Sunday, May 8, 2011

How it's Made: Sousaphone (Weril factory) part 1: the bell

above: Weril's factory in beautiful Sao Paulo, Brazil
Weril has been making musical instruments for over 100 years, with origins going back to Europe. They don't just make musical instruments that bear their own name. They have made instruments for many manufacturers that you have probably heard of including; DEG, Holton, Dynasty and W.Nirschl. They even make parts for well known European brass instrument makers. They have a great facility with a kind, hard working staff. 
Here is a brief mini-tour of the construction of a J-470 (and sometimes 4 valve Dynasty) Sousaphone. It isn't a complete step-by-step construction but you do get some neat snap shots of what goes into creating a Sousaphone. 
First lets start with the bell.
First, a single sheet of brass is used to make the bell flare. The center is left intact so it can be mounted to a bell mandrel for spinning. 

 The worker uses a peg on a mount to provide leverage while pressing the bell against the mandrel. The bell is mounted to a motor that spins (or a lathe) so that the shape of the bell is even.
Next, a special tool is used to grab the edge of the bell and roll it over. This is how the rim is formed. Below is a close up picture of the tool.
Once finished spinning, the bell goes to the sander to even out the surface of the flare.
Here, the bell is not yet finished being sanded.

The bell spout is made by forming sheets of brass to the proper shape.
Below are pictures of the pieces before brazing.

Then the two pieces are brazed together.

The large U shaped tube is now balled out to the proper shape using large dent balls.

 Once the proper shape is formed, then the spout is cut.

Then the spout is polished and ready to be soldered to the bell flare.

Next...part 2: the body!


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