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Pieboy

Broken Keys

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I have just purchased an old Lachenal English. It is together with all reeds and action working, however three of the keys have broken pegs. These are the tutor (lettered, bone) keys. I want to replace the whole works (48) and would like some advice. Are there new replacements available in the same style? If I was to replace then in metal would I have to replace the springs to compensate for the weight? Do new key sets come with their felt bushings and pads? Who carries what I need and what is this going to cost?

Thx. John

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I have just purchased an old Lachenal English. It is together with all reeds and action working, however three of the keys have broken pegs. These are the tutor (lettered, bone) keys. I want to replace the whole works (48) and would like some advice.  Are there new replacements available in the same style? If I was to replace then in metal would I have to replace the springs to compensate for the weight? Do new key sets come with their felt bushings and pads? Who carries what I need and what is this going to cost?

Thx. John

Why not post here which keys/pegs are missing and see if anyone has anything appropriate they can sell you? Also I'd recommend buying Dave Elliot's excellent book on repairing concertinas (and, no, I'll not get any commission for that commendation!).

 

Samantha

PS Edited (twice!) for spelling!

Edited by Samantha

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Thanks Sam. I though of that but a lot of the keys are stained and worn and a bit rickety so it would probably be better to have them all the same. It would be nice to have some input as to what the gurus prefer; rounded, square, metal, plastic, etc. Or do I have limited choices with this old girl. I have just bought a copy of Dave Elliott's Manual and agree it's a valuable book. I'm hoping it's going to see me through the adjustments so I won't rebreak my key pins.

Edited by Pieboy

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It would be nice to have some input as to what the gurus prefer; rounded, square, metal, plastic, etc.

Unfortunately, I think the gurus prefer "rounded, square, metal, plastic, etc.", depending on the guru. I.e., preferences are personal and varied, even among the "gurus".

If I was to replace then in metal would I have to replace the springs to compensate for the weight?
I doubt it. Compared to the other forces involved, the weight of the buttons -- even if they were made of solid steel -- should be negligible. Spring strength is another of those things subject to personal preference (how "stiff" do you want the action), though, and you may or may not want new springs on general principles. When I got some springs from Steve Dickinson years ago, he was making them in three standard "strengths": "light", "medium", and "heavy".

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My view on broken keys is fairly simple, assuming the key is not recoverable, and I have shied away from repairing mising key guide pegs/ pins call 'em what you will.

 

I like to keep the instruments as they were made, as standard. Odds are that the instument being a tutor (this word is provocative to some, shall we say an 'entry level model') the action box end cover will not have been bushed with felt. The bone buttons seem to work well against the wood, but metal keys usually seem to have been bushed. So I would want to replace 'like with like'.

 

I would contact my local repairer, who will probably have dozen's of keys of different patterns that have been recovered from scrappers. They may whish you to send a sample as there are many variations, and not just in key diameters. Particularly on big instruments and raised ended instruments. Advise the make of the instument and any key end note letter marking.

 

You will also need dampers (peg felt washers) as many per key as are fitted to the other keys in the particular end. Don't forget the need to re-bush the new key's crosshole likewise! Finall you may also need to make some small adjustments to key heights, using a lever arm bending tool and height gauge.

 

Dave.

 

PS thanks for the comments on the book! very much appreciated.

 

D

 

PPS I have an idea for making replacement pegs, but I don't know how it would stand up to service conditions

 

D

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Odds are that the instument being a tutor (this word is provocative to some, shall we say an 'entry level model')....

"Provocative", because I believe it is inaccurate... as is the 'entry level' designation. I have been told by those with much more experience/knowledge than myself that the colored and note-stamped buttons were neither for "instructional" purposes nor typical of lesser-quality models, but rather a decorative style typical of a particular period, just as a particular pattern of bellows paper or fretwork might be.

 

It has been an assumption on the part of some that if the note "names" were stamped onto the buttons, it must be to help those who needed this extra reminder. But I know of no advertisements nor other historical support for such an assumption. And aside from the contrary evidence that many of these instruments were top-of-the-line for the period when they were constructed, there are other reasons for doubting this assumption: 1) One would expect an insrument aimed at beginners to be cheaper, and thus simpler, yet the note stamps and coloring involved additional work and attention in construction, not less. 2) And really, how helpful would they really be to a beginner, when twisting the head, body, and or instrument to be able to look at them would interfere with actual playing?

