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Everything posted by apprenticeOF

  1. If you have the serial number, concertina.com has a Wheatstone serial number look up (to 1890) which should give you an exact date. It should work, or get really close as the riveted reeds changed to the screw clamped reeds around 1898 (can't remember exactly when). I believe there is a gap in the ledgers for the 1890's, so if you can't find it there, it is likely to be in the 1890-1898 range.
  2. http://www.concertina.com/gaskins/baffles/index.htm Bob, this article might give you some useful information. My guess is that the most appropriate choice to start with, and certainly one of the simplest will be sheepskin or goatskin. If I were to tackle it, I would go with goatskin (because I have it on hand) and treat it to stiffen it (various methods/formulas on the internet). But I haven't tried it. No matter what you use for baffles, they will almost certainly reduce the volume a bit. The Lachenal English I have still has the original tight weave silk(?) cloth baffles, which you often see removed in the search for more volume. The Wheatstone I have still has the original sheepskin baffles, and has a lovely tone to my ear, and good volume, but that's not a useful comparison as the reeds etc. are all significant upgrades. Notice in the above referenced article that leaving a 2 mm gap around the edge of the leather baffle has minimal effect on the volume, but still has the tone changing effect. Hope that helps, Doug
  3. With regard to cleaning the buttons, I use a method similar to David Robertson, using a Dremel tool. I use a a buffing wheel mounted in the Dremel (clamped to my bench) and hold the buttons with my fingers (using a disposable vinyl glove) lightly against the buffing wheel and rotate. As a compound, I use "Blue Magic" metal polish cream - which is commonly sold in automotive stores for restoring mag wheels - listed as safe for all metals, chrome, aluminum, brass, stainless etc. It isn't an agressive compound, which results in a brilliant shine without removing metal. It also has some gental cleaning agents in the cream, and leaves a very thin coat of silicon for protection (I haven't noted any problems with that). I don't use a lot, preferring to just put a thin coat on the button metal with a Q-tip. Brasso would probably work just as well. With care, none of the compound winds up on the wood. But do wear a shop apron and safety glasses because some compound will throw off. There's probably many different ways to approach button cleaning, and that's just one. The intent is to avoid any significant force, harsh fluids, aggressive abrasion, or contamination that affects the wooden portion. Doug
  4. Just to back up what Dave says about the pillars, the Lachenal that I took the baffle from to measure does not have the baffle cut out arround the pillars, and to boot it uses chamois discs right on top of the pillars for spacing. The end result is that the fretwork is badly cracked and split! I wouldn't see it as a big deal to drill some holes to work around the pillars. Of course that would leave the baffle unsupported. The way I would approach that would be to add small blocks of wood to the pillars in a spot (or spots) that are clear of the action, perhaps about 1/4" long, topped with pieces of chamois (double layer?). Glue those to to the pillar so that they support the baffle (with chamois or felt spacers on the face side against the fret areas) just snuggly. That would mean that absolute minimum has been done to alter the concertina, and the blocks could easily be removed at a later date if required. Which follows the general rule with these old instruments - don't do anything that can't be undone. Dave's comment that the wooden baffles are 2 mm thick confirms my measurement of .080. The Lachenal in question also has brass reeds, and the combination with the baffles gives it a very mellow sound. Not much volume though. Hope your project goes well. Doug
  5. If the spruce is that old, and bone dry, a thickness sander in gentle passes should take it down without much risk. A lot of the older spruce for soundboards came from pretty big trees, and was always extremely stable. 40 odd years ago I was working in logging in the north coast area of BC, and we were still logging spruces that required 8 ft bars on a Stihl 090. 8-12 ft diameter trees were common sawmill stock at the time. Same stuff they used in WW2 for Mosquitoes and other aircraft. If it's that sort of wood, you can do things to it that would make small tree modern cut lumber just disintegrate.
  6. I use a modified Tedrow method, the gummed linen tape, 1-1/2 oz goatskin (1 oz also works), and PVA. The PVA means that the bellows take longer to break in, but I have found that working with PVA or the modified PVA specifically for leather work is much easier. For skiving in low volumes a "safety skiver" and some blades (I like the one that looks like a curved paring knife) works for me.
