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Where to get leather and supplies for straps?


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From ebay, I managed to buy a nice old cheap 20 button, so I can have one that looks like something a sailor would play. Like in the photo below, from an article on the main Concertina.net site.Adventures at the Start of the Concertina Revival. by George (Geo) Salley

 

This time, I actually ended up with one that is a C/G and is in tune and all of the notes work correctly! While I do intend to make rope hand straps, I would like to make some new bellows straps, because there are just remants of the old ones. Does anyone have any recommendations as to where I can get some leather to make the straps out of, and maybe also a tool for installing grommets in the leather? I would use that also to make new straps for any of my melodeons too.

 

The only other thing wrong with this new old concertina is that air leaks. Some of it from the seam where the end meets the bellow, and some from an actual hole in a bellow corner. I'll see if I can take a photo or two of my concertina (not pictured yet), and draw in some arrows, and post it. But does anyone have any suggestions about how to fix the hole, and also make the seams airtight again?

 

Thanks

 

This picture is not mine, but shows what I intend to end up with.

 

scholer_sm.jpg

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Sometimes you can find good secondhand leather belts of the right thickness in charity shops biggrin.gif might be cheaper than buying small quantities of new leather and if you're lucky and it's a wide belt you can cut several straps from it smile.gif

 

I've not seen a concertina with rope hand straps before, they've usually had leather ones. Does the rope chafe the back of your hands?

Edited by anlej
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Hi, Alex,

 

Cutting up an old belt is a good idea for the new bellows straps. The "grommets" are practically shoe eyelets, which you can cetainly get in any DIY market, along with matching pliers. Cheaper are the tools usually supplied with the eyelets: a simple punch for the holes, and a shaped upper and lower plate that you hit with a hammer to splay the eyelet.

 

Hole in the corner of the bellows: try some textile adhesive tape, carefully applied from the inside. A very durable repair. (Been there, done that - so long ago that I'd almost forgotten!)

 

Leak at the joint: What about a gasket made of felt or thin, adhesive foam-rubber strip, such as is used to stop draughts in window-frames?

 

And I would share Anlej's skepticism about rope handstraps. The wider the straps are, the longer you can play without discomfort, and the stiffer they are, the more control you have over the instrument. There's really not much of an alternative to thick leather.

 

(You can take this authenticity thing too far. A seaman would have bought a concertina with leather straps, like anyone else. If one broke, he might have been tempted to replace it with rope, but a strip of heavy canvas would have been easier to attach, just as available, and definitely more comfortable as a "jury-rigged" handstrap!;) Oops! Now it's me who's taking the authenticitty thing too far!:lol: )

 

Cheers,

John

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Hi, Alex,

Hole in the corner of the bellows: try some textile adhesive tape, carefully applied from the inside. A very durable repair. (Been there, done that - so long ago that I'd almost forgotten!)

...

Leak at the joint: What about a gasket made of felt or thin, adhesive foam-rubber strip, such as is used to stop draughts in window-frames?

Cheers,
John


uh-oh... the first time I feel like disagreeing with something John wrote...

Repairing bellows with tape is an absolute no-no in my experience, unless you happen to come across sturdy tape with leather- and paper friendly adhesive (which I haven't heard about yet).

Although the repair appears to be satisfying at first glance, you'll be really sorry the moment you ever have to remove the tape; chances are very high that with the removal of the tape, you'll find that the adhesive has destroyed the intact leather it covered along as well as (worse) the paper cards the bellow walls are made of. Leather is not so much of an issue when you tape from the inside as John suggested, but the cards really suffer from the adhesive. Plus, repairing holes in corners or folds from the inside is tricky because if you don't do it right, you'll either impact the bellows movement or end up with folds in the tape which, if they stick into their own pieces, again impact the bellows movement and flexibility.

I know about this because the concertina I've taken up to restoring has become a typical victim of dilletant taping. At first, little strips of tape (apparently electric tape) were used but when the leather runs continued to fall apart, larger strips were needed, and apparently the "repairer" found out that the tape glues so well that he/she couldn't get it off anymore without major damage, so instead of replacing the strip with something larger, he or she kept glueing larger bits of tape over the smaller ones. Trying to get that off gracefully ended up a terrible mess; I'll probably make a complete new set of bellows one of these days, but restoring the old one involved replacing a good number of paper cards who weren't salvagable anymore.

