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Concertina in an Extreme Environment


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I will be taking a concertina (Wren 2) with me to Antarctica, where I will be for about 5 months. I hope to spend some of my of time indoors learning more about the instrument and eventually playing with other musicians who live on the base where I will be stationed. 

I have read through some of the forum posts on humidity, and have gleaned some great information from those. It is extremely dry down there.

I will be taking some Boveda packs with me to keep in the hard case I will be traveling with, as well as keeping a humidifier in my room once I get there. I also plan on monitoring the humidity levels, but know that it will be an uphill battle the entire time.

As far as temperature goes, I will only have the instrument outside while traveling between buildings. I am thinking about building some sort of insulated sleeve I can stick the hard case in, and then pack hand warmers around that to keep from freezing in an extreme situation.

Does anyone have tips for transporting a concertina in cold weather, things to look out for, or suggestions for preventative maintenance?

 

 

 

Edited by Fifer1mr
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Letting the concertina acclimate from extreme temps prior to playing could be a concern.  I'm thinking about moisture condensing on cold reed tongues and making them vulnerable to eventual rust.

 

Allowing the instrument and its reeds some time to regain room temp is a good idea before pumping air through it.

 

Sounds like you are already considering ways to mitigate temperature shock to any wood parts.  Again, the drastic changes to humidity are probably the main concern.

 

Take along a Dave Elliott "Concertina Maintenance Manual" for trouble shooting and a few spares like springs and different sized valves and perhaps a spare pad or two.  Proper sized screw driver and small pliers (bent nose are best) + some pva or hide glue will be a big aid.  You'll want to be prepared to cope with any minor annoyances during your 5 month sojourn.

 

Good luck and let us all know how it goes.

 

Greg

 

PS. baffles or a way to control the volume of your concertina may win new friends and keep old ones in a confined environment!

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Thank you for the helpful feedback! 

 

Acclimating the instrument to room temperature before playing is something that I will be sure to pay attention to.

 

I have been putting off getting Dave Elliot's book, but now would be as good a time as any to order it. I will see if I can get it shipped down there (It will probably show up in a month or so) as I have not been able to find a digital version. As for spare parts (valves, pads, springs), is there anything specific I should look for, or just an assortment of spares? Finding the tools shouldn't be a problem. 

 

The baffles are also a good suggestion. There are a few places on station that I will be able to practice without disturbing wildlife or the general public, but would like the option to practice in my living quarters without the fear of gaining a reputation as a nuisance. I will look into this and see what I can improvise with the materials available, then give an update in a few months.

 

Cheers!

 

 

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Hi Fifer,

You'd want to be aware that the reeds might buzz when you try to play the instrument when it hasn't warmed up all the way to room temperature after a cold transport outdoors.  That's because the vibrating tongues might rub against the end walls of their slots. 

The different coefficients of linear thermal expansion (CTE) in the reed plate material and the tongue material will cause the tongues to close the small air gap between them when at the lower temperatures.  The extent of this rubbing will be affected by the kind of material used in the reed construction. 

The CTE for brass is about 10E-6 per degree F; for Aluminum, about 12.5E-6, and for steel about 6.5E-6. It's the difference between these values that matters.  Thus for steel tongues in brass plates, the difference is 6E-6 and for aluminum plates with steel tongues it's 3.5E-6. 

Let's say the outside temperature is - 40 F, and let's consider one of the longer reeds, with tongues about 2 inches long.  The reeds were designed (gaps were set) for room temperature, say 70 F.  The delta T to consider is thus 40 + 70 = 110 F, so multiplying the delta CTE's, the delta T's, and the nominal lengths, we calculate the difference between how much the tongue lengths expand/contract and how much the slot openings expand/contract, as about 0.00076 inch for the brass/steel combination and about 0.0012 for the aluminum/steel combination. 

I believe I recall Dana saying that his gaps are roughly a half thousands, or 0.0005 inch, on average.

We can thus conclude that for some concertina reeds, and for the lowest temperatures, there will be closure of gaps.  This is especially true considering expected variations in workmanship, and for the tight condition at the corners of the slot/tongue gaps. 

In fact, I've noticed that with my Baldoni accordion with handmade reeds, I'd get buzzing when I brought it inside from winter temperatures only as low as about freezing.  I would often press on the keyboard and gently draw air in and out of the box, until its interior warmed.  I concluded that the variation in workmanship plays a large role here. 

Best regards,
Tom
www.bluesbox.biz

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Concertina springs come in two flavors, right-handed and left-handed (that it, they wrap around the lever like the fingers of a right or left hand). It appears, from this picture (from this post)

 

01CB71FB-BC3A-427A-B977-14A6ACCB7C77.jpeg

 

that all the springs in a Wren2 are left-handed, at least on the right side of the instrument. Many concertinas have some left-handed springs and some right-handed springs. I would suggest having a look in both sides and see for sure whether they’re all left-handed on both sides or some (or all) are right-handed. You’ll want to have one or two in each orientation that you need to use as spares.

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15 hours ago, Fifer1mr said:

I have been putting off getting Dave Elliot's book, but now would be as good a time as any to order it. I will see if I can get it shipped down there (It will probably show up in a month or so) as I have not been able to find a digital version. As for spare parts (valves, pads, springs), is there anything specific I should look for, or just an assortment of spares? Finding the tools shouldn't be a problem. 

Fifer1mr,

 

Good luck on your mission in Antarctica!

I am pretty sure that McNeela music will not sell concertina parts to users. 
But here is a good news. A shop in Japan sells a concertina named Furze which looks very silimar to Wren2, and the shop has recently started to sell spare parts, as well.  I believe spare parts of Furze can be used for Wren2 as well. 

https://celtnofue.com/store/concertina.html

 

Totani

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23 hours ago, Fifer1mr said:

I will be taking a concertina (Wren 2) with me to Antarctica, where I will be for about 5 months.

Fifer, I'm intrigued by your planned journey, and if appropriate, could you please explain some things about the mission?  It's main strokes, purpose, and the organizations behind it?  Are there chiefly scientific goals?

 

Methinks it's a great opportunity for experiences that you will never forget.  

 

Best regards,

Tom

 

 

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