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Are bellows a consumable item?


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Although this story features Instrument construction and repair, it's of more general interest so I thought it fitted well here.

 

I had a visit from one of my sailing chums today. I got him hooked on the concertina about 4 years ago and he's made excellent progress on a 30 key Lachenal which he got from the Button Box. He came round at the weekend as he had some problems with his bellows which he wanted me to look at. I sent him back with card, leather, linen tape and instructions and he set about them, unglueing the old leather ready to patch in new card and re-glue using rabbit skin glue. All was going well until the dog they were looking after for friends went AWOL and found the partially disassembled bellows in Ian's study and reckoned they tasted nicer than pigs ears and Pedigree Chum.

 

Ian is now researching options for new bellows and pet cremation.

 

Everyone I've told this tale to has laughed, but Ian is distraught. Perhaps I shouldn't have told him that bellows were a consumable item (when the dog was obviously listening).

 

There was more damage to one of the wooden bellows frames than the bellows themselves and fortunately, the reed pans were separate and the dog hadn't swallowed any of the metal components. Before giving up and getting a new set of bellows, Ian's going to try to replace the chewed and soggy bits with new wood (which I think he'll do OK with; he's a very competent and neat woodworker).

 

Alex West

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If he's that handy you could remind him about Bob Tedrow's excellent series of pictures showing how he makes bellows; I remember looking at it and thinking 'yes I could probably do that.'

 

One of the reasons Ian came to see me was that I've done exactly that and made a set of bellows using Bob's method (adapted to suit my materials and workshop). I'll post some pictures in the proper forum when they're finished

 

Alex West

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Well I've had a few run ins with our dog regarding shoes and headphones etc. - expensive creatures although they make up for it other ways. So tend to be very careful where I put musical instruments down, particularly where dogs and young children are involved! I've a friend who has a lovely crack in the barrel of his flute after his one year old got it and thought it was a drumstick..

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Well I've had a few run ins with our dog regarding shoes and headphones etc. - expensive creatures although they make up for it other ways. So tend to be very careful where I put musical instruments down, particularly where dogs and young children are involved! I've a friend who has a lovely crack in the barrel of his flute after his one year old got it and thought it was a drumstick..

 

Perhaps this should be in repairs, as it tackles various uses of leather, parfum (a la victorienne, courtesy of that fine leather binder Herr Gutenberg from Mainz, and of course that famous Mrs E(nd) Gasket (of L'Accordiana di Tina)

 

As a proof of how thoroughly we had forgotten that we were in the presence of one who might have sat down to tea with a coronet, instead of a cap, on her head, Mrs Forrester related a curious little fact to Lady Glenmire - an anecdote known to the circle of her intimate friends, but of which even Mrs Jamieson was not aware. It related to some fine old lace, the sole relic of better days, which Lady Glenmire was admiring on Mrs Forrester’s collar.

 