  7. I generally use 6mm baltic birch for the base material for any boxes I make. Construction techniques I vary according to the weight going into them. Box joints for heavier use, small brads and glue for lighter use (like concertinas) followed by 3mm dowels if I want to reinforce. I generally cut and plane strips of hardwood (whatever shop scraps I have) about 7+ or 8mm thick and glue/through dowel those around the inside of the top and bottom where I want hardware to fit. That allows convenient use of 1/2" screws for mounting hinges and latches. That also creates a lip around the top of the storage area. I then glue 10mm foam padding (I like to use the closed cell foam that is typically used in camping pads) to photo mounting board, and cover that with appropriate cloth after ensuring the section fits. The cloth is then only stretched glued to the mounting board (backside), and the finished padding panel is then put into place with thin double sided tape. If you choose to use corner blocks per the above, pad, cover and put them in first - probably best to glue those in. Exterior finishing is then a matter of taste. I like to use wood veneers, but that is a lot more work, and the finish will be prone to damage. Lots of choice in fabric stores for vinyl materials that will add a nice look, and waterproofing at the same time. There are as many ways to go about this as posters on this forum. Have fun. Doug
  8. There are a couple of potential issues I can think of, including failure of the chamois gasket seal - but that isn't the only thing that could cause your problem. Given the general value of a Wheatstone Anglo, and your admitted lack of expertise, taking Alex suggestion of finding a qualified repair person is the best course of action. Especially as there are very few "easy" repairs, and shortcuts or "quick fixes" can destroy the value of the instrument.
  9. I measured the thickness of a baffle from an 1870 (+/-) Lachenal, and it measures .080" thick. It appears to be tight grained pine in color and grain structure when compared to the stock I have on hand. However I only have British Columbia pine, fir and spruce to compare it to. Not a likely source for Lachenal. Certainly doesn't look like B.C. spruce or Douglas Fir. Too dark for one, and not reddish enough for the other. I'd bet on pine, but given the age, couldn't rule out spruce that has absorbed the smoke from many an old pub session... Doug
  10. Enjoying your journey. The craftsmanship evident puts mine to shame.
  11. In my case it was completely accidental - my wife found a Wheatstone EC in a thrift shop for next to nothing, and bought it because because she had had a cheap German 'tina when she was a kid. She didn't like it. I had never really learned to play an instrument (false starts with violin, guitar, and harmonica) and started in without any formal training - couldn't even read music. The EC seems to fit the logical side of my brain and so has stuck. Perhaps compensates a bit for my lack of "ear and talent". Concertinas are quite rare in our area, and so are cheap when I find them as nobody knows the value. Next winter's project is a nice Lachenal metal-ended 30 key anglo I found in a combination junk/antique/tattoo shop. That should be fun to try as I've never tried an anglo...
  12. Being a bit OCD I also have gone the route of making my own bellows. The card stock used is difficult to match up to the thickness of of antique bellows materials. The sample bellows from a Lachenal that I disassembled has card stock that is .036" thick (with some inconsistency. I found this to be in between the available rag board thickness and typical mounting board thickness. In both cases, the modern materials are not quite as stiff as the antique card stock. More careful examination of the card stock used is that particular bellows shows that it is not a single thickness card stock, but two layers of a thinner material glued together - which accounts for both the "odd" thickness and the apparent stiffness of the card stock used. It may well be that this particular bellows was made from stock that a craftsperson made up due to difficulties in obtaing just the right material. I have successfully made EC bellows from both ragboard and mounting board. Ragboard is better. The leather material I use is goatskin. Purchased off ebay for economic reasons, and it is just fine. 1 oz hide for the top runs, 1-1/2 oz for the rest. Skiving is done with a 'safety skiver" also purchased off ebay (the one that looks like a curved paring knife - buy lots of blades). Don't know why, but skiving the edges "cross handed" works the best for me, holding the strip with my left hand, and skiving the left side of the strip toward me. I use a simple wedge made from plywood with a smooth arborite surface glued on as a skiving base. I don't skive the hinge leather - again taking a cue from the antique bellows, which do not have skived hinges. Tricky part is making the assemnly jig, similar to what Bob Tedrow uses, as the hex has to be accurate, or the end result will be lop sided. Unless you have a lot of experience, the most consistent results will be achieved using PVA (white wood glue) and lots of damp paper towels for clean up as