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How to Identify an Elkhart 8D

by Randy Harrison

A Conn 8D with a six digit serial number and no letter prefix is not necessarily an Elkhart 8D. When Conn moved to Abilene, Texas they did make horns with six digit serial numbers that drastically overlap the Elkhart numbers.  
The first thing to look for is the bell engraving. If it says "C.G. Conn, Ltd., USA" with no reference to Elkhart Indiana, it is an Abilene bell.
All pre-letter series Elkhart 8D's had a mechanical linkage on the change valve. If yours has a string linkage, look for signs that the old linkage has switched. In order to make this modification, the stop plate has been rotated 90 degrees. You should be able to see where it was originally and also, the old screw holes that held the stop plate in its original position will be plugged and visible. If this is not evident, then chances are you have an Abilene horn.
The Abilene horns have 2nd valve pull rings that are as thick as the ones on the new Cleveland horns. Elkhart horns, with the exception of the "N" series have rather thin pull rings.
The most positive way to tell an Abilene 8D from an Elkhart 8D is to remove a rotary valve and measure the rotor with either a micrometer or a set of dial calipers. The rotor of an Elkhart 8D is tapered. An Abilene 8D has cylindrical rotors. The cylindrical rotors were one of the biggest design flaws in the Abilene horns.

Mr. Harrison has played as a member of the horn sections of the Baltimore Philharmonia, Susquehanna Symphony and Columbia Symphony Orchestras as well as the Baltimore Chamber Consort. Mr. Harrison was the founder and owner of Brass Arts Unlimited in Baltimore, Maryland, USA., which became an 8D specialty shop serving orchestra players throughout the world.



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