I have a couple of horn reeds and none of them sound good. I have fiddled with them enough to know they are easy to mess up!
I have an original Nonpareil reed that I would like to use in my nonpareil horn. But guess what? I don't want to mess it up!
Is there anyone who "tunes" reeds?
Or shall I just order a new reed?
No guarantee that the new reed will sound any better. Reeds are not only tuned, they are also shaped to provide the voice (this is called "voicing" BTW!) It is almost a "Dark Science" thing. If you can find any Pipe Organ repair folks, they can probably help you out. In your case, I think there is a Theatre Pipe Organ in a theatre near your area, with the normal assorted characters that keep it playing. Just an idea!
Ford moved the reed to the horn bulb in 1915 which makes the horn work really well in spite of leaks in the hose.
If your horn squeaks with a high pitch simply slow it down by melting or tinning a little solder on the top surface. This brings the pitch down. I did this with a 100 year old concertina I play and got it tuned nicely. So I used it on our 1906 Moline horn and it worked there too.
I don't want to hijack this thread but maybe the answer to my question will help him as well. My 1924 horn sounds like a typical honking of a clown nose but it needs to be louder.
I am afraid to take it apart without seeing pictures of what is inside and what can be adjusted or replaced.
They are totally different horns Chris. Type in Google *tuning 1924 horn mtfca* (without asteriks) and there are several threads relating to your horn. I just upgraded to windows 10 and can't see how to cut and paste the links I found
Get in touch with RV Anderson. He knows a lot about the reeds.
Royce's point about the leaks in the tubing is totally correct, but actually the reed was moved to the horn in late '12 with the change to the so-called 3/4 twist horn and the tubing was shortened with the mounting bracket inside the car. At this time the reed was mounted in a double male threaded adapter which was/is installed between the horn tubing bracket and the bulb sleeve.
Original Rubes reed in its adapter:
Position relative to an original Rubes bulb:
Partially threaded together:
Rubes, Nonpareil, and Standard horns and parts are all interchangeable from late '12 through '14 (although I think Standard was strictly a '14 horn), but with the 1915 horn setup Ford changed the threads from 41/64 x 27 to 5/8 x 28, and listed these as "for repairs," which is why some original Ford horn parts won't thread together completely.
Original reeds are far better than repops for use in original or correct reproduction Model T bulb horn systems. I suspect that this is because the new reeds are made more for the big brass cars' setups. Most of them use a gigantic bulb that really blasts the air through about 10 miles of tubing to get to the horn-mounted reed. And Keith is correct; it's far easier to wreck a reed than to improve it, though the latter certainly can be done. As far as tuning reeds by scraping, this works well when you're trying to move the tone about a quarter step max, such looking to tune the reed to a perfect concert A and it's a bit flat or sharp. You can't drop a reed tone the full octave that many folks want to do by doing that. The reed needs to be completely re-set for that, but it can be done.