The Pelham Pin Protector

The prime purpose of the neck plug is to protect the vulnerable and exposed octave pin.  It has always occurred to me that the plug is less than perfect for this role because the pin is still exposed with the plug in position.  In fact, because of the position of the pin, at the rear of the sax main tube, the pin is vulnerable even with the sax "safely" in it’s case.

With this in mind, I have devised the "Pelham Pin Protector" with a protective skirt attached to the plug.  Photographs are shown of the Mk 1 prototype….consisting of an appropriately sized socket (as the plug) onto which I have soldered a suitably sized screw cap.  Click on any of the photographs for a larger image

 As the photographs show, the pin now enjoys total protection.   Not the prettiest of items….but it is never seen when in use.

Having established that it works, and fits into the case, I will turn up a rather less ugly version, in aluminium.   Another advantage of the PPP is that, because of it’s size, it prevents groping around one’s sax case for the neck plug in dark clubs, apres-gig.

( published by Lewis Pelham )

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16 Responses to The Pelham Pin Protector

  1. alan says:

    Lewis – perfect example of lateral thinking – I’d like to order a matched set of alto, C-Mel and tenor in mahogany please…  🙂

  2. lewis Pelham says:

    An obvious problem is the fact that neck receiver diameters vary within any size of horn.  For a perfect fit therefore, each would have to be made to order….for a specific horn. An easy solution would be to accommodate the smallest diameter & “shim” to a larger diameter with masking tape….uggghhh.    👿

  3. ukebert says:

    I presume that it is impossible for the pin protector to be smashed downwards, thus exerting stress on the pin? A very good idea.

  4. lewis Pelham says:

    Owen.
    Everything is possible…a severe blow with a lump hammer would bend the skirt sufficiently to severely damage the pin….along with the rest of the horn.   🙂 .
    A Pin Protector turned out of aluminium would be more than adequate to protect the pin within the sensible limits to which it would be subjected.
    My R&C case is the the most protective that I have seen…I would like a bed made as cosy as that case. Despite that, I have noticed that the octave pin is not as vertical as it was; some force must have been applied to it… yet I cannot guarantee, of course, that it happened while the horn was in it’s case during transit to, or from, a gig. The risk is there, so why take chances?

  5. alan says:

    It’s always sensible to have a good check inside a case to see what else is vulnerable – e.g. my Aquilasax C suffered a little damage because the LH pinkie was ‘grounding out’ on the hard bottom of the case, and taking all of the weight of the horn in transit.

    I’ve seen other cases where one or more of the LH palm keys cracked open slightly when the sax is laid in the case.  And soprano sax ‘body bend’ is often blamed on the sax being supported at both ends, and not in the middle.

    Lewis – possibly on the aluminium one you’ll be machining a couple of recesses for cork – to make it a snugger fit in the neck socket ?

  6. lewis Pelham says:

    Alan.
    What a very good idea…thanks for that…perfect solution.
    Perhaps even grooves for “O” Rings.

  7. ukebert says:

    Surely O-rings are a little excessive? :p

  8. lewis Pelham says:

    Owen.
    Apologies for my flippant reply to your earlier question. The penny has dropped. Clearly, your eagle eye had spotted that there was no stepped diameter on the socket as a stop, & that it’s location relied upon the clamping of the neck screw.
    In the case of this old Buescher there is an internal stop in the neck socket where it joins the smaller diameter of the top of the main tube….this locates the axial position of the socket. Again, my apologies.   😳

  9. Mal-2 says:

    What about dispensing with the heavy and relatively expensive socket, and instead use a champagne cork filed down to size? Level off the top and glue it to the bottle cap. Alternatively, you could use a short piece of plastic pipe in place of the socket, again just gluing it onto the bottle cap. The pipe could be layered in shrink tubing for a secure fit. This is how I made neck plugs to fit my 1919 C-mel (except for the bottle cap addition which I think is brilliant).

  10. lewis Pelham says:

    Mal.
    I agree with every word you say. The item in the photograph was just a first shot using anything which came to hand….simply to illustrate the idea.
    I inherited the horn, complete with socket…that is the only reason for it.
    My main concern was not the aesthetics (as you have gathered  🙂 ), but protection of the very vulnerable octave pin.

  11. Mal-2 says:

    I’ve had to deal with palm and/or side keys bottoming out in the case. For a case that uses a molded hard plastic insert, like my Evette clarinet case does, fixing this requires removing the plastic insert, heating it from the back, and pushing some relief into the plastic. For those that use styrofoam, I can usually push on the contact point with my thumbs to gain a bit more clearance. If this is still not enough, I will split the cloth, scrape or burn out a little foam, and glue the cloth back down.

