Tube maintenance and storage

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Tube maintenance and storage

Postby dante » Thu Aug 12, 2010 10:08 am

Is there any ritual associated with vacuum tubes?

1. I just wiped mine with a lint free microfiber cloth this morning - they were getting dusty. Is occasional dusting ok or a no-no?
2. I am told that the glass envelopes should NOT be touched with bare hands. Yet, my personal tube guru - Ambel, grabs them with sweaty hands and stuffs them in his trouser pockets! Is there consensus on how tubes should be handled?
3. Warm up - not for listening. But for those in storage or on unplayed gear. How long can we keep the tubes unused without having to pass some current through them? Jac of Jacmusic prescribes passing some current on tubes every ten years or so. What do you guys do?
4. Loose bases - can they be re-glued safely?
5. Maximum power on usage - is there a time limit on how long you can keep tubes powered up? Some SS gears have to be powered up 24x7. Are tubes the same?
6. How to store tubes - in dry boxes? Lock and lock with silica gel? Are they affected by humidity?

;)
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Re: Tube maintenance and storage

Postby joe3rp » Thu Aug 12, 2010 11:06 am

Is there any ritual associated with vacuum tubes?

1. I just wiped mine with a lint free microfiber cloth this morning - they were getting dusty. Is occasional dusting ok or a no-no?
2. I am told that the glass envelopes should NOT be touched with bare hands. Yet, my personal tube guru - Ambel, grabs them with sweaty hands and stuffs them in his trouser pockets! Is there consensus on how tubes should be handled?

I think this is only applicable to Halogen/HID lamps which are high temperature and chemical? reactive. Vaccuum tubes are just made of glass.

3. Warm up - not for listening. But for those in storage or on unplayed gear. How long can we keep the tubes unused without having to pass some current through them? Jac of Jacmusic prescribes passing some current on tubes every ten years or so. What do you guys do?
4. Loose bases - can they be re-glued safely?

Yes, some use epoxy (for ceramic/glass) - some use super glue

5. Maximum power on usage - is there a time limit on how long you can keep tubes powered up? Some SS gears have to be powered up 24x7. Are tubes the same?

Most/If not all off your gear are SET, so the tubes are always biased to a high IDLE CURRENT, so even at idle this is the hardest time your tubes will be working, even at the loudest passages or usage the tubes are still at the same (or even less) as when idle. SOme say it is better to keep them on a 24-7, the thermal/electrical shock can be worst (keeping them on results in electric consumption). Tube life? Just luck! Some last forever...some last seconds!

6. How to store tubes - in dry boxes? Lock and lock with silica gel? Are they affected by humidity?

The pins can be affected by excessive moisture..corrosion.
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Re: Tube maintenance and storage

Postby Oldfogey » Thu Aug 12, 2010 11:15 am

Hi Dante, I'm no expert by any means but here's my take.

1) I don't bother to wipe them, except when they're to be used in my gear.
2) For peanut tubes, no choice, hold them by the glass. For the 4 pin, 5 pin, or octals, I usually hold them by the base.
3) I have old DHT triodes, which I've not touched in years. If they work, fine, if not, oh well.
4) Loose bases can be reglued, no worries.
5) Like light bulbs, tubes have a finite lifespan. That said, I see no problem keeping my gear on for 8-16 hours at a time. 24/7 would be a waste, IMHO, specially if you are using rare, valuable NOS tubes.
6) I store them in their original boxes in those giant "tupperware" plastic boxes. I don't know if humidity affects them. The old DHT's like 45 and 10 types are stored upright. That's about it.

Enjoy your music!
OF
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Re: Tube maintenance and storage

Postby 6a3fan » Thu Aug 12, 2010 11:17 am

Follow up question:

What is the best way to clean the pins of tubes. I have some nice vintage tubes that got flooded and the pins now are coated by some crud. Would it be ok to use a sharp object to take off what seems to be baked soil on the pins?
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Re: Tube maintenance and storage

Postby qguy » Thu Aug 12, 2010 11:27 am

Glass wont react with most if not all substances. Thats why test tubes are made of glass. I would not touch the pins as your acidic sweat may corrode the pins over time
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Re: Tube maintenance and storage

Postby enzolm » Thu Aug 12, 2010 5:28 pm

As long as we are on this subject, and with the kind indulgence of Dante for hijacking this thread, I would like to ask the following question:

Is there an safe and environmentally responsible way of disposing of spent power tubes? I don't throw them away since I am constantly worried about some poor boy in Payatas or Smokey Mountain injuring himself in glass shards - or getting poisoned/infected - by broken/exploding tubes as he picks through garbage.

