Walter Lawson's Method for Mothballing a Horn

Note well: The procedures described below assume familiarity with basic horn maintenance and repair procedures, particularly removing and installing valve rotors. Improper removal and installation of valve rotors can cause major, expensive damage to a French horn. Those who are not familiar with the procedure are strongly advised to seek advice from a qualified repairman.

I take no responsibility for the results of performing the following tasks improperly.

Around 1970 I heard Walter Lawson describe how to "mothball" a horn, i.e., prepare it for long-term storage. I can't remember whether this was at a horn workshop, or something he told me personally when I was in his shop, but I suspect I got it from one of his presentations at a workshop.

This assumes that the horn can be cleaned out with a snake and does not need a chemical or ultrasonic cleaning.

The reason for flushing out all the tubing is to remove the acids and other chemicals from saliva and breath that could attack the horn and that will become more concentrated as the liquid gradually evaporates during storage.

Re-assemble the horn, noting particularly the following:

A Personal Note:

When I stopped playing in the mid-1970s, I followed the steps above before storing my horn. Around 2001, when I decided I wanted to start playing again, the horn was in perfect shape. There were no stuck slides or valves. So I know from personal experience that this procedure works.

When I mothballed the horn back in the 1970s, I used "No. 5" white oil for the rotors and STP to lubricate the slides. Other products may work just as well. Or not. I have no experience using anything else to prepare a horn for long-term storage.


Created: 11 Aug 2012
Revised: