Jump to content


Photo

Wheatstone Concertina Retoration Project


  • Please log in to reply
57 replies to this topic

#1 Jon C.

Jon C.

    Chatty concertinist

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 120 posts

Posted 22 August 2008 - 03:52 PM

Hi everyone,
I am new to the site, and the world of concertinas. I have been building a restoring wooden flutes, and thought I would try my hand at restoring one or two of these beauties.
The first patient is a 48 key Wheatstone English, made in 1865. brass reeds, and all that stuff. I have started restoring the rosewood fret board, having to rebuild some of the fretting that is missing. I found some nice dark Hondouras Rosewood, with a similar grain pattern form Gilmers Hardwood, up in Portland, OR. I was wondering what kind of finish to use to re-finish the fret boards? I could mix up some French polish, layers of lacquer, or some sort of varnish?
I am starting today to replace all the valves, springs and pads, recieved thse from "The Concertina Connection" nice folks. The concertina was living in Uruguay, South America, who knows how it got down there? Maybe imported by a German imigrant after WWII? The tropical climate took it's toll on the poor bellows, so they will need to be replaced. I will probably have Bob Tedrow make me a nice 7 fold set, with all the trimmings.
Posted Image
Take care,
Jon

Edited by Jon C., 13 September 2008 - 01:40 AM.


#2 Pete Dunk

Pete Dunk

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1844 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Kent, UK

Posted 23 August 2008 - 03:32 AM

Hello Jon, welcome to the forum and good luck with the project. The traditional finish was shellac of course which I have used with great success but I can't claim to have French polished anything as such because that's an art in itself and a skill I don't have; I apply several coats with a light rub down between each and finish off with with 0000 grade wire wool dipped soft wax.

As you are new to concertinas I would suggest you do a little research and ask a few questions on here before deciding on the bellows, seven folds would be unusual on this type of instrument. Make sure that whoever makes them for you is aware that the bellows are for an English concertina rather than anglo, the construction is different.

If you don't already have it you should get a copy of David Elliott's excellent Concertina Maintenance Manual. If you intend to tune the reeds yourself you'll need to do a lot of reading on the subject and proceed with extreme caution because brass reeds are delicate and easily ruined; what's more, as far as I'm aware they are irreplaceable unless you buy second hand reeds/shoes from people like David Leese. You can have new reed tongues fitted but these would be steel.

Have fun and don't rush it, enjoy the experience. Ask lots of questions, there are a number of very experienced repairers on this forum who are always willing to share their hard won knowledge.

Pete. :)

#3 Jon C.

Jon C.

    Chatty concertinist

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 120 posts

Posted 23 August 2008 - 03:44 AM

Posted Image
Good days work... There is a lot of parts in these things! The hardest part is getting the key hight right, with them pesky floating buttons. :blink: I am carefully following the Concertina manual, I would have gone bonkers if it wasn't for that. There were quite a variety of springs, there were probably only a couple of the originals left standing.
Now to start on the other side...
It is written that it was last repaired in 1877, so I guess it is over due for some TLC.
Cheers,
Jon

#4 Pete Dunk

Pete Dunk

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1844 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Kent, UK

Posted 23 August 2008 - 03:52 AM

Jon, I may be mistaken (that happens often!) but that there looks awfully like a Lachenal (probably an Inimitable model), not a Wheatstone. The work looks good though.

#5 Theo

Theo

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1619 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Gateshead, England. Land of the Angel of the North!

Posted 23 August 2008 - 05:46 AM

Posted Image


That's a nice tidy work bench!

#6 Stephen Chambers

Stephen Chambers

    Ineluctable Opinionmaker

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4402 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 23 August 2008 - 08:46 AM

I may be mistaken (that happens often!) but that there looks awfully like a Lachenal (probably an Inimitable model), not a Wheatstone.

Pete,

Wheatstone's of that era do look just like Lachenals, for the very simple reason that they were built by Louis Lachenal.

There's a fella published quite a bit of research on the subject that I can thoroughly recommend (ahem! :rolleyes: ). You can read it here: Louis Lachenal: "Engineer and Concertina Manufacturer" (Part 1), and here: Some Notes on Lachenal Concertina Production and Serial Numbers

#7 Pete Dunk

Pete Dunk

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1844 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Kent, UK

Posted 23 August 2008 - 10:11 AM

Pete,

Wheatstone's of that era do look just like Lachenals, for the very simple reason that they were built by Louis Lachenal.