Thanks for any advise ( apologies to kuya dante ).
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Re: Tube maintenance and storage

Postby dante » Thu Aug 12, 2010 9:10 pm

Ask away Bros! I meant the discussion to provide answers as well as more questions along the same line. So, Ricky, the question is perfectly fine!
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Re: Tube maintenance and storage

Postby katherine_67 » Sat Jul 20, 2013 2:34 pm

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Re: Tube maintenance and storage

Postby tony » Sat Jul 20, 2013 4:48 pm

6a3fan wrote:Follow up question:

What is the best way to clean the pins of tubes. I have some nice vintage tubes that got flooded and the pins now are coated by some crud. Would it be ok to use a sharp object to take off what seems to be baked soil on the pins?


sandpaper, sometimes box cutters to scrape the pins...
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Re: Tube maintenance and storage

Postby tony » Sat Jul 20, 2013 4:58 pm

dante wrote:Is there any ritual associated with vacuum tubes?

1. I just wiped mine with a lint free microfiber cloth this morning - they were getting dusty. Is occasional dusting ok or a no-no?
2. I am told that the glass envelopes should NOT be touched with bare hands. Yet, my personal tube guru - Ambel, grabs them with sweaty hands and stuffs them in his trouser pockets! Is there consensus on how tubes should be handled?
3. Warm up - not for listening. But for those in storage or on unplayed gear. How long can we keep the tubes unused without having to pass some current through them? Jac of Jacmusic prescribes passing some current on tubes every ten years or so. What do you guys do?
4. Loose bases - can they be re-glued safely?
5. Maximum power on usage - is there a time limit on how long you can keep tubes powered up? Some SS gears have to be powered up 24x7. Are tubes the same?
6. How to store tubes - in dry boxes? Lock and lock with silica gel? Are they affected by humidity?

;)


1. damp cotton cloth then dry cotton cloth to clean the glass...
2. just don't drop them lest they get broken..
3. as long as the gettering flash is intact, just plug them in, not good to light them up with just filaments...
4. yes, get a glue that can withstand high temperatures...
5. powering up is most stressful for tubes, as long as the tube is operated within specs, keeping them powered up should not be a problem..
6. in their original boxes, no special precautions, except limit moisture that can corrode pins...
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Re: Tube maintenance and storage

Postby Mamimili » Sat Jul 20, 2013 6:42 pm

I keep my stash in wooden Champagne and port boxes, the single or double bottle type with a sliding lid.
They look good (if not kept behind closed doors) and make great protective carry boxes when inside luggage or just for general transport. People will ask you where the party is.......
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Re: Tube maintenance and storage

Postby Mamimili » Sat Jul 20, 2013 6:48 pm

This was a good memory jog, months ago i twisted when i should have pulled :doh: and heard a distinct "single crack" noise.
The tube glass is not broken and i cannot see any cracks in the glass, should i assume i just broke the seal between plastic base and tube glass, dab some high temp glue around the top of the base and not worry to much?
I have not powered up this tube since that day!
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Re: Tube maintenance and storage

Postby tony » Sat Jul 20, 2013 7:48 pm

joe3rp wrote:
Most/If not all off your gear are SET, so the tubes are always biased to a high IDLE CURRENT, so even at idle this is the hardest time your tubes will be working, even at the loudest passages or usage the tubes are still at the same (or even less) as when idle. SOme say it is better to keep them on a 24-7, the thermal/electrical shock can be worst (keeping them on results in electric consumption). Tube life? Just luck! Some last forever...some last seconds!


as far as SET is concerned, high idle current means that tubes are operated at
or very near the maximum plate dissipation rating of a particular tube and is class A or A2....
tube life is shorter this way, tubes were meant to be replaced anyway...
unlike push-pull class AB wherein about 70% is typical so that tubes last longer...
the thing to watch out for is red plating, tubes not designed to operate with red plates must be
turned off immediately to avoid further damage...and the amp checked out...
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Re: Tube maintenance and storage

