Good records were either not kept or lost over the years and good images are not to be found.


As I mentioned...  this horn is said to be one of seven produced by H N White for Bill Bell and several professional tubists of the day.  Only two or three of these horns are accounted for.  If you can offer any information regarding who may have originally owned this tuba...  please contact me.  I have no information other than speculation that it was purchased in the mid-50's from a tubist in the Golden, Colorado area.

OK.  I finished the King rotary CC on January 9, 2015.  Here it's shown on the right and the King rotary BBb is on the left.  Just at a glance...  it appears that the CC is a larger horn but that's just an illusion because it stands a little taller.  The CC has a bore of .687"...  which is the same as the countless number of King tubas and sousaphones built for many decades.  The BBb bore is .750" and the bows are MUCH larger.  Anyway...  it's going to be a long time before anyone will see these two horns side-by-side.  They are BOTH 'rare birds' indeed.  Both of these horns originally came with recording bells.  Both of these horns are quite unique since NONE of the parts of the BBb will interchange with the more common King tubas.  On the CC version, the valve tubing is the same as the 1240/2340 Kings but the large bows are common to only the CC tubas.  The upright bells shown are 22" on the BBb and 19" on the CC.  King normally offered 19" and 22" upright bells but I'm told that a 16" diameter bell was also available for the CC.

Here's a shot of the King rotary tubas with their recording bells.  The BBb bell is 24" and the CC bell is 22" in diameter.  I've heard two different stories regarding the King rotors.  Some say they built the valves in their own factories plant patterned after European rotors.  Others have said King purchased valve sections from Europe.  Note the 'doubled back' 3rd valve slide on both horns.  Originally...  there were two slides on the BBb.  The CC had a double loop but it was configured differently.  It's been said that most of the CC rotary tubas were either customized at the factory or were sent back for custom touches to be added.


Page updated on January 9, 2015