Hello Stephen, I did hesitate before posting my query as I was well aware of the connection between Louis Lachenal and Wheatstone. What I didn't know was that he had devised and used the hook action before striking out on his own. Another bit of knowledge added to the pool. :)

#8 Jon C.

Jon C.

    Chatty concertinist

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 120 posts

Posted 23 August 2008 - 01:30 PM

Pete,

Wheatstone's of that era do look just like Lachenals, for the very simple reason that they were built by Louis Lachenal.

Hello Stephen, I did hesitate before posting my query as I was well aware of the connection between Louis Lachenal and Wheatstone. What I didn't know was that he had devised and used the hook action before striking out on his own. Another bit of knowledge added to the pool. :)

Thanks for the input. Interesting about the Lachenal / Wheatstone connection. I had notice on one of the internet sites mention of a typical Lachenal and showing what looked like my Wheatstone, thought it might be a typo...
I have read a little about the type of bellows, and I realize that the action is different between the Anglo and the English, i.e. need for more air on the anglo push-pull, stiffer bellows ect. I haven't finalized it yet, that was just Bob's suggestion.
As far as reeds and tuning, I realize this is a tricky buisness. I have worked on Indian harmoniums, that have brass reeds, also. I will need to find one replacement reed tonge, as one (I think G#2) is missing. Has anyone tryed to make a new brass reed? I would imagine that it would be hard to match it's twin reed. Getting the correct brass alloy and all.
This is not my normal work bench, I have amake shift one that I set up out here in my desert retreat, my regular work bench is much worse! :lol: What makes it even worse out here, the nats were flying around my head the whole time I was working, everytime I would go to set a pad, one would fly in my face! should get that screen fixed...
Thanks again,
Jon

#9 Pete Dunk

Pete Dunk

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1844 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Kent, UK

Posted 23 August 2008 - 04:21 PM

Interesting about the Lachenal / Wheatstone connection. I had notice on one of the internet sites mention of a typical Lachenal and showing what looked like my Wheatstone, thought it might be a typo...

I have a Lachenal Inimitable awaiting repair, I'll take some pics and post them here when I get a chance.

I have read a little about the type of bellows, and I realize that the action is different between the Anglo and the English, i.e. need for more air on the anglo push-pull, stiffer bellows ect. I haven't finalized it yet, that was just Bob's suggestion.

I'm sure Bob Tedrow knows what he's doing! I just wasn't sure if it was one of your own musings, it's not always easy to judge how much a new forum member knows about concertinas. (I'm definitely not one of the aforementioned expert restorer/repairer types btw, just another dabbler like yourself.)

As far as reeds and tuning, I realize this is a tricky buisness. I have worked on Indian harmoniums, that have brass reeds, also. I will need to find one replacement reed tonge, as one (I think G#2) is missing. Has anyone tryed to make a new brass reed? I would imagine that it would be hard to match it's twin reed. Getting the correct brass alloy and all.

From what I've read it's difficult/impossible to get brass of the correct hardness, whether the brass that's available is too hard or too soft I'm unsure. David Leese may be able to match up your missing reed but you'd have to send him the one you have for comparison. I suppose it's possible that the Button Box may have some too, I'm sure they must have had a few boxes in over the years that were beyond repair and broken for parts. I'm sure Richard Morse will read this thread and let you know if they have any suitable reeds in stock. Wim Wakker could certainly fit a new steel tongue and there are lots of 'tinas out there with mixed reeds that sound ok.

#10 Jon C.

Jon C.

    Chatty concertinist

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 120 posts

Posted 23 August 2008 - 05:08 PM

Interesting about the Lachenal / Wheatstone connection. I had notice on one of the internet sites mention of a typical Lachenal and showing what looked like my Wheatstone, thought it might be a typo...

I have a Lachenal Inimitable awaiting repair, I'll take some pics and post them here when I get a chance.

I have read a little about the type of bellows, and I realize that the action is different between the Anglo and the English, i.e. need for more air on the anglo push-pull, stiffer bellows ect. I haven't finalized it yet, that was just Bob's suggestion.

