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Pete Dunk

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Everything posted by Pete Dunk

  1. I think the reproduction Lachenal label works well.
  2. Hobbies of Dereham, Norfolk sell fretsaw frames and blades. They probably still sell a pressed steel "gull's mouth" cutting table that clamps on the edge of any bench and makes fretting easier. You don't have to buy one though, take an eight inch length of half in thick timber or MDF about four inches wide. in the centre and about three inches from one end drill a half inch diameter hole right through. Now cut a vee from the hole to the nearest end that opens out to about two and a half inches. Clamp this to the edge of the bench with the vee facing you and away you go. Try to keep the blade near the centre of the hole, keep the saw moving steadily up and down and move the workpiece to meet the saw rather than the other way around. If you've never done anything like this before I would recommend that you do lots of practice on bits of scrap plywood. Developing a smooth steady action takes a while - and quite a few broken blades! I have some of the spiral blades that were mentioned but I find them far too messy and coarse for fine fretwork. The piercing saw frames are particularly suited to cutting metal ends although piercing saw blades will fit a standard fretsaw frame too. In the history section of the Hobbies website there is a reference to the famous Hobbies treadle fretsaw, sadly no longer made.
  3. So, the concertina is finished and I’ve learned quite a lot along the way. Next time I’ll use a much more structured approach although I did things pretty much in the right order thanks to Dave Elliott’s good advice. I would be much more critical at the purchasing stage; this instrument really was in quite a poor condition so I should have bargained much harder over the price and simply walked away if I couldn’t get the right deal. I was too eager to get started and failed to address the major structural problems at the beginning. The golden nugget of advice from Dave Elliott was ‘fix the machine first, and then consider the musical instrument’. This is after all a fairly complex feat of engineering and it will never work as an instrument unless the mechanical detail is fully functioning. The best place to start, as Dave said, is to work towards air tightness, the bellows are the heart of the machine and until you have an efficient pump you can’t begin to assess other problems properly. Air tightness does of course depend on a number of components working together; first of all the bellows themselves must be free of leaks. A bright light inside the bellows will literally highlight the most obvious punctures and will very probably show up all faults of this nature, however small. The next link in the chain is the reedpan fit inside the bellows frame. Leaks past the side of the pan will rob the instrument of air generally making all notes in that area slow to respond. Leaks between chambers will cause the same effect and in extreme conditions cause several reeds to sound at once. Despite Dave’s rather dry comment of: “if it isn’t broken don’t fix it”, I feel that if any part of the end gaskets has failed then the whole lot should be replaced. My reasoning here is that if the gaskets have ‘thinned’ over a long period of time or if the concertina has changed shape slightly over the years of exposure to varying temperature and humidity conditions it’s time to start again and make the gaskets fit the current conditions. Older instruments are subject to movement and warping; the likelihood of any action board surviving a hundred years or so without significant changes even under the best conditions must be virtually nil. Trying to force these timbers back into their original position will, without fail, result in further damage; all we can hope to achieve here is to pack out the affected areas and restore a reasonably good fit that new gaskets will make airtight. Pad-board repairs, to cracks and the like, should be carried out before any re-padding is done. I regard pads and valves as service consumables and replacement will complete the air tightness process. Any key re-bushing can be tackled as pad replacement progresses or even prior to re-padding, trying to get a key out after new pads are in place would be nigh on impossible. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear and the Lachenal was always a basic model, the cheap and cheerful of its day. I’m leaving the woodwork as it is, all the knocks, dings and scrapes are the marks of a long and sometimes hard life that the concertina wears with a certain dignity. I will post a final set of pics when I've got to the bottom of why the file host is messing about and only showing half an image!
  4. Papers all finished, they're a bit lumpy and bumpy here and there because of the additional thickness caused by rebinding but she looks a hell of a lot better than she did. This weekend we'll be adding the finishing touches, gauze inside the fretwork, new Lachenal label (thanks spindizzy!) and the original serial number can be stuck back in its proper place. After that all that's left is a bit of reedwork to correct a couple of slow speaking reeds. For now I'm happy to leave the concertina in philharmonic pitch. Why mess with it when I'm unlikely to use this brass reeded 'tina to play along with others? I'll post a final set of pics when it's all done along with an autopsy on what I did wrong, what I did right and what I'll do differently next time. Oh yes, there will be a next time!