The way I would go here is glue skived leather stripes over the holes from the outside - ideally you want hide glue, but most probably PVA will do the job as well - just shy away from hard setting glues such as super glue. I'm sure Dave, Theo or one of the other wizards will come in with good practical advice. If I remember correctly, Dave's Concertina Maintenace Manual has a section on these kinds of repairs as well. Edited by RAc
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While I have said this before, another place to look would be a good harness and tack shop that does repairs. They would be able to help with the thickness and with the hardware. I do realize that this probably is not convenient in OakPark, but I would think you might be able to find one somewhere on the outskirts of greater Chicagoland.

 

Alan

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I think the chances are about zero of finding leather that is thin enough and soft enough at a saddlery. Anyway there is no need to improvise when you can get the right material from David Leese he is very helpful, will send stuff anywhere.

 

For leather adhesive I've recently become a convert to Feibings Leather cement which is widely available from leathercraft suppliers. It produces a very strong bond, dries flexible, and cleans up with a damp cloth while still wet.

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First, I want ot thank you all for convincing me to abandon the rope handles idea. In your responses, there was no disagreement about that.

 

I am going to go with regular leather handles. I remember now, that about 15 years ago, I had new leather handles made for a "Riccordi" concertina, and this was done by the guy I still go to for shoe repairs. So, for the handles and the bellows straps, I'll go to Tony's Shoe clinic again. Last time he charged only $10, and they were the best leather hand straps of any concertina I had.

 

I also noticed that it does not seem to be leaking air from between the bellows frame and end after all. That air I was feeling is actually coming from one of the holes in the "Gusset", that i was calling a "bellows corner".

 

I will attempt to repair what I now know as the "Gussets" myself. It turns out that in the U. S., we have something that seems to be the same thing as Fiebings Leather Cement, but is called Tanner's Bond Leathercraft Cement and is available at Michael's, a chain of craft stores found in malls all over the area. So I'll get some of that tomorrow on the way home from work. As for finding replacement leather that is thin enough for patching the holes in the gusset, I will see if I can get some decent pieces from the gussets of an unplayable cheap concertina that I have for the purpose of cannibalizing for its parts. If that does not work, I'll see if David Leese or maybe the Button Box has some that i can order.

 

I have another that I was either going to repair or cannibalize, and it has perfectly good bellows that have a nice pattern. I would simply switch the bellows, except that concertina is slightly larger -- each edge is about 1/4" inch or about 7 mm longer. Dratz!

 

I think these gussets might be made out of some kind of paper. I might post some photos of the Gusset holes before I actually try the repairs, in case anyone as some advice after seeing that.

 

Thanks.

Edited by AlexCJones
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I think the chances are about zero of finding leather that is thin enough and soft enough at a saddlery. Anyway there is no need to improvise when you can get the right material from David Leese he is very helpful, will send stuff anywhere.

 

For leather adhesive I've recently become a convert to Feibings Leather cement which is widely available from leathercraft suppliers. It produces a very strong bond, dries flexible, and cleans up with a damp cloth while still wet.

 

 

For the bellows repair, probably not, but for the handles it should not be a problem. And a good leatherworker could be very helpful in properly placing the necessary holes and hardware in a new set of handles. The old order Amishwoman that ran the harness shop outside of Plain City had a wide variety of thicknesses and softnesses for a wide variety of uses, and had agood eye as to where things needed to fit.

 

Alan

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I will attempt to repair what I now know as the "Gussets" myself. It turns out that in the U. S., we have something that seems to be the same thing as Fiebings Leather Cement, but is called Tanner's Bond Leathercraft Cement and is available at Michael's, a chain of craft stores found in malls all over the area. So I'll get some of that tomorrow on the way home from work. As for finding replacement leather that is thin enough for patching the holes in the gusset, I will see if I can get some decent pieces from the gussets of an unplayable cheap concertina that I have for the purpose of cannibalizing for its parts. If that does not work, I'll see if David Leese or maybe the Button Box has some that i can order.

I have another that I was either going to repair or cannibalize, and it has perfectly good bellows that have a nice pattern. I would simply switch the bellows, except that concertina is slightly larger -- each edge is about 1/4" inch or about 7 mm longer. Dratz!

I think these gussets might be made out of some kind of paper. I might post some photos of the Gusset holes before I actually try the repairs, in case anyone as some advice after seeing that.

