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Repair of a basket case Lachenal

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First, can I say that if this is not an appropriate post, I'm happy for administrators to remove it.

A year or two ago I bought a Lachenal anglo from Gumtree, an Australian market site. It was a rosewood-ended model with extensively damaged ends, the missing fretwork replaced by some black “bog”. The bellows were made of leather that had degraded much more than usual and a previous owner had tried to preserve whatever life they had left by re-papering them with floral wallpaper, supplemented by sticking plaster and even a couple of Band Aids! Internally a few pads were missing, replaced with medical gauze (!?) Needless to say, it didn’t play. The major damage present made me think its serial number of 60911 was somewhat appropriate.

All reeds were present and the reed pans and action boards looked better than I anticipated. So, although I only bought it for spare parts, I decided to restore it.

Regretfully, I didn’t photograph the bellows in their original sorry state. I thought I could make a set using Bob Tedrow’s instructions on the internet. So its original 5-fold bellows became 7-fold bellows with the folds 1 1/8” deep. I replaced the old chamois with new.  I made a cardboard/felt/soft leather sandwich and cut a set of pads using a cutter I made that fits on my drill press.

I thought I was going to have to hand cut a set of ends, but as luck would have it, one of your members, David Hornett, had a pair that was the same fret pattern. The only snag was that the eBayer who sold the ends to him had cut them from a concertina by fret sawing around the inside of the end frame. This meant they were too small, and all the corners were slightly rounded where they’d been cut around the original concertina’s interior strengthening wedges. So I ground each corner flat and made a small filler piece to regain the original hexagonal shape, which still needed over  ¼” added to each edge in order to fit my concertina. Because the rosewood was rather dark, I used ebony for the edge pieces, thinking that amber French polish would make them a not-too-bad colour match. I steamed the broken ends off my concertina and used the buttons on each end as a method for centering the now-oversized new ends. With a guitar binding jig I trimmed the edges flush and then cut a chamfer around the edge. Now, from arm’s length, it looks okay and it plays! No doubt it will outlast me.

I’m no repair expert, so there may have been better ways to do the things I’ve done. I’m happy to hear …

I’m attaching a few pics of the process.









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