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Dan Worrall

Jeffries/dipper Action Board Repair Question

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I have a lovely old Jeffries 30 button that I recently purchased. It had been completely rebuilt in the 1970s by Colin Dipper, and is a wonderful player. However, it has developed an air leak. Investigating, i found the culprit -- a hairline crack has opened up in the action board, extending about 3 inches from the air button hole down to a nearby note hole, along the grain. The crack is only wide enough to see daylight through, but it is enough to render the instrument sluggish and leaky.

 

The soundboard, built during restoration, appears to be spruce or some such, and is single wood (not a ply). In later days, Colin used plywood for these boards, for just this reason....stability and resistance to cracking; my 1991 Dipper's action board is made with ply.

 

No doubt the change in climate from the UK to here in Texas had something to do with this crack developing. And of course, there is the issue of dry air from inside heating during the winter.

 

I'm thinking of spreading some wood glue into the crack, on both sides, to seal it. Or possibly some rubber cement. Any suggestions on this from seasoned repairers?

 

Cheers,

Dan Worrall

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My usual approach to very fine cracks like this is to use superglue/cyanoacrylate because of its ability to reach the full extent of the crack by capillary attraction. Precautions to take: Remove any pads that lie over the crack. If the wood has moved up or down on either side of the crack forming a step then you must arrange some clamping that will bring the edges back into line before applying any adhesive. I start with the least viscous grade of superglue, if any wider parts of the crack are not completely filled then you can add a little of a more viscous grade. Wipe away any surplus immediately. Leave it to cure for longer than the instructions say. To be on the safe side I usually leave it a few hours before attempting reassembly.

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.......there is a trick I have recently discovered when repairing the nut on a guitar or similar, whereby superglue and baking soda are used together.

Would this be useful for filling wider gaps in wood in an instance like this ?

Robin

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This is one of the rare cases when I'd be tempted to fill it with epoxy, because you want something that isn't going to shrink as it dries. You need a thin watery epoxy (e.g. West Systems) that will run down into the crack, not the rapid repair adhesive stuff.

 

This quick video covers the basics:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcJKzQaW3Ps

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Personally, I prefer not to rely on glues and fillers too much, if I have enough of a split to let air through, or create a step, then I tend to open the crack a bit more and set a strip of thin wood into position, clamping only to ensure that any 'step' is taken out. if the split is just a hairline crack then I wipe PVA glue into it. One thing I never do is to try to close a crack or split in these circumstances. If the crack has happened then the structure is de-stressed and stable, I just repair the fault.

 

Dave

Edited by d.elliott

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Many thanks, all!

 

It is just a hairline crack, with no step, thankfully. I think I'll go for the PVA glue and will let you know how I get on with it!

 

Dan

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Water-thin glue would be best for a hairline crack "along the grain" On a flat, thin piece like an action board, I would tape over the back-side of the crack and the front- side surrounding the area where you plan to apply the glue, for a cleaner-looking repair. Three inches is a good bit of area to cover, so best to gently clean out the crack and surrounding areas first, ensuring that you only have to do the repair once. I find that using glue to fill in a hairline crack can be messier than I anticipate, which is why I always try to have tape and solvent handy to clean any glue that finds its way onto the flat surface.

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That’s why I use low viscosity superglue. Just apply a couple of drops to the crack and it immediately travels the full length and width of the crack by capillarity. Quick and effective and little or no excess to clean up.

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Oh Dan it is probably to far gone, but I will take it off your hand for $100....no more troubles! :lol:

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Posted (edited)

Right.

 

That note reminds me to mention that I fixed the crack, and it is playing great now.

 

I also took that time to make a set of higher wooden hand rests for it (1.1 in instead of 0.6 in originally) and that makes all the difference in the world ergonomically. The distance from the hand rest to the buttons of the G row is 1/4 in shorter on a Jeffries than on my Dipper Clare....go figure....and it always felt a little cramped. No longer.

Edited by Dan Worrall

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