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Concertina Factory On Youtube


Stefan
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I see it was only published (on YouTube) on 13th April, as were the unused out takes/cuts from the filming (starting at 9.56): Out Takes / Cuts From Cp 327 - Collapsible Caravan, Boy Editor And Concertina Factory (1961)

 

There are some other interesting concertina-related clips to be found there too - you'll find previous discussions of them if you search Concertina.net for "Pathe".

Edited by Stephen Chambers
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By way of explanation/interpretation of this newsreel film:

 

I've said it before but, for those who haven't viewed it previously, I'd see this British Pathe newsreel "Concertina Factory/Concert in a Factory" (issued on 3rd April 1961) as a swansong for the old Wheatstone firm, since the Model 7ANP instruments shown being built in it must have been from the very last batch to be made completely at their own workshop.

Until that time, Wheatstone's was still being run as a semi-autonomous company within the Boosey & Hawkes Group, with its own management, staff and premises (an old house at Duncan Terrace, Islington that they shared with the celebrated flute makers Rudall Carte & Co.), but shortly afterwards the firm was absorbed into the Boosey & Hawkes musical instrument factory at Edgware in North London - completely losing their own identity and management. Senior staff were offered relatively menial posts at B&H and my old friend Harry Minting, who was Wheatstone's Sales Manager at the time (shown here demonstrating the symphonium, the first concertina and the amboyna piccolo), told me they offered him a job as a ledger clerk, which he naturally declined and opened his own music shop/music school instead...

Page 117 of the Anglo Production Ledger SD04 shows the last batch made at Duncan Terrace (of Model 7ANP, numbered 58514-25) to be dated 5th April 1961, whilst the first batch (of Model 6ANP, numbered 58527-44) marked "Edgware" in the Ledger were originally dated 19th May 1961, but that was crossed out and 2nd August substituted.

From then on, the firm declined until there was only one of the old Wheatstone employees left (Sid Watkins, seen grinding a strip of reed steel in the opening shot) who was sometimes helped out by the bassoon makers, "if they had nothing better to do..." huh.gif

Edited by Stephen Chambers
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As always Steve fascinating information.I think we were very privileged to be involved with concertinas(in my case from the the early 1970's)in those days.Neil Wayne gets little credit for his work in the "concertina revival"but the Concertina Conventions he and others organised in the 1970's were the touchstone of the revival.They introduced novices like me to older players who thought they were the last ones and gave them the impetus to start playing again.I made made lifelong friends amongst players I had met through attending CC's and the ICA and have particularly fond memories of playing(very much learning at that stage)with the likes of Gordon Cutty,Harry Beard,Harry Hatton,Fred Melton,Tom Dukes etc.My visits to the Crabb shop and Tommy Williams workshop still seem fresh in my mind.This site is great resource but could I urge others who were about that time to post something.

 

I once went to Harry Minting's music shop somewhere in South London and corresponded with him.I think I still have his letters on headed notepaper.

 

Please carry on posting Steve.I'll call in on you when I am over in the next few weeks,failing that during Willie Week

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  • 2 weeks later...

The charlie doing the voice-over mentions "don't be fooled by the apparent cutting edge on this precision-ground strip of metal....". It's hard to make out the profile from the poor resolution images, but the script suggests at least one end is ground pretty thinly. Is the reed itself then cut entirely from the thinned section (i.e he was just thinning excessively thick stock), or, as I expected, are the reeds cut at right angles to this ground edge? In which case which end of the reed is the thinly ground bit?

 

I had imagined that the profiling process would have been aiming to remove excess thickness from the middle of the reed, leaving an untouched end for clamping, a thinned midriff, and a meaty chunk at the tip end for subsequent tuning. Or is this stock ground for short treble reeds, and most of the untouched metal will be cut off once it's been clamped in the reed shoe?