you go. While I have tried other glues, that's all I use now. I use bookbinders preglued linen tape for inner hinges top and bottom. Just makes the process simple. I cut strips of card stock 11-12" long - making sure that the cuts are very straight and accurate. The strips are then made into hinged pairs using the linen tape. After the tape dries, I check the "hinging" and discard the odd pair that are warped/unsuitable. Then these pairs are "top hinged" together with the linen tape (forming the inner hinge at the top of the bellows). Top hinging does make the bellows a little thicker - but also more durable, as well as compensating for the more flexible modern material. This linen taped card set is now like a 12" long bellows side. Note that the end strips are slightly wider to recess the bellows (if desired) per antique style. Using a template of an indivual card (cut from a scrap of mat board) I mark and lay out lines for the "run" of cards that will form one side of the bellows. Then I glue in the leather for the inside bottom hinge - just rectanguar pieces about 2-1/2" long. 2 pieces of 2 x 2 wood and some clamps are applied to this "set" (1/2 a hex bellows) and it is allowed to dry for about an half an hour before flexing out. Each "set" is then marked using the template, and cut on a small bandsaw (fine tooth blade), which results six organized hex bellows side sets. These are placed on the jig, using rubber bands to position them exactly, and small pieces of thin cloth (light linen, cottom, or even silk) are using to join the top corners. After the corners have set, the skived gussets are then glued in. Two pieces of 1" plywood (actually made up from doubled 1/2" scraps) are used to apply clamps to the bellows at this stage. After about 20 minutes of clamping, I release the clamps, gently flex the bellows to make sure that it isn't gluing itself into a solid mass, and reclamp overnight. Note that I don't "top run" the bellows with cloth, just pieces at the corners. This helps to keep the thickness down, and with the internal linen tape top hinge, I think the cloth top run is redundant. Back onto the jig, and skived top runs are applied. Clamp and check as previous. Then on to mounting, papers etc. Obviously, my inspiration comes from Bob Tedrow's video, but adapted for the limitations of my less "industrial" equipment. The end result is both functional and cosmetically good. Would they stack up against the real pro bellows (like Concertina Connection's)? Probably not, but only the most discerning player would be likely to notice. It is a lot of work. But like tying your own flies for fishing, it has a satisfaction. But beware, the first set of bellows I made (before refining my techniques) is on my list of "winter projects" for replacement for cosmetic reasons. Hard to get the results you want the first time around. Have fun.
  13. ceemonster - have a go with a neck strap. I find that with a neck strap the pinkie rest is little more than a point of reference. Even though I don't use the pinkie to play, I find that without the "fixed point" for the pinkie, the "southern" notes are no longer a rotational stretch. Especially as as with a neckstrap I find a looser thumstrap fit is easier to deal with. I mostly lap play, but still use the neck strap as it fixes the playing position. Not sure if it makes a difference, but I make my own thumstraps and like to make them fairly soft and pliable. I suppose those minor changes are in some sense "design changes", but it shows that with some minor tweaks for personal preference, the EC design may come under the old saw "if it ain't broke don't fix it".
  14. We had a Wheatstone EC that was factory equipped with wrist straps, but I found them unnecessary. The bellows were nice and supple, and the reeds responsive, so the "work" required to play was minimal. The Lachenal I'm currently playing is slightly more work to play as the reeds are not as good, but fitted with a neckstrap (as Wim Wakker suggests) I find no issues with sore thumbs. The neckstrap cost me a whole $5 to make. Entirely different with the EC imports that have the plastic (vinyl?) bellows. The one I have needs lots of effort and lots of air to play. 45 minutes would kill my thumbs. One day when I'm bored I'll make a proper bellows for it, but it needs so much air it'll have to be a 7 fold. Meantime it gathers dust...
  15. Speaking of making boxes, has anybody tried using flocking? www.leevalley.com/en/wood/page.aspx?p=44669&cat=1,250,43298,43300,44669
  16. The first was a bargain that got my wife and I into concertinas. A Wheatstone Aeloa in a thrift shop (since sold). The second was one for "general purpose" that could accompany us Rv'ing etc. The third was a low price "tutor" to learn repair techniques on. The fourth was for a quiet mellow tone (an early Lachenal brass reed with wood baffles) The fifth was because of addiction...and so it goes...some bought, some sold, and always the fun of "how does this one sound etc.) The last is a bargain picked up for next winter's "project" (a 30K anglo - I play english). And so it continues...as I doubt that will be the "last". And just as I have found with boats and "two-footitis" - there is no end in sight.
