Just take a pad and bolt it in. Install the key and see how light the pressure of the pad is in the back, because that will usually be the case. Estimate how much thickness you lack, remove the key and the then pad from the cup, install the missing thickness with washers, re-install the pad and try the key on the body and check the pad again. Don't cheat here, it doesn't pay. Repeat if necessary.
Now, if there hasn't been any damage to the instrument, this combo will probably prove to be the same for any similarly mounted keys, so just duplicate the measurement and install the pads in the key cups and then re-check them individually. Upper stack, lower stack, G, and foot joint. You notice, these groups of keys are all mounted on the same hinge points. Are things getting a little clearer? Now, if a pad is still lighter in the back, take the key off and add some more thickness. If it is now lighter in the front you may want to remove a little until it is the same pressure or LEVEL all around. Be sure you check the bottom stack post. If those pads get progressively worse, the post needs to move. If the post is bent toward the holes, the pads will get progressively lighter in back; if away, heavier and the pads won't be centered either. But, don't use centering as your only guide, sometimes they just don't. The pads MUST be level or the flute won't play.
DON'T just start bending the fronts of the pad cups down. The smart thing to do here is: DON'T BEND ANY KEYS IF YOU CAN GET OUT OF IT. And most important: DO NOT USE ANY PARTIAL WASHERS. So normally, they do not distort. You may level the pad side to side by twisting the key arm a little or you may lower the front of the cup by bending it down. This most likely will bend the edge of the pad cup a little, but not enough to be noticeable.
Getting back on track. The tone hole is or should be flat. The pad cup is or should be flat. The pad is probably the least variable part and should be flat. The cardboard used in pad construction is thick enough that they usually stay flat enough. You can always bend the front of the pad cup down. By going a 'little heavy', you may not have to do it again.
THERE IS NO ROOM FOR PARTIAL WASHERS. Normally you can't control where they are all that precisely any way and in the grand scheme of things I believe that they are a total waste of time. I've been told that this is 'Old School' but, IT WORKS, HAS WORKED, and STILL WORKS. Why fix what isn't broke? You'd be chasing ghosts there. Just level the pad over the tone hole and you're almost done.
So, what have we accomplished so far? We installed a pad. Big deal, huh? Somewhere around here we should do some adjusting. The adjustment screws that all good flutes have only function in one direction. NOT TWO.
These time saving, wear reducing screws only work on the 'down stroke' of the keys. So, after all your bending and leveling is DONE, you use these screws as Stops to be sure all the pads hit at the same time in their Down position. The Up position is adjusted by 1) bending the tail of the key up or down or, 2) trimming off or adding additional cork under the foot. It's your choice, depending on what works for you in a particular situation. (and Yes, I have installed adjustment screws in a Haynes flute and man does that save time and frustration.)
With light pressure, just make the pad kiss the seat and make sure it hits evenly all the way around. Make sure all key combinations hit at the same time. Completely adjust the flute at this point. Check the openings for proper height, and re-check the bridge key and thumb key-B-Bb adjustments.
I can hear you yelling, "HEY, you haven't ironed or seated the pads yet." This is part of the time saving. I have never ironed pads because I use a feeler, but if you want to or if you use a light, you would do that after getting them installed at the correct height. I have nothing against using a light, but I'm color blind and can't SEE, using a light. So, I use a feeler to compare seat pressure. Don't use Elephant Fingers when comparing. Yes, we're going to seat the pads, but not yet. If you've put the pads in correctly, the wrinkles won't matter. Just make sure the pads are all level. Level means LEVEL, not almost. At this point, the flute will almost play and sometimes it does.
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