O.J.'s Trumpet Page Interview

"Sticky Valves"

Interview with Nanette Kappus - BiNaK valve oil

By Olaf B. Brattegaard

BiNaK oil
Nanette Kappus

Nanette Kappus, I guess few people in Norway have ever heard of you. Could you tell something about yourself? You use the title "Tribologist". Could you explain what that means?

You are right, few people have heard of me; especially in Europe. My BiNaK oil's have been marketed since 1995, but advertising in trade magazines and attending music related shows are not only expensive, but time consuming. In answer to your question about myself; I originally attended a school for music, but decided that both teaching and performing were not what I wanted to do with my life. After starting my family with my husband Bill, I decided to learn a different field. I had always been interested in Engineering and decided to specialize in a little known field called Tribology. It is a cross between Mechanical and Chemical Engineering and specializes in fluid dynamics. In "lay-terms", fluid dynamics involves the field of lubrication and how that lubrication affects the running of equipment. For example, my work involves many aspects of lubrication such as electrical draw, downtime, heat, wear, friction, contamination, safety features such as emissions, explosive hazards and contaminations.

This interview is actually about sticky valves. How do you explain this problem? Is it something that can occur on every horn or is it something that comes with mass production and the technology to manufacture very tight valves (the Yamalloy curse)? Or do you think it has other reasons?

Sticky valves can have multiple reasons for happening. Some of which can be a real surprise to a player. It can occur on any horn, with any metal type and with any "metal to metal" tolerance factors. Mass production of an instrument can be a problem as no two instruments will be produced the same due to inconsistencies in the metals themselves. Also temperature variances during production and quite simply, human error during the production phase can cause inconsistencies. Tight valves increases the opportunity for sticking, as does the coatings that many manufacturers use on the valves and casing surfaces. Different oil's sometimes cause their own problems as they may react with the coating or the metal surfaces themselves. Many oil's can be highly acidic and will react to saliva. What many players are not aware of is the aspect of medicines being taken by a particular person. Certain Cancer drugs will react adversely to the metals of an instrument, because those medicines change the PH factor of the saliva. Also, how a player manipulates the valves can be a huge factor. Coming down at an angle will effect the performance of that valve. ie: Sloppy playing!

Why did you make the BiNak?

I made the BiNaK 495 oil first. It took several years of Research &Developement and testing before it was released to the public. The reasons why I made it are two-fold. First off, my father was a band director for 35 years and highly respected by his colleagues. I had always felt a level of guilt that I had not stayed in a music related field, so when he [my father] was diagnosed with Cancer, I decided to do something special for him. It was my way of coming full circle by utilizing my knowledge of lubrication and incorporating it into a music related field. It certainly was a highly refined aspect of my work, but attainable, as is evident with the BiNaK oil's popularity today. I use a portion of the monies earned by giving a scholarship every year to a student who is pursuing a career in music, or a music related field. It is called the Walter J. Downey Music Scholarship Fund. The second reason for my research was due to my oldest son Brandon's Asthma. It became profoundly worse when he started playing the trumpet in fourth grade and after months of trying to understand why, I realized that it was the valve oil he was using. I tested that oil, and any other musical instrument oil's that I could find, to see the chemical makeup of them. I decided to try to invent a "holistic" oil. An oil that would not only lubricate, but would not be harmful to the sensitive lung tissues or breathing aspects. After much time and research, I decided on a base oil that was classified as a "pure, white, light mineral oil". It has a MSDS classification and is the only holistic oil on the market to my knowledge. The rest of the formulation is a proprietary blend of my own that is incorporated within the base stock oil under specific conditions.

Does the BiNaK oil's fix certain problems? How?

Yes it does fix certain problems. One of the main aspects of my oil is the "evaporation factor", or the lack of one. Now this can be a blessing or a curse! It is a blessing if as a player you can adjust your old methods of application to limit the use of the oil to a single drop or two. It will last several days; even weeks. For rental instruments it is excellent as you can place an instrument in storage and when it is removed months later, the oil is still there to lubricate. It is a curse if you can't adjust you old habits and pour the oil on like a kerosene product. Used this way, you will acquire too much oil on the valves and could experience a sluggish feeling. It is an easy fix though. Just wipe the valves and casing out and USE THE PRODUCT CORRECTLY!

My oil acts as a cleaner as well as a lubricant. It needs to "cling to clean metals". Also, remember that this oil is called a "boundry lubricant". The thinnest film possible works best if you have tight tolerances. The flip side to the coin, so to speak, is that you can use more oil for loose tolerances and vintage horns as this oil is also "multi-viscostic". What this means is that it will act as a cushion in sloppy areas.

What do you mean by the expression: "You need so little that your grandchildren can inherit your bottle"?

Well, as I stated before, if you use my oil's correctly, they will last a very long time. One drop, every now and then, is all you should need. But, if you want to use more….put it in your clocks, guns, door locks, fan motors, etc. It is a great oil for many other applications! One a final note, there are two BiNaK oil products. BiNaK 495, the original BiNaK oil and now, BiNaK PRO, which is a lighter, faster oil for the more accomplished player where speed is a factor. The BiNaK PRO is also better for really tight tolerances. Also, now I am offering the BiNaK Tuning Slide Lubricant, which is compatible with my BiNaK oil's. All these products and information on them can be found on my web site.

Contact info:
Nanette L. Kappus, Tribologist
Power Up of Western New York

BiNaK 495 / BiNaK PRO
Musical Instrument Oil

o.b.b 2003