Thanks.


first place to check if you haven't already done so is here:

http://hmi.homewood.net/bellows/bellows2.html

about two/thirds down the page, study the close-ups of the gussets carefully to get a feeling for how they fit. If you want to replace the gussets in whole, you must stretch the concertina full extent while the glue sets. Also you want the gusset diamond shaped (which you can't see in the picture; check w/ David Leese's catalogue page to see what the desired shape is).

I think it is very unlikely to have gussets made of paper because the gussets take most of the compression and stretching, and I don't know about any kind of paper that can take that on the long run (but I'm not an expert, so I may well be wrong). You may check with a bookbinder supply store for skived goat leather. If you get the hang of it, you may try skiving the gussets yourself for best fit. Skiving is really essential; you want the leather to run out at almost 0 thickness towards the ends. It takes a little practice but with a good skiving knife can be accomplished even by untalented craftsfolks like me.

Making two concertinas out of one sounds like an interesting job, but it's one of the things one imagines easier than it actually is. For example, the bellows also contain the holding blocks which are triangular wooden pieces on which the reed pan comes to rest. Those are pretty important as they have to fit exactly right; otherwise you'll create space between the reed and actions pans through which air can escape. By the same token, the reed pan has to fit exactly into the bellows casing which is not a given if you switch bellows!

The other road to consider would be to retian the bellwos casing and refit a new bellows to it. I believe that some manufacturers (Wim Wakker I believe does it) offer preassembled bellows that come with a CD describing how to fit those bellows into an existing casing, but that requires a little more leather work.

So whichever road you go down, you'll look at some fun but challenging work. Best of luck! Edited by RAc
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first place to check if you haven't already done so is here:

 

http://hmi.homewood....s/bellows2.html

 

about two/thirds down the page, study the close-ups of the gussets carefully to get a feeling for how they fit. If you want to replace the gussets in whole, you must stretch the concertina full extent while the glue sets. Also you want the gusset diamond shaped (which you can't see in the picture; check w/ David Leese's catalogue page to see what the desired shape is).

 

 

If repairing a gusset with a hole it is much much easier to glue a patch on the inside of the gusset. Replaceing a complete gusset from the outside requires you to moisten the papers and bellows top runs that are overlapping the gusset, peel back these components, remove the old gusset, glue back the overlapping components. Its a lengthy job, and very hard to get a neat finish. Patching from the inside lets all the visible components stay undisturbed, and takes a few minutes.

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As for finding replacement leather that is thin enough for patching the holes in the gusset, I will see if I can get some decent pieces from the gussets of an unplayable cheap concertina that I have for the purpose of cannibalizing for its parts. If that does not work, I'll see if David Leese or maybe the Button Box has some that i can order.

 

I have another that I was either going to repair or cannibalize, and it has perfectly good bellows that have a nice pattern. I would simply switch the bellows, except that concertina is slightly larger -- each edge is about 1/4" inch or about 7 mm longer. Dratz!

 

first place to check if you haven't already done so is here:

 

http://hmi.homewood....s/bellows2.html

 

about two/thirds down the page, study the close-ups of the gussets carefully to get a feeling for how they fit. If you want to replace the gussets in whole, you must stretch the concertina full extent while the glue sets. Also you want the gusset diamond shaped (which you can't see in the picture; check w/ David Leese's catalogue page to see what the desired shape is).

 

Making two concertinas out of one sounds like an interesting job, but it's one of the things one imagines easier than it actually is. For example, the bellows also contain the holding blocks which are triangular wooden pieces on which the reed pan comes to rest. Those are pretty important as they have to fit exactly right; otherwise you'll create space between the reed and actions pans through which air can escape. By the same token, the reed pan has to fit exactly into the bellows casing which is not a given if you switch bellows!

I was not going to make two out of one--the idea was to make one out of two. Then I was stating in that sentence that I show now as underlined above that using the bellows from the other one is out-of-the-question, it is not possible--I had to abandon that idea, because of the size difference. The good bellows are too big. Each of the 6 sides is 1/4 inch (7mm) longer than each of the 6 sides of the bad bellows. The good bellows are about 19.5 cm across from one flat side to the opposite flat side, and about 22 cm across from corner to opposite corner. The bad bellows are smaller than that. They are about 17cm across from one flat side to the opposite flat side, and about 20.4 cm across from corner to opposite corner.

 

I actually have 2 other cheap boxes that are not functioning now, so my plan is to attempt to remove the Gussets from the bellows of the other cheap one. I'll post some photos some time soon.

