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Rusted steel reeds frames and tongues


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I have just been passed a recently acquired instrument for possible renovation. It is effectively a complete rebuild - bellows beyond repair, broken and cracked reed pans and ends, etc. It has obviously been kept in a damp environment as the reeds themselves are heavily rusted. Serial number is 189665.

 

The reed frames themselves are also rusted - this is a surprise to me as I didn't realise that the frames themselves can be made from steel,  as I have only seen brass frames to date. I can only see the inner reeds because the action box screws are also heavily rusted (bellows have been removed).

 

I am reasonably comfortable with the rebuild itself. However the reeds are a different story (pictures attached).

 

Given the amount of rusting, are they worth trying to save? If so, what would be the best approach to minimise long term damege?

 

I would appreciate your advice.

 

Regards

Rod

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Hi Rod

 

I was one of the under bidders on this one. A few years back I had the same model (as parts) with a serial number very close - it had rusted end bolts and the same reed frames with rusting very similar… and that’s why I didn’t bid higher on this one. If you follow Dave’s book I reckon a lot of the reeds could be saved.. 

 

I do have some spare reeds from that parts concertina which cleaned up pretty well in the end so shout out if that’s any help

 

David

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David, Paul

 

Thank you for the feedback.

 

I have managed to extract the reed pans from the ends, and the reeds on the outer sides are just as bad (not looking forward to the lever arms, but I do have some spares of those).

 

I have had a go at one reed using very fine wet and dry paper. It has come up surprising well and I can even get a muted note from it. Unfortunately a lot of the other reeds are in a worse condition. Once I have removed them from the pans (no mean feat by the look of it) I am considering soaking them in a wet solution (white vinegar, bicarbonate of soda paste) to loosen before using some steel wool or similar abrasive that I have to hand. If that doesn't work I will buy a fibreglass pen and try that.

 

This was never a good quality instrument by the look of it, so it will never be a 'silk purse'. But if I can get it back to a playable standard without spending lots of money it will be worthwhile.

 

Ros

 

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15 minutes ago, Rod Pearce said:

I have had a go at one reed using very fine wet and dry paper. It has come up surprising well and I can even get a muted note from it. Unfortunately a lot of the other reeds are in a worse condition. Once I have removed them from the pans (no mean feat by the look of it) I am considering soaking them in a wet solution (white vinegar, bicarbonate of soda paste) to loosen before using some steel wool or similar abrasive that I have to hand. If that doesn't work I will buy a fibreglass pen and try that.

 

I would be inclined to try Evapo-Rust rather than vinegar. Supposedly it is more effective and won't dissolve good metal.

https://motornuts.co.uk/evapo-rust-super-safe-rust-remover-2

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54 minutes ago, alex_holden said:

 

I would be inclined to try Evapo-Rust rather than vinegar. Supposedly it is more effective and won't dissolve good metal.

https://motornuts.co.uk/evapo-rust-super-safe-rust-remover-2

Or the Bilt-Hamer product Deox-Gel, or Deox-C (A powder product to make your own solution).

Both brilliant at removing rust, and claim (and seem) not to affect good metal, though to be fair, I've only used them on cars - not reeds.

 

One problem with these is that they leave the metal surface so clean that you can get "flash rusting".

 

 

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On 3/11/2022 at 7:45 AM, Rod Pearce said:

It is effectively a complete rebuild - bellows beyond repair, broken and cracked reed pans and ends, etc. It has obviously been kept in a damp environment as the reeds themselves are heavily rusted. Serial number is 189665.

 

The reed frames themselves are also rusted - this is a surprise to me as I didn't realise that the frames themselves can be made from steel,  as I have only seen brass frames to date. I can only see the inner reeds because the action box screws are also heavily rusted (bellows have been removed).

 

Fortunately they didn't make a lot of instruments with steel reed frames, but the ones they did make were all disastrous (and I have one myself 😕).

 

Why did they make them? Well the date seems to have been 1915, and there was a World War 1 artillery shell crisis going on at the time (that produced a change in government in Britain) - and brass was the material needed for making shell casings...

