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Riveted Reeds On A Wheatstone


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After dallying with anglos I've finally realised that the EC system was simply made for me (or at least, I was made for the EC system). I've acquired a Wheatstone 56key ex-treble with ebony ends. The serial number is 20572, which in the ledgers gives it a sell date of July 19 1886. The other notations in the ledger are No8 Black Solid and there is (22) penciled in the margin after the number.

 

When I opened it up to have a look I noticed the reeds were attached to the pans by small, single rivets, as opposed to the normal clamp with screws system. Does anyone know the significance of this? Does it affect the sound? And will it be a bugger to repair if one of the reeds snaps?

 

Cheers, Jon

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There is a short description of an 1877, 56 key English Concertina with riveted reeds here:

 

http://www.concertinaconnection.com/wheatstone%2019752.htm

 

It states that Wheatstone riveted reeds are known for their warm tone, but aren't particularly loud. Both of these attributes sound like good qualities to me.

 

There is also an more comprehensive article on reeds at the same site, although I don't recall anything specific to riveted reeds.

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After dallying with anglos I've finally realised that the EC system was simply made for me (or at least, I was made for the EC system). I've acquired a Wheatstone 56key ex-treble with ebony ends. The serial number is 20572, which in the ledgers gives it a sell date of July 19 1886. The other notations in the ledger are No8 Black Solid and there is (22) penciled in the margin after the number.

 

When I opened it up to have a look I noticed the reeds were attached to the pans by small, single rivets, as opposed to the normal clamp with screws system. Does anyone know the significance of this? Does it affect the sound? And will it be a bugger to repair if one of the reeds snaps?

 

Cheers, Jon

Jon, purely on a pedantic technicality, I believe the term 'reed pan' is the name given to the hexagonal (usually) chambered piece of wood that holds all the reeds in place. I presume you mean 'reed block', which I believe is the name given to the lump of metal that the reed is attached to, in your case with a rivet.
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Jon, purely on a pedantic technicality, I believe the term 'reed pan' is the name given to the hexagonal (usually) chambered piece of wood that holds all the reeds in place.

Yes.

 

I presume you mean 'reed block', which I believe is the name given to the lump of metal that the reed is attached to, in your case with a rivet.

Actually, in referring to English-made concertinas, those are usually called reed "frames" or reed "shoes". I think a reed "block" usually refers to more than one reed ganged together on a single support, as in many accordions or "accordion-reeded" concertinas. And the metal mountings for those "accordion" reeds are often called reed "plates" -- whether holding several reeds on one plate or a single reed per plate, -- while my impression is that the reed "block" can also refer to the wooden support (and chamber?) that holds one or more plates.

 

Others who are more familiar with "plates" and "blocks" should jump in and correct me if I'm wrong on those details.

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When I opened it up to have a look I noticed the reeds were attached to the pans by small, single rivets, as opposed to the normal clamp with screws system. Does anyone know the significance of this?

It's been mentioned in other Topics that Wheatstone switched to (mainly?) using rivetted reeds for a number of years. They are very high quality. Using the "More Options" Search facility and searching "Discussion Forums" for the Keywords combination +"rivetted reeds" +Wheatstone, turned up five Topics, which I'm sure can tell you more.

 

And will it be a bugger to repair if one of the reeds snaps?

If even one of those reeds snaps due to normal use within the next 100 years, I'll be very surprised.

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When I opened it up to have a look I noticed the reeds were attached to the pans by small, single rivets, as opposed to the normal clamp with screws system. Does anyone know the significance of this?
It's been mentioned in other Topics that Wheatstone switched to (mainly?) using rivetted reeds for a number of years.

Some cheap models of Wheatstone Englishes, and some of the Duetts, that Louis Lachenal made for them in the 1850s, have reeds with a large-headed rivet.

 

Otherwise, reeds with small rivets (like those of a harmonium) were used from 1865 onwards by Edward Chidley (who was also a harmonium builder) when he took over the production of Wheatstone's instruments. I think they are lovely instruments.

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Thanks everybody. Corrections (pedantic or not) are always gratefully accepted. I had tried searching for rivetted reeds, but I had neglected to put quotes around the phrase so that search tip is helpful as well.

 

And yes, I like this instrument a lot. It sounds lovely and it's also quiet enough for me to take to work and slot in a bit of practice over lunch, although I can still get a reasonable volume out of it if I try.

 

Cheers again, Jon

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Others who are more familiar with "plates" and "blocks" should jump in and correct me if I'm wrong on those details.

DoN Nichols calls them (reed shoes, which he also considers acceptable terminology) reed carriers. I can't add anything about plates and blocks.

 

Edited to take my foot out of my mouth.