  5. Pinching an idea from Bob Tedrow's excellent bellows construction thread I cut a strip of timber at 96mm to hold the bellows almost fully open, then began fitting new papers to cover up all of the bellows patching....
  6. Thanks for the link Leo; checking the number off my Lachenal the nearest font I can find is called LTC Bodoni Bold.
  7. I cared enough about my badly disfigured Lachenal label to want to replace it. Oddly enough I only printed and fitted it today. I printed it on standard printer paper with an inkjet printer. It looks a bit bright and new but the idea was to have the maker's label in the concertina, not to pretend it was original. I've kept the fragments of the original label that will stay with the instrument. The serial number is still intact and legible, I've cut it out of the old gauze and it will be fitted to the new material which will be anything but sympathetic in an historical sense, being a modern material which is bronze in colour. The label is there to acknowledge the maker, nothing more, and I think that's quite a nice thing to do.
  8. Utterly fascinating, even more so considering Rich Morse's comment that both he and Marcus use entirely different methods to those used by Bob. The ingenuity of skilled craftsmen to solve manufacturing problems is a constant source of wonder. I can only echo Theo's sentiment regarding the generosity of the professionals (himself included) who contribute so much to this forum.
  9. Concertina Connection sell black pressed papers here
  10. Repairing damaged chamber walls and replacing the damaged gaskets on the left hand reed pan wasn't entirely successful in affecting a proper seal all round. I've now stripped off all of the chamber top gaskets so I can check each chamber wall for level with a straight edge and apply suitable packing before re-gasketing the lot. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I've now figured out how I will approach this kind of fault in the future. First strip out all gaskets including the bellows end and clean off the old glue, then check for level with bare timber. This will show up any warping and check the support block heights, they may have fallen off at some time in the past and been refitted incorrectly or need slight packing to compensate for reed pan warp. Then do any necessary packing on the chamber tops to get them level with the bellows frame before fitting new gaskets to the whole end.
  11. The Wheatstone I've just acquired has the dot and cross design but smaller than Lachenal's and gold on black with a gold line around the trapezoid. All the papers seem to be the same size too, rather than the sightly deeper papers on the bellows ends. Concertina Connection has a few design choices but I don't think any are different to the ones you mention. If you click on the Wheatstone pic below it will take you to a small gallery of pictures of the concertina which will be my next refurb project.
  12. A very good point Theo, thank you for mentioning it. I'll be sure to work out clearances before re-padding in future.
  13. Yes indeed it does. Edited to add: I think you should make a trial batch of your wood/glue mix and try the polish out on it. PVA may well repel the shellac, I don't know - I've never tried that kind of repair.
  14. That's what I meant, the handle is quite light in colour and Honduras mahogany would be a good match. I think a repair of this type would be almost invisible if you match up the polish colour. When I mentioned planing off the excess I was thinking of the tiny thumb planes used for delicate work on musical instruments. PVA will resist sweat no problem so the repair would be permanent. A mixture of sawdust and PVA glue is ok for very small repairs and cracks but I wouldn't use it in this case. That's just a personal opinion of course.
  15. For the bushing board I would use a scrap of birch ply, very stable. Depending on your woodworking skills I would repair the damage on the hand rest by squaring it off and leveling with a sharp chisel and then let in a small piece of mahogany, use PVA or Elmer's glue and cramp in place until the glue dries. Plane, file and sand to shape then touch up the polish. If you can't lay your hands on a small piece of mahogany try chatting to a luthier or guitar repair-man, they're bound to have a few bits of Honduras mahogany lying about.
