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Posts posted by RogerT

  1. I would check the valves. I keep encountering the following problem: someone has cleaned and revalved a concertina (and an unsuspecting buyer has got hold of it in a 'restored' condition) but fixed valves that are too thick and or has glued too much of them so the valve is restricted…but they obviously never checked the result of their work. And the smallest tweak can alter the behaviour of the reed, taking it from dull to bright. Sometimes just flexing the valve up and down/back and forth can fix the issue. Or I replace the valve, taking care just to glue the very end of it and not half of it. Leather accordion valves work ok..the funny shape is just so they fit in the tapered chamber. If you have a way to get the reed pan out and lay it flat on some tuning bellows, block the chamber end and you can then observe the reed working and play around with the valve. The other problem is that the cleaned reed (all lovely and shiny) hasn't been 'voiced'…in other words the gap has been set correctly, or of the reed has been distorted by cleaning, the shape and set haven't been optimised. Or the reed is loose in it's slot. All of these things can be dealt with on the tuning bellows. If it sounds good on the tuning bellows but dull in the instrument, then it's an air issue…the pan isn't sitting flat against the action box or some other problem. 

  2. To soften them up I sometimes pull them off, soften by manipulating them (rolling up in both directions, gently scraping with a metal blade etc) an d then glue back on. It's quite difficult to get at the valves inside the chamber and only takes a moment to pull off and refit. Or I pull off and glue on a new one. However, this can alter the tuning and alter the reed behaviour if the valve doesn’t open properly or lets in less air etc…so beware. Normally I fit valves before any tuning for this reason.

    • Like 1
  3. 46 minutes ago, Peter Laban said:

    The fact these last few posts attempt to lay the blame at the EU's door

    It’s a bit of a stretch to read that from my posts (if that’s what you were saying). And anyway I'm a big fan of the EU.  I’m merely pointing out that there seems to be more friction getting stuff from the UK to the EU than the other way around. You can speculate on the reasons for that. I don’t think it applies to trade between the UK and EIRE AFAICT.

  4. 3 hours ago, Peter Laban said:



    That statement is just plain silly.

    I could qualify it and say that the EU have less incentive to make smooth and easy importation work well by small companies and individuals from non EU countries (because most of their trade is driven by geopolitical boundaries …the EU…which incidentally I think is a brilliant thing). And anecdotally this seems to be the case. But it may also be silly. Thanks for pointing it out.

  5. Anecdotally, it seems Brit import processes generally work ok these days, because that’s one of the things that had to be sorted post Brexit. But working the other way around, where the receiving country is in the EU, it often either doesn’t work at all or is slow and expensive. I assume this is because *all* imports to the UK have to be processed through customs, whereas EU countries have no interest in having working and efficient processes from non EU countries.

  6. Mostly you can't, because the reed pan sits in a particular place in the end of the bellows (it's normally marked so you always put the reed pan back into the bellows frame in the correct orientation), so the only thing you can rotate is the ends, but if you do that the buttons/air holes etc won't line up with the reed pan. 

  7. I know it’s an old question, but is there a suitable card material (and advisory thickness) available in the UK for making bellows?

    I think some makers create their own composites..but are there any 'over the counter' cards that would do the job?

    in one thread on c.net Presspahn card is suggested..it’s obtainable in the UK in varying thicknesses. I think it needs to be at least 1mm thick..?

    And on construction itself..the faces are all hinged with glued tape (and leather binding). I assume this is because folds would be too stiff? 
    Accordion bellows are made from strips of folded card, plus corner gussets (and metal corners etc). Probably the cheaper (for instance Stagi) concertina bellows are made this way?..I don’t have one to hand to check to see if they are or not. 

    Finally, some makers use an armature/jig to form the bellows, with forms for the folds, whereas some do not..they just used a hexagonal armature to suspend the bellows (I have one like this).

    in this video of APJames making a concertina he uses a complicated looking jig. But how does he remove it once the bellows are formed? I assume he unscrews the metal plates and removes the central ply forms…does anyone know? You see the jig from around 2 mins (if lower the vid speed you can see it in reasonable detail).