 

So why not just describe these characteristics of an instrument the way you would mention metal ends, bellows papers, baffles, etc., without feeling the need to put a gratuitous label -- particularly a misleading label -- on instruments which have that characteristic?

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Jim

 

I don't like saying this, but please take your ill temper out on some one else, or remember Paul S's global admonishment to not score points and generally pick fights.

 

I am not interested in taking part in what I see as point scoring debates when we should be sharing information to help ourselves and others.

 

I know coloured keys can appear on very good quality instruments, and understood that they could even be some form of 'optional extra'.

 

I know that I have never seen lettered keys on Lachenals on other than entry level models, which usually have no felt bushing in those circumstances. I have also never seen the expression 'tutor' in any contemporanious documentation or text, however most of us know what most other people mean by the expression.

 

The initial question was not about any of this, I just took the opportunity to introduce a different concept (grade) and look at the relevent and related issue to the query. The presence of any key bushings.

 

In my post I was actually politely moving away from the 'tutor' concept, pointing out that if no felt bushing is present then to go away from bone keys may be not such a good idea.

 

My resposnse was, I hope, informative and helpful. If John wants to gain a source of re-cycled keys then, in the UK, I can advise of one, perhaps two options.

 

 

 

Dave Elliott

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I don't like saying this, but please take your ill temper out on some one else, or remember Paul S's global admonishment to not score points and generally pick fights.

Dave, there's neither ill temper nor point scoring involved on my side. I was -- like Wes W. in another Forum/Topic -- merely trying to let folks know that certain commonly "known" information may in fact be mistaken. And if that discussion is to continue, it really belongs in the History Forum, not here.

I am not interested in taking part in what I see as point scoring debates...
Then please don't, since at least in this case "point scoring" -- like beauty -- lies in the eyes of the beholder.
My resposnse was, I hope, informative and helpful.
I think it was. I'm certainly not criticizing your technical advice, for which I have great respect. Edited by JimLucas

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I had a 'guide peg' break off onthe left hand thumb button on my bone buttoned Jeffries. I was about to go on holiday, taking with me, so I had to do a repair myself.

 

What I did was to drill a hole in the bottom of the button, all the way down to the lever hole (this wasn't intentional - I over shot). I then glued a small piece of copper rod of appropraite diameter and length into the hole with araldite, and used araldite to fill the hole where it broke through into the lever hole. Trimmed off the excess glue with a scalpel and, hey presto, I had a working button again!

 

I don't claim this to be an elegant solution, but it is still working fine to this day.

 

The choice of copper was purely due to my having a bit of of the correct diameter in my garage!. Ideally I guess something a bit harder would have been better - perhaps stainless steel? Even a bit of round wire nail may have done, or possibly even a bit of hard plastic dowel.

 

I drilled the hole with a hand drill and took it in several size steps. My main worry with this method was that the button would split under the forces of the drilling, but this didn't happen. It would probably be better to use a proper drill stand if you had access to one.

 

Hope this helps,

 

 

Clive.

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Cive Thorn wrote: [i had a 'guide peg' break off onthe left hand thumb button on my bone buttoned Jeffries. I was about to go on holiday, taking with me, so I had to do a repair myself.

]

This is a good method for recovering keys with broken guide pins; I've used it often. An ideal material for the pin is Delrin, but any tough and relatively hard plastic will do. Don't use ordinary steel, it may corrode.

 

It is easy to split the base of the key when drilling the hole for the new guide. The best technique is to use a single hole of the required size; several drilling stages are more likely to result in a split key. The drill bit should be dressed similarly to a bit used for drilling copper or brass, so that it does not dig into the relative soft key. The point of the bit is dressed so that the rake angle is zero, not positive - this causes the bit to scrape away material, instead of cutting into it. Wrap the key tightly in several layers of soft material (two or three wraps of beer can aluminum works well!) and insert it into an electric drill chuck and hand tighten only. Use the highest speed available to drill the hole. The drill bit can be held with a pair of pliers and steadied by hand. Take your time and apply light pressure. This results in a well-centered hole. Glue in a pin slightly larger than the finished guide, and file or sand it to the required size while rotating the key still in the drill chuck. Remember to taper the end of the guide pin.

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