 

I suffer from great desire to re-edit the out-takes back into the main body, erase the voice over (with its vacuous references to the limited sexual capacities of the stereotypical Pom), and revoice it with a properly researched and instructive audio track. Mutter, mutter....

 

Terry

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Terry.

If memory serves, concertina maker Chris Ghent sometime back in a post nicely summarized three basic shapes in reed profiling: A "chisel" shape with a gradual taper toward the tip used for shorter reeds; a fairly even (still profiled) shape for medium length reeds; A "scooped" shape with greater thickness at the base and tip used for longer, lower reeds.

 

I'm fairly sure the sheet of spring steel in the Pathe film would be sheared with the shiny part as the tip of the reed and the still blued section as the butt or tail.

 

Once profiled the sheet of spring steel is sheared into individual reed tongues. These are then carefully hand filed along the sides to fit the shoes, hopefully with exacting tolerances. Then the tongue, still bearing the blued, unground "tail" is centered and clamped into the shoe. The "tail" is used to aid manipulation of the reed in centering. Once clamped the "tail" hanging from the shoe is filed close to the clamp and then broken off. At Carroll Concertinas, at least with the old procedures, we would then finish off the stump of the tail by running it along a clamped file. Some replacement reed finishers were not so kind and the stumps can be seen and sometimes felt!! in working on vintage instruments.

 

The reed assembly would then be given a preliminary tuning, say 12 cents sharp of standard outside the instrument.

 

Greg

Edited by Greg Jowaisas
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My understanding is that the technology to profile strips of brass to make reed tongues existed long before it did for steel reeds, because thin strips of brass could be worked on a planing or milling machine - indeed Tommy Williams, who was a tuner (for which read "reed maker") for Lachenal's, told Neil Wayne (The Tommy Williams Story, Part 3):

 

"The brass reeded instruments, they was all stamped out, tongues and all, all that had to be done to 'em just tuned. They was all fitted, same as accordion making - the frame was stamped out, reed was stamped out, all to within a fraction of an inch, all the parts shaped out by a planing machine. Later on Wheatstone had that. When I made sets of reeds, they'd give you the pan boards with a set of frames already in, knocked out on a fly press. ... We [Lachenal's] were the only people who done it, and only on the cheap brass reeded ones."

 

If I remember rightly, it was only in the 1890s that German accordion/melodeon makers created the grinding technology to produce strips of profiled spring steel to make reed tongues, greatly facilitating the production of steel reeds for them, but (as far as I know) steel concertina reeds continued to be profiled by hand in England up until the Second World War.

 

After the War, it seems that Wheatstone's recruited a Czech couple to work for them making reeds, who probably brought new technologies with them.

 

The machine profiling can be done very accurately (hence Sid Watkins is to be seen measuring the strip with a micrometer), so that, when the individual reed tongues are cut from the strip, they already produce the required note and only need fine-tuning.

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Terry.

If memory serves, concertina maker Chris Ghent sometime back in a post nicely summarized three basic shapes in reed profiling: A "chisel" shape with a gradual taper toward the tip used for shorter reeds; a fairly even (still profiled) shape for medium length reeds; A "scooped" shape with greater thickness at the base and tip used for longer, lower reeds.

 

I'm fairly sure the sheet of spring steel in the Pathe film would be sheared with the shiny part as the tip of the reed and the still blued section as the butt or tail.

 

Once profiled the sheet of spring steel is sheared into individual reed tongues. These are then carefully hand filed along the sides to fit the shoes, hopefully with exacting tolerances. Then the tongue, still bearing the blued, unground "tail" is centered and clamped into the shoe. The "tail" is used to aid manipulation of the reed in centering. Once clamped the "tail" hanging from the shoe is filed close to the clamp and then broken off. At Carroll Concertinas, at least with the old procedures, we would then finish off the stump of the tail by running it along a clamped file. Some replacement reed finishers were not so kind and the stumps can be seen and sometimes felt!! in working on vintage instruments.

