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Bellows split

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To my horror, I have just discovered a split in the bellows of my concertina. I've attached a couple of photos, but they were taken on a phone so in case they're not clear: the split is along the in-fold, and it isn't fully split along its length yet. It's on the top of the bellows when held upright to play. The concertina is an 1856 George Case EC, but the bellows are probably much younger, only 30 years old or so I think (there's a label inside with a date which I can't quite remember...).


I was wondering if anyone could advise me: is this likely the result of something that I've done wrong in terms of concertina-care, or is it just the inevitable result of passing time? Is this something that I might be able to fix myself, or should I definitely be sending it to a professional for repair? Does this mean that the bellows need replacing, or is it possible to patch a hole like this?


Thanks in advance :)



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This is not an uncommon occurrence especially in older bellows. The split can be patched using zephyr or very thin CPL (chrome pneumatic leather). The problem is putting on the patch in an eye pleasing way. Your split is in a very prominent place.


Best of all possible worlds would be to have replacement papers. Lift the old papers; glue down the edges of the gussets; apply the new valley patch; dye to

match the old leather; reapply new papers.


It may be possible to lift the edges of the old papers to properly apply the patch. It can be time consuming and nerve wracking work to get right and unless your temperment and skill are suited to the task an experienced repair person is the way to go.


There are a number of folks in the UK, including the Dippers, who are skilled at these kinds of repairs.



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I would add that this is likely to be just the start of your problems if you don't take action. The leather is probably dry and brittle and new splits will appear. I would suggest treating the gussets and valleys with a neutral shoe cream to make it supple once again. You would probably want to repaea this every 3 or 4 months.

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Thanks to you both for your advice. It would be very useful to have a way to try to prevent this happening in future, so I'll definitely buy some natural shoe cream and use that.


I am quite attached the bellows papers, so if possible I'd like to preserve the ones I've got (though if this turns out to be impossible, then such is life). I do have a copy of the concertina maintenance manual at home (that is, at my home near university, whereas at the moment I'm at my parents' home) so when I go back in a few weeks I'll have a look at it as well. So in the meantime I'll get together the parts I would need to do the repair and then see how things look.


Thanks again for your replies :)

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I would be doubtful if the date inside indicates that the bellows are as little as 30 years old. The pictures show original type G Case papers that would not have been available 30 years ago. More likely the date refers to something else: possible a change of ownership, or a repair. I have just had to replace an identical bellows which had many splits in the same area. Be prepared for your repairs to be temporary.

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