Edited by David Barnert
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Jon, purely on a pedantic technicality, I believe the term 'reed pan' is the name given to the hexagonal (usually) chambered piece of wood that holds all the reeds in place.

Yes.

 

I presume you mean 'reed block', which I believe is the name given to the lump of metal that the reed is attached to, in your case with a rivet.

Actually, in referring to English-made concertinas, those are usually called reed "frames" or reed "shoes". I think a reed "block" usually refers to more than one reed ganged together on a single support, as in many accordions or "accordion-reeded" concertinas. And the metal mountings for those "accordion" reeds are often called reed "plates" -- whether holding several reeds on one plate or a single reed per plate, -- while my impression is that the reed "block" can also refer to the wooden support (and chamber?) that holds one or more plates.

 

Others who are more familiar with "plates" and "blocks" should jump in and correct me if I'm wrong on those details.

I stand corrected, Jim. I think you are right about the proper name being 'reed shoe'. I must have had melodeons and accordions on the brain at the time. I remember reading an interesting article sometime ago, written by Dana Johnson about reed shoes and chamfering and I doubt that someone as knowledgeable as Dana would get it wrong.

 

- Chris

 

P.S. What a rivetting topic this has turned out to be! :lol:

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  • 2 weeks later...

I stand corrected, Jim. I think you are right about the proper name being 'reed shoe'. I must have had melodeons and accordions on the brain at the time. I remember reading an interesting article sometime ago, written by Dana Johnson about reed shoes and chamfering and I doubt that someone as knowledgeable as Dana would get it wrong.

 

- Chris

 

P.S. What a rivetting topic this has turned out to be! :lol:

I may have learned a bit over the years, but I use the term reed shoe because that is what other people I talked to called them at the time. Since these were people who worked with concertinas all the time, it was handy to use the same term. I've heard them called Frames too. In mechanical things, shoe is often a term used for a part that contains or holds on to a smaller assembly that is then fit into something else. Fits concertina reeds pretty well. But right or wrong? Who gets to decide? Beyond all that, Rivets are a perfectly good way to fasten reeds to the thingys. Reeds do break ( rarely) especially if corroded or badly filed / retuned, then it is a good bit more effort to make a new riveted style one. As a production method, it has some advantages over the strap clamp type, and if done correctly doesn't effect the tone. Individual variations in the wood of the red pans has a much larger effect on tone quality and loudness, though poorly made reeds with too much clearance will spoil an otherwise good box. I've always thought aluminum and steel screws or rivets/ reeds, was a bad combination. As long as things stay dry and salt free, it's ok, but once the corrosion starts, it is much worse than anything with brass and steel ( which is bad enough ). Duralumin is quite corrosion resistant by itself but in contact with steel is no better than other alloys.

Dana

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  • 1 month later...

I stand corrected, Jim. I think you are right about the proper name being 'reed shoe'. I must have had melodeons and accordions on the brain at the time. I remember reading an interesting article sometime ago, written by Dana Johnson about reed shoes and chamfering and I doubt that someone as knowledgeable as Dana would get it wrong.

 

- Chris

 

P.S. What a rivetting topic this has turned out to be! :lol:

I may have learned a bit over the years, but I use the term reed shoe because that is what other people I talked to called them at the time. Since these were people who worked with concertinas all the time, it was handy to use the same term. I've heard them called Frames too. In mechanical things, shoe is often a term used for a part that contains or holds on to a smaller assembly that is then fit into something else. Fits concertina reeds pretty well. But right or wrong? Who gets to decide? Beyond all that, Rivets are a perfectly good way to fasten reeds to the thingys. Reeds do break ( rarely) especially if corroded or badly filed / retuned, then it is a good bit more effort to make a new riveted style one. As a production method, it has some advantages over the strap clamp type, and if done correctly doesn't effect the tone. Individual variations in the wood of the red pans has a much larger effect on tone quality and loudness, though poorly made reeds with too much clearance will spoil an otherwise good box. I've always thought aluminum and steel screws or rivets/ reeds, was a bad combination. As long as things stay dry and salt free, it's ok, but once the corrosion starts, it is much worse than anything with brass and steel ( which is bad enough ). Duralumin is quite corrosion resistant by itself but in contact with steel is no better than other alloys.

Dana

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.

I've always thought aluminum and steel screws or rivets/ reeds, was a bad combination. As long as things stay dry and salt free, it's ok, but once the corrosion starts, it is much worse than anything with brass and steel ( which is bad enough ). Duralumin is quite corrosion resistant by itself but in contact with steel is no better than other alloys.

Dana

 

 

Why not use brass rivets with brass shoes?

 

Is drilling out the old rivet and making a new rivet the best way to go? I've got and old Wheatstone, about 1860 with one broken reed that needs replacing. It has a brass shoe and reed with a large headed steel rivet.