“Yes,” said that lady, “such lace cannot be got now for either love or money; made by the nuns abroad, they tell me. They say that they can’t make it now even there. But perhaps they can, now they’ve passed the Catholic Emancipation Bill. I should not wonder. But, in the meantime, I treasure up my lace very much. I daren’t even trust the washing of it to my maid” (the little charity school-girl I have named before, but who sounded well as “my maid”). “I always wash it myself. And once it had a narrow escape. Of course, your ladyship knows that such lace must never be starched or ironed. Some people wash it in sugar and water, and some in coffee, to make it the right yellow colour; but I myself have a very good receipt for washing it in milk, which stiffens it enough, and gives it a very good creamy colour. Well, ma’am, I had tacked it together (and the beauty of this fine lace is that, when it is wet, it goes into a very little space), and put it to soak in milk, when, unfortunately, I left the room; on my return, I found pussy on the table, looking very like a thief, but gulping very uncomfortably, as if she was half-chocked with something she wanted to swallow and could not. And, would you believe it? At first I pitied her, and said ‘Poor pussy! poor pussy!’ till, all at once, I looked and saw the cup of milk empty - cleaned out! ‘You naughty cat!’ said I, and I believe I was provoked enough to give her a slap, which did no good, but only helped the lace down - just as one slaps a choking child on the back. I could have cried, I was so vexed; but I determined I would not give the lace up without a struggle for it. I hoped the lace might disagree with her, at any rate; but it would have been too much for Job, if he had seen, as I did, that cat come in, quite placid and purring, not a quarter of an hour after, and almost expecting to be stroked. ‘No, pussy!’ said I, ‘if you have any conscience you ought not to expect that!’ And then a thought struck me; and I rang the bell for my maid, and sent her to Mr Hoggins, with my compliments, and would he be kind enough to lend me one of his top-boots for an hour? I did not think there was anything odd in the message; but Jenny said the young men in the surgery laughed as if they would be ill at my wanting a top-boot. When it came, Jenny and I put pussy in, with her forefeet straight down, so that they were fastened, and could not scratch, and we gave her a teaspoonful of current-jelly in which (your ladyship must excuse me) I had mixed some tartar emetic. I shall never forget how anxious I was for the next half-hour. I took pussy to my own room, and spread a clean towel on the floor. I could have kissed her when she returned the lace to sight, very much as it had gone down. Jenny had boiling water ready, and we soaked it and soaked it, and spread it on a lavender-bush in the sun before I could touch it again, even to put it in milk. But now your ladyship would never guess that it had been in pussy’s inside.”[/size][/font][/font]

 

The “Reise ins Heilige Land” by Bernhard von Breydenbach, printed in Mainz in 1486, ... This woodcut, folded like a concertina, was printed from several formes; the paper had to be stuck together to fit the wide format of the picture.[/size]

Edited by Kautilya
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My brother's Boxer ate my wooden recorder which I had lent to my niece! Fortunately it was only a cheap E German school recorder. After many years I have replaced it with a nice rosewood model, stays well away from my Boxer's level!

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Although this story features Instrument construction and repair, it's of more general interest so I thought it fitted well here.

 

I had a visit from one of my sailing chums today. I got him hooked on the concertina about 4 years ago and he's made excellent progress on a 30 key Lachenal which he got from the Button Box. He came round at the weekend as he had some problems with his bellows which he wanted me to look at. I sent him back with card, leather, linen tape and instructions and he set about them, unglueing the old leather ready to patch in new card and re-glue using rabbit skin glue. All was going well until the dog they were looking after for friends went AWOL and found the partially disassembled bellows in Ian's study and reckoned they tasted nicer than pigs ears and Pedigree Chum.

 

Ian is now researching options for new bellows and pet cremation.

 

Everyone I've told this tale to has laughed, but Ian is distraught. Perhaps I shouldn't have told him that bellows were a consumable item (when the dog was obviously listening).

 

There was more damage to one of the wooden bellows frames than the bellows themselves and fortunately, the reed pans were separate and the dog hadn't swallowed any of the metal components. Before giving up and getting a new set of bellows, Ian's going to try to replace the chewed and soggy bits with new wood (which I think he'll do OK with; he's a very competent and neat woodworker).

 

Alex West

 

The least cost, least frustration and best overall result buy a bellows replacement Kit from concertina spares, all good instructions, sturdy and eminently playable bellows.

 

email me direct if you want to find out more.

 

Cheers

 

Dave

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Many thanks Dave - either myself or Ian may be in touch. The problem is more to do with woodwork than leather so I don't think the concertina spares kit will do the job until the bellows frame itself is repaired.

 

I've shown Ian the concertina spares and your own website; I don't think Ian is easily frustrated but we'll see how he gets on in the first stage.

 

Alex West

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OK,

 

But the woodwork should be doable with conventional tools. Just tell your friend that the corner blocks are dual purpose; they also set very precisely the reed pan height to make the reed chambers seal against the pad board.

 

Dave-

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