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First, here is what the holes in the gusset of the Frontalini look like. This is what I need to fix. This is what I thought might actually be paper, but is probabably old leather.

post-66-0-74083500-1318650232_thumb.jpg

You can click on this image to enlarge. It is a close-up.

 

Next, here is a non-functioning Scholer knock-off that I got to canibalize for parts. This is not even a real Scholer. This is NOT the one with the nice bellows. That is yet a different one, not pictured. Anyway, the one pictured has the same perimiter size as the Frontalini, only the bellows are shorter.

post-66-0-69014000-1318650261_thumb.jpg

 

Here is a close up of the gussets of the Pseudo-Scholer. I'd like to remove one or more of these gussets and transplant it to the Frontalini, or use them to patch up holes in the gusset of the Frontalini.

post-66-0-94231200-1318650300_thumb.jpg

 

I'll reread the Tedrow instructions. I do not recall seeing any instructions for removing gussets from the bellows one is cannibalizing, so if anyone has any tips on removing gussets to be used as transplants, that would be helpful.

 

Thanks.

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...

I'll reread the Tedrow instructions. I do not recall seeing any instructions for removing gussets from the bellows one is cannibalizing, so if anyone has any tips on removing gussets to be used as transplants, that would be helpful.

Thanks.


wow, this looks like even more of an effort than I thought... best of luck to you; I'd really be interested in seeing how you go about it; at the very least, you'll learn more from it than you could ever wish...

Here's the way I look at it (please keep it mind that I'm not even close to an experienced restorer; any single word that Theo can contribute will be worth much more than all of what I write taken together):

To remove the gussets of your disposable, you'll need lots of hot water. As Theo suggested, you'll need to remove the top runs that fold over the gussets. In that process, you'll more than likely undo all of your donor instrument. Anyways, keep a filled water boiler near your working area, always heat up just enough water to soak one area. best do this with a rubber glove on. Once the glue has softened, briskly peel first the top run, then the gusset off. As far as I can tell, this is a decently time critical process; the area needs to be soaked enough to make the glue soften but not too oversoaked. Experiment here until you get a feel for how much is just right.

After you've removed the first gusset in whole, take your time to see if the size fits. To me it seems as if the donor gussets are fairly small, but the recipient corner holes rather broad. You really don't want to spend an afternoon removing 30+ guessests just to find out they don't fit the recipient...

Then the interesting part will be to refit the gussets. keep in mind what Theo wrote: The top runs go OVER the gussets which means you'll need to either peel back the top run corners or remove the runs altogether, then fit the gussets, then refit the runs. There are a number of potential quirks involed in either...

All of that sounds much more than concertina repair 101. I'd strongly recommend doing a "dry run" before you do it on an instrument you plan on plaing. What you could do for example is do the removeal on one corner of your donor, the refit the gusset in the same space just to get an idea of what to expect.

In any case, you must have a jig to keep the recipient bellows stretched. Ideally you'd custom build one like Bob displays on his bellows page; I attach a picture of the jig I designed for that purpose (version 1.0; the real thing took another iteration or two before being usable)). A lot of concertina restoration to me seems to be building jigs and tools. In fact, the bellows on the jig is a set I built according to Bob's instructions for the sole purpose of studying the process before I got to work on the real thing. A lot of tasks along the way require some feeling (such as dealing with hide glue), so you may not like the results if you do your first open heart surgery on a real patient...

Hope that helps - again, look forward to the advice of true specialists in the restoration field, and be prepared that what I sketch here is being ripped to shreds...

post-8903-0-20483000-1318666721_thumb.jpg

Edited by RAc
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Your instructions and that photograph has given me a good amount to start with.

I have purchased some dowels, and I intend to construct a faily cheap jig for keeping bellows spread open.

First I will use it for keeping the donor bellows open while I harvest parts from it.

I have already done some poking around with my X-acto knife to see what can be peeled off of the donor bellows in its natural dry state. This was on one if its already damaged, worn corners. I also noticed that its gussets are not all the same color.

 

So, tomorrow or sometime, when I get enough of the right tools out, I'll construct my simple jig. Maybe I'll take some photos of the process of harvesting two or three gussets from the donor bellows and post them. I am not sure how much I'll get done tomorrow, because I have Sea Shanty sing to attend in the afternoon.

 

 

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