    • Like 1
  8. I completely agree with d.Elliot…esp the list of things that can affect the 'go' of an instrument. Improving the compression in particular can make a big difference, and old Lachenals can be a bit leaky, though you might not realise it. It’s worth analysing the failings of your Lachenal to see if some less radical work will improve it. But really, I’d not be spending money on changing the action. Find an instrument that does what you want and buy that.  

  9. As it’s new it’s still under warranty so really it ought to go back to McNeela. The gap looks ok (on the outside e.g. push reeds), so if it’s breathy in both directions, but just on those two notes, it might be a leak between the two reeds. The wax mIght look ok but might be leaking air between the two chambers. In practice and if I was investigating it I'd pop off those reeds, inspect inside for anything obvious, then reseat them. This can be done with a soldering iron and some care. This may or may not fix the issue, but if the reeds and valves look ok it’s where I would start.

    • Like 1
  10. 8 minutes ago, Theo said:

    You can solder the missing top back on, but I've found you ned to used silver solder to get a strong bond.  


    I think those in your picture are actually sterling silver tops.  If they are nickel tops I have a supply of nickel silver discs punched during the manufacture of Shaw whistles.  Dave Shaw the maker is a friend.

    Hi Theo, 

    Unfortunately I don’t have the missing top… they may very well be silver but not sure how to tell if they are nickel or silver. I'll email you about it.


  11. The problem with using a rubber to finish a concertina end is that the polish tends to get snagged in the fretwork. Mark Lloyd-Adey (concertina spares) told me he sprays on the shellac to get a good finish, and this is how I do it, and it gives consistently good results and is much faster and easier than using a rubber (well, I find it easier…I use a rubber to finish old melodeons so I do know how to do basic French polishing). I have an air brush (I don’t have a compressor..just a big can of air). And the trick is to dilute the button polish or shellac with meths…but you have to experiment to get the right dilution. And obvs do it in a ventilated place, wear a face mask and do not light a match nearby. I think you can actually buy spray cans of shellac in the US but I couldn’t find any in the UK. I think my air brush cost about £25. You don’t need anything particularly fancy. 

    • Like 2
  12. Hi Theo, I got my supply from Fletchers … I wasn’t sure which of the two thinnest felts were appropriate so ordered the thinnest two..😀 but still they aren’t thin enough, and the stuff I got from Concertina Spares is the same stuff.  The first time I encountered this problem I just thought it was a fluke, but it isn’t. So I've Obvs got the wrong stuff… the thinnest bushing cloth on Fletcher is 0.85mm

  13. I’ve found that the thinnest piano felt I can get (less than 1mm) is too thick to line the bushing board. On my own Lachenal 32, which wasn’t bushed I reamed the holes. However, instead enlarging the button holes (on client's instruments) I prefer to find a suitable material. As it happens I’ve got some thinner material (black) that does the job. But I'm curious to know if anyone has other suggestions. The original felt is thinner than the thinnest piano felt I can get my hands on. In fact piano felt is often a bit thick for button lever bushes too, and if the button doesn’t gimbal a little bit on the lever it easily sticks in the button hole.

  14. On 1/8/2022 at 9:48 AM, d.elliott said:

    I bought a miniscule weight of the wire, or so I thought, and ended up with enough to circumnavigate the globe! I shall be leaving some to my daughters in my will. What they will do with it, I just don't know. I little does go a long way



    Hi Dave, what kind of a spring making jig and or process do you use? ……actually I’ve now found other posts with spring making jig etc.

  15. I thought I’d comment on this, because inconsistent reed volume is an issue I encounter now and then. One approach I take is to remove the pan and operate it face down on my (foot operated) tuning table, with a soft hand held cap to block off the end of the chamber (a folded wedge of craft foam), and pressed down with the other hand. I use sheets of craft rubber with apertures cut to form a gasket on the table. This way I can see what’s going on with the reed (a bit easier with the reeds facing upwards, but also v quick to inspect the inner reed). Volume can be affected by simple things like…the reeds are dirty, or the gap isn’t optimal, or the valve is slow or stiff. Changing the valve can miraculously alter the volume. Sometimes it hasn’t been fitted correctly, grazing the chamber, or isn’t sitting flat when closed, or is stiff with age. New valves or repositioned valves solve this. Also the reed might not be tight enough in its slot. The point is, there is quite a lot that can be easily checked with this approach, and often the solution presents itself. 

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