 

"World War I required brass for ammunition, artillery shell cases, and condenser tubes for boilers on ships. By early 1915, brass production had increased by 50%. By the end of 1915, brass production was double the highest it had ever been. In the summer of 1918 it was two and a half times the highest it had ever been prior to January 1915"

 

Quote

Given the amount of rusting, are they worth trying to save?

 

I've decided with mine (a 22-key rosewood-ended model, in otherwise good condition) that the steel-framed reeds are not worth saving - probably half of the steel tongues are so rotten that they'll break off if you give them a preliminary twang, whilst many more will be so out of tune that they can't be brought to pitch, and the steel screws will be so rusted in, and weakened, that they'll break off if you try to undo them. Anyway, the mild-steel frames are only going to rust again if you re-use them...

 

I'm looking for a scrap-condition 20-key mahogany-ended "donor" concertina, with brass reed frames, to fix mine. 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Stephen Chambers
Edited to correct link
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On 3/11/2022 at 2:46 PM, Rod Pearce said:

Alex, Clive

 

Thank you. I have ordered some Evapo Rust and will see how that goes

 

Rod

I was curious about electrolysis for rust removal and came across this interesting video.  (If you don't mind the guy shouting through the entire thing).  My thinking was that perhaps multiple reeds could be processed at the same time, but it looks like Evapo-Rust gets good marks anyway.

 

Edited by Parker135
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II have been using 0000 grade Bronze Wool to clean delicate metal items. with excellent results, including concertina reeds. It doesn't crumble like steel wool, is non-magnetic, and can be teased out and spun around a cocktail stick to make a metal cotton bud to clean the underside of tongues and reed frames.

 

Mike/

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On 3/11/2022 at 7:46 PM, Rod Pearce said:

Alex, Clive

 

Thank you. I have ordered some Evapo Rust and will see how that goes

 

Rod

 

The Evapo Rust has been delivered and I have tried it on the first reed.

 

Initially, as per the instructions, I fully immersed the reed in the liquid and left it for about an hour. I took it out and gave it a quick clean with a rag. The surface rust came off very easily but the heavy corrosion was still solid. So I put it back in the liquid and left it for the 24 hours as per instructions. This time I scraped the surfaces with a fine blade and removed the majority of the rust. Then I used some very fine wet and dry all over, even in the slot and tongue.

 

Afterwards I tried getting a note from the reed by sucking it and after a bit of adjustment it sounded, albeit somewhat muted.😀

 

I am pleasantly surprised at how well the Evapo Rust has worked, but I am not convinced the reed is viable given the amount of rust damage there was. I would think lightly rusted reeds would make a much better recovery.

 

59 reeds to go - some worse, some better😵

 

See before and after pictures attached

 

 

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1 hour ago, alex_holden said:

Sadly that one looks pretty knackered. Particularly the eroded edges and the hole in the belly area. 😢

Unfortunately, this is one of the better ones!

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In pure terms of cleaning it up my experience is that The Bilt Hamber product would have done a better job (not that that would help the reed any).

 

Would it be worth getting it re-reeded, or would it be best just to bin it and go straight to brass or aluminium shoes?

 

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6 hours ago, Clive Thorne said:

Would it be worth getting it re-reeded, or would it be best just to bin it and go straight to brass or aluminium shoes?

 

Heavily-rusted reed tongues are only fit for the bin, most of them are going to be badly weakened and extremely out of tune.

 

But also the steel frames themselves are seriously compromised, already being corroded and highly likely to rust again in the future.

 

Then you have the tiny steel screws on the reed clamps/nuts, which are going to be rusted-in and will break off flush if you try to turn them...

 

To my mind, re-reeding the reed frames would be fraught and more trouble than it's worth.

 

That's why I'm looking for a scrap-condition 20-key mahogany-ended "donor" Lachenal, with steel reeds and brass reed frames, to replace the ones in my 22-key #189633.  

 

 

 

Edited by Stephen Chambers
Edited for clarification
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