F. E. Olds Valve Pistons
I have to find a 3rd valve piston for an LA Olds Special. My question is did the Ambassador and the Special use the same valve pistons? There is a heck of a lot more Ambassadors out the to get parts from. Thanks in advance.
Kinda yes/no probably no.
The LA valves were quite different to the Fullerton valves there was a radical change to the guides that forced changes to the valves.
Most of the Ambassadors available are Fullertons and therefore unsuitable for an LA Special
Even during the LA period they changed the guides which changed the valves.
The result is you would have to buy an LA Ambassador to have any hope of valve compatibility between an Ambassador and an LA Special and both would have to have the exact same late LA valve design.
There are also differences between the early LA valve stem and late LA valve stem that would require the valve and the stem and maybe other parts to stay with the valve they came with and they may make the valves incompatible as well.
For example the early valve stem not only is a different length to the later valve stem but also has a different fixing to the valve so you have to use the same stem that comes with the valve and the chance of vertically aligning the valve is therefore slim.
This site shows the issues
The LA Ambassador uses the square shaped bar as a valve guide, if your Special has the same square shaped bar then it might be physically compatible with an LA Ambassador.
LA Ambassadors are quite rare and carry a premium cost.
Even if they are physically compatible the port positions are likely to be wrong anyway.
To put this in perspective an LA Ambassador may be a bit cheaper than a LA Special but will come with a heap of uncertainty and possibly extra costs on top so I would not even consider replacing an LA Special valve with an LA Ambassadors valve and have the extra risk.
You are probably better buying another LA Special and you will then know the valve will fit and you can use whichever instrument plays best. Additionally if the one you choose develops a problem you can simply swap the third valve over and have a second instrument. It would be as close as possible to a zero cost fix.
It just wont be cost effective to try to get an Ambassador valve to work in my opinion.
And you wont know the condition of the Ambassadors valve before you see it and that may come with issues as well.
You have not said why you need a replacement valve perhaps it might be fixable by a tech at far less cost than trying to source a suitable Ambassadors valve if that were even possible.
@trumpetb Hello, Thank you so much for the the information. You have been very thorough. I really appreciate it. The valve was missing when I got the horn. The rest of the horn is in great shape. Looks like the the journey continues.
Understood, that is unfortunate and a bit of a blow.
Olds are great instruments, both of mine are excellent, once you have this resolved it should be a good player.
As I understand it the LA Specials are well respected instruments.
Good luck with your search for a third valve, it will be worth it I am sure.
@trumpetb Specials are, well, special. I know that because I bought one, played it for about a month, and then the seller approached me whether he could buy the horn back - he was missing it so much. I agreed, of course, and got myself a Studio and, finally, a Recording.
@barliman2001 I love Olds and I know many others do love them, Red Nichols played an Olds Super I believe for much of his career.
I read some time ago that Uan Rasey who I respect immensely was offered a Recording by the factory but refused it and asked for an LA Ambassador, but he was refused that possibly because it was the lowest priced instrument in the range, he eventually ended up with a compromise instrument they made up especially for him.
I believe the issue was that he didnt like the offset valve block on the Recording preferring a normal straight valve block and I suspect he simply found no issues with the quality of the Ambassador valve block.
I seem to recall it being stated that they built a Recording with an Ambassador valve block just for him. I cant swear to that but I like the story.
It has been claimed that the original Ambassador and the Mendez were on a par but the Mendez had more expensive parts plus triggers, they were both built around the same time under Foster Reynolds.
The LA Ambassador is a player.
It has been said that the philosophy at Olds was no compromises were allowed and all instruments were to be built to the same high standards.
Certainly that appears true of the LA period instruments.