I'm sure Bob Tedrow knows what he's doing! I just wasn't sure if it was one of your own musings, it's not always easy to judge how much a new forum member knows about concertinas. (I'm definitely not one of the aforementioned expert restorer/repairer types btw, just another dabbler like yourself.)

As far as reeds and tuning, I realize this is a tricky buisness. I have worked on Indian harmoniums, that have brass reeds, also. I will need to find one replacement reed tonge, as one (I think G#2) is missing. Has anyone tryed to make a new brass reed? I would imagine that it would be hard to match it's twin reed. Getting the correct brass alloy and all.

From what I've read it's difficult/impossible to get brass of the correct hardness, whether the brass that's available is too hard or too soft I'm unsure. David Leese may be able to match up your missing reed but you'd have to send him the one you have for comparison. I suppose it's possible that the Button Box may have some too, I'm sure they must have had a few boxes in over the years that were beyond repair and broken for parts. I'm sure Richard Morse will read this thread and let you know if they have any suitable reeds in stock. Wim Wakker could certainly fit a new steel tongue and there are lots of 'tinas out there with mixed reeds that sound ok.

That would be great to see a comparison photo, of the Lachenal. Since this design was first made at Wheatstone, wouldn't that make it a Wheatstone design, since Lachenal was employed there? Did Lachenal come up with the design, or did he just take it with him when he started his own line? I am always fasinated by these old makers, I have spent some time researhing my antique flute makers, this has a lot in common, as there were various flute makers that worked at other shops.
I understand your questioning my expertise, newbie statis, but I do try to research as mush as possible. There is so much good onfo out there on the web to glean.
I will have to ask around and see about getting a replacement reed. The other reeds look undisturbed, Like I said, it doesn't look to be serviced after 1877! It has been languishing away the years, in some closet, in South America... The reeds I were able to sound, by blowing on them (not very scientific) are tuned to A=452 htz and are about 10 cents sharp to that. The "romantic" concert pitch of the times, I have a early Rudall Carte Boehm flute with the same tuning, along with several other simple system flutes. I guess the question will be if it will be a solo instrument, or if I will want to have it retuned to 440? I would like to bring it back to life, that is the goal, I guess it would be more usefull retuned.
Take care,
Jon

#11 Stephen Chambers

Stephen Chambers

    Ineluctable Opinionmaker

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4402 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 23 August 2008 - 09:25 PM

That would be great to see a comparison photo, of the Lachenal. Since this design was first made at Wheatstone, wouldn't that make it a Wheatstone design, since Lachenal was employed there? Did Lachenal come up with the design, or did he just take it with him when he started his own line? I am always fasinated by these old makers, I have spent some time researhing my antique flute makers, this has a lot in common, as there were various flute makers that worked at other shops.

Jon,

You should read my two articles on Louis Lachenal, and his relationship with Wheatstone's. Posted Image

I did work on 19th century flute makers too, back in the 1970s, but simply told people what I'd found and never published anything - so other people took the credit for it. :(

#12 Jon C.

Jon C.

    Chatty concertinist

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 120 posts

Posted 23 August 2008 - 09:47 PM

I am replacing the valves, and have a question; The valve opening in the reed pan are right up against the baffle wall, how do I manage to get any overlap to seal?
Posted Image
Will the vlave seal if it is just resting against the side wall, seems like it would get fouled up on the shammy?
Any thoughts?
Jon

#13 Jon C.

Jon C.

    Chatty concertinist

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 120 posts

Posted 23 August 2008 - 10:42 PM

That would be great to see a comparison photo, of the Lachenal. Since this design was first made at Wheatstone, wouldn't that make it a Wheatstone design, since Lachenal was employed there? Did Lachenal come up with the design, or did he just take it with him when he started his own line? I am always fasinated by these old makers, I have spent some time researhing my antique flute makers, this has a lot in common, as there were various flute makers that worked at other shops.

Jon,

You should read my two articles on Louis Lachenal, and his relationship with Wheatstone's. Posted Image

I did work on 19th century flute makers too, back in the 1970s, but simply told people what I'd found and never published anything - so other people took the credit for it. :(

Thanks, just read your articles, clears everything up for me. You don't still have the article about the flutemakers do you? That would be a interesting read. Well if Mrs. RS Pratten had one to accompany her husband on the flute, they can't be all that bad!

