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SCRAG ENDS


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I have been browsing second hand reconditioned concertinas at places such as Barleycorn, as you do, and notice something which intrigued me. While many have repaired or replaced bellow, pads, action, reeds and such, some of them have very scruffy ends. Why? Sometimes it is on pretty expensive instruments. Surely it does not take much to tidy the ends up while you have it apart, refinish wood or polish metal? Do people like tatty ends because it shows their age, or do the repairers save the cost so the customer can clean it up if they want?

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I am not a repairer myself, but have worked on woodwork materials.. but imagine it is similar to the antique restorer trying to leave as much original material.. ',as it is genuine' to keep  its value? Only my guess.. personally I think when you make something you want it to look polished and sparkling; apart from natural patina and useable wear during use..but that another scene altogether!

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Just a personal view, but I for one am glad my old concertina ends show their history. Brand new looking wood ends on a 125-year-old instrument look odd to me. Just my own thoughts, others will differ. So maybe someone like me owned them and only spent money to repair the playability.

 

Ken

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Aha. With metal ends sometimes the problem relates to electroplating which is partially worn. The ends being either brass or nickel silver with usually a nickel plating to prevent tarnishing. After a lifetime of playing some wear is inevitable. There are a couple of ways to solve it you can have it stripped in an acid which attacks nickel which is probably ok for brass but risky on nickel silver or you can polish it and get it copper plated then nickel plated over the flawed original plating. I have had done the copper approach twice, once it went well and once it went badly. The main problem is concertina makers don't usually have their own electroplating equipment and you end up having to give the parts to someone else. That is where everything is very likely to go wrong. Thus in the end usually during repair the ends just get a not too aggressive polish as it's less risky.

 

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I personally don't advise too much cosmetic work because it is so easy to end up with a bigger problem than you started off with. Cleaning and smartening up is fine, but why try to do more, given the inherent risks?

 

Re- plating can end up with a nice, polished finish, but you can get pores in the plate from ingrained contamination in the fine corners of the fretting, it also tends to fill up etched numbers and manufacturer's details. No matter how carefully 'pickled' the metal work is to remove the old plate and the contamination before replacing the electroplate. 

 

Wood re-finishing local repairs are always a nightmare, fully re-finishing you can lose detail, end up with polish reactions and then have to re- ream all the key holes.  

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Jake and Dave have summarised the thought process rather well.  My own thoughts as a repairer/restorer are a touch medical - first do no harm.  End plates are not (unlike pads, springs, valves, bushings and even bellows) consumables so unless they're so badly damaged as to need extensive repair or replacement, I tend to leave them alone apart from a gentle polish (and typically reinforcement behind the bolt holes).

 

With Lachenal wooden ends, I sometimes take a more aggressive approach since the original laquer was IMHO rather ugly and is often chipped, so I will strip it right back to the original attractive rosewood or mahogany and French Polish from scratch - with all the caveats that Dave has over matching local repairs, losing detail etc

 

Alex West

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I would advise caution in use of acids [ even diluted] for going over metal plates, unless you know what you are doing, as it can be a potentially risky job; I have used diluted nitric acids[aqua fortis] when making intaglio printing techniques upon metal sheets, and when I once took an art class [adult education] I opted for others safety to use diluted 1/10 mix acid water ratio, which took a long time to 'bite' the plate.[ When in more experience setting I did use stronger mix] but that was because I have lot of practical experience of the matter. Certainly, an uncovered unprotected plate of any kind of metal will open bite [ as we call it in the trade].. or can even begin to remove a surface layer of the metal itself! [ a technique used to make a fresh surface in printing]. What's a bit of tarnish anyway? It shows all the use and love and care that an instrument has been though; like the wrinkles of wisdom engrained upon a wise forehead!

 

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On 11/26/2022 at 2:29 PM, d.elliott said:

I personally don't advise too much cosmetic work because it is so easy to end up with a bigger problem than you started off with. Cleaning and smartening up is fine, but why try to do more, given the inherent risks?

 

Re- plating can end up with a nice, polished finish, but you can get pores in the plate from ingrained contamination in the fine corners of the fretting, it also tends to fill up etched numbers and manufacturer's details. No matter how carefully 'pickled' the metal work is to remove the old plate and the contamination before replacing the electroplate. 