  16. I hadn't thought of pulling the pads apart and remaking them but I'll file the info for future use. Do your pads work well Dan? I would have thought that the felt was needed to allow the leather face to bed into the hole in the padboard to get a proper seal. I didn't think you were preaching btw, just more experienced than me. The leatherwork on the bellows was mostly down to my other half but she'd be the first to say that the overlap joints on the bottom could have been better, we both had a go at skiving but we're either not too good at it or haven't managed to work out the proper technique. I was delighted with spindizzy's Lachenal label and look forward to the higher res version. When I get chance to do so I'll take a pic of the label on the Wheatstone I picked up recently. I'm waiting for another bag of parts from David to start work on that one....here we go again!
  17. Here's another pic of the Lachenal that I had trouble trying to post the other day. The four fold bellows are very limiting and may well be replaced with a six fold set before too long, leaving the original newly repaired bellows as a donor set for a tuning rig...
  18. The USA may be well served with supply houses that sell concertina spares but that's certainly not the case in the UK. Some UK concertina makers may supply spares but none of them advertise the fact so I was quite limited in my options. To be fair the concertina had suffered with insect attacks and none of the original pads had any felt left in them worth mentioning so I had no idea how thick they originally were. This was my first attempt at repairing a concertina and I pretty much relied on information from the Concertina Repair Manual with regard to technique and used stock parts from a well known supplier with a good reputation. Different thicknesses of pad weren't an option I'm afraid, neither were pads of the exact diameter as the originals or valves of exactly the right length etc so I had to go with the nearest sizes available.
  19. That's very similar to the remains of my label spindizzy but mine has a line around it that just shows inside the the oval in the fretwork. Other than that, the actual lettering appears to be the same although so much is missing from mine it's hard to be sure. I'm not particularly bothered about historical accuracy to be honest, I just thought it would be nice to have the name on the 'tina. It would be great if you could pass on a higher resolution version. I'll drop you a PM
  20. The old Lachenal label was in bits and almost illegible, so if any kind Lachenal owner feels like taking a close up high definition photo of the label in their concertina and letting me have a copy I'd be most grateful.
  21. Re-padding is now finished, bellows patched up and rebound, finger slides re-leathered and new thumb straps made. Amazingly enough the concertina was almost perfectly in tune with itself in philharmonic pitch with the notable exception of of the G above middle C on the pull which was pretty flat. I gritted my teeth and took a diamond file to the reed and VERY slowly brought the reed up to the correct pitch with lots of trials with the tuning meter in between. There's still quite a lot to do to finish the job off; new bellows papers, end gauzes to cover up her private bits and so on, but she's playing and not sounding too bad at all.
  22. One end is now re-padded. The old glue was very brittle which made removal and clean-up quite easy. The new pads are much thicker than the original ones and I was quite alarmed at how much arm bending I had to do to get the key heights right before gluing the new pads on. I gave the action board a good old dusting down with a hog brush as I worked my was round and it looks a lot better for it!
  23. The end gasket is now fully glued in place and I 'worked' it a little to flatten the nap and the reedpan is now a very firm fit but not ridiculously so. I've now decided to re-gasket the other end too before applying the end binding leather, that way the pans will be equally snug and I won't be faced with problems a few months down the road that are much harder to put right! Thanks for the talcum powder tip Geoff, I'll certainly try that on the next end. Shining a bright light down the bellows highlighted enough problems for me to decide to reinforce all of the gussets as well as rebinding the edges, much of the leather is pretty fragile. It's a fair bit of work but the materials will cost about thirty pounds in total and I should get quite a few years out of the bellows before they inevitably need complete renewal. I've started the re-padding and that will keep me busy until the gusset patches arrive.....
  24. The remaining valves have been fitted. After that I replaced the missing strips of chamois gasket to the reed chamber tops. While the gum arabic was drying I cut and glued in the new chamois bellows end gasket. It was only glued around the top edge so that I could check the fit of the reed-pan before gluing the rest down. The reed-pan was a very tight fit indeed and needed no extra packing out so I glued down the rest of the gasket to the bellows and opened up the holes around the edge for the end bolts. I'm waiting until tomorrow before refitting the reed-pan but I've fitted the end back on to keep it stable and allow the glue to dry fully under a bit of compression.
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