Jon

Edited by Jon C., 23 August 2008 - 10:57 PM.


#14 Jon C.

Jon C.

    Chatty concertinist

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 120 posts

Posted 24 August 2008 - 12:10 AM

I am replacing the valves, and have a question; The valve opening in the reed pan are right up against the baffle wall, how do I manage to get any overlap to seal?
Posted Image
Will the vlave seal if it is just resting against the side wall, seems like it would get fouled up on the shammy?
Any thoughts?
Jon

Everything worked out, hopefully...

#15 David Levine

David Levine

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 994 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Co Clare, Ireland / Hopkinton, NH, USA

Posted 24 August 2008 - 03:25 AM

If it isn't apparent by now, although he is new to this forum Jon C. is a masterful restorer of instruments- specifically, of wooden flutes. He is no stranger to the art of restoration.

Jon- you should certainly make your own bellows. It is well within your capability - indeed, what is not?

#16 Jon C.

Jon C.

    Chatty concertinist

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 120 posts

Posted 24 August 2008 - 04:36 AM

If it isn't apparent by now, although he is new to this forum Jon C. is a masterful restorer of instruments- specifically, of wooden flutes. He is no stranger to the art of restoration.

Jon- you should certainly make your own bellows. It is well within your capability - indeed, what is not?

All I need are the materials...
Posted Image

#17 Pete Dunk

Pete Dunk

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1844 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Kent, UK

Posted 24 August 2008 - 05:02 AM

That would be great to see a comparison photo, of the Lachenal. Since this design was first made at Wheatstone, wouldn't that make it a Wheatstone design, since Lachenal was employed there? Did Lachenal come up with the design, or did he just take it with him when he started his own line? I am always fasinated by these old makers, I have spent some time researhing my antique flute makers, this has a lot in common, as there were various flute makers that worked at other shops.


Here you go, The label on the 'tina says Thomas Dawkins, the one in the box lid is JJ Vickers, Lachenal were well known for supplying to retailers who put their own labels in which is something Wheatstone never did as far as I'm aware (Stephen?). As to the laws regarding intellectual property rights at the time Louise Lachenal worked for Wheatstone I have no idea, I suppose it's even possible that Lachenal bought the rights to the design from Wheatstone when he left but that's just supposition.

I'm definitely not one of the aforementioned expert restorer/repairer types btw, just another dabbler like yourself

:rolleyes: Sneaky that, fully fledged instrument repairer/restorer creeping in the back door all innocent like. :P :lol: :lol: :lol:


Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

#18 Jon C.

Jon C.

    Chatty concertinist

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 120 posts

Posted 24 August 2008 - 02:08 PM

That would be great to see a comparison photo, of the Lachenal. Since this design was first made at Wheatstone, wouldn't that make it a Wheatstone design, since Lachenal was employed there? Did Lachenal come up with the design, or did he just take it with him when he started his own line? I am always fasinated by these old makers, I have spent some time researhing my antique flute makers, this has a lot in common, as there were various flute makers that worked at other shops.


Here you go, The label on the 'tina says Thomas Dawkins, the one in the box lid is JJ Vickers, Lachenal were well known for supplying to retailers who put their own labels in which is something Wheatstone never did as far as I'm aware (Stephen?). As to the laws regarding intellectual property rights at the time Louise Lachenal worked for Wheatstone I have no idea, I suppose it's even possible that Lachenal bought the rights to the design from Wheatstone when he left but that's just supposition.

I'm definitely not one of the aforementioned expert restorer/repairer types btw, just another dabbler like yourself

:rolleyes: Sneaky that, fully fledged instrument repairer/restorer creeping in the back door all innocent like. :P :lol: :lol: :lol:

I am just a dabbler that got in over his head! Still dabbling along...:P
Looks like your Wheatstone is in great shap, right off the factory floor... What year was it made? Looks exactly like mine did, say, 100 years ago! I have the silver or nickel silver flower inlay on mine too. It just looks like grass as the shellac turned it gold colored. IT must have bee "The bees knees" in fancy designs. My concertina was purchased for 9 pounds, 9 shillings on April 13, 1865 to "Smith Elder".

Edited by Jon C., 24 August 2008 - 03:03 PM.





0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users