    Cases are made to fit the instrument as shipped (one would hope!), and my horns never stay that way. Everything that is not directly under the fingertips has to be raised because I have “spider hands”. This is not so traumatic to the horn, it just requires attaching cork or epoxy or Runyon risers, or some judicious bending. Still, this does make the case no longer well-suited to the modified horn. The only cases I have where this is not a problem are flutes/piccolos (since they don’t really grab the keys in the first place and I don’t do much tweaking), gig bags (since they don’t really grab anything),  and the bari (because the padding is very soft). I haven’t customized the bass clarinet sufficiently to have this problem yet, but if I ever get around to it then I will have to confront this issue again. I’m not sure the case is original, as it does not seem to accommodate the left hand Ab/Eb which is original to the instrument (this key rises considerably above the other left hand pinky keys).

    I think Yamaha does the octave key thing right — theirs don’t rise any higher than the tenon, so they are almost immune to being smashed. They can still catch on something and get pulled, but that would take a lot more unfortunate set of circumstances. A capped neck plug would still be helpful to prevent this, but it could sit all the way down in the tenon.

  12. lewis Pelham says:

    Mal. I understand how it must be a problem if you have to alter the height of keywork.  In my opinion a snug fit in the case is essential, which is why I always worry about aftermarket “fit all” cases like the shaped Berkeley, made to accommodate the largest. Whereas they protect your horn from anything short of a bass amp being dropped on it, little consideration is given to any damage caused by your horn rattling around inside.
    The best case that I have seen is the R&C. Almost as if the horn had been heated & lowered into a low melting point protective substance. Rather like the seats of F1 cars where the driver sits in moulton rubber, which, when set, is his seat.
    However, not even the R&C case would work for you having to modify the keywork.
    Given your problem, I would tackle it exactly as you have.
    PS. note to myself….make a proper pin protector.
    Snag is that when I thought of that I had just inherited my Big B, C/W Berkeley case. Protection of the pin was a priority.
    Now that the novelty of the Big B has worn off, I am again playing my favourite R&C where, as it fits in the case I have described, the pin (and everything else) is as snug as a bug in a rug.

  13. Mal-2 says:

    How does Keilwerth deal with this problem, considering they have user-adjustable palm keys? The cases they provide for the straight altos are rather deficient on the internal padding, so maybe the answer is that they avoid it.

    If you do decide to make more pin protector caps, my simple method of making an endplug is to cut a piece of PVC pipe, wrap a narrow strip of tape around it, then layer on heatshrink tubing until it fits snugly. Once covered by heatshrink tubing, the tape cannot unravel or slide. You would only have to make sure your outer end is nicely squared off, and glue on the bottlecap.

    I might add bottlecaps to my padsavers, since they have a bit of  extension to their endcaps. I would use plastic caps, mostly because it is easier to glue plastic to plastic than it is to glue plastic to metal. I already extend the padsaver for my gigging C-mel several inches by force-fitting a piece of pipe to the plug. I do this because my nicely padded gig bag is tenor size.  While the bell of the C-mel fits quite securely, there is a substantial gap at the top of the body. Since it is a force-fit, it would also separate in a hard knock and take some of the impact.

  14. Alan says:

    (Insomnia-man here at 2:20 a.m…)  Lewis – great that you mention that a Berkeley case will  “protect your horn from anything short of a bass amp being dropped on it”  because I’m possibly going to ship the Magna in one (obviously inside a bigger  box with’peanuts’ and polystyrene etc. around the case).
    With the sax liberally swaddled in bubble-wrap inside the case, should even survive a crash landing, or being accidentally nudged off the unloading ramp ?   😆
    In one place I worked – when we used to ship fragile equipment around the world, we’d wrap the equpment in close-fitting cling film, stand it in the middle of  a big box on narrow polystyrene feet, and fill the box half-way up with liquid foam.  Let that set to make one half of the packing, then lay some cling film over that (there had to be a ‘join’ otherwise it would be sealed inside forever…) and completely fill up the rest of the box to the top with more liquid foam.   We once tried a test-drop from twenty foot up, with about 30 kg of (old/knackered) cocooned equipment – and the box bounced…  Lovely stuff.  That’s the way to protect saxes  😀

  15. lewis Pelham says:

    That is the ultimate protection; as secure as a sand casting before it is removed from the moulding sand.

  16. Nice …:lol:  anybody for a game of basket ball sax …? 😈

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