do tubes have anything to do with volume?

will old tubes not be as loud as newer ones? i am totally ignorant, but i have an amp now that is 50wpc and its much quieter than i expected, but it is so nice to listen to. very dynamic. i dont know enough about how tubes affect volume.
have an amp now that is 50wpc and its much quieter than I expected

By quieter than you expected, do you mean you must increase the preamp volume more than previously to achieve the same level?

If yes, that's nothing to be concerned with, nor is it any reflection on the quality of the amp.

Input sensitivity can be effected by tubes, but much more likely this is a difference in design, input impedance, or other factors.
i've got the preamp at about all the way up. i can blast it, but i was just wondering if things would sound louder with new tubes. the tubes are about three or fours years old.
I guess it's possible the tubes are so bad it's effecting overall gain. Did you own the amp and preamp three years ago? I ask because you say the tubes are that old.

If you have other tubes it would be an easy test.
the first and easiest thing to check is tubes, but it's possible there's something else wrong. I had a similar problem with an amp that turned out to be a combination of bad power tubes, and a bad resistor.
To simply answer your question -- tubes have nothing to do with volume that I know of.

If you're talking about a lower/higher noise floor -- that is certainly possible.

The thing that baffles me in that you say, "I've got the preamp at about all the way turned up." Just about every active preamp I know of has enough gain to drive any amp into clipping. Why don't you back off the volume a bit on the preamp so the tubed amp doesn't clip when it runs out of steam on on peaks. That is definately not good.

50wpc is not a lot, but without knowing what preamp/amp/speakers you are using, its kind of hard to give good advice.

Of course if your preamp is of the passive level control variety, ignore this.
I think they affect volume. If your tubes are quite old and near the end of their lives, they may sound weaker and definitely less dynamic. Output tubes in my system that are testing at 50% will have muddy bass, soft highs and not a lot of headroom.
how do I test them?
Need a tube tester. Or, find someone in your area with one and bribe/imbibe them. Pittsburgh?