Well, here's where it gets interesting (if not long before). When I get it on the bench and start looking it over, here are some things that I'm looking for/thinking about:
"Man, does this case reek - did something die in here? Can't put a finished horn back in this cesspool - out goes the case..."
"Can I even get it this horn apart?" Are any rods or screws rusted in? Heat, oil, perfect screwdriver...heat oil, perfect screwdriver, pray....cut into post, remove damned rod surgically, replace post from junk box, maybe make new rod from scratch, if I don't have one that fits (with threads that match) in the junk box....
"Is the keywork tight or loose and rattly?" If the latter, it needs to be swedged and/or countersunk to tighten it up: more specialized tools, and some practice and instruction to avoid seriously botching the job. This needs to be done before you pad, as it will affect the final seat of the pad! This is almost always necessary on any horn more than about 30 years old, and yet I'm surprised how often I see full overhauls done with loose, rattly keywork!
"Are the keys dull, oxidized or worn?" Nickel silver (or nickel plating) is a wonderful but obdurate alloy - you can't polish it, you have to buff! Downstairs to that fast, powerful 2 wheel buffer - hope you have one (and the right wheels and compounds) and know how to use it without hurting yourself or wrapping that key around the shaft...ouch..
"Now, how does the wood look?" Any cracks or chips? Better fill those, file, sand... Any loose posts from dry wood shrinkage? Better tighten those so the keys don't bind when I reassemble... Any broken or worn out springs? Better replace those... Hope I have the right size or Ferree still carries them... Most instruments don't get enough bore oil and, if they've been in storage for 20 years, they REALLY don't get enough oil. Better coat all 4 pieces inside and out with a good grade of bore oil; and coat, and re-coat....sometimes for days.
Time to buff the body (avoiding those delicate logos, of course): back downstairs and try to get the posts and body nice and shiny without breaking any springs...whoops...
To Be Continued....
The Licorice Shtick Blog is the creation of the Vintage Clarinet Doctor, a Winston Salem, NC based woodwind instrument repair shop specializing in vintage and antique clarinets, saxophones, and the occasional flute.