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Leaks and reed assembly gasket for a fixer upper

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Firstly hello!

I am completely new to the concertina, I am mainly a melodeon player but have recently bought an old 20 button anglo Nickolds 365 for my wife to play (badged Samuel Barnett and probably a lachenal from what i can glean from the internet) 

Apparently this little one hasn't worked properly since the 1970s.

I am pretty adept at fixing up melodeons but have never delved into a concertina before.  It had a couple of snapped reeds so i have made it some new ones from old accordion reeds and am fairly pleased with how they sound.   

What i am not sure about is how to stop some of the leaks.  The bellows are really quite good but it is the seal between the reed pan and the action box I am not so sure about (please forgive me if i use the wrong terminology, this is all new to me)

when the pan is pushed down against the little wooden stops in the bellows assembly  the top of the reed chambers are not flush with the top of the bellows . there are a couple of millimeters difference between the two.   

Should i pack the underneath of the reed pan to level these up?

What is the best material to form the gasket between the pan/bellows assembly and the action box? should i cut a complete gasket from a sheet material or use the type of strip bellows gasket i use on a melodeon (3mmx3mm neoprene strip)


Sorry lots of questions! but it would be nice to get a tune out of this little box

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It would be best to use a leather rather than a modern material for the gaskets. Chamois was common. It is common for the pan blocks to be out of position and the best thing would be to remove them and put them back in the right place. A work flow which would work, barring the unforeseen or so far unmentioned, would be, remove the reedpan blocks, clean them up and also the place they will be reattached, fix the gasket if necessary, place the reed pan in the bellows and place the bellows face down on a flat surface, then from the other end of the bellows put your hand in and push the pan down against the flat surface and refit the pan blocks. This is a little more  fiddley than I have made it sound but it is not rocket science. Use a reversible glue, ie. fish or hide, and mistakes become tedious rather than tragic. 

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Thank you   I am glad I asked, that makes perfect sense


Would it be best to replace the gasket around the inside of the  bellows frame as well?


For the gasket between the pan and the action box  should this be cut from one piece of chamois? 


This one is badged Barnett samuel (and son)

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No need to replace the gasket around the outside of the bellows if it is OK.  Same for the gasket on top of the partitions but if it needs to be done, you would normally cut it from one piece of chamois but not all in one piece. Make a series of long strips around 3mm wide and apply them piece by piece. Chamois skins can have a lot of variation in thickness, try to make the strips as consistent in thickness as possible. 

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In some 1950's Wheatstone's it appears that the chamois is replaced by actual 'top-grain' leather for creating seals.  Typical is the Crane Duet in a recent post.  This may be as a consequence of a Chamois shortage for a period?  Is there a view as to the efficacy or otherwise of using thin leather as opposed to chamois?    

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5 hours ago, Don Taylor said:

Also check that the reed pan is not warped because that would need fixing first. 


the pan is a bit wobbly .      i was going to have a gentle go at it with some 240 wet and dry over a sheet of glass to try to flatten the top edges.

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Back for more advice


i have gently flattened the bellows edge,  there were a few very high spots.  i havent gone too far as i am unsure whether i am better off stopping at just flat even with some of the old chamois still attached.  should i sand further or stop now?


The old chamois is quite hard and there are gaps between the pan and the bellows edge.  Should i

1. Add more chamois using the existing as padding or remove the whole lot and start again

2. fold the chamois over the flat edge As in pic 3 or just have the strip around the inside and should i use 1 piece or six pieces "mitered" on the corners?


I have gently flatted the top edges of the pan,  there are a few splintered edges which i will need to fix so a bit of progress there.


The underside of the action box is not dished but does have a slight warp with the grain but this straightens out with slight pressure so i think i will leave this alone for the time being






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If you do decide to replace the bellows end seals, bear in mind that the edges of the new chamois will be visible, unless you also re-bind the ends of the bellows.

When installing the new chamois seal, cut the chamois strip a little wider and longer than required. Glue the inner surfaces of the frames first, install the chamois strip, and cut the overlap so that the ends meet. Before gluing the mating surface of the frames, use a hole punch to cut the holes in the chamois for the end-bolts. Then glue the edges and stick the chamois down. Finally, turn the bellows over on a cutting mat, and with your scalpel or craft knife, trim off the surplus chamois.

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Thanks for the replies

With the help of these and an old thread i reckon i am good for replacing the gasket now.  I want to get this playable for now so i can live with a little bit of gasket showing, i can always colour match the edge to the green leather of the bellows.

The action box is held in place with wood screws on this one so would i be better replacing these with bolts whist i have the box in bits?  assuming that these are available . micro engineering may be a little beyond my skills


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