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Klarinet Archive - Posting 001078.txt from 1999/04

From: "William J. Maynard" <>
Subj: [kl] Re: [EarlyClarinet] Metal-working Lathe
Date: Sun, 25 Apr 1999 23:46:05 -0400

If anyone does venture to West Point to see the "lathe" you might also
search for 15 to 20 Selmer "Omega" clarinets. Sometime between 1958-61 we
were asked by the CO what clarinet would we like to be issued to play the
outdoor concerts. The Army issued plastic clarinets (Bundy, I think) for
parades but for the rest of our playing we used our own clarinets. As I
recall there was some concern about playing the outdoor programs with dust,
dampness, etc., and the effect that would have on our instruments. Since we
all played Buffet, that was our choice. About a year or two later the
Omega's arrived, silver plated as I remember, with very nice cases, etc. The
top of the Selmer line at that time, at least as far as price. We took them
home, practiced, and for the next outdoor concert used our Buffet's. They
were returned to the supply room shortly thereafter never to be seen again,
at least until 1961 when I "retired." I have wondered where they went and
whether they are still in storage or sitting on tables with a lampshade on
top. The reason given for their purchase was that the Army had to buy
American and they were the best at the time. There was some question whether
they were made in the US or just assembled. In any event, there are many
such stories that made time in the military pass a little faster.

Bill Maynard
-----Original Message-----
Date: Sunday, April 25, 1999 6:56 AM
Subject: [EarlyClarinet] Metal-working Lathe

>From: "MARY A. VINQUIST" <>
>On the Early Clarinet list, Ron Baxter asked:
>"I've been considering getting a metal lathe.
>I'd be very interested to know other people's
>preferences, opinions, about what you use
>if you do this kind of work."
>I can't help with the question, but I do have a good story.
>Many years ago, I was in the West Point Band, which had two full time
>instrument repairmen. The band building was being extensively renovated,
>the CO asked the chief repairman whether he needed any special equipment
>the new shop.
>He said, "Well, it's not essential, but I could use a small metal-working
>lathe, say to make a trumpet valve or some other part." The CO said "Fine.
>I'll see what I can do."
>The renovation was completed, but no lathe arrived, and the repairman
>his request had been turned down or just forgotten about.
>Then, more than a year later, a concrete mixer truck pulled up to the band
>building. The driver came down to the repair shop and had the following
>conversation with the repairman:
>"I'm here to pour the foundation for your lathe."
>"You ordered a metal-working lathe didn't you?"
>"Oh, I remember. I thought you'd forgotten about it."
>"No, it's here. But I have to pour the foundation for it. It would break
>right through the concrete slab you have now."
>It turned out that the only metal-working lathe the Army had was a two-ton
>monster, five feet high and eight feet long, with a chuck big enough to
>a telephone pole. Of course it was useless for the small work the repair
>shop wanted it for, but it was already on the band's official list of
>equipment and couldn't be returned without much embarrassment and
>To install it, they had to break through the existing concrete floor slab,
>prepare a sub-foundation, pour the foundation, let it dry, remove a window,
>maneuver the lathe in with a crane and mount it on bolts fixed in the
>I'm sure it's still there, unused and useless, taking up about 20% of the
>space in the repair shop, and a prime example of the saying, "There's the
>right way, the wrong way and the Army way."
>This is absolutely true. I was there, saw the results and got the details
>directly from the chief repairman. You can go to West Point and see it.
>Ken Shaw
>Did you know that knowledge is power?
>Join a new ONElist e-mail community and strengthen your mind!

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