Postby brady » Mon Jul 22, 2013 6:12 pm

old practice is to heat the tubes before turning on the high voltage.

another practice (at least for RF tubes - 4-400, 3cx variants, etc) is to put them in jigs every now and then, just with the filaments powered.

store always in dry place
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Re: Tube maintenance and storage

Postby tony » Mon Jul 22, 2013 6:40 pm

high voltage here means over 1kv...
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Re: Tube maintenance and storage

Postby Jon Agner » Tue Jul 23, 2013 11:50 am

question:

All of my tubes were submerged by Ondoy and under water for more than 48 hours. Some of my peanut tubes suddenly became microphonic and un-usable. Would this be the result of the tubes being subjected to elements like water and dirt?
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Re: Tube maintenance and storage

Postby qguy » Tue Jul 23, 2013 12:17 pm

Glass wont react with the water or pretty much anything. The pins is the only thing that may have reacted with water. If submerging in water for 48 is hours bad, then ALL the tubes should be affected.

some possible scenarios.

1. Could the microphonic tubes been microphonic before the onset of Ondoy ?
2. Since the tubes were cleaned after Ondoy, some of the tubes could have dropped, bumped, shaken etc...I know you would handle them with care, I just don't know if someone else help you in the cleanup or in the collection of the tubes.

You could experiment with some cheap tubes :devil:

Jon Agner wrote:question:

All of my tubes were submerged by Ondoy and under water for more than 48 hours. Some of my peanut tubes suddenly became microphonic and un-usable. Would this be the result of the tubes being subjected to elements like water and dirt?
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Re: Tube maintenance and storage

Postby Jon Agner » Tue Jul 23, 2013 12:55 pm

qguy wrote:Glass wont react with the water or pretty much anything. The pins is the only thing that may have reacted with water. If submerging in water for 48 is hours bad, then ALL the tubes should be affected.

some possible scenarios.

1. Could the microphonic tubes been microphonic before the onset of Ondoy ?
2. Since the tubes were cleaned after Ondoy, some of the tubes could have dropped, bumped, shaken etc...I know you would handle them with care, I just don't know if someone else help you in the cleanup or in the collection of the tubes.

You could experiment with some cheap tubes :devil:

Jon Agner wrote:question:

All of my tubes were submerged by Ondoy and under water for more than 48 hours. Some of my peanut tubes suddenly became microphonic and un-usable. Would this be the result of the tubes being subjected to elements like water and dirt?


Benj,

Nope, I did the cleaning myself. There were tubes that were damaged and broken but majority were still intact after the flood. I have that same impression that it should not be affected but somehow, it did had an effect on the peanut tubes (12au7s and 12ax7s mostly). For now, of the 10+ pairs of my 12au7 variants, only two pairs are working properly. I still haven't checked on my tubes if they got problems as well, since I have yet to start repair work on both my HK 224 and Scott LK72 power amps.
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Re: Tube maintenance and storage

Postby tony » Tue Jul 23, 2013 2:47 pm

Jon Agner wrote:question:

All of my tubes were submerged by Ondoy and under water for more than 48 hours. Some of my peanut tubes suddenly became microphonic and un-usable. Would this be the result of the tubes being subjected to elements like water and dirt?


unless the flash gettering is washed out, chances are those tubes are still good....
the microphonics most likely was due to pins that tarnished...
or sockets with contacts that became poor due to corrosion...
cleaning the pins with fine grit sandpaper will help...
when i got my 6C33 tubes, they tested open filaments,
cleaning the pins solved the problem...
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Re: Tube maintenance and storage

Postby qguy » Tue Jul 23, 2013 6:27 pm

Jon Agner wrote: There were tubes that were damaged and broken but majority were still intact after the flood. .


When you say damaged and broken, you mean broken glass ? if yes, then those that "survived" could have been subjected to forces, enough to dislocate some parts inside, I remember a tube that I dropped before, it survived the fall, but did not last long, when I inspected the tube, I noticed the round wire which is near the getter was dislocated.

Ace hardware has very fine grit sandpaper up to 2500 grade.

Try mo din pencil eraser to clean the pins
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