 

The reed assembly would then be given a preliminary tuning, say 12 cents sharp of standard outside the instrument.

 

Greg

 

Thanks Greg, that makes sense, which is considerably more than the film commentary does!

 

This is par-for-the-course for cine features of the period - take some potentially interesting footage, strip it down to the minimum, add a whimsical but vacuous voice-over and use it to fill the gap between the main and supporting features at the movies. Just a shame that possibly the only footage we have of an operating concertina works is thus demeaned. Still, as mother would say, we should be grateful for small mercies.

 

The 3D graph Chris presented helps that visualisation you referred to. So the reed stock the chap in the clip was preparing would have been for reeds down the front end of these graphs, the blue tips being the sharp edge:

 

post-74-0-48296500-1396834346_thumb.gif

 

Terry

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If I remember rightly, it was only in the 1890s that German accordion/melodeon makers created the grinding technology to produce strips of profiled spring steel to make reed tongues, greatly facilitating the production of steel reeds for them, but (as far as I know) steel concertina reeds continued to be profiled by hand in England up until the Second World War.

 

After the War, it seems that Wheatstone's recruited a Czech couple to work for them making reeds, who probably brought new technologies with them.

 

The machine profiling can be done very accurately (hence Sid Watkins is to be seen measuring the strip with a micrometer), so that, when the individual reed tongues are cut from the strip, they already produce the required note and only need fine-tuning.

 

This has parallels in the flute business. Long after Continental flute factories had adopted efficient manufacturing processes, Rudall & Carte workers battled on with primitive equipment. It was a testament to their skills that the instruments they made were first-rate. But when the crunch came, it came with a bang. Rudall & Carte were bought up by Boosey & Hawkes, but even then were not recapitalised, just run into the ground and allowed to die. It was cheaper to import Continental-made flutes and rebadge them, so that's what happened.

 

What do our new "boutique" concertina makers do for profiling? I imagine a small shop doesn't run to a surface grinder, or am I wrong?

 

Terry

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Good Lord!!!! It's the movie in full size!

 

I've spent months looking at the miniature and at 1 frame/s versions based on glued-together stills (which are bigger than the miniature's frames).

And the out takes, too!

 

I will now spend several minutes drooling over them...

 

Thank you, kind, concertina-friendly person at British Pathé!

 

/Henrik

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This has parallels in the flute business. Long after Continental flute factories had adopted efficient manufacturing processes, Rudall & Carte workers battled on with primitive equipment. It was a testament to their skills that the instruments they made were first-rate.

 

Many's the tale I heard off John Wicks about Rudall Carte's, and Starck's (his mother was a Starck), and some about Wheatstone's too... :)

Edited by Stephen Chambers
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I love this little film!! And I was delighted to find my favorite of all my concertinas, the little Amboyna piccolo, featured here - after over 50 years!!!

 

So you've got the amboyna piccolo now?

 

That makes it "one each" then, of the concertinas on that table! ;)

 

And Reuben bought the symphonium off Harry, though I'm not sure where it is now... (maybe Neil Wayne got it off him?)

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So, you got Number one?

 

There's no "Number one" as such because the first few didn't have numbers (and I've another one of those), then they started to put Roman numbers on them, before changing to regular arabic numbering.

 

But I've had "the first concertina" (my avatar) since 1988, and it was described (in print) in those terms as far back as the 1870s. You've seen it, it was at Proitzer Mühle with me in 2011!

 

By the way, I recently got a Tortoiseshell TT - which could well be the fourth one on that table;-)

 

I doubt it because that one's a 48-key (stop the film at 3.04) and probably a treble - maybe Harry's own that he bought new in the '20s, seeing that his mate Ernie (Ernest Rutterford) had one.

 

But a tortoiseshell TT would be extremely rare... :huh: (Possibly unique? A bit like the tortoiseshell duet that I had one time...)

Edited by Stephen Chambers
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