 

Wood re-finishing local repairs are always a nightmare, fully re-finishing you can lose detail, end up with polish reactions and then have to re- ream all the key holes.  

Thank you, and you have explained a very pitted metal end I saw and wondered how it got in that condition.

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On 11/26/2022 at 2:50 PM, Alex West said:

Jake and Dave have summarised the thought process rather well.  My own thoughts as a repairer/restorer are a touch medical - first do no harm.  End plates are not (unlike pads, springs, valves, bushings and even bellows) consumables so unless they're so badly damaged as to need extensive repair or replacement, I tend to leave them alone apart from a gentle polish (and typically reinforcement behind the bolt holes).

 

With Lachenal wooden ends, I sometimes take a more aggressive approach since the original laquer was IMHO rather ugly and is often chipped, so I will strip it right back to the original attractive rosewood or mahogany and French Polish from scratch - with all the caveats that Dave has over matching local repairs, losing detail etc

 

Alex West

Thank you, that makes sense. I just looked back at the pictures I saw that made me wonder. Here is probably the worse offender, but it is not a quality instrument Concerina2.png.13d797479c79c2025adfcc5e3a604576.pngand I doubt that making it tidier would increase its value, just that, personally, I would not want to own one that looked like this. Guessing this is the poor lacquer you mentioned.

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6 hours ago, SIMON GABRIELOW said:

I would advise caution in use of acids [ even diluted] for going over metal plates, unless you know what you are doing, as it can be a potentially risky job; I have used diluted nitric acids[aqua fortis] when making intaglio printing techniques upon metal sheets, and when I once took an art class [adult education] I opted for others safety to use diluted 1/10 mix acid water ratio, which took a long time to 'bite' the plate.[ When in more experience setting I did use stronger mix] but that was because I have lot of practical experience of the matter. Certainly, an uncovered unprotected plate of any kind of metal will open bite [ as we call it in the trade].. or can even begin to remove a surface layer of the metal itself! [ a technique used to make a fresh surface in printing]. What's a bit of tarnish anyway? It shows all the use and love and care that an instrument has been though; like the wrinkles of wisdom engrained upon a wise forehead!

 

Thank you. I understand fair wear and tear, loved usage and all that,  but if I had £2100, I would rather look for a tidier instrument than this one, to me, it just looks scruffy.

Concertina1.png

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In the same way that there is no right button layout for all people and all music, there is no one look that is right. I am perfectly happy with a well love instrument, such as this one, which, If I had the chance, I would rather own than the 3 I shared above.Concertina3.png.873112c3ec7c7a4f52b4af0f9044ac37.png

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8 hours ago, Martin Essery said:

In the same way that there is no right button layout for all people and all music, there is no one look that is right. I am perfectly happy with a well love instrument, such as this one, which, If I had the chance, I would rather own than the 3 I shared above.Concertina3.png.873112c3ec7c7a4f52b4af0f9044ac37.png

 

That photo looks weirdly Photoshopped to me, particularly the blurry area on the left.

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I agree that using acids is scary. I've successfully used dilute oxalic acid to help strip the varnish from wooden sailing dinghies, and dilute acetic acid to clean vintage chess boards, but I don't think I'd go anywhere near a concertina with any form of acid.

 

I agree that over-restoring can damage the 'ambience' of a vintage instrument. I very occasionally give the wooden ends of my instruments a polish with a good-quality beeswax based polish - very little polish - and only a moderate amount of elbow grease. Works for me. Comments from the experts? Am I doing it right? Ta.

______________________

I also use a top-quality oil-based polish on my chess pieces, but I don't think I'd go near a concertina with a liquid-based polish...

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Some platers will 'paint' over the area of concern to protect it from the re-plate process, but you can get all sorts of undesirable effects, Plating shops are usually dark and filth places with the tanks bubbling away and extract systems banging away, but facinating to see what they platers achieve.

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And then there are some that will use a grinding/buffing wheel, like the one that did that to my Jeffries Duet many years ago, leaving noticeable flares/tails beside every hole and almost eliminating the "C. Jeffries" engraving.

 

I still get upset thinking about what they did to this 100-year-old instrument, should have left well enough alone!

 

Gary

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