From the Mailbag: Horns in the Boot

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Horns in a hot car? Or cold for that matter? What could possibly go wrong?

In short, many things.

When I lived in the Midwest, I would sometimes leave my horn in the trunk (that’s the boot for UK readers). Once after a particularly cold day, I noticed that a solder point had popped loose.

The valves too were extremely sluggish for a while. The valve oil, I presume, must have congealed due to the low temperature.

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This should have come as no surprise. Metal expands and contracts with heat and cold.

In the intense summer heat in Phoenix, Arizona, leaving a horn in the trunk can have serious consequences. While the valves might feel very frisky at first — the heat seems to make them very slippery — over time, the slide grease will melt and ooze into the valves.

This really gums up the works.

Heat and cold issues aside, leaving an instrument in the trunk of a car is also not a good idea in terms of security. I have known several colleagues who have had instruments stolen from their car trunks.

As if this tragedy is not enough, dealing with an insurance claim in this scenario can be very tricky.

A typical homeowner’s insurance policy will cover most stolen instrument claims. However if it is stolen from a car, the insurance company may determine that the instrument was job-related — and not a possession used in the home.

In that case the insurance company, looking to cut corners in any way that it can, will not honor your claim and will not reimburse you for the stolen instrument.

For this reason, I have a separate policy purchased through Clarion, which specializes in musical instrument insurance. I highly recommend this company to any musician who resides in the U.S.


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