  17. Never know when you open up a concertina what you will find. I recently picked up a nice 30K metal ended Lachenal anglo from a small antique shop/junk shop/tattoo parlour (I know, strange place to find it). I figured it would make a good winter project, but when I opened it up, I found that somebody had tried to "fix" it. The reed pans are glued in, and sloppily, and some of the chamois has been replaced with automotive gasket material. The actual problems appear to be the rotted out pads and valves that have gone hard and twisted. The good thing is that the reeds have been left alone and are completely rust free, so it will be worth the effort, but a real challenge. Good thing I didn't pay much for it.
  18. Just as there is a wide range of instrument qualities, there is a wide range of customer needs. I spent years working in steel fabricating plants, and I play for own enjoyment, so there would be no need for an instrument for me to be any closer than 2 cents. In point of fact I have one concertina that is tuned A435 and I can't tell the difference from a spot on A440 instrument. Tolerances were often an issue in steel fabricating. When I was doing estimates, they were always quoted "per standard shop tolerances, closer tolerances available at extra cost". We did produce parts bent from tempered steel to very tight tolerances, but at also at very high labor costs - and therefore prices. IF I were to be tuning instruments for someone else, the tolerance might be part of the pricing. E.G. +/- 1.5 cents seems reasonable for lower to mid instruments for amateur players, so "standard tuning" would be price "x", with the option of "precision tuning" for price "y", and possibly "professional grade tuning for price "z". Then the customer chooses, and knows what they are getting. I doubt that many folks would want to spend top dollar for tuning a basic brass reed Lachenal. The one instrument that I had tuned by Concertina Connection (Wim Wakker) came back exactly on. Not one note registered on my computer as being out at all, not even .1 cents. That would be my suggestion, ask the customer. Ok, do you want standard tuning for "x", or do want precision tuning for "y".
  19. My concern with oil and wood is not cosmetic, but softening of the wood. That could result in difficulties with the screws, possibly even larger ones, not holding. The oil will suck into the end grain of the holes and won't evaporate., leaving soft fibres. And if you need to glue in plugs - you are "done", they won't stick. Petroleum oils and wood are a bad mix in my opinion. Drilling them out is the best, if tricky option. Even if you muck it up, the option remains to go with a larger drill, a new thumstrap plate, and a plug/pilot hole. I'm in Dave's camp on this one. Doug
  20. Fiebings Leathercraft Adhesive has been recommended for bellows repair work by many (I haven't used it). I've built complete bellows for my own use, and experimented a bit with other adhesives, but found that for someone who doesn't do this kind of work all the time, PVA is the most reliable. Belows built with PVA do take a little longer to break in, but the trade off is more reliable results in amateur hands. Certainly for top binding, that's what I would use, as my experiment with hide glue had the most problems with leather to leather (goat skin) adhesion.
  21. The formula I have written down for Lachenals is 1850 plus (serial number divided by X). For anglos X = 4176, so 79559 would be roughly 1870. (for english x=769, for duets x= 111). I think I got that formula here, but didn't find it either.
  22. You could also try Concertina Connection. They're not far out of Spokane, Washington. There's a picture of a Jeffries Duet that they restored on their website.
  23. I have found Dave's book to be very informative in terms of the specifics of technique. It is definitely slanted toward English made concertinas, and so will not have all of the specifics for the instruments you have pruchased. That said, the techniques for replacing valves etc. should be directly transferrable - and learning them that way will give you future options if you ever decide to move up. When you have questions, searching this forum and resources would, I think, get you past the differences in construction. And if all else fails, there are many here who will gladly proffer advice.
  24. A good option is to contact the pro's. It would mean that you would have to pay shipping costs, but that may be better than "taking a stab in the dark" with an instrument at this value level. Concertina Connection are in Washington State, and I have found them to be very helpful. Button Box advertise appraisals on their web site. Or as Ross suggested contact Greg. But if you have a musical bone or two, have a go at learning to play - great grampa might like that, and who knows - maybe you'll get hooked like so many of us here. Doug
  25. Having been disappointed by a "cheap" concertina, I would suggest that plan on getting something decent to start on. The "cheap" one I tried to start on turned out to be quite expensive as I got frustrated with it very quickly and then spent more money on a vintage concertina. There are a lot of discussions on this forum about the pro's and con's of the different styles of concertina, generally Anglo, English or Duet. Have a browse, and that will give you a sense of what type you might want to play. If you are in the US, you might want to consider contacting The Button Box and seeing what is available to rent, which would give a chance to make sure you are going down the right path.
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