 

Funny thing is that this concertina has no signs of ever having been played! The inside is as pristine as new, the pads are as new, and the buttons look new. But the valve material is like new, but is totally fragile due to age as I suspect the pads are as well and need replacing.

 

Anyway I have to fix the one reed and have a person who can machine a new rivet if needed.

 

What's the usual way to deal with this?

 

J.

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Funny thing is that this concertina has no signs of ever having been played!

Wow! Any chance of some pictures? What's the serial number?

 

The inside is as pristine as new, the pads are as new, and the buttons look new. But the valve material is like new, but is totally fragile due to age as I suspect the pads are as well and need replacing.

 

Anyway I have to fix the one reed and have a person who can machine a new rivet if needed.

 

What's the usual way to deal with this?

Send it to a concertina expert.

 

What's the point in replacing the reed if you don't get proper replacement pads and valves and a proper adjustment to the tuning? And why not have the replacement reed done by an expert, someone who knows where to get the right kind of brass?

 

The tuning adjustment will be necessary if you get new pads and valves. And proper materials for even pads and valves are quite specialiized. (Read some of Richard Morse' posts about leather selection to get an idea just how specialzed.)

 

Edited to change "steel" to "brass" for the reed material.

I hadn't noticed that detail on my first reading of Juliette's post.

Edited by JimLucas
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Why not use brass rivets with brass shoes?

 

Is drilling out the old rivet and making a new rivet the best way to go? I've got and old Wheatstone, about 1860 with one broken reed that needs replacing. It has a brass shoe and reed with a large headed steel rivet.

 

Funny thing is that this concertina has no signs of ever having been played! The inside is as pristine as new, the pads are as new, and the buttons look new. But the valve material is like new, but is totally fragile due to age as I suspect the pads are as well and need replacing.

 

Anyway I have to fix the one reed and have a person who can machine a new rivet if needed.

 

What's the usual way to deal with this?

 

J.

Hi Juliette,

 

This is an interesting problem which you have posed us.

 

When I spoke to Colin Dipper, earlier this year, I was discussing an instrument which was showing on ebay. I was thinking of trying to buy for a friend who could not afford it at the time. However, Colin said that at this age (it was c1890's), the bellows might well need replacing as the leather becomes porous with time. As your instrument is much older, you could well have the same problem.

 

Pads/valves will almost certainly require replacement, at some point, as you have indicated. But, I would suggest that you don't renew these until you have played the instrument for a while, and know that this is impairing performance. You need to be happy with the action, and tuning of the instrument. If the tuning is "out", a major overhaul might be the only option.

 

What I would suggest is that you spend the bare minimum required to get the instrument back into playing condition (i.e. just replace the broken reed). If, as you have suggested, the reed is held in the reed-frame by rivets, you really need a new frame/reed combination.

 

From what you are suggesting, you have someone nearby who could handle concertina repairs. I guess that the brass reed will be the problem, rather than the actual work.

 

If you need a new reed/reed-frame, I would suggest that you contact Steve Dickinson (Wheatstone) for spares. He must have undertaken similar "postal work" on other brass-reeded instruments.

 

http://www.wheatstone.co.uk/Welcome.htm

 

If you speak to Steve, please give him my regards, as I haven't seen him in years.

 

Hope that this is of some help.

 

Best wishes,

Peter.

Edited by PeterT
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Pads/valves will almost certainly require replacement, at some point, as you have indicated. But, I would suggest that you don't renew these until you have played the instrument for a while, and know that this is impairing performance. You need to be happy with the action, and tuning of the instrument. If the tuning is "out", a major overhaul might be the only option.

A good point. And maybe worth performing this evalulation even before getting the reed replaced. A new reed will have to be fine-tuned after being put into the instrument. And then re-tuned after pad and valve replacement. If you're going to end up getting new pads and valves soon, anyway, best to have the reed tuning done just once, I would think.

 

If, as you have suggested, the reed is held in the reed-frame by rivets, you really need a new frame/reed combination.

Eh? Why? I would think that using the old frame with a new reed and rivet would be fine, and it would be sure to match the others in the instrument. (I don't know what changes in bevelling, undercutting, etc. evolved over time, but I'd be surprised if there were none at all.)

 

In any case, Juliette, if you get the replacement from Steve Dickinson (Wheatstone), he'll know exactly what needs to be done and how to do it. Wim Wakker (Concertina Connection) might also be able to do the work. Or Colin Dipper. In any case, communicate with them in advance to find out what they will do, how much money and time will be required, and what they need from you. E.g., they might want you to send along the matching good reed, so that they